Monday, May 10, 2010

Kaiwo Maru!

In which we go all nautical (again)

The Japanese training vessel, Kaiwo Maru II glided into port last week. This full-rigged four-masted ship, used for training by the Japanese Navy, was built in 1889. She came into San Francisco Bay to commemorate the 150 anniversary of the 1860 voyage of the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese vessel to call officially at a U.S. port.

The ship's wheel used when she's under sail.

I spent several hours Saturday and Sunday aboard and around her, taking snaps and chatting with the Japanese sailors. It gave me a chance to use the few words in Japanese I remembered from watching the “Shogun” miniseries back in the 1970s---Konnichiwa (howdy!), hai (yes) and domo arigato (thank you), the limit of my Japanese. They were so nice they even had me bowing at the end.

She’s truly one of the largest and most lavishly appointed square-riggers I’ve ever had the privilege to come aboard.

Kaiwo Maru II

Displacement: 2,556 tons
Length: 361 ft.
Beam: 45 ft.
Height at mainmast: 142 feet
Complement: 199 souls

A crewman makes an announcement over the ship's PA. While the officers wear traditional navy blazers and white combination caps (and very smart they look) the men wear these kimono-style outfits. I rather liked them. At least they don't have to wear the little white beanies American sailors are forced to wear.

Just before she's pushed out into the channel by tugboats, the Japanese sailors climb the rigging and offer up their version of "three cheers" to the city and people of San Francisco. It was actually quite moving and brought several Japanese-American onlookers nearly to tears.

The San Francisco Fire Department fireboat, Guardian, offers its salute to the Kaiwo Maru II

Escorted by tugs and civilian yachts, the Kaiwo Maru II moves out toward the Gate.

Another shot of the Kaiwo Maru II, this one as she motors past Alcatraz. The spray in the background is from the SFFD Guardian. I'm sorry I wasn't able to see her under full sail. That would have been a sight to remember.