Power Gives Way to Sail

Once more the languid existence of Covid 2020. There has been a very marked upsurge in the number of cases on the island. We had none for months but suddenly it is back. With this comes polite and gentle urgings from the Governor to stay at home and avoid social gatherings. We all ,of course, wear masks, spray our hands with disinfectant and distance. Everybody but everybody conforms.

This new spike has put the kibosh on several dinners and being with people fun.

You get the idea.

I lead a low key life and look forward to the excitement of walking to the supermarket.

Full of surprises

I also visit an exhibition by old friend Kikuta san. https://www.oist.jp/news-center/videos/ichiro-kikuta-yambaru-byobu-exhibition-painting-forest-full-life

Good bloke
I would buy one of his screens if I had space to put it. He is a very knowledgeable birdwatcher.

Principally, I fuss over various problems on the boat; jib sheets, water in the cabin, sail lacing, and all the other tribulations that boats are heir to.

Of course, there is a lot of time on the water.

I go out with Chris on Sunday. There is a fog coming off the sea which is called a sea fret, or a haar on the East coast of Scotland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haar_(fog)#:~:text=In%20meteorology%2C%20haar%20or%20sea,over%20the%20cold%20North%20Sea.

The wind is strong, almost always over 15 knots. It is is cloudy and choppy as we blast over to the Sand Islands. https://www.google.com/maps/@26.251881,127.6090131,12360m/data=!3m1!1e3

Coming home is not so easy. She does her best but we are sailing into the wind. long tacks back to Okinawa. In the distance we spot a big cargo/container boat. It is coming straight for us. This happens often and always the big boat just steams on and in fact passes nowhere near us.

This was not the case yesterday. The closer we got the more evident it became that there was a good chance of collision. Had they seen us? So, in theory, power gives way to sail but a 100,000 ton cargo boat going at 20 knots may think differently.

We were rattled as the huge boat came closer and closer. Then it changed course and passed behind us. Thank you Captain of the cargo boat. It was scary.

The video does not capture the distances.

The wind was strong and we beat back. It is not comfortable sailing as you crash into the waves and seem not to be making much distance. However I am determined to get as close to Okinawa before we resort to the mighty Yanmar. It is getting late. At a critical moment my $100 hat blows away into the sea. It floats away at great speed. Turn around and try to fish it out ? Like Hell, we have let’s get home mindset and who cares about a $100 hat anyway? We fire up the Yanmar and motor the last kilometers.

Fresh air.

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Dear Diary

Life trundles on with a general aimlessness due principally to the Covid virus, which makes planning and big stuff impossible. I rather like it. I do a lot of sailing .

South winds, two trips

When I am not sailing I just hang around and enjoy my new place and living in Ginowan.

I love my water cooler

The water cooler is wonderful. I drink lots and lots of ice cold water, which has to be good for me. The hot water is very near boiling and is perfect for pots of tea and shaving water.

I have been eating a lot of nigiri. So good in hot weather.

I have mentioned the Hoppepan bakery that is just a short stumble away. It really is excellent. They do a few classics like croissants but the majority of their buns, cakes, rolls are their own original creations. As I write, I am eating a bun stuffed with walnuts.

Lots of seaffood and pork buns.
Cakey stuff
More seafood.

Fresh air and food.

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Just a reminder that this blog is a diary. The entries have no value other than me being able to remember what I did. I have been diarying now for about 10 years and I only wish I had started sooner. My life before 10 years ago is a blur.

This is to explain the very random nature of this post, which has neither plot nor character but will be fun to read in 10 years time.

I have mentioned that I have struck up a deep friendship with Hanada san who runs a tiny but fascinating wine shop nearby. She speaks little English but also a little French and we get on famously. She will find me any wine I care to drink. I have been drinking excellent wines from the Jura recently.

Bad photo. My hand shakes.

I have of course been sailing a lot. I struggle with the mainsail. I think it is well set with taught halyards but once confronted with the enemy there is always a crease running down the sail from the throat to the clew. More study needed.

I replace the jib sheet with new but cheap rope, which will certainly do the job. The incumbent sheet must be 25 years old.

Flemish flake

My local bakery Hottepan opens at 8:00, which is rare in Okinawa, shops usually open later. This means I can stumble up there, buy amazing croissants and stuff and come home for breakfast.

