A Feast in Time of Plague

As most of the rest of the world reels from the impact of Coronavirus, we on Okinawa remain untouched. The local government has not suggested any restrictions. Life goes on as normal. Schools reopen next week after the spring break. That said, the university, OIST https://www.oist.jp/ with many international visitors and employees has taken the situation very seriously and has, in my opinion, introduced very sensible changes.

I hope all of you and all of yours are well.

Well, I hope this post does not annoy. It is a beautiful day. We go sailing.

Arisa san and Kaori san set the tone.

It is Sunday morning when Arisa san, Kaori san, Simon san and I foregather to take the boat out for a sail. A glorious day, bright sun and about 25 degrees. The dark side is 15- 20 knots of wind.

Captain Arisa takes us out.

So, none of my companions have any sailing experience and I, as you know, am incompetent. We get out from the harbor to meet seriously disturbed sea. The wind is manageable but the sea is intimidating.

Do we care? No, just take more selfies.

I am amazed by the lack of dread demonstrated by the crew. We are plunging around in broken seas with only the jib up but they are unconcerned, indeed invigorated!

Simon is excellent crew cos he looks like a pirate.

The idea of raising the mainsail with inexperienced crew and having to put in probably 2 reefs as we crash around, seems unwise. This manouevre is complex and trying to do it with people who don’t know the names of the ropes, as we hammer against big swells is foolhardy. I order a turnaround. I am the Captain. The crew is disappointed. I thought they would be terrified. and so overjoyed to get back to land. Ignorance is bliss and that sort of thing.

We go out about a mile just on the jib and then turn around. We come back in very nicely on jib alone. So much fresh air! I am only wearing a T shirt, well, I mean I also have my trousers on.

Once safely moored, we have a delicious picnic prepared by Kaori san and Arisa san. Such fun in a time of plague. Here is a video:

Life goes on

Again sincere best wishes to all of you who are going through difficult times. I hope this post makes you happy.

Another video from Arisa san, who also tells me that the schools will remain closed for 2 weeks. Thanks Arisa.

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Black Bottom

So, to all my faithful readers, a small but distinguished group, I send all my best wishes. Okinawa is untouched by the Myley Cyrus and it is difficult for me to conceive the awfulness that many of you are going through. Hang tough.

So, here is a happy story to make you all feel better. I try to raise the center plate of the boat but all that comes up is lots of cable. Ouch! This means that the center plate has conspired to free itself from the cable and wants to hang loose. This has to be fixed and in conjunction with the need to generally scrub her bottom I decide to haul her out and give her a good makeover.

Dirty bottom
Short Sutherland

So, the bottom of the boat is covered in weed and shellfish of various denominations.

Very pretty but must die.
Out, out foul spot!
You get the idea

So, first I scrape and then I spray and then I paint on new anti fouling. I work in glorious sunshine with the encouragement of all the boatyard boys with whom I have become close over the the duration of the Norfolk Gypsy project.

Hmmm not so good. The hole in the center plate, through which the center plate cable was threaded, has decayed into uselessness.

Oh dear

I scrape off all the weed and barnacles and limpet-like things. I then hose her down with high pressure spray gun, Yay! Ginowan Marina.

Then I paint her bottom with a chemical brew of awfulness that will keep the creepy crawlies off for another year, one hopes.

Get lots now, panic buy!

I then apply compound to the hull. This is the most rewarding work. What was dull suddenly becomes glistening.

Front bit before compound treatment, back bit after.

I then paint teak oil on all trim and bolt on two new anodes.

Anodes make me feel good
Look how sun blasted the trim is.

This is all very well but the main problem is the center plate. Kiyuna san slices off the end of the decayed plate and welds on a shackle.

Unchain my heart

After three days of glorious work amongst friends in a Japanese boatyard, we drop her back in the water with a black bottom. Yay Norfolk Gypsy!

Look at amateur video.

Thanks all

I hope this makes you happy. Stay well.

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Miley Cyrus

Back to Okinawa on empty planes, arriving at empty airports.

Okinawa seems very calm and I am certainly safe as Kiyuna san has given me a special magic stone to suck.

Suck that stone.

The boat is just fine as the wonderful cover has kept her dry as a bone.

Nice to be back in a harbor where coral grows on the pontoons. View over the edge of the boat.
God bless Yanmar marine engines.

The day after I arrive, there is an Irish evening in the excellent Bacon Bar https://www.facebook.com/baconbarjapan/

Corned Beef
The Humors of Corned Beef
Toshi is a very good bodhran player

There are maybe a 100 people. Cancellation is not mentioned. There have been 3 cases of the Miley Cyrus in Okinawa, 2 of which have fully recovered.

