A New Start

It is 7 years since the Norfolk Gypsy’s bottom was caressed by sea water. For 10 years before that she lay rotting at a mooring. Today was a new start for her.

After over a year of restoration, we launched her on a glorious but very windy Okinawan day.

Ready to go! Last photo on shore.

The guys from the Marina arrive and expertly manoeuvre her towards the boat lift.

I know the mainsail is a disgrace but I am working on it.

I am anxious as there is no sign of Kiyuna san. He had said he would give me a hand and I worry about the engine not starting, and things generally going wrong. I phone him 3 times but no reply. Has he gone AWOL as he sometimes does? Oh dear.

The boat is hoisted up and decorously lowered into the harbor.

Gently does it

What’s that noise? Yay ! The boom of the Harley.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Getting to the sea berth is a lot of fun. The engine starts but there is a very strong wind blowing onshore and backing out of the launch berth using the engine and tiller for the first time demonstrates my lack of seamanship to the assembled crowd. They are very polite. I slowly get the hang of things and we motor to the other end of the Marina to find the berth. The GM10 chunters away very happily and despite strong wind, drives the boat along with no problem. I forgot to bring the boat hook and coming alongside is a mess. No worries, we finally get her moored safely at her new home.

Her new home
What a great day!
View from cabin.

So that’s it. After a year of work, the boat that was a dismal wreck is now back in the water and ready to go. Good weather is on its way and I hear Ulysses.

A little video.

Thanks everybody.
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De Quervain

Some will remember that I have been plagued by a sore wrist and not being able to use my thumb. Pain is the result if I try.

I go to the Onna clinic and they give me painkillers but say come back as the Sensei does not think that this is a cure. It is not, and I am referred to a specialist at Chubu Hospital.

The doctor speaks good English and I run through my symptoms. He is super on top of the situation, asking me to perform various movements of my hand and thumb. He says with great authority, “You have………” Here, he makes one of the strangest sounds I have ever heard from a human.

De Quervain was a Swiss surgeon who first identified this syndrome. His name is unpronounceable unless you come from Sion in Switzerland, as he did. The Japanese version is a bit like the noise a crow makes. Anyway, I have De Quervain’s syndrome.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Quervain_syndrome

This means I have to wear a wrist brace for weeks

He also gives me a steroid injection, which I suppose will rule me out of selection for Scotland’s World Cup squad.

Tour de France

The injection into my wrist is unpleasant.


This is a drag as I do not want to wear a wrist brace that hampers all movement. How can I haul up my sails? Rats!

However, big shout out to amazing Japanese health service.

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So Close

Essentially the boat is finished. I do a few final jobs.

I fashion a wooden plug to replace the fuel filler cap.
I attach the hatch cover trim for the 9th time.
I put in the nice new cabin cushions and glue down new cabin carpet.

There are only two small jobs, make lid for sea water hole thing and weld nut onto center plate winch so I can use a ratchet to raise and lower it quickly. These are Kiyuna san jobs but I cannot find him. No worries, the weather has been grim, er by Okinawan standards. Launch is imminent.

Kiyuna san fixed my car!

I drive up to Ogimi to wallow in Irises. There are acres of them.

Probably a week past their best.
Take me to your leader.
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Just Nice Stuff about Japan

Regular readers will remember that my much beloved bird lens, a manual focus Tokina AT-X 300, broke when I was in New Mexico. I tried to get it fixed in San Francisco but everyone said the lens was too old and it would be impossible to get parts and stuff.

When I get back, I send the lens to Tokina in Tokyo. They send me an email saying the lens is old and normally they would not repair it but because the lens is beautiful they would see what they could do. A couple of days later I get another mail explaining they can fix the focusing problem, what is more, they would like to remove mold and generally refurbish. It would be like a new lens. This was all written in exquisitely polite and baroque English. I so appreciated the effort they made.

It arrived at my house, personal delivery at the time I specified of course, last week. It is a new lens. Thank you Tokina! Happy, happy, joy, joy.

They even gave me a very cool screw-on lens cap.

Next. At the university we had some kind of private health scheme. Apparently the coverage was exactly the same as the national health scheme but we benefited from reduced rates at hotels or something. Having retired, I have to leave the scheme and join the Onna son health insurance set up.

It is cold, 20 C, and blusterly with showers. I have no car and am obliged to walk the mile or so to the Onna Village Office to see if I can get a new health insurance card. To my surprise, I find I enjoy walking in wildish weather.

The people at the Village Office are adorable and make every effort to understand my request, despite minus 90% language crossover. After filling one form and waiting 5 minutes the ladies come back with my new Japanese National Health Card!

