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Ukrainian family touring Asia in sailboat finds safe harbor in Taichung

11/29/2023 03:19 PM
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Ukrainian traveler Valeriy. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023
Ukrainian traveler Valeriy. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023

Taichung, Nov. 29 (CNA) A Ukrainian family whose sailboat malfunctioned in the Taiwan Strait has, with help from Taiwan's Coast Guard and immigration authorities, spent the last week docked at Taichung's Wuqi Fishing Port as they wait for repairs.

According to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA), a Malaysian-flagged sailboat carrying the family of three had requested permission to enter the port at around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Upon being asked the reason, the pilot of the vessel said he was having trouble with the boat's rudder and wanted to stop to get it inspected and repaired, the Coast Guard said.

The CGA said the family had initially been given 7-day visitor permits, but that immigration officials had arranged to extend them because they would have expired while the boat was still undergoing repairs.

In an interview with CNA Wednesday, the 41-year-old father of the family, who asked to be identified by his first name Valeriy, said he, his wife and 13-year-old son had been traveling around Asia in the boat since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The sailboat used by the Ukrainian family is docked in a port in Taichung Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023
The sailboat used by the Ukrainian family is docked in a port in Taichung Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023

An electrical engineer originally from Lviv, Valeriy said his family had traveled to countries including Yemen, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on their journey, and typically got around by bicycle after reaching a destination.

On the most recent leg of their trip, he said, the family left Tongyeong-si in South Korea en route for the Philippines but stopped off in Keelung due to high waves, which had left his son with severe motion sickness.

From Keelung, they continued traveling south through the Taiwan Strait, but had to stop off again in Taichung after encountering problems with their boat's rudder, Valeriy said.

Since docking in Taichung, the family has been spending the nights on their boat but have been venturing ashore each day to stock up on supplies, Valeriy said, adding that the people he had met had all been very friendly and helpful.

Although the family has now received 30-day entry permits, he said, they plan to continue with their voyage as soon as the repairs are complete.

(By Chao Li-yen and Matthew Mazzetta)

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CNA video Nov. 29, 2023
Valeriy is seen on his sailboat (left) in Taichung Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023
Valeriy is seen on his sailboat (left) in Taichung Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2023
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