Tokyo Bay is one of the greatest spectacles in Japan. A fashionable commercial district and a beautiful night scene give it a popular image. But it has much more than you expect. From the sea, you can see all of the different faces of the big city.
So why don’t I get a Japanese boat license? I passed the written test. Next was the practical one on the water.
It was a good chance to get a partial view of the bay and to realize the dynamics. The test place was the coastal water around Tokyo Disney Resort, the busiest area of the bay. I did it on a hot summer day.
The boat was anchored at a marina a little bit upstream from the mouth of a river to the bay. When I got on it, I had no idea what I would see on the busy water. I was very nervous. The instructor started the engine to sail into the bay and gave me the rules of the test. I manned the helm at the mouth of the river. Let’s go to the sea!
Imagine that you are on a small boat floating on the water. There are no crossing points or traffic lights. You can take whatever path you like. But you are not alone. You are surrounded 360 degrees with huge freighters and flying barges and pilots all heading for you though you have never sailed there. It’s that thrilling!.
So I was surprized and scared at the big the commercial ships surrounding me when I came into the bay. Of course they were very far away from my boat on their way to the pier. But still they looked so enormous and all heading for me. I slowly got close to the first checkpoint buoy while I was wishing they couldn’t clash me.
I had to get off shore at a higher speed to pass the first assignment. It was scary at first. But when I felt comfortable with the sea breeze and got a wide view of the sea, I realized how exciting it would be to sail away. Then I relaxed and steered the boat at full throttle, passing by the landmarks of Tokyo Disney Resort, Oil tanks at power plants, and construction sites of the port. What a wonderful view!
Over 100 years ago, the bay was a successful place for fishing. Even today there still are some fishing villages along the bay. Ever since the bay has been the entrance to the city, it has been developed as a major trading port with lots of warehouses. The heavy industry is also based around the area for good access to the trading ports and the urban market. Steel factories, oil refineries, and power plants are built there for the same reason. Once you sail off shore, you’ll soon find lots of small fishing boats, huge tankers and enormous freighters on the water.
When I completed the final assignment and turn around to the marina right before twilight, I missed the sea very much. I loved running on the water in the sun.
Well, long story short, I’ve got the license. But I will have to pass the next challenge soon. The sea chart looks tricky. The mouth of the bay is very narrow with shallow water and hidden rocks. It is difficult to cross the sea lanes with heavy traffic of tankers and freighters. Barges are running around and about at high speeds. Under the water, fishing nets would trap the keel of a boat. What an exciting adventure!