Posted by: Zen | March 12, 2011

Sailing Vegas – ASA, style part III …Team Zen

After an ok breakfast at the hotel I head back to the Flamingo casino

for the final day of the conference and the big event for me. Team Zen’s presentation.

I am the first to arrive of the group so I mill around killing time. As I an doing do I chance across an ASA instructor from Taiwan. I had heard the name Taiwan a couple of times around him but I was not sure. As it turns our he was from there and I was able to get a rundown on sailing into Taiwan and some info on where a couple of good ports are located. Taiwan is our planned stop before Okinawa as I want to visit our Chan/ Zen temple and spend a few days there as a break. He gave me his contact info if he could be of help… Cool!

After a while Sensei and the rest arrive. They start to organize for the presentation we are the first for the day.

As he set me his presentation before hand via eMail I will post it here, less things not needed eg: points about slides. The numbers listed are the slide numbers:


Yoh Sensei:

5  Today’s topics
I feel honored to give a speech in front of so many mariners.
Today, I have prepared four topics.
I have been thinking a lot about what could be the best topics to wake you up this morning.
After careful consideration, I have selected four topics.
1) A solo sailing around the world
2) An introduction to Zen
3) The Zen method of a sailing lesson
4) A Zen boat

I wish to start with my story of sailing around the world.     Are you ready?

6  My story about sailing around the world
What I enjoyed the most was, I was popular among the women in Easter Island.     Would you like to hear such a story?          Well…  I guess I was popular only because I had arrived there alone all the way from Japan.
The hardest time was when I almost died from a big wave that turned my boat upside-down.     The water came in within ten minutes and the boat was about to sink.
After a while, however, another big wave hit my upside-down boat and turned it back.     If I had not gotten the second wave, I would not be standing here this morning.

7  Ahodori 2
I used plywood on a wood frame and built a 21-foot keel boat by myself in my backyard.

8   Around the world with Ahodori 2
I left Osaka, Japan in June, 1971 and the first port of call was San Francisco. It took 83 days.
The next was Acapulco, Mexico, and then on the Galapagos, and I later called in at Easter Island.     To get to the next port of call, Buenos Aires, Argentina, I had to go around Cape Horn, which is the southernmost part of South America.     I knew that nobody had ever gone around it with such a small boat and that I would not make it without good luck.     I arrived in Buenos Aires in 58 days.     The next port of call was Cape Town, South Africa.     From there, I headed for Australia along the roaring 40s-line.     And I arrived in Sydney in 92 days.     I left there for the last passage and arrived in Osaka in 85 days.     The sailing around the world took me 3 years and 2 months.

9   3 years and 2 months
All in all, I sailed 1,140 days.     Magellan took 1,081 days.     Ahodori II was only 1.5 tons, while Magellan’s boat was 85 tons.     3 years and 2 months means a newly born baby is ready to enjoy preschool!

10   Navigating with a sextant
The equipment of Ahodori II was composed only of nautical charts, a compass and a sextant.  No engine, no radio and no electricity.    Ladies and gentlemen, if your child said he or she was going around the world with such poor equipment, what would you say?  Would you say “Yes, go ahead!”?
I navigated by shooting the sun with a sextant because the convenient GPS did not exist at that time.     All I could see was the ocean and I had no idea where I was at first.     I was really scared.

11  Catching tuna
The boat was too small to carry enough food, so I was really happy when I could catch tuna.     It became an important food.     I ate the fatty tuna flesh as sashimi, and dried the rest.

12  The Golden Gate Bridge
One night, if my astronomical calculations were right, I came to believe that I might see the Golden Gate Bridge the following morning.      Ladies & Gentlemen,
the next morning, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge in the sunrise.

13  Living on Easter Island – 1
After leaving San Francisco, Mexico and the Galapagos islands, my next destination was Easter Island.      Santiago, the headman of the island, said, “You are my son from now on.  This hut and food are all yours.”   I was so happy and spent 2 months in his corrugated hut.

14  Living on Easter Island – 2
I was with children every day.     We caught fish and shells and cooked them.
They always gave me the biggest one.     They did not start to eat before I ate.

