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Global travelers visit Jeju during epic voyageGimnyeong Yacht Club is heart of island’s sailing community
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승인 2009.09.29  22:40:47
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For many, the waters of Jeju are a livelihood. For some, they offer the chance to get away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy a breath of fresh, sea air. If you've ever thought about escaping it all, then sailing might be the option for you. Certainly, that was on Fred Dustin's mind when he came up with the idea of starting a sailing club here on Jeju, several years ago.

Dustin, who has lived on Jeju for almost 39 years and in Korea for over 57, is the man responsible for starting the Gimnyeong Yacht Club. He is also the creator of the Gimnyeong Maze Park, and has played a big role in bringing both ventures to life. "He was the prime mover in wanting to get sailing established here in Jeju. He tried to organize the sailing company with the village people of Gimnyeong," said Jerry Cotter, a friend of Dustin's and current member of the club, adding: "He provided three boats, some dinghies and the present pontoons they're using at the eastern side of the harbor.”

After he stepped down from managing the club two years ago, Dustin donated two boats: Eskimo, a 26ft catamaran, and Rascal, a 21ft mono-hull yacht. He also donated the pontoons that are currently used to moor the boats. Altogether the club has three yachts available as well as several dinghies. The third yacht is a 23ft mono-hull built by the current Vice President of the club.

Cotter, a retired priest, is also a longtime resident of Korea, having arrived here some 54 years ago. He joined the Gimnyeong Yacht Club back in December, but has been sailing since he was a kid in Ireland.

The club offers a 16-hour Dinghy Certification course for 200,000 won. After taking this course, you can become a full member of the club for an additional 100,000 won, and take out the club's dinghies as often as you like. If you're just looking to go out for a trial-run or wanting a unique experience, you can go sailing for the day with any of the club members for a mere 10,000 won.

For the more adventurous sailors, you'll need your Korean yachting license to get access to the club's yachts. There is a written test which you can take in Jeju, but for the practical part of the course, you must travel to either Busan or Seoul to complete your certification.

Recently, a new enterprise has opened in Gimnyeong: the Gimnyeong Yacht Tour. A newly constructed 50ft aluminum catamaran from Mokpo has just arrived and will be used to take large groups out sailing around the coast. They have made an arrangement with the village to financially support the local sailing club in exchange for using the harbor as their base of operations.

▲ The Jade has traveled thousands of miles across the globe from South America, to the Galapagos Islands and more recently to Gimnyeong on Jeju’s northeastern coast. Nancy and Molly Highfield, Arnold Highfield and wife Cam Highfield aboard the Jade. Photos courtesy Arnold Highfield

For the past several weeks, the club has been host to the Highfields, a family who has been sailing around the world for the past 3 or 4 years. Arnold Highfield and his wife Cam Highfield, a former TV journalist in Hong Kong, have been traveling with their two daughters- Molly, 11, and Nancy, 9. Their boat, the Jade, was built in Florida, where they spent time learning to sail it. They traveled up and down the East Coast of the United States before moving south through the Panama Canal. They then followed the West Coast of South America, before sailing on to the Galapagos Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia. From there they sailed to Guam, Japan, and finally Korea.

Soon they will begin their journey back to Hong Kong to wait-out the typhoon season before making the final trip home.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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