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Asia cover sailing-kaisei_1992_peters.crosby


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Sail-training aboard Japanese brigantine tall-ship 'Kaisei,' meaning Ocean Planet, 1992.

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Asia cover sailing-kaisei_1992_peters.crosby

  1. 1. Iefr: Man battling against tbe elements. Centre: Build,ing team utork a.mong a. cross- cultural creut Rigbt: Eating is a balancing act on board tbis "rollercoA.ster" waddled in brggy oil-skins and layers I am an integral part of the crew. Thats the of bulky clothes, I totter on to the point. Anyone can for a price. pitching deck and clutch a railing. - The thrills of the Kaisei are available to This is my first time at sea, the second anyone, ro matter what race, gender, nation- night. Manchurian gusts aching ality or sailing experience. - with the cries of tormented dogs Anchoring in Misaki, Japan, jusr sourhwesrare blowing rain horizontally before the brig- - of Tokyo, the ship has tentarive plans thatantines red, white and green running lights. include voyages aroundJapan and calls at HongSails overhead crack, whip-like, distended and Kong, Phuket and Singapore from its winterraw. The 46-meter hull rises, wags across the base in Okinawa. The Kaisei, along with Out-black horizon, dips to one side and ward Bounds Ji-Fung in Hong Kong, is onlyTHUUUUUMPS into a sea swell foaming the second such vessel in Asia out of thewhite. approximately B0 accessible sail training ships I am a trainee, reporting for midnight watch around the globe. The rest of the esrimared 300duty. As I strain to hear the count . . . one. . . square-riggers are for merchant mariners ortwo . . a deluge of Japans Black Current military sailors exclusively the price herearches across the two-master and slaps me in paid for in terms of time. -the face. The brine is warm and tastes of soda. "Our sail training is neither," says Kaoru "This," yells the shivering watch officer, "is Ogimi, the suave, bi-lingual founder and chair-a full gale. 7ear your harness! man of the Sail Training Association of Japan "You, Reiko? Wake the engineer. The (STAJ), the Kaiseis owners. The goal of theengine room bilge warning lights are on. And five- tol4-day cruises is ro instill young peopleget your helmet!" with respect for teamwork, physical endurance "You two, forward lookout. Peter, take the and nature. Lectures about the Kalseis work-helm?" ings, sailing theory, navigation, weather, even I am busy wiping my fogged glasses. As one the stars, are just part of that process. Ogimi,of 16 novices aboard the Kaisei, a new sail winner of the double-handed Melbourne-Osakatraining ship on the final leg of its 15-month, Yacht race in 1987 , says: "We teach by living,5 7,000km maiden voyage from Spain to not by preaching." Japan,
  2. 2. around the corner and astern. For 3 B hours, the storm, which becomes a typhoon, presents life at 30 degrees. Port- holes below deck look into an aquarium without fish. But walk- ing and sleeping on this roller coaster is easy compared to eat- ing. One hand must hold the plate aloft like a painters palare while the other stabs for food. Drinks are part of washing up. Since most of the trainees feel seasick anyway, theres plenty Trainees are divided into watch teams of of space in the mess room name I nowfive to10 people with whom they work, eat and for the duration. About halfway through While the Kaisei is not necessarily a ship forthe voyage, the experienced watch leaders comfort, it is a comfortable ship. Bunkrooms"disappear". Trainees 75 pet cent of whom sleeping six to eight have bathrooms with hot -are female, 30 per cent students must then showers. The diet mostly meat and rice -crew the ship in shifts totalling six to 11 hours is bountiful and -tasty. And the Kaisei-iseach dry. So, a housewife from Osaka can end equipped to be safe. From its global positioningup commanding an American editor from system (GPS) satellite navigator and two dif-Tokyo, a banker from Manila and a student ferent types of radar to dual skin life rafts andfrom Taipei. Although it feels like the blind rubber speedboaff, all rescue contingencies areleading the blind, it forces listening, commu- ensured. The eight officers, with more thannications and interdependence from relative n0 years of global sea experience betweenstrangers: Team work. them, also make sure safety comes first. And work it is. All the more-rhan-lOO But the most memorable part is the excite-polypropelene ropes that raise, lower and coo- ment and the beauty. Furling a sail on a yard-ffol the Kaiseis 15 sails must be pulled by arm 30 metres above a sea so dark blue that ithand. Ary time, dry or night. And theyre looks black, riding the bow sprit as it crashesheavy. The effort needed to haul up a big nylon through white-capped waves flinging manes ofsail in a stiff breeze turns trainees into contor- spray or competing in the Kaiseis dailytionists. Soft hands and flabby muscles get a "olympics" is unforgettable. As is gaping atrude awakening. In addition, trainees must gleaming arches of porpoises as they jump-clean, swab, scrub and polish an hour or two dive, jump-dive, jump-dive, a crab floating byevery duy, regardless of weather. Theres also on a banana leaf miles from land, or the Milkymaintenance work. And, of course, galley duty. Wry glowing through the mast rigging. Even "The more the work, the more the bond- the salty-dog pros pause to bask in the glow ofitg," says the Kaiseis captain, Chris Blake. the ocean turned silver and red at sunset. After7ith 32 years at sea, 15 of it commanding sail all, the name Kaisei means "ocean planet".training ships in Britain, Australia and Hong STAJs Ogimi and Blake, as well as twelveKong, Blake is one of the most experienced cross-cultural staff and crew, are comrnitted totraining masters afloat. He says the Kai.sel is spreading the Kaiseis non-profit message ofactually designed to be inefficient so trainees teamwork, physical life and nature throughoutmust work as a team. Uith a grin, he adds: Japan and Asia. And more than 50 volunteers"Nothing brings people together like a srorm." from Japan and Hong Kong to Australia andAmen. Poland have donated an estimated 10,000 hours As I prepare to take the helm of our 180-ton to refit, maintain and crew the ship testi-sail ship in Force B winds and high seas, I study monial to its appeal. Ithe current helmsman a bureaucrat fromHokkaido - cramming his yellow boots into - The Kaisei will sail around Japan throughtwo blocks spread a metre apart and hunching the summer and plans to call on Asianhls body against the big wooden steering wheel, ports, such as Hong Kong, Manila, Kotahis chin thrust forward to see the compass Kinabalu, Danang and Kaoshiung from itsswinging under his nose. He looks like a weak winter base in Okinawa. Voyage lengthwater-skier about to fall. varies. Current all-inclusive price per day: As I reach over to hook in my safety harness Y13,500 (US$ 110) for students andnext to his, the teak deck lurches to a 40. Y18,000 (US$140) for others. Contact:degree angle. My feet immediately go sideways Sail Training Association of Japan, 2F,and down I slide across the bridge, off three I-14-4 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 1 13.steps into water gushing over gunwatres ASIA MAGAZINE 17