15  The headman of the Easter Island
The man outlined in the circle holding a lobster is the headman, Santiago.     I used to go fishing with him in a canoe.

16  The second hesitation: Am I becoming the headman?
One day, a poisonous insect bit the headman when he was diving.     His thigh was swollen twice as big and he had a high fever.     His condition got worse and worse.     On the 3rd night, he called me to his side and said, “Yoh…I guess I am dying.     I would like you to succeed me.”   I was at a loss about what to do.     I could not say no so easily.     I seriously thought about whether I should continue to sail or become the headman.     Then, I suddenly remembered that I had some vitamins and a syringe in my boat and gave him a shot.     The next day, his condition started to improve.     The swelling became smaller.     I was relieved and told him that I had decided to leave Easter Island.

17  To Cape Horn
I left for Cape Horn.     I prepared a sea anchor in case of a big storm that I might encounter in the roaring 40s.      Also, I nailed the stern hatch and the bow hatch shut so that water would not come in.

18  The storm at the roaring 40s
I really could not believe the height of the waves, but the real hazard was a big storm.

19  The Heavy Storms
It was 3 days to go to Cape Horn.     This was Beaufort 12,      28.67 inches pressure.

20   100-foot-height of the wave
The waves were 100 feet high and I could see the breaking crests of the waves.     One break fell onto Ahodori II.     I was lying on the berth and it threw me out.     I woke up to find that the deck was under me.     Yes, my boat was upside-down.     I covered a hole of the ventilator with my hands so that water would not come in, but I could not stop it.     I thought I would sink 18,000 foot to the bottom of the ocean.     I was almost ready to sink, but ladies and gentlemen, another big wave hit my boat and it turned me right side up.  What a miracle!

21  Passing Cape Horn
After the storm, the wind from the west was blowing for quite a while.
At last, I was finally able to go around Cape Horn!
This is Cape Horn!
The Cape Horn of my dreams was the highest hurdle I had anticipated.

22  Leaving Sydney
After departing from Buenos Aires, Argentina and Cape Town South Africa, I left Sydney for Japan.
The people I had made friends with held a farewell party for me.

23  Windless area
After leaving Australia, I was caught in the windless doldrums of the equator.
My boat moved only 5 miles a day… I felt greatly frustrated.

24  Back to Japan after 3 years & 2 months
On the 85th day after leaving Sydney, at last I arrived in Osaka Bay.     3 years and 2 months had passed since my departure.

25  I Won’t do it again!
Some people have asked me if I would ever do it again. Then I have to ask them, “Are you crazy?”  I, myself, would not want to ever circumnavigate again.    One time is enough.
I have two children and a wife, who is operating this PowerPoint over there.
If either of my children wanted to sail around the world, I would say, “Don’t be silly!”
Also, I strongly suggest to anybody here tell your sons or daughters not to try to do the same thing.
Why? Because, I want to keep my Guinness record unbroken!

Next up a friend of the family who is doing the translation of Yoh Sensei’s book read several passages from the in progress translation of his three year Circumnavigation.

I have not read the book as well however LZ did and loved it! I before this had only gotten bits from it. So I with many others look forward to the English release of his book.

Yoh Sensei:

26    (2) Introduction to Zen

In English, Zen is understood as meditation, and not a religion.  Jesus Christ meditated in the desert and received god’s revelation.  Muhammad meditated in a cave in Hira Mountain around 610 AD and got Allah’s revelation.  Buddha sat under a tree doing zazen, and got spiritual enlightenment.  Zen does not belong to any particular religion.

27    History of Meditation
The origin of meditation goes back to 2500BC.  It was proved by a stamp found at the remains of Mohenjo Daro, the main city of the Indus civilization.
Buddha was active in India around 500BC.  Talking of Zen as a religion of Buddhism, Bodhi dharma went to China around 500 AD and became the Chinese Zen initiator.  In the era of the Yuan dynasty, a Chinese monk Rinzai, founder of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism made Zen popular in China.  Around 1270, however, it was not popular in China any more.

