We head North to search for the Rail; we being Tim, Mary and me.
The Okinawa Rail is a very rare bird that is only found in the dense forests of Yanbaru. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okinawa_rail Yanbaru was incidentally added to the Unesco World Heritage List just last week.
We drive up the coast and, against all the odds,we see three juvenile rail by the the road well South of their normal habitat. This is a good omen. In a state of great excitement we arrive at the Ada Garden Hotel in time for dinner. https://ada-hotel.net
Ichiro san our much revered friend, is to be our guide. Ichiro san is an amazing person, a world class nature artist and also a truly knowledgable birdwatcher.http://kikutaichiro.com Buy his art.
Off we go into the night, in Ichiro san’s car, looking for mischief.
We are looking for Rails that have clambered up into trees to roost, they are flightless. Ichiro san finds three! These birds are so rare but he manages to find three in the pitch dark, late at night.
We go to a waterfall; the ground is teeming with crabs and frogs.
We also find 3 Ryuku Scops Owlets perching on a branch chirping away gleefully.
We start again at 5:30 the next morning. We see lots more rails. It is incredible!
For a few days now the Japanese media has been saying that as from July 26, those wishing to travel abroad can apply for a vaccination passport. The only proof that I have had two shots is a very Japanese document that I doubt would cut the mustard in most immigration controls.
Today is July 26 so I rush up to the Ginowan Town Hall to see what happens next. After some mime, they understand what I want and hand me a map of where this process is being dealt with.
With the help of Google translate, I finally Sherlock Holmes my way to the location.
No one speaks English but they produce an iPad with an interpreter inside. I explain my needs to this person and he subsequently lets the happy Okinawa folk know what the fat, sweaty, foreigner wants.
I fill in some forms and there is a air of excitement in the room. I am clearly the first client.
We have a lot of fun and jokes. 30 minutes later, I leave with the first Vaccine Passport issued in Ginowan. A real achievement.
By the way, the typhoon has finally moved on. This was not the worst typhoon by a long shot but it was probably the longest. Heavy rain and high winds from Tuesday to Monday. The boat is OK.
I visit Kinjo sensei and his wonderful colleagues to have my stitches taken out and a temporary crown placed over my implants. We have lots of fun, such good people.
I love sausages! How did he know this? I wonder what else I revealed during the operation under the influence of half a pint of novocaine.
This link does not show the restaurant other than geographically. It is a warehouse right on the fishing port with about four different fish restaurants. I have never seen a foreigner.
I go down to the Marina every day to make sure that the boat is OK. Today, as soon as I arrive, an emergency message howls out of iPhone.
The message is in Japanese but I translate as super heavy rain coming down the line.I got it right. The rain was so heavy that the idea of getting out of the car was preposterous. The wind is so strong. I look at the boat through binoculars. The risk is that the wind is so strong from one direction that it induces concavity on that side of the cover. Super strong rain then collects in this concavity, forming deep pools putting the whole set up under a lot of stress. Through the binoculars, everything seems OK but I wonder about big boy typhoons. I must practice the best way to rig the cover.
Great excitement! The best thing I ever did was to rent a water cooler/heater thing. Ice cold water, of which I drink gallons and boiling hot water for tea, of which I drink gallons.Thank you Arisa san for the urge.
Today a guy comes round to replace my original set up
The frustration of lock down through Covid, pales in comparison to lock down through rain. Why should I be so excited by a water device replacement?
A genial Englishman called Julian has shown up at the marina. He has lived in Japan for a long time and has much boating rules knowledge. I have very little. When I started on this adventure 3 years ago I was shielded from the complexities of boat registration, safety checks and such by the admirable Tabata san. This was great but left me ignorant. Julian points out that the date for my 3 year government safety inspection has long gone. What safety inspection?
Luckily, Shingo san, who is the paint specialist at the marina, knows all the rules and tells me exactly what equipment I need to pass the inspection. He does not speak English. We mime.
Smoke flare, recent.
Same engine as before
Black ball thing
Black pyramid thing
Some more stuff that I cannot remember.
Clearly the boat has to have a generally healthy aspect.
I go to the office in Tomari Harbor that deals with this and fill in many forms.
The fee can only be paid at a Post Office. I walk to the nearest, which is about a kilometer away. By the time I get there I am close to death. It is 32C and the heat is blasting off the pavement.
I fill in more forms with lots of help. I am standing in a pool of sweat surrounded by immaculately cool Okinawans. It is embarrassing. I hand over the cash – no cards allowed- and the multiply stamped proof of payment is handed back. Can I make it back to the PCI office? Have you watched “Ice Cold in Alex?” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Cold_in_Alex Well, the walk back was a bit like that.
There are more difficulties. My address has changed since the first registration and I need documentation to officialize my change of address. This means driving unto Onna son to get another much stamped document. Frankly this procedure has been a drag. A drag much compensated by the smiles and almost desperate help from everyone I dealt with. Aregato gozaimasu.
As you know, my teeth are dropping out at a truly alarming rate. What to do to retain any self esteem? Dentures are old-making, bridge apparently not mechanically appropriate in my case. This leaves implants.
