Sail Away! Fukuoka

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Contrary to popular belief, sailing is not just a rich man’s sport. It can be a very relaxing and affordable pastime… after all, wind is free! Read our full online guide on how to get started sailing in Fukuoka.

Introducing Linda Saza
Born in NY, Linda has lived in Fukuoka since 1981 and became involved in sailing when her kids joined a junior sailing club in Odo, Fukuoka. “Sailing was something that I had always wanted to try, but never had the chance to do. The club afforded us the opportunity to enjoy the sport as a family, providing necessary equipment and instruction at very low cost.”

Linda currently sails out of Imazu Port on Sazanami, a 30ft. sailboat. She also skippers sail training trips out of Pearl Sea in Sasebo, Nagasaki on a seasonal basis. Linda has sailed from Tokyo to Okinawa and made several sailing trips to Korea (Pusan, TongYeong and Mokpo). Read on for Linda’s tips, and to get in contact with her about your sailing questions, click here.

Getting started
There are two main yacht harbours in Fukuoka: Marinoa and Odo. Odo has had introductory sailing classes every now and again, advertised in the SHIMIN DAILY: sign up for an afternoon of sailing with a knowledgeable skipper. If you enjoy yourself at such sailing class, you can move on to a sailing club such as the OSSC (Odo Sunrise Sailing Club). Most club members are weekend sailors interested in dinghy sailing. The club provides the boats, which members maintain and enjoy sailing most weekends all year long, holding point races and social events. Annual membership fee is reasonable (around ¥30,000) and you don’t have to know anything about the sport. If you are willing to get wet, they are willing and ready to teach you! Dinghy sailing doesn’t require any special license or qualification. If you know how to sail and you have your own boat, you can rent a space to keep it at Odo. The cost is about ¥7,660 per month.

FN April 2014 cover girl Marielle hoping to catch a ride at Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor
Getting Your Boat License
If you want a bigger boat fitted with an engine, you’ll need to get a license. The two-part license exam (with both practical and paper components) isn’t difficult…but it’s in Japanese! Note: English licensing tests are available twice yearly at Marinoa Yacht Harbor. You can receive study materials and take the written test in English (although it’s not native English, so there may be some errors in translation) as well as the practical test in English.

The license has 2 levels:
#2) is for inshore ( eg. Hakata Bay and up to 5 miles off the coast).
#1) for serious off-shore (eg. a trip to Iki & Tsushima).
Note: A totally different license is required for jet skis.
If you have questions about the exam, please feel free to contact Jaap Mulder: [email protected]

The five-part paper component of the exam covers basic seamanship, navigation, weather, engine maintenance and maritime law (the basic rules of the road on the sea). The practical portion of the exam is done on the water. Your success on the exam is based on achieving a required minimum score for each of the five sections of the paper test, and successfully completing docking procedures along with a few other basic boat handling skills. There are classes you can take to prepare you for this national exam, where you’ll learn everything you need to know.

However, getting a license is the easy part. Finding a place to keep the boat is more difficult. As with anything in Japan, things are never cut and dry. There are numerous fishing harbours around town where you would think it easy to park your boat, but the right to use those harbors are strictly controlled by the Fishermen’s Co-ops. Trying to find a cheap berth for your boat may be likened to joining a secret fraternity. If you know someone, great! If you don’t, you may have to start drinking with the right people to get the wheels turning in the right direction.

Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor Permit ( )
Access this page for all you need to know about gaining your permit for Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor.

Docking Price List (料金案内/ )
Here you’ll find a detailed list of docking costs for boats from under 6m to over 14m, including onshore docking option for small boats.

Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor’s monthly fees range based on the size of a boat, with ~6m boats at ¥27,000/month, 9~10m boats at ¥37,800, and 15m~ boats at ¥51,300/month. Because the berthing costs are high, many people resort to group ownership. Depending on where you want to sail and the type boat you want, it may be the best option.

Where to sail
Although finding a place to moor your boat can be difficult – tying up for the night is usually a piece of cake! Day sailing on Hakata Bay has options such as Nokonoshima or Shikanoshima, where you can tie up and enjoy a nice lunch. For weekend sails, Iki Island, Yobuko and Hirado make for great sailing destinations. Most of these places are sailor-friendly and charge no fee. You can find a minshuku (Bed & Breakfast) where you can ask for a bath and a meal for ¥1,000 near most every harbour.

For more adventurous sailing, there are countless options all within a few days sail. Tsushima to the northwest; Sasebo, Nagasaki, and the Goto Islands to the west; Koshiki Islands and Kagoshima to the south. All these great places offer safe anchorages at next to nothing costs. Whether you want to sail away for the weekend, for the whole week, or the whole Summer there is always someplace fun to go!

It’s been said that if you can sail around Japan, you can sail around the world. Some days you’ll see every kind of weather, and the wind isn’t very steady so you have to plan accordingly. It’s possible to sail all year round, but at times (especially during the winter months) it can only be described as “character building”. Summer has problems of its own, as typhoons come and go. Be prepared to spend some quality time getting your boat ready for the “big one”.

Weather Forecast (
A very useful and accurate worldwide weather site in English. Up to date hourly weather conditions for today and the next day, including wind speed, wind direction, waves and more. This site is very accurate – it’s aimed at surfers but the information is great for boaters too. Going out on the water, you need to know what weather is ahead – check this site before you set sail!

Due to the current economic situation in Japan, now is a good time to get a used boat on the cheap. A lot of owners simply can’t afford to moor and maintain a boat they don’t use very often. Aside from the cost of buying a boat however, there are maintenance costs. The average 30ft. boat will cost you about ¥100,000 to maintain each year. However, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do lots of that work by yourself, you’ll be able to save money. Afterall, painting the bottom of a boat isn’t rocket science!