Aregato gozaimasu!

This gives me full health care, medical, dentist, hairdresser etc. So easy, such fun, no cost! Happy, happy, joy, joy.

More nice stuff
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I have spoken frequently of the outrageously good luck that has characterized my life. There was another example today.

The boat is now ready to launch and Kiyuna san and I go off to pick up my beautiful new cabin cushions. They have been stored at the place where they were, er stuffed. https://thequietripple.com/2018/06/18/stuffing/

Nice new cushions

On the way back to the marina, steam starts pouring out from under the bonnet of the mighty Xtrail. Now here is the lucky bit, I am only a couple of hundred meters from the marina and sitting beside me is the best mechanic I have ever met. If the car had overheated on the expressway that I drive up and down most days, the consequences are too awful to think about. Phoning emergency services, getting the truck towed, finding a mechanic shop, etc etc all in Japanese. Instead I just park the truck, Kiyuna san takes over. The radiator has burst.

Cooling down radiator prior to inspection

Why the radiator burst we do not yet understand. No worries reassures Kiyuna san. He will take it out tomorrow and take it to a buddy who repairs radiators. I have to do nothing. Amazing.

Kiyuna san then says he will drive me home. We jump into his beaten up 600cc truck and scamper up to Onna. As we near my apartment, I ask if we can quickly pop in at my favorite woodworking shop as they are re-modeling the trim for the cabin hatch. https://thequietripple.com/2019/03/18/grating/

As we pull in Kiyuna san begins to screech as it turns out that the old guy who runs the place is one of his best friends! Much hilarity and fun. I like living in Okinawa.

Three version of hatch trim. Original at the bottom. First new version, which unfortunately cracked, at the top and today’ version in the middle. It is made from some very dense Okinawan hardwood and is extremely heavy.

The boat is effectively finished and I will launch her next week for sea trials.

I spend a lot of time raising and lowering the mainsail. I can now do this easily all by myself.
The man who stuffed my cushions is making me a new sail cover. The sun will destroy the sail in no time without a cover.
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See How the Mainsail Sets

So, the Norfolk Gypsy is a sailing boat and thus needs sails to work properly. An important part of the refurbishment is a set of new sails.

Today the mainsail is bent.

Sails are difficult to manage as, even in the mildest wind they fill, billow, flap around and behave badly.

Harry and Eri come down to help me bend on the mainsail. Why bend on, rather than tie on, lash on, attach, tie on, install etc, I do not know.


I have no idea really of how to do this. I have an ancient owners manual that is confusing. The terminology is also challenging, throat, peak, luff, spar, leech, etc.

First try to raise the sail

A pause for reflection

Through trial and error, we stumble closer to raising the mainsail.

It is getting dark
Brexit sounds awful
All of this needs improvement

She looks like a sailing boat!

The sail is on, but badly. I will spend the next days in trying to improve the way the sail is set. Yay, Harry and Eri!

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So, Kyuna san, my Sensei in all things boat mechanics, went AWOL. This is disastrous as, although I can, sand, treat wood , mess around with gratings etc, without him I cannot connect up the engine to the electrics, which have as you know, been underwater for at least 5 years. He knows how to do these things. I do not not. No one has seen him.

Out of the blue he answers my phone call and 5 minutes later we are back in business.

KIyuna san works on electrics as I try to re-treat all the woodwork that has been completely trashed by Okinawan sun.

I am anxious. Will we have to rewire the boat, install new fuse box, install new engine starting panel? Kiyuna san is typically nonchalant.

Before filling the gas tank with diesel, I have a look at the dipstick. It comes out dripping with water. Water has got into the tank. I rush down early this morning and lift the top of the tank and sure enough there is a quantity of water in it. Phew, good thing I spotted it before we filled it up with diesel and tried to fire up the mighty Yanmar.

I know where this water came from but it is too embarrassing to let you know

I clean everything out and reseal the tank. Lots of agonizing scraping off the sealant that I put on about a year ago. Sealant is tenacious stuff.

Kiyuna san breezes in and in no time has filled the tank, set up a water cooling circuit and bled the fuel system. I turn on the main electric switch, turn the key on the starter panel and amazingly lights flash and signals sound. I press the starter button and thunka, thunka she starts!

Like raising Lazarus.

Yay cooling water ejected from stern!
Automatic bilge pump. Gulper is wonderful. A bit like standing behind a cow.

So, everything seems to work. A miracle! My luck holds strong. Hats off to the builders back in 1992 for producing such a robust system.

New, er modified grating, looks great!
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