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Leaderboard FD July August September 2023

Ocean outlook: Pacific, China Sea and Indian Ocean

by Noonsite 1 Sep 15:07 PDT
Pacific Ocean © Noonsite


Hurricane Hilary which formed south of Mexico's Baja Peninsula earlier this month, became the first tropical storm in more than 80 years to make landfall in Southern California according to the United States National Weather Service.

In early August a series of wildfires broke out in the U.S. state of Hawaii, predominantly on the island of Maui, estimated to be the largest natural disaster the state of Hawaii has seen. The blazes killed dozens, displaced thousands of others and wiped out communities. The historic town of Lahaina on Maui, a tourism hub, historic whaling village and popular with cruisers, has been burnt to the ground and approx. 80% of the community has been destroyed.

There are new visa rules for some nationalities in French Polynesia. All holders of Swiss, Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland passports are now limited to a stay of only 90 days in French Polynesia, unless they arrive with a visa. Visas can only be obtained in Panama or in your home country prior to arrival. There are cases where the spouses and family members of EU passport holders qualify for a temporary residency permit, as long as the EU citizenship is not from France. See French Polynesia Immigration for more details.

Allen and Maria Wadsworth have been contributing information to Noonsite ever since they cast off their dock lines from the UK six years ago. As they continue their 'Until the Butter Melts' odyssey westwards across the Pacific, they have provided some more useful information for cruisers visiting the islands of Maupiti and Bora Bora - their last stops in French Polynesia before setting sail for Niue.

After leaving Niue, Allen and Maria's next stop was Neifau in Vava'u, Tonga, a popular destination for boats heading west from French Polynesia. Their Tonga report outlines cruising options, but also covers local customs and rules which cruisers need to be mindful of.

Many yachts stop over in Suwarrow on the way from French Polynesia to Tonga - a convenient island in the Northern Cooks to break up the passage, but not a port of entry. Application must be made prior to arrival to Cook Island Customs to gain permission to enter there first. Reports have been coming in from disappointed cruisers who have been denied permission, meaning a further 350NM of sailing to the first official port of entry for the Cooks at Aitutaki. There are rumours that cruisers have arrived in Suwarrow without permission and have been permitted to enter, however, Suwarrow Island is NOT a nominated Customs Port of Entry and authorization to go there MUST be obtained from the Controller of Customs in advance. Failure to arrive without authorization is a criminal offense.

Also in the Cook Islands, Biosecurity Inspection fees on arrival go up from NZ$ 20 to NZ $50 on 1 September (NZ $75 if you arrive out of hours).

Fiji Immigration are concerned that most yachts arriving in and departing Fiji waters do not follow the correct procedures. The Fiji Immigration Act 2003 states: "The master of a ship which is due to arrive in the Fiji Islands from a place outside the Fiji Islands, or which is about to depart from the Fiji Islands, must give to an Immigration officer at least 24-hours notice, in writing, of the expected arrival or departure date. If a ship is due to arrive in the weekend or holiday, the period of notice required is at least 48 hours".

Fiji also requires advance notice of arrival to Customs and Biosecurity and if not received, fines are possible. See Fiji Clearance for the full details.

Kirk Patterson of Konpira Consulting reports that interest in cruising Japan is "hotting up". With no clearance fees and greatly simplified entry procedures, plus no limit on how long a foreign yacht can stay in the country, Kirk reports that a diverse group of cruisers are currently enjoying all that Japan has to offer. While it is typhoon season in Japan (typically July to October), cruising is still possible as Japan has very well-built harbors/marinas and an excellent early-warning system, allowing cruisers to seek safe harbor when a typhoon is approaching and then stay there until the danger has passed. "I generally recommend that clients stay in/near the Seto Inland Sea (well protected from most typhoons) or cruise northern Japan (typhoons usually weaken by the time they get there)" Kirk told Noonsite. "I check 6 different typhoon forecasts every morning and then advise them on whether or not they need to seek safe harbor. One can cruise in typhoon season, you just have to be watchful and cautious." Plans are under way for the Japan Rally which starts in Okinawa next March. Contact Kirk for details.

Rob Hurlow of SY Capaz, has just finished a second cruising season in Japan. Rob told Noonsite, "We sailed from Fukuoka up the west coast to Otaru Marina, in Hokkaido adjacent to Sapporo and were able to harbor hop the entire way with no overnight passages. In May the weather and wind conditions were mostly fine as the southern monsoon winds had started. We were able to get the equivalent of a Japanese cruising permit and were not required to check in to any ports along the way. Otaru Marina in Hokkaido is a wonderful marina and we are leaving our boat there for another off season. Overall crusing in Japan has been a delight. We have been met with wonderfully kind and curious local people, love the food and affordable prices."

See some other useful links to blogs and websites produced by cruisers that have visited Japan in our Japan Links section.

As the end of the season in the South Pacific approaches, some boats may well consider Japan an option for the summer, others head south to New Zealand and/or Australia. Island Cruising NZ has just launched a rally for yachts sailing south to NZ which joins up with the final leg of their Pacific rally. The accompanying webinar is free and has lots of useful information for boat owners who want to sail independently and those interested in joining the rally, including passage planning, weather systems, entry procedures for NZ and much more. You can also see what sailing in the South Island is all about with Island Cruising's free South Island webinar.

China Sea:

Having spent the past four years exploring Malaysia and Indonesia, long-term Belgian cruiser Luc Callebaut shares his notes on some of the favourite places he and partner Jackie have visited in this popular cruising area.

Well known cruisers Liz and Jamie of Followtheboat have an interesting Vlog on how the Indonesian Throughflow from the Pacific Ocean effects the waters of this vast region. The currents around Lombok, where they are currently cruising, regularly run at 3 knots, even making it to 10 knots on occasion. Sailing here is impossible if you're trying to go through the wrong way at the wrong time.


Cruiser Kjell Dreyer has just arrived in Rodrigues, Mauritius, after a 2-week passage from Cocos Keeling. He reports clearing in there is straightforward with minimal fees, although international clearance does have to be undertaken all over again when arriving in Port Louis, the main port of entry (no fees there).

Phil and Kim Seeley are currently cruising Tanzania and have posted useful comments about the various ports they have visited: Zanzibar; Tanga and Dar es Salaam.

Rower Rob Barton arrived in Tanzania last month after becoming the first person to row non-stop from Australia to Africa. His router, father Peter Barton, told Noonsite; "I used Noonsite for a couple of weeks when my son, Rob, was approaching the African coast in the middle of last month. He left Geraldton in Western Australia at the end of April in a 21ft rowing boat and reached Tanga in Tanzania less than three months later. Rob had intended to arrive in Dar es Salam, but the current swept him past and took him to Tanga. Rob had GPS on board but did not have full access to the internet. With the help of Noonsite I was able to give him the information that he needed. I sailed round the world in the 1980s and 1990s with my wife. I wish Noonsite had been there to help us!"

The South African coast from Richards Bay to Cape Town is considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to weather patterns, currents and extremely limited safe anchorages. South African weather router, Des Cason, provides essential cruising notes for those headed that way.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of

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