Arisa san points me towards Kinjo sensei’s clinic. It is a very swish place and English speaking. After initial consultation we determine on two implants. Today we do it.
This a proper operation with surgical masks and robes. Kinjo sensei first slices through my gum, which he retracts to either side of the jaw bone. He then does all sorts of stuff until finally drilling deep holes into the jaw. I did not know what was going on at the time but he explained it to me later.
The operation took 3 hours on a scalding hot Okinawa afternoon. Not that I could see much as a surgical drape, only exposing my mouth, had been placed over my face throughout.
There is no pain but strange noise, pressure and imagination. I can understand that this intervention could be distressing to some. I keep calm by selecting the Lions team in South Africa.
Van de Merve
Apologies to non Rugby people.
3 hours later it is done.
Many, many, thanks to Kinjo sensei and his staff. This story will continue. I’ll be back.
In fact the weather has been perfect for sailing. Mild south westerly breezes, blue sea, blue sky, bright sun.
We go out to watch the sun go down, an extraordinary experience.
This morning I am up early to go to clean up the boat, which we had left in a mess last night. No sail cover, sails badly furled, rope all over the place because we were too elated to do mundane stuff and anyway it was dark.
Such a beautiful morning so, I take the boat out. Off we go for a couple of miles then turn around and come back. Only sailing for 90 mins or so but I have forgotten the intensity of the Okinawa sun and my forearms are now beetrootish.
Here is a completely unedited film of this mornings sail. I have forgotten how to use iMovie. Sorry.
The leather protection on the gaff jaws is now very dry and worn.
I drench the leather with lanolin. I love lanolin. It comes from sheep fleece and is very greasy – very good on boils.
It looks like the rainy season is finally over and we celebrate with a dinner. Just 4 of us so as to be Covid rules compliant. Best fun. We eat charcuterie, sautéed foie gras with delicious pickled cucumber salad, steak with coleslaw and finally fruit. We wash this down with lots of ice cold Nagano cider and a bottle of Californian Zinfandel with the steak.
The weather is beautiful. I sail.
I bump into one tooth Kiyuna san. ” I have bought a new boat! Let’s have coffee.”
I actually think he was given the boat. The engines do not work. To Kiyuna san this is a no worries situation. He makes coffee and we tell jokes.
I will have two implants er implanted into my jaw on Friday. I tell Kiyuna san and also the exorbitant price. ” Neil san, you could buy a boat for that money! You could name her “Implants”!
Difficult to photograph, as it is windy and the trails of flowers are swaying around. It is dark.
Thanks so much Izumi sensei, it was so much fun! The flowers were extraordinary and I have filled in a gaping hole in the tapestry of my Okinawa experience.
When in Nagano last month we drank cider. Ice cold, very dry cider is so delicious and refreshing. I searched and searched on my return but could only find sweet, slightly sickening cider. I turn to the oracle – Hanada san. https://thequietripple.com/2020/07/22/winds/
Can she find me dry Nagano cider? Of course she can and the next time I visit there is a row of the best ciders from Nagano waiting for me!
Hooray! Once this state of emergency is over, July 11 apparently, I will have a big dinner to celebrate. We will eat soba washed down with excellent sake and cider from Nagano!
Boating fun has been eliminated over the the last 3 weeks because my starter motor busted again. However great glee as Kiyuna san has fixed it. In fact he has installed a new one.
The weather has been dreadful anyway so there was no great mischief in not being able to go out because of the starter motor. Mold and mildew form all over the boat during the rainy season. Next job is a thorough clean.
The gracious Karen Wallace sends me some extra copies of Marine Quarterly. I give one to Kiyuna san. He is pleased but asks, “Did you mention my teeth?” I read him the part where I say that he is very distinguished despite only having 2 teeth. He groans and I am afraid I have offended him.
“This is a bad magazine.”
“It says I have two teeth but I only have one!”
He has lost half his teeth since I wrote the article.
I hope the rainy season will finally blow away and I can get on with boating adventures.
Lunch in Itoman fish market is always the best. Eel rice bowl with scallop, shrimp, snapper, parrot fish sashimi, with a couple of oysters. This is not a fancy restaurant; look at the asphalt and crummy table. That is what I like. Best seafood in the world without pretension. It is also ludicrously cheap, which always appeals.
The Marine Quarterly is a very prestigious nautical journal emanating from the UK. It is by subscription only. There is a website but they do not post the articles. https://www.themarinequarterly.com/
I sent my scribble, on a computer, to them and to my surprise the editor, very learned Sam Llewellyn, said he would publish it.
It is a marvelous publication. It eschews glossy photographs, flash headlines, advertising. It relies on knowledgeable contributors, good writing and excellent line drawings. Anyone with any interest in things nautical should subscribe.
Subscribe now. It is the only way you will get to read my article!
Time to thank all the many people who helped me during the resurrection of my Norfolk Gypsy. There are too many to mention individually but a special shout out to Natori Kaoru san. Natori san spent a lot of time researching the early life of the boat after she arrived in Japan in 1992. Thanks Natori san!