I Am November

The weather is fantastic. I go sailing . The following movie depicts 2 days of happiness and joy. The first day the wind was strong and I put a reef in the mainsail. I did this very badly and as you will see in the movie the sail is very floppy and ill trimmed. I only had to haul up the throat and peak halyards but singlehanded, in strong wind and broken seas, on the wild and wistful ocean, this is too scary. The boat sailed well if not prettily. The next day there was less wind and to my delight I managed to shake out the reef, all by myself, far out at sea.

Incredible sailing! It is the middle of November but beautifully warm, sunny days. I am in a T-shirt! This video is really just for me so I can remember when I am an old man. You do not have to watch.

Arisa takes me to the Itoman Fish Market. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Itoman+fishing+cooperative+Fish+Center/@26.1381035,127.6591845,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x34e567c221f4f19d:0x58162367592c3315!8m2!3d26.1380987!4d127.6613785

This is paradise. A warehouse of stalls selling fish and especially sashimi presented on oyster shells. It is actually more of a restaurant than a market. You choose your food and then carry it outside to wooden tables and eat it. The fish is so fresh!

Eggs
Some kind of giant whelk
More whelk sashimi
Oysters
Our lunch. Fish soup, monk fish roe, fresh oyster, two takes on baked oyster, tuna sashimi, whelk sashimi, sashimi bowl.
No queues

The guy serves me my fish soup into a plastic bowl. Two huge fish eyes float to the surface. I am not ready for that and ask him to fish them out. Arisa is surprised. “The eyes are the best bits.” I am not there yet.

I would like to spend all day here. I would savour an incredible seafood dish, wait a while then go and get something even more incredible. And so on, and so on.

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Antipasto

Apart from filling up with water, my main concern with the boat is the starter motor. Sometimes it just whirrs away but does not turn the engine over. There is a thing called the solenoid that jams up due I think to condensation in the engine compartment.

This has been happening ever since I launched the boat. I asked my friend Nick, very experienced sailor, what to do and , to my delight, he advised me to hit it with a hammer.

In fact the condition normally cures itself but I dread being stuck on some remote island or being driven onto a lee shore and so I order a new starter motor.

Beautiful
Old one.

I have completely lost my self confidence when it comes to working on engines. Through stupidity and clumsiness, I now make the existing problem worse and usually initiate more problems. Also working bent double, in very cramped conditions, on parts of the engine that you can’t see, is hellish.

Call Kyuna san!

He shows up in 10 minutes and 20 minutes later the new starter motor is up and running. Several adjustments have to be made to get the new starter motor to fit. It has different electrical terminals and the aluminum casing has changed shape a bit during the last 30 years. This sort of problem is nothing for Kiyuna who files, the casing into shape and redesigns the connections. It is a joy to watch him work.

Quality of life. Having the best boat mechanic as a friend boosts it.

As you can see, the weather is beautiful and I hope to do a lot of sailing before I go to San Francisco.

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Clamato

So, probably the last great sailing picnic of the year is planned. Looks like I will go to San Francisco at the beginning of December and it also looks like the weather is going to be pretty bad for the rest of the month.

The picnic will be an elaborate affair. The crew foregather in warm sunshine and light wind. The plan is a gentle cruise around, followed by languid eating. It is true that the weather prediction forecasts possible light showers but there is no evidence of precipitation.

The relevance of this photo will become clear later in this post.

We back away from the pontoon and happily chug out to the harbor basin to raise sail. Whilst doing this deep black clouds sneak up behind us and gleefully unload thousands of liters of rain right onto us. It is so sudden, so unexpected, so intense. Within seconds we are all completely drenched.

I had fouled the peak and throat halyards whilst raising the sail and was so concentrated on untangling them that I completely forgot I had two waterproof jackets in the cabin. The crew sit patiently in their light Okinawan clothes and are soaked.

In 5 minutes the excursion is all over and we scurry back to our pontoon. The crew go off to try and dry off. There is still hope of a picnic but things get worse, the wind rises and the rain, albeit less intense, continues.

We abandon the boat picnic but resolve to have a picnic in my apartment. We have the best fun.

We start with Octopus Coctel, the essential ingredient is a Mexican mix of clam juice and tomato juice, Clamato, which Arisa miraculously tracks down in Okinawa. Next is steak with asparagus and pickled cucumber salad. Salade Lyonnaise with poached egg is fabulous. An excellent carrot cake before we freshen our mouths with crisp apple slices from Nagano. Various wines. It is very dark by the time we push away from the table. We live so well.

This is a dull movie mainly about cooking octopus.

So I can remember when I am an old man. I am not quite an old man yet.

