We will add to this article as our experience grows!
Observation #1 about sailing in Taiwan is that having a powerful enough engine is essential for getting your boat in and out of ports. The narrow entrances of harbours magnify waves and it could be a fight to get in and out. Additionally, during our first coastal sail in January 2017, we had good wind (and wind direction) but a strong southward current meant that we couldn't go north where our home port was. Our electric engine is enough for fair weather but isn't suited for fiercer conditions. We asked God for guidance and felt it best to enter the nearest harbour instead. If you find yourself sailing on the west coast of Taiwan: have a dependable engine with enough fuel. You may find it necessary to motor for longer than you would like, especially when making landfall. The weather is fickle.
Observation #2: Yachtsmen visiting Taiwan can apply for permission online to stay up to 6 months maximum in a Taiwan harbour. Foreign yachts need to apply for special permission to stay - the longest period given is 3 months, After that you can apply 3 more times - each time for 1 month. The total is 6 months in one year. If you still want to be in Taiwan after 6 months you need to have atleast one of the following requirements:
1. A berth agreement for over 6 months with a marina authority (we signed an agreement for 1 year with a fishing harbour).
2. Written proof by a factory of damages that need to be repaired before you leave Taiwan. The factory needs to state in the letter how long repairs will take.
3. A safety reason like dangerous weather or a typhoon.
MAGONG, PENGHU COUNTY (PESCADORES ISLANDS)
We (motor-)sailed to Magong Harbour in Penghu County on 20 May 2018 and returned to our fishing harbour in Tainan the next day. As always, we needed to rely heavily on our 15hp Yamaha engine to go northwest against the southward current of the Taiwan Strait. This ever-present current makes sailing northward difficult, even when the sea is almost as smooth as glass. It took approximately 9 hours for us to reach Magong and find a suitable harbour. There were several delays:
>4 knots average speed;
>very light wind;
>crossing a fairway and therefore having to avoid ships/fishing vessels;
>entering an unfamiliar port at night with heavy traffic;
>not having any idea where we could actually berth
Our home port's Coastguard sent notice to the Coastguard in Magong that we were coming so we were only asked our departure time and directed to Argo Marina for a relatively expensive one-night berth. We pay app. US$40 per month for berthing at a usual fishing harbour whereas we paid US$36 for one night in the marina. Still, the staff was very welcoming and helpful. You can go straight to Argo Marina to handle port entry formalities - no need to go to the Coastguard first.
There is a gas station walking distance from the marina. If you speak a little Mandarin, you can find a delicious well-portioned hot meal for as little as US$3 closeby. There are also restaurants at the marina, if preferred. As with any place we have visited in Taiwan, most people will go out of their way to help.
The return trip took 10 hours though the current pushed us in the right direction. There were bigger waves and a little more wind than the day before. Our autopilot (Raymarine) helped to steer a steady course that saved fuel and time. Except for sunburn and the horde of mosquitos keeping us awake most the night, we are looking forward to exploring more of Penghu!
Continue Reading →