28   Zen was developed in Japan
It is said that the Japanese Zen sect was begun by Eisai and Dogen, who went to study in China about 1200. Presently in Japan, the Zen sect, a part of Buddhism, has six millions faithfuls. Currently I cannot say that Zen believers necessarily like meditation.
D.T. Suzuki spread Zen in the USA
D.T. Suzuki got married with Beatrice Rayne, who was studying about Zen in Japan.  He went back to the States, lived there between 1950 and 1958, teaching Zen Buddhism at the Universities of Hawaii, Yale, Harvard, Princeton etc.  It is thanks to his work that you have known about Zen.

29    The function of Zen in the modern age
Many problems between individuals, races and nations have a root cause in human relationships.  Therefore it is necessary to understand how the human consciousness is structured in order to solve these problems. In Zen meditation, the structure of human consciousness is understood as follows.  This way of thinking is influenced by modern psychology as well.
The center of an individual is not the ego but the self.
The ego understands matters logically.
The self understands matters intuitively.
You can be aware of the existence of the self by way of the complexes.
Sigmund Freud, born as an Ashkenazim of Judaism in Germany, thought we would need to conquer our complexes so as to create a stronger individual, for a complex is the weakness of an individual.  Carl Gustav Jung, born as the son of a Swiss priest, tried to acknowledge that the existence of a complex is important.  Jung was also fond of sailing.

30   Images projected your complex
Your complexes show images. Images are always operated by you.
You have a vision of a good friend working with your pride and turn to a bad person by your prejudices. Pride and prejudice are operated upon both sides of our complexes.

31    To look at yourself from different angles
Zen teaches that meditation allows us to see with 360 degrees of vision.  Then prejudice, created by ego, can be eliminated.    By eliminating prejudice, we understand that our complexes themselves cause problems.
In Zen teaching, meditation removes the influence of prejudice, and it can enhance the intuition.  Intuition is the power that allows us to reach the matters beyond logic and the power to grasp something deep.    Intuition is necessary when the logic does not work or when we face a very big task.  We also need to know that understanding by intuition can be erroneous.

32    The Dalai Lama
Zen shows generosity even towards others’ complexes, for it acknowledges that a complex exists even in the self.
At the Zen meeting in Hiroshima in 2007, to the Tibetan refugees, the Dalai Lama suggested that we pray together for happiness for ourselves and for the Chinese.  It is a well-known fact that the Chinese tortured and murdered more than a half million Tibetans.  Many of the audience shed tears.  I was also moved by his generosity.  Here I show you the bell given to me by the Dalai Lama.  Shall I ring it for you?

33     The Practice of Zen
I host a monthly Zen meeting at a nearby temple in Japan.  It is an old temple built around 1200 and designated as a national treasure.  The garden is asymmetrical built to express the thought of Zen. Compared to the garden of a symmetrical composition in European country, and it looks a beauty of the logic.
My friend Fuu French Miyatani came to see me one day and I took him to this temple.  Here we are doing Zen meditation at the bell.  Are you here, Fuu?  Can you mention something about Zen?

Now it is my turn. Sensei introduced me with how I was on the cover of Spring issue of the ASA magazine.

I started with how I was asked to help with the Q&A then was changed into speaking. Since there was a tight time limited I cut back a lot. I wanted to cover a few things and also give Sensei a good Segway into his talk about the electric boat he was presenting as well after his talk on Zen Sailing. Those who read this blog already know what I have said about Zen, sailing,martial art. Here is my talk ( the final edit ):

Zen is about our connection to the universe and how we interact with it through form and formless action.

My background is Shaolin temple Kung Fu the birthplace of Chinese Chan which is called Zen in japan. The Bodidharm that Yoh Sensei spoke of was the abbot of Shaolin.
The monks used motion Zen ( Kung Fu) to balance their Sitting meditation Zen practice.

There are two basic aspects to Zen , Yin and Yang or form and formless.

Yang or form: the logical mind, books, physical action, drills, sitting meditation.

Yin or formless, intuition, the sense of connection to all things , compassion, how one lives their life.

The Zen state  of Kyudo  is called San Mai ittai the harmonious connection of spirit, body and bow
The San Mai ittai of sailing is the harmony of body, boat and the elements.