Ah, quality of life? For me availably of lots of super fresh fish, especially octopus, is key. Keep your, er, Porsche, your, er fancy house, your, er, you know, all that stuff.

Just slap me across the face with a wet fish.

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The Last Day of October

31st October, 27 degrees, cool wind, beautiful sunshine! October and November are the best months in Okinawa.

We go for a drive up a little bit of the East Coast. My companion is Japanese and she points out so many things that I have never noticed or been aware of, even after nearly 10 years on the island. I realize I have only just scratched the surface of what Okinawa has to offer.

For example, we stop at an unremarkable building by the side of a harbor. I have passed it before and have taken it for some sort of administrative office. It turns out to be the most wonderful fish restaurant. I cannot read. I miss so much.

She eats
I eat. This is the best sashimi I have ever had. Check out the huge whelk. All the fish is so fresh.
So blue
Empty beaches
So quiet, so peaceful

We go to a couple of fish markets.

Super fresh fish.
More of the same
Such colors

Okinawa is so beautiful! Never more so than at this time of year.

Poor photo of last night’s moon
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Jolly Boating Weather

I have not posted much about sailing because I have not done much. I feel guilty about this, not about not posting but about not sailing.

I think there are several reasons.

The first is the Geneva Ski Syndrome. If you live in Geneva you only go ski-ing if the snow is perfect and the weather is beautiful. If you go on a ski holiday from Middlesborough, you ski all day, every day, even if the conditions are atrocious. If you live in Okinawa substitute sailing for ski-ing.

Another reason is technology. I have an app which is amazing. It is Windy. It tells me exactly what the wind strength, wind direction, wave height, temperature, rain possibility will be.

You know everything

In the er old days, you had a look around and if things were not too bad you would go sailing. If things turned out to be too hairy you would go back again.

Now you look at your IPhone, 12-15 knots of wind? North east wind, 1.5 meter wave height. Ooh, better not go out. Windy doth make cowards of us all.

Another reason is age. I am not as sprightly as I once was.

Anyway you will remember that the boat filled up with water in incredible rains before I was able to rig the cover. Read this https://thequietripple.com/2020/10/22/wet/

A few days ago, I take off the cover and survey the damage. All the lockers are full of water, everything in the lockers, tool boxes, rope, picnic table, cleaning stuff, clothing, etc etc are full of water. I pump and swab out all the water and give everything a clean. It is now beautiful weather and the contents of the boat lie steaming at the pontoon.

Gallons of rainwater came out of her bilges. It is still a mystery how it gets there.

So today, at last, I go for a wonderful sail. It is the very end of October but still air and sea are warm.

Such a good boat.

We sailed out a few miles, just looking at the sea. Then we went about and sailed back in. Ha! what was interesting about sailing back in was a 30 foot Bermuda rig yacht that was also heading for the marina. She was way ahead of us but we were going faster and we caught right up. Not sure the big boat was trying very hard. The Norfolk Gypsy is a good boat.

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Tempura Fugerunt

On the way to┬áthe dentist’s surgery and indeed on the way back too, there is a place that sells the best fast food in the world. Okinawan Tempura!

Japanese tempura is a little effete, the batter is light and fluffy. Okinawan tempura is more like English Fish and Chips. The batter is thick, meaty and crisp.

Catch me if you can

Inside the door, there is a tiny room with a hatchway. There is a chart that displays the richness of tempura available.

This only one third of the display.

Essentially, you can get tempura anything. If you brought in nail clippings or courgette flowers, they would tempura them for you.

You fill in a form detailing your desire. Today I get 2 fish and 2 squid. Next ring the bell and a lady’s head sort of appears behind much Covid screening. You pay. It costs 280 yen. This is nothing.

I hang around outside in the shade while my tempura is cooked. It is the end of October but still 29 degrees. The smiling lady brings me my food.

Piping hot chunk of battered fresh fish.

The food is served in brown paper bags.

Squid
Fush

It is so delicious!

Just for the record, I finally get around to installing anti chafe tubing on my bow mooring lines.

Anti rubbing rubber
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Just across the Road

I think I have already mentioned that a new fish restaurant has opened just across the road from my apartment building. I finally get to eat there. I dislike eating in restaurants alone and I trap a companion into joining me.

It was a very enjoyable lunch.

Wonderful selection of sashimi on rice, egg creme with mushrooms, mozuku, pickled daikon and miso soup.
Butter fried fish, sashimi, egg creme with mushrooms, mozuku, pickled daikon, taro, pork belly, chili, carrot, lotus root, rice, miso soup.