Breakfast. The brioche thing comes with a slab of butter.

My flute does not work. It has been increasingly difficult to get a strong sound and now some notes have disappeared. I have been here before many times and all indications point to leaking pads on some of the keys. What chance of getting a early 19th century English flute fixed in in Okinawa? Well it turns out to be a 100% chance.

He understands
This is where to go

I go to Docomo because my 1 Gbs internet is not working properly. The charming Anna san gives me collector’s item Docomo toilet paper to make me feel better.

Can you be angry with someone like this?

So there we go, life meanders on.

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This and That

Having established my credentials in Ginowan, I determine to test the reality of the bike to boat, sail, bike back home daydream. Off I go and discover that I can bike along a sort of harbor wall pathway almost all the way to the marina. There is one huge and at the moment empty-looking hotel that blocks the last bit, but once circumvented, there is another nice seaside ride to the boat. However, ominously it is already 33 degrees at 09:00. The trip takes 15 minutes at a very leisurely pace.

Bike and boat.

I mess around on the boat for a while and then head out to sea. A good sail but far too hot and I accordingly come back in after an hour or so. The ride back is intimidating as I already feel very beat up from the heat. 5 mins from the marina there is the amazing Ginowan Tropical Beach and I plan to soak in the sea to cool down before riding back home.

Tropical Beach

The sea was as hot as a bath and I only got sandy, uncomfortable and maybe hotter. So it is completely feasible to bike to the boat but not in high heat.

Tangentially, Arisa points out that having a supply of clean, ice cold water is a very good thing in Okinawa and she kindly arranges the delivery of my very own water dispenser.

Hot and cold running water!

The weather has now changed and we have had downpours for the last couple of days. This is nice as it is a lot cooler and I no longer have rain anxiety as the boat is beautifully covered. I go for walks around my new place.

5 mins away is a fantastic bakery.

What’s more, they open at 08:00, so croissants for breakfast are back on the menu.
I get a sausage bun, a lump of nut loaf and some bread

So I have emptied nearly all my boxes and the apartment is beginning to look quite homely.

I like my new place.

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I Live in Ginowan

There is quite a lot of bureaucracy to become an official Ginowan resident and persuant to the new official address I have to change my pension, health insurance and driving license details.

Off I go to the Ginowan City Hall. It is 33 degrees at 9:00 in the morning. AC is such a blessing, I can not imagine living here before AC. Office waiting rooms must have been hell. They must have had fans but there is only so much a fan can do.

I am gently directed to the right counter to get a residence certificate. A sweet lady who has some English helps me fill out the form. We giggle.

I wait for residence certificate. My number is 505!

I wait in suitably distanced chair. Everyone is, of course, wearing masks. My number is 505, the numbers on the screen are in the 80’s. I settle in for a long wait. Not so, the nice lady reappears and leads me to another window where an equally nice young lady, who speaks good English, greets me. She explains what I have to do. They have to print my new address on my resident card, which will take an hour or so. In the meantime I have to go to the pension and health insurance windows. We giggle. Indeed so much that I snap one of the ear straps on my mask! They immediately bring me a new one. Much giggling.

First stop is the Pension desk, no wait, I explain the change of address by mime. The nice young man gets it and comes back a couple of minutes later and explains everything is daijuobu.

I change building and arrive at the health insurance windows. After a short wait I am summoned. I am #22. Nobody speaks English and we communicate through voice translation apps on our phones. These are now super good. We giggle a lot. They apologetically tell me that I will have to pay 3,000 yen next April. They give a new health insurance card. I now have the best health care for 3000 yen next April! I giggle.

Health insurance. I love Japan.

Back to the original registration window. My card is ready. I have to put 400 yen in a slot machine that spits out a receipt. I have a Ginowan residence certificate, a re-addressed resident card and a new mask.

Next stop is the Ginowan Police Station to change the address on my driving license. No English speakers but it does not matter as they understand why I am there and a nice lady policeman fills in the form for me. We giggle like crazy.

Ginowan Police Station

Ten minutes later she comes back with my updated license. I am official.

All of this was done in a morning. What is more, it was fun. The Okinawans have a talent for turning drudgery into a party. We can all learn from them.

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Foie Gras in Okinawa

To celebrate the move to Ginowan, we go for a sunset cruise followed by first dinner at the new place.

