In this third installment of the multipart series introducing my favourite Japanese moorage ports, I introduce three places in southwestern Kyushu.
There are only a few good moorage spots along Kyushu’s southwest coast, but one of the best is in the small fishing port of Akune, where there is an Umi no Eki (Sea Station) with a floating dock that can accommodate two boats up to about 50’ (but 40’ is more manageable). As shown on the first map below, Akune Port is protected by several islands and reefs, so caution is advised when approaching. 32°1.1573’N, 130°11.4741’E.
Below is a close-up map of Akune dock.
Within a 10-minute walk of the dock there is a classic sento (public bath), a supermarket, a drug store, a convenience store, and several restaurants.
The Umi no Eki is owned and operated by a local gas station. It’s quite a popular spot, so advance reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 0996-73-2141 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (best to do so in Japanese if possible). For boats over 34’, the moorage fee is ¥3,000 (about $30) per night and can be paid at the gas station (a 5-minute walk away).
Further south along Kyushu’s west coast is the fishing port of Kushikino, and just south of the main port is Kushikino Fisherina (a fisherina is typically a small marina operated by the local fishing co-operative). It was a favourite stop of mine while cruising this area, but it wasn't known to many cruisers. Recently, though, it has become an Umi no Eki and so I expect it will become increasingly popular. 31°42.3307’N, 130°16.1689’E.
Surrounded on three sides by mountains and protected by massive breakwaters, the main attraction of Kushikino Umi no Eki is that it is very well protected from wind and swell. It is a good place to sit out bad weather, even typhoons.
Approaching Kushikino Umi no Eki, there is a shallow spot (about 2.2m of depth at low tide?) near the end of the second breakwater.
Visitor moorage is at the first set of docks on one’s port side entering the Fisherina. As shown on the map below, there are three short finger docks (for boats up to about 30’), a long dock that could accommodate four boats up to about 50’ (three on the west side and one on the east side), and room for about a 40’ boat to squeeze in on the north side (many of these spaces used to be occupied year-round by local boats, but they have apparently been cleared for exclusive use by visitors).
There is a post office with ATM about three minutes away and a classic sento (public bath) about a five-minute walk away. Within a 20-minute walk one can find the main port/town, a hardware store, several convenience stores, a drug store, a supermarket, a laundromat, and several restaurants.
Advance moorage recommendations are strongly recommended, and can be made by calling 0996-32-3111 or 0996-32-2108, in Japanese only (no email). For boats over nine meters, the moorage fee is ¥620 (about $6) per night, and it can be paid at the Fishing Co-operative office, which is about a five-minute walk away (open 08:30-17:00 on weekdays and 08:30-12:00 on Saturdays).
Sato, Koshiki-jima, Kagoshima
Koshiki-jima is a cluster of beautifully rugged islands off the southwest coast of Kyushu. The three main islands are, going from north to south, Kamikoshiki-jima (Upper Koshiki), Nakakoshiki-jima (Middle Koshiki), and Shimokoshiki-jima (Lower Koshiki). That distinction is, however, not so important now that the islands are connected by bridges...and that means that cruisers can moor in any one of several ports and then rent a car to tour all the islands.
In this “Kirk’s Take,” I introduce the fishing port of Sato, the northernmost Koshiki-jima port. Other ports where cruisers can usually find moorage are, again going from north to south, Taira, Nagahama, and Teuchi. I highlight Sato not because it is necessarily the “best” but because it is the most likely to have room for visitors, can handle deep-draft boats even at spring tides, and is closest to Nagasaki (a popular cruising and sightseeing destination — it’s about 60NMs from Sato to Nagasaki compared to, for example, about 80NMs from Teuchi).
Approaching Sato, moorage can be found in the large basin on one’s starboard side. The southern half of the western wall is preferred, especially because there is a ladder bolted onto the wall that allows one to easily get off/on the boat at low tide. If strong easterly winds are forecast, however, the outer half of the southern wall is a good option. 31°50.7910’N, 129°55.2195’E.
Immediately in front of where you moor is a small supermarket. There is also a nearby gas station that can deliver fuel to your boat. There is a nice café about a five-minute walk away, and just near that (next to the ferry terminal) is a hotel with a relaxing hotspring bath (it had closed for a couple of years but recently re-opened).
There are a couple of rental car agencies in Sato. Renting a car for day or two to explore the Koshiki-jima archipelago, including getting off the main roads to traverse the towering mountains, hike to waterfalls, and visit the wild west coast (such as the small fishing port of Sesenoura), is highly recommended. Don’t worry about getting lost...you’ll eventually reach the ocean and the main road back to Sato!