There are several sailing clubs in Fukuoka. The Hakata Yacht Club, the Fukuoka Yacht Club, the Genkai Yacht Club, the OSSC out of Odo and the White Sail race group. Some of the clubs charge membership fees, some are free. Go to the yacht harbors to ask around, and check the listings in the back of KAZI Magazine. Someone is always looking for a crew member!

Club & Organization List
Hakata Yacht Club:
Fukuoka Yacht club:
Genkai Yacht club:
OSSC (Odo Sunrise Sailing Club):
JSAF (Japan Sailing Federation):
FSAF (Fukuoka Sailing Federation):
B & G Fukuoka Junior Yacht Kaiyo Club:

Report by Linda Saza for Fukuoka Now. If you have any questions, or would like to get in contact with Linda about this article, please feel free to contact her.

Sailing Course Information
A range of classes are offered at the Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor, with various age brackets and types of boat. Below is a summary of the classes on offer – please check the official website before applying. NOTE: No refund for cancellations of the following classes/sessions. Free lifejacket rental incl.
• Adult Beginners’ Yacht Class (over 16 years) : ¥3,000/session (Maximum 12 participants per class. Set class schedule. Apply at Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor office. Payment must be made in advance at the office (same day OK), call ahead to check availability.)
• Adult Group Yacht/Cruiser Class: ¥4,000/person (For groups of 2 ~ 5 participants. Flexible schedule – no set class times. Apply at Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor office. Payment must be made in advance at the office (same day OK), call ahead to check availability. (*5/1~))
• Junior Yacht Class (9~15 years): ¥1,500/session (Maximum 18 participants per class. Check schedule. Apply in advance by mail.)
• Parent/Child Dinghy/Yacht Session: ¥2,000/pair/session (Limited to two sessions of 40 participants. Check schedule and book in advance by mail or at the Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor office)
• Parent/Child Cruiser Session: ¥600/person/session (Maximum 50 participants per session. Check schedule and book in advance by phone 892-7284)
• Group Cruising Session: Prices depend on number of participants (Maximum 70 participants per session. Flexible schedule – no set class times. Apply in advance by phone)

Listed prices above correct as of March 2014. More information:ヨット教室/

Exam Preparation Classes /Bridging Classes
Fukuoka Yacht Harbor offers exam preparation and bridging classes for persons wanting to take 1st Grade and 2nd Grade licensing exams. See details below, or check the website for more information.
• 2nd grade: Two day study course (12 hours total) and 4 hours practice. Weekend classes: ¥124,000, Weekday classes: ¥112,660.
• 1st grade: 4 day study course (24 hours total) and 4 hours practice. Weekend classes: ¥147,000, Weekday classes: ¥133,455
• Grade up Bridging Class: Two day study course (12 hours total) Weekend classes: ¥43,000, Weekday classes: ¥39,535
• Special Class: Study course and 4 hours practice. Weekend classes: ¥74,000, Weekday classes: ¥67,590

Application form, photograph, physical examination certificate and resident’s card are required to take the above classes. Listed prices above correct as of March 2014. Please check website for updated price list:船舶免許/

Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor Dinghy/Yacht Races
2014 Dinghy races run from April to October, with around 14 races. Yacht races run all year, with five different organisers and over 40 races. For most races, Fukuoka Sailing Federation (FSAF) membership is required to participate. Exclusions include the SCIRA World Champions (8/25~31)* and the Odo Cup Yacht Race (9/7) which have special entry conditions. See the webpage for detailed PDFs. (レース情報/)

*SCIRA World Champions Aug. 2014. (
The SCIRA 2014 Id Crook Memorial World Masters Championship and 2014 All Japan Masters Championship is happening in Fukuoka this year from August 25~31. Organized by the Fukuoka Sailing Federation (FSAF) and Japan Sailing Federation (JSAF), in cooperation with the Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA) and SCIRA Japan.
• 8/25 ~ 31
• Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor
• Early entry fee (3/15~5/31): ¥60,000 / Late entry fee (after 6/1): ¥80,000. Fee incl. Harbour charge, opening and closing ceremony fees.

Fukuoka City Yacht Harbor
3-58-1 Odo, Nishi-ku
Tel: 092-882-2151
Fax: 092-881-2344
Open: 4/1~ 9/30: 9:30 ~ 18:00, 10/1~ 3/31: 9:00 ~ 17:00 (Close 12/29~1/3)施設案内/

Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn184, Apr. 2014)

Sunset Sailing
As you can see, Fukuoka is an ideal place of sailing. But what if you or your friends are yacht-less? Fortunately for you a new service offering custom charters and sunset cruises has begun. “Fukuoka Sunset Sailing” uses a luxurious Lagoon 421, a 10.75 meter catamaran, the “Fu Kyo”. Skippered by Dutchman and long time Fukuoka resident Jaap Mulder (interview on page 7), all you need is drinks, snacks and suntan lotion to enjoy an unforgettable view of Fukuoka and sunset. Here’s some snaps from Fukuoka Now staff cruise…


The “Fu Kyo” in front of Marinoa’s big wheel

fukuoka sunset sailing 050313 065

Customers can have hands-on experience sailing Fu Kyo

fukuoka sunset sailing 050313 144

Comfortable seating and a smooth and stable ride

fukuoka sunset sailing 050313 083

Catching some rays or the fresh sea breeze

fukuoka sunset sailing 050313 034

It’s called “Fukuoka Sunset Sailing” for a reason…

Mention Fukuoka Now when you book to receive 30 minutes extra sailing time! Fukuoka Nowを見たと伝えるとセーリング30分が追加してもらえるよ! Official English facebook page:, Official Japanese Facebook page:

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