Very Okinawan ambience with sanjin background music. Each meal was 1,180 yen.

So stabilizing to have an excellent fish restaurant just across the road!

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Wet

Unannounced and unexpected, it rains very, very hard. The various weather apps I use predicted showers.

Mad rain!

The boat is uncovered. By the time I get down there, the cockpit is full of water that is overflowing into the engine compartment and from there into the bilges and so into the cabin.

Another couple of hours of this rain intensity could sink the boat.

Where you see the cover with the vertical battens is where the engine compartment is. You will notice that the water level is right there and rainwater is now pouring into the engine space.

It is very, very wet but I bail out the cockpit with a bucket and unleash the fury of the Gulper on the bilge. https://thequietripple.com/2019/06/10/so-much-rain/

I also pump out the cabin.

Rigging the cover is ferocious because the rain is so hard. I succeed but it is strong stuff. Good for a fat old man.

Thursday afternoon.

The few photos I took with my beloved Canon G10 exposed her to the elements such that I think she has died.

Buried in cous cous in the hope that the semoule will absorb moisture from the camera

I think she is dead. This is the third G10 I have killed by wetness.

https://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/g10.htm

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Nothing Endures but Change

One of the great joys of living where I do is the proximity of a Farmer’s Market.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ginowan+Hagoromo+Market/@26.2850138,127.7478941,15.93z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xcfef77afb6b0f6ad!8m2!3d26.2854119!4d127.74382

In Okinawa the availability of fruit and vegetables is seasonable. You eat what is coming out of the ground or off the bushes and trees, right now.

Added to this is a strong ‘eat local’ theme. The Farmer’s Markets sell local produce. Each bag has a label that details where the vegetable was grown and when it was harvested.

My market

I love it and get most of my food here. This is what is on offer in October.

Do you know what these are? I don’t.
Lots of spinach stuff
More obscure spinach stuff
Lots of courges
Tons of okra
Goya of course. Sorry bad photos.

It also stocks local meat and fantastic fresh fish. It is right beside the harbor.

Mainly the lower part of pigs’ legs
Fresh fish and spinach stuff that I will eat as soon as I have finished writing this.

It is a wonderful place. I am so happy.

Arisa tells me that the market will close at the end of October. How can this be? Apparently there are fewer and fewer vegetable growers in Ginowan -urbanization- and the cost, in Covid times, of bringing in stuff from elsewhere is prohibitive.

So sad.

On the happy side, I have to go to the bank to register my change of address. I have already done this but apparently they screwed up. The staff are very apologetic and, having filled in the necessary forms, with lots of help, they formally present me with a Mickey Mouse pen.

So Japan. I am touched

More happiness! Overnight a fish restaurant opens up across the road.

From my balcony. I think the sign says “Fish and Chips”
A fresh octopus. Always a good note to finish on.

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Spoonful

This past week has been an unhappy one for me. You will remember the dinner last Saturday, beautiful art, beautiful people, beautiful food and drink.

As always misery and pain are never far away.

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white–then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.–

It is my great privilege to own a canteen of silver cutlery. Actually I do not like to use the verb own. I am the family member that has it at the moment. It is a family er thing.

It is one of my earliest memories. I climbed up to look inside.

The canteen is complete. There are 12 items of big stuff, knives, forks. fish knives, fish forks, cake knives, cake forks, and lots of items as what we rarely use, crumb scoop, fish serving knife, fish serving fork, nut crackers and on and on. It is complete. No item is missing after all these years.

Intact
So amazing

At the dinner, we use a lot of beautiful cutlery.

The next day when all is washed and counted, oh dear, I am one silver teaspoon short.

I am uneasy but not yet terribly worried as this has happened before. A fork goes missing but is found in the wrong drawer, a soup spoon, after a couple of days of absence, shows up amongst the daily usage knives and forks.

The silver teaspoon does not show. My anxiety rises. I search everywhere. Nothing.

I even recover the post party garbage bag from the garbage depot and go through it piece by piece. Nothing.

I am very unhappy. I am the person who destroyed the integrity of the family canteen.

There is now one piece missing. All these years, all those meals.

I am unworthy.

I have mentioned before the industrial build of my kitchen sink’s drainage system. It is one of the things that I particularly like about the apartment. The sink is not draining very well so I rummage around in the drainage basket.

I find the spoon.

Great moments in life.

I am restored.

I will not be remembered as the one who lost the teaspoon.

I feel so much better.

I go to look at Black faced Spoonbills, about 400 in the whole world. Their rarity corresponds with my silver teaspoon.

Where is the teaspoon?
I think I found it
It’s in the sink drain basket.

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