At 9:00 this morning, my doorbell rings. I open the door to find a grinning gentleman of about 60 standing there. We exchange ohayo gozaimasu and he then hands me a beautifully wrapped gift.
Luckily I did not refuse, thinking it was a scam, but accepted as gracefully as I could with lots of dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu and aregato gozaimasu, as I realized he must be a new neighbor and was giving the gift as part of introducing himself.
He lives in 301. How sweet.
Inside the beautiful box are two cakes fashioned to look like slices through a tree trunk.
Something I have neglected, as of late, is Okinawan sunsets. July is the greatest season but the sun sets far too far in the West from where I now live, necessitating a longish walk or bike trip to take photos.
From my balcony, at this late period of the year, er, situation, I can get great shots.
Hooray! I have a beautiful new cover for the boat. It is a thing of beauty and therefore a joy forever.
The cover was hand made by yet another Okinawan boating personality, the charming Mitsuda san.
The cover is very tough canvas and, after much discussion and several fittings with Mitsuda san, he speaks no English, it does not matter, I now have what I think is a very typhoon proof cover.
The cover has many little design details that come from Mitsuda san’s rich creativity.
The boat is delighted. She wriggles with sassy glee as she sports her new handmade coat before the neighboring boats. She is so happy. So she should be. I never spent this kind of money on clothes for myself !
Thank you Mitsuda san for doing such an outstanding job. It is true craftsmanship. He is now making me a sail cover. The boat will be the best dressed Norfolk Gypsy in the Eastern Hemisphere!
We started well but soon the wind shifted and as usual ended up right on the nose and we labored over with many tacks before giving up and firing up the trusty 1GM. What a joy to have a reliable diesel motor. The boat also seemed sluggish into the wind and the sail sagged in a strange way. The reason will become clear later.
Are we downhearted? No! It is late October and we are in shorts and t-shirts. Amazingly we are the only boat out there apart from ferries and stray fishing boats. Best sailing anywhere and it is our private domain.
We get to Zamami harbor just as it is getting dark and tie up to a convenient pontoon.
The first day’s project is to sail over to neighboring island of Tokashiki to track down a reputed Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that I have been told is gently rotting in the harbor. As soon as we set off, the forestay tangles with the jib roller reefing set up. I cannot work out how this could happen until I look up to see a big split in the top of the mast. Disaster!
Back to the harbor and down comes the mast.
I put 4 lashings around the mast head that close up the split very nicely. Many thanks to Mr Pritchard for teaching me knots when I was 12. I also put on large washers under the rings to prevent the bolts from pulling through.
Getting the mast up again was very difficult as every possible rope and wire got hopelessly tangled. No time to go to Tokashiki. The pilot cutter will have to wait.
Two dives the next morning.
Zamami is the best place to dive. The water is as clear as Bombay gin. So many turtles. Thanks to Yoishi san for the photos.
The Kerama islands are the best places to sail. After the dives we take the boat out for a test run to see if the rings and lashings will hold. . Beautiful sub tropical islands, white sandy beaches, blue, blue sea, stiff breeze, not a single other boat. This was one of my best sails ever. The Norfolk Gypsy loves wind and she galloped around the islands like a colt, er that does not work, like a filly.
Home again on Saturday to watch England versus All Blacks. We leave at dawn and surge over to Okinawa in bright sunshine. No trouble from the mast repair.
Back home, we eat a huge goat stew, drink beer and fall asleep at the beginning of the 2nd half!
How can I fall asleep in an historic game? Age probably.
Off we go! It is early in the morning and our destination is Nagannu island.
Everything goes perfectly as we dip our way across the East China Sea to an uninhabited sub tropical island. What could be better? It is 28 degrees, bright, sunny and the water is warm. We are sailing a lovingly restored Norfolk Gypsy, who behaves immaculately; breeding don’t you know.
We snorkel over the amazing coral. Jeremy sees a White Tipped Shark!
Oh dear, time to head home. Oh dear, things start to go wrong. We raise the anchor, in fact we raise the rode and chain as the anchor has mysteriously detached itself ! Jeremy dives in and heroically rescues it. I would have been very sad to lose my beautiful anchor on the first time I used it.
The chain was attached to the anchor with a stainless steel carabiner, which I thought would do the job nicely. Obviously not.
Anyway off we go, expecting a pleasant broad reach back to Okinawa. It is indeed very pleasant until we get close enough to recognize buildings. I do not recognize any. I then realize that I had not lowered the center plate when we left the beach and therefore the boat had been drifting south at about the same speed as we were sailing east. I felt very stupid. We now had to beat back up against the wind for about 15 kms. This she did valiantly but time ran out and we had to motor the last 5 or so as the sun went down behind us. God bless the mighty Yanmar 1GM.
We finally got back to the marina in the dark and I completed the display of incompetence by crashing into our mooring pontoon. Could not see anything.
Here is a video:
On the way back the apartment, much blasted by sun and wind, we stopped off to celebrate the opening of ‘The Bacon Bar’. This is an business started by 2 young people from OIST who are going to make bacon and all kinds of charcuterie. There is no tradition of charcuterie on an island that is obsessed with pork. Strange. Go there!