There is also the compassion part of Zen, another aspect of formlessness . There is compassion to all life as we are all connected. This compassion this connection , this oneness includes everything from people, to the planet, and it’s varied life forms,  including the oceans and it’s life forms as well,  we are all one.


Showing compassion for each aspect of ourselves. This is Zen. This compassion should show in our actions, not just in words. Compassion when we chose a bottom paint, compassion when we choose the purchase of single use plastic bottles that never go away and shows up in our food supply, compassion when we choose a method of propulsion  other than wind power, using alternate fuels, and electric.

This is another face of Zen.

Yoh Sensei;

34    Zen methods into sailing teaching
Zen sailing skills consist of four elements: wind, water, boat and human
Here, I show you an example of a Zen sailing lesson during an Advanced Coastal Cruising course. The objective of the Advanced Coastal Cruising course, with Zen methods, is to use blindfolds.

35    A Student at the helm
The helms person tries to go to a target in front of the boat.  In Zen sailing lessons, however, the student goes forward by using the marks set at the side or rear.

36   Students with blindfolds
When students master it, we let them close their eyes occasionally and go forward.  At the end of the fourth day, he/she becomes able to take the helm with his/her eyes shut for half an hour, while meditating.
This is not magic.  As talented instructors here, you have already known it.  Inside the cabin, you can be aware of what is going on outside, such as the boat begins to stray away from the course or the boat is sailing by the lee.  You will catch such a situation without looking at it.  This is intuition.  My ultimate goal is helping my students to be empowered with it.

37      Tomoda single-handed across the Pacific
It was in 2003 when Tomoda, a 26 years old student of mine, sailed alone across the Pacific.  Seventy-seven days after the departure from Osaka, he arrived in San Francisco.  He got trained up to ASA-106 and studied about Zen sailing.  While at sea, the auto pilot became dysfunctional.  Then the wind vane broke, but he could still continue to sail even at night. For by using his intuition, he understood the conditions of the boat and the sea.

38    Captain Joshua Slocum’s voyage
Have you read Captain Joshua Slocum’s voyage journal, ‘Alone Around the World’?  In this writing, he never used words such as meditation or intuition.  He did not use the auto pilot.  His record makes me realize that he also took advantage of his intuition.

39    IQC at Aoki School
As an IE, I am not sure how much longer I can continue to train ASA instructors.  Is there anybody over 70 years old?  Oh, fantastic!  Myself, being mediocre, I guess I could continue maybe 5 to 6 more years.  Until my retirement time, I would like to train the ASA instructors who can carry on Zen sailing.

40   The Four elements of sailing skill
At Aoki’s IQC, our candidates begin to learn the Zen way of thinking.  In Zen sailing, we teach that its technique is comprised of four elements: sailing, navigation, marine weather and maintenance.  The candidates will evaluate the sailing skills by finding where their imperfection lies among the four elements.  No instructors are perfect.  I am also one of the imperfect ones.  By acknowledging their weaknesses and one’s complexes, students can improve their sailing skills.

41  Zen steering
During the ASA IQC, I test candidates for their single handed sailing.
This guy is using a Zen method with a shock cord tight up to  the tiller.
Another guy here is using a leg for steering instead of Zen.

42    AMSD method
In order to avoid unfairness to students because of the instructor’s biases, we use the AMSD method to evaluate the candidate’s achievement.    AMSD stands for Addition, Multiplication, Subtraction and Division.    If you point out the student’s weaknesses or mistakes at first, the student would not be happy and would become discouraged.  It is hard to accept suggestions in this manner.  At first, we mention the positive points of this student and encourage him/her.  Then we criticize his/her errors.  Then the student finds it easier to accept his/her mistakes.  Then he or she will improve faster.

43    The Annual Instructor Meeting
In Japan, our annual instructors’ meeting was held in February.  At the meeting, experienced instructors and less experienced ones gave model lessons.  We all evaluated the lessons and have a discussion.  Experienced instructors do not always have a good evaluation.  As a result, everybody will understand how his lessons are perceived.