Truly beautiful out at sea, no wind but we chug along serenely.

We return to the new apartment for the inaugural dinner. I now have space for many people to sit around a table. It was a good one.

Get ready.
Fish, octopus, clam, shrimp, ceviche.
Foie gras avec lentilles de Puy aux lardons. You can get all ingredients from Amazon Japan!
Homemade carrot cake. Thank you Atsuko san!
Nostalgic wines

What an incredible evening! Fresh air followed by top quality meal with fun company. People leave very late. I like Ginowan.

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Bouge De La

I move from Onna son to Ginowan shi. I am too old and fat to do the move myself so hire a Japanese moving company. These young men are dynamite. Shimabukuro san and Machida san are full of enthusiasm and smiles. They wrap every cup every plate, knife, fork, ornament, taking exquisite care.

It’s a wrap!

When everything is packed another young man shows up and the three of them sprint up and down the stairs to to my 3rd floor flat in 32 degree heat and 80% humidity.

Once loaded, we head down to Ginowan and play the film backwards as all my stuff shoots out of the truck and into the new place. Everything is done about 8:30.

I cannot speak highly enough of these young men; courteous, smiling, super efficient. If you are ever feeling down, just hire a Japanese moving company, you will soon feel so much better.

So good
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Ready, Steady.

My time is spent preparing for the great change of life, from country boy to hard assed city lizard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghLWjyOOLno

There is so much to do. Gas, electricity, water, air conditioning, in and out, sign new lease, un-sign old lease, move out of Onna son, move into Ginowan officially, change address on resident’s card and driving license, and so much more. In Japan, each step involves lots of paperwork but this is no burden as, as usual, everyone is super helpful and grin, giggle throughout each step. I think I am doing OK and feel quite pleased with myself.

Luckily, the weather has been windy, 15 -20 knots, which is enough for cowards like me to decide it is probably best not to venture out single handed. It is also very hot 32 degrees most days, which makes even routine maintenance on the boat hellish. Good conditions for bureaucracy.

One step is to set up a new internet connection to the Ginowan apartment. I go to Docomo, well known Japanese internet, phone, folks.

With great efficiency, fun and courtesy, they set me up with an 1Gbps signal.

Do you, dear readers, appreciate this incredible speed? In the center of San Francisco, I can only get 70 Mbps, which they hawk as high speed broadband.

The Docomo guy, whose name is KJ san, negligently drops the bomb that in a couple of months this signal will go to 10 Gbps. Insane!

Gambatte Nihon!

During all this, I have great lunches with great people.

Okinawa Chicken Vindaloo
Crab sandwich
Garlic prawns
Cold Udon and Tempura

Things are good.

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All I Want is a Room Somewhere

After weeks of disheartening search, suddenly I have a new apartment in Ginowan. I signed the lease.

I am so pleased. It is in a very shabby building with ghastly views but it is walking distance from 3 supermarkets, a million restaurants, 10 minutes on the bike to the boat, 5 minutes to the sea. I am so looking forward to living in the city after nine and a half years of being out in the very beautiful sticks.

Here is a preview.

Lots of space
Tatami room
Main room and kitchen.
Floor plan

It is much bigger than than my current place and super cheap. I look forward to entertaining.

Many thanks to Arisa san who has been so energetic and encouraging during the search. Without her help I would have given up weeks ago!

Here is a video tour:


I move in on 9 July.


Lots to do; cancel contract on current apartment, cancel gas, electricity, water, fire insurance, organize movers, officially move out of Onna, officially move into Ginowan, set up gas, electricity, water, set up super high speed internet, get AC installed in new place. All this in a language that I do not speak. May sound daunting but it is stuff like this that teaches you so much about another country. I am looking forward to it. I am blessed with wonderful Japanese friends who will help me.

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Eat My Lunch

As usual, the announcement that the Rainy Season was over, turned out to be premature. It has rained nearly all week.

This has left lots of time for one of my favorite activities, going for delicious Japanese lunches with beautiful women.

Amuse gueule

In fact, the big news is that I have a new apartment in Ginowan! I sign the lease tomorrow.

It is big, er for Japan, old, shabby, Japanese, cheap, close to shops, and critically; easy bike ride to the boat. Hooray;

Tatami room.

I am very excited. I like moving.

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