Retiree living it up on high seas

World explorer: Sato, who has circumnavigated the world almost twice, showing an atlas marked with all the places he had sailed to on board his catamaran, Umineko (left).

CAPTAIN Motoyuki Sato once saw feral pigs swimming out to boats from a uninhabited island in the Bahamas, begging for food.

He had also experienced about 40 sharks circling him curiously when he anchored in a lonely atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Sato, 59, who claims to be the first Japanese to sail around the world almost twice, is a man with a thousand stories to tell.

He retired as a general manager in an automotive products design company end of January 2012 and by end of March that year, he was untying the mooring lines of his 13m (43ft) catamaran, the Umineko (Sea Cat), for his trip around the world.

Sato has crossed more than 64,000km of water for two and a half years and he is now in Penang.

The tanned, rugged yet affable Japanese took folk on board his vessel for a short trip out of Straits Quay’s marina on Sunday at 11am, 2pm and 4pm.

“I want to give people a chance to ride a catamaran and tell them stories about what I saw out there,” he smiled.

Sato set sail at Honolulu in Hawaii and headed to the Fanning Island of the Republic of Kiribati before sailing to Wallis, Fiji, Vanuatu and Mackay.

His circumnavigation has taken him to more than 40 places including Darwin, Bali, Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling Island, Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, St Helena, Brazil, Grenada, St Lucia, Martinique, St Martin, USA, Bahamas, Cuba, Panama, Marquesas Island, Rangiora, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Maupiti French Polynesia, Swarrow Island, Niue and Tonga.

He completed his first global round when he revisited Fiji in May 2014 and then kept on go-ing.

For repairs, Sato chose Pen Marine dockyard in Batu Maung, Penang, where he had spent nearly two months and over RM80,000 on a thorough refurbishment.

“Penang is a wonderful place for a sailor.

“In Havana, Cuba, there are clean and beautiful heritage areas, but its villages are shockingly dirty and poor.

“It is so different in Penang. This is my favourite place in Southeast Asia,” he explained.

Sato said he planned to be in Penang for about two weeks before heading south to Johor and then be homeward bound to Japan.

He then plans on taking short trips twice a year.

“In Japan, we believe that we are young until we hit 70. At that age, we will need helping hands.

“So right now, I plan to live it up.”

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Lifestyle , Northern Region , catamaran , sail , japanese


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