44    COB Instructor Event
I also held a crew overboard event in Osaka on August 7 and 8th, 2010.  Ten instructors and ten volunteers took part.
By using a real boat, we tried three rescue methods: the figure eight method, the quick stop method, and the fast return method.  We also tried rescue tools such as the Life Sling and tackle gear.  Instructors met other instructors and it was another opportunity to learn from each other.

45    A Big appearance on Kazi sailing magazine
This event, the first of its kind in Japan, was featured in a sailing magazine ‘Kazi’ on six pages.  In Japan, crew overboard recovery methods was not well known

46   Textbooks for sailing education
I also published textbooks for sail training because there had been no proper textbook in Japan.     I published Inner Sailing 1 in 2005, Inner Sailing 2 in 2006, and the dictionary titled Inner Sailing 3 in 2007.      These textbooks are certified as the official Japanese textbooks for ASA.  Mr. Charlie Nobles kindly wrote the forwards for all the three books.  The books have so far sold very well!

47   The Introduction of the Aoki School
Currently the Aoki School has been extended to five places in Japan.  The head school is in Osaka, then Yokosuka, Yokohama, Aichi, Okayama and Okinawa. I would like to introduce Greg Martin, the instructor in Okinawa, a southern island.
The sixth sailing school will be open next month in Tokyo.  I am also running a school in Osaka and Yokosuka, where national boat licenses can be granted.

48     (4)  Introduction of Zen Boat
At the Aoki School, We use the new Zen 24 as our training boats.  Common boats in Japan are Yamaha, Hunter, Catalina and Beneteau.  Compared to these boats, the Zen 24 has a very unique and favorable characteristics.  First of all, on a Zen 24, it is possible that you can sail straight without holding the tiller.  Not for one minute or two, but for one hour or even a whole day, you can go without holding the tiller.  Can you believe it?  Of course, needless to say, we need appropriate sail trim.

49    Zen 24
The Zen 24 can maintain neutral helm even when it heels.  Therefore the helmsman can enjoy a long sailing without much stress, even while shorthanded.  Speed is also increased, because the resistance from the rudder blade is reduced.
You see the light touch to the tiller under 30 knots wind. With 20 knots of wind, you can plane the Zen 24 without using a spinnaker.

50    Open water capability
Two of the Zen 24’s sister boats have succeeded in sailing around the world. They are the Hyakki-maru and the Kibou.  These two boats have the same hull as the Zen 24.  On both boats, the autopilot was broken. By securing the tiller with a shock cord, however, they went more than half way around the globe.  Other Zen 24 boats have sailed over ten days around Okinawa and the Ogasawara Islands. Twenty-nine Zen 24s have been sold in Japan.

51    The unique hydro-dynamic hull design
The hull’s form is supported by a neutral helm which allows the CLR to go backwards when the boat heels.
Together with a renowned Japanese naval architect, Yokoyama, I developed this unique Zen 24 model. Yokoyama created more than 420 sailboat designs since 1944. Unfortunately Yokoyama passed away in 2009 at the age of 91.  He commissioned me to distribute this Zen boat.

55    The Zen 24 with an Inboard Electric Engine
Another most significant thing about the Zen 24 is that it comes specially equipped with an inboard electric motor. The Zen 24 is the only boat available now in the mid 20 ft range that has been especially built and optimized for use with an inboard electric motor. We believe that the time has come for sailors to embrace electric power, since it is cleaner, quieter, improves comfort, maneuverability and is more reliable. Electric power for sailboats is in harmonic balance with nature and reaffirms our environmental values. With the 8HP Thoosa 5000 motor by Danish ASMO marine, the Zen 24 is able to easily reach hull speed of over 6 knots and can even regenerate power while sailing. With four 120A battery, the Zen 24 can motor for five hours at a speed of five knots.

Once over I was surprised at the amount of interest in Zen and sailing Also about the Zen 24 boat which Sensei is bringing here to the states. It was suggested that he give a seminar on sailing and Zen training.

There was a lot of photo shooting going on afterwards. Several people wanted pictures. I think some or a couple will turn up in the next news letter.

The nicest personal moment  for me was at the end when Sensei said to our group we are a team.

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