Super calm.
My cacti have done very well in my absence.

I really do not get this Miley Cyrus thing. I realize that there must be a huge risk of mortality somewhere, as Europe and the States have essentially closed down and my pension fund has disappeared, but I have been unable to grasp how awful this risk is.

Okinawa is clearly the wrong place from which to judge this issue. The people are, as usual, super happy and helpful. The supermarkets burst with all kinds of wonderful things to eat. There is more toilet paper than I would know what to do with, mind you we all have botty sprays built into our toilets. Zero sense of crisis. However I do not read or watch Japanese media because I can not understand it. Maybe they are super frantic but somehow I doubt it.

Best sashimi in the world from my local corner shop.

Anyway, this afternoon I show up at the local clinic to see if I can get a full check up as I have not had one for a couple of years. They say sure and within a couple of hours I have weight, height, blood pressure, measured, chat with doctor,chest Xray, electrocardiogram, ultra sound for heart, kidneys, gall bladder, liver, or what the doctor charmingly calls innards. I also have some kind of test to check the state of my arteries and a kind of super blood pressure check. I supply blood and urine samples. I see the doctor again who explains that everything is OK but the results from the blood and urine tests will take a few days and the damage caused by alcohol abuse will show up then. However I have been in Okinawa for exactly a week and I have already gained 2 kilos. This place makes me fat.

They charge me 3,500 yen.

No one mentions Corona virus.

Thank you Onna clinic

I do not understand.

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I Left My Heart Etcetera.

My stay in San Francisco has come to an end. Boo hoo. I have had a wonderful time. I love the city. I love it being close to a cold ocean. I love the fog. I love wearing wool.

I love this sort of thing.
I love the stores
I love hopping on bikes
I love the carwash
I love this
I love Mimosa
I love cuddling Elephant seals
I love taking buses
I love my room.
I love Joni Mitchell

Lucky me.

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Being a Bear

Up to the lost coast and huge redwood forests of Northern California.

I spend a week snuffling around in the undergrowth and going on very long hikes in the redwoods. I feel very bear like. Mainly because I want to eat lots of meat and do not wash.

Bear food

The dutch oven is the best cooking device. I only use open wood fires yet produce wonderful meals. Well, all my new bear friends said they were.

I am lost

The countryside is magnificent, the wildlife abundant.

Are you really a bear or are you just pretending?
The truck and camper like me being a bear.
Big Trees
More bear food.
Mexican Bear food
I do like to be beside the seaside.

I stay mainly in National Parks, which are fantastic places, so wild, so huge, so full of bears. Congratulations California on your National Parks!

Lost again.

In Fort Bragg I amazingly run into one of Irelan’s top traditional bands, http://teada.com

Big venue

They are amazingly good at playing their instruments but they lapsed into Irish music hall banter. “Sure love is blind. Yes ,but marriage is an eye opener right enough.” This was cringemaking to me but my fellow audience members lapped it up.

I like being a bear.

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The Mission Bells Told Me

James and I head out to the Mission; such a fascinating part of the city. It is a glorious day and we have various small errands but we get completely sidetracked by the Mexican stores.

Hooray! Goat.
Hooray! Octopus
These crabs are livid.
Big choice of oysters.
I have a coffee while waiting for James to get his pizza.
Oysters, limas, pizza and James’ hat
Goat chops and coffee

The Mission is so full of life and vivacity. Lots of quirky specialist shops and of course amazing street art.

Listen to the wall
A portrait of Nina. It is huge.
This is the place to come if you need to run up a new faux fur suit.
Look at the sky! It is February

Thanks James for showing me around. He really knows the Mission. We now have more octopus, goat, belly pork, oysters, limes than we need. Will have to eat hard!

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I do not get very debauched these days, in fact hardly debauched at all. This is currently about as good as it gets.

On Saturday, Nancy and Bebo kindly invite me to their annual Mardi Gras Party that they have been holding since 1893. Their house is on Clayton so only a few blocks aways, up Masonic, along Haight, up Clayton; https://spikekalashnikov.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/haight-the-web/.

The party is great with elderly hippies playing jug band and Grateful Dead music. We eat the wonderful Jambalaya, Seafood Gumbo and collard greens, that Nancy has prepared. More importantly we drink Oyster Shooters. You put a raw oyster into a shot glass, fill it with cold vodka, some lime juice and tabasco. You then neck it. They hit the spot and are so good for you.

Not enough vodka in this one.

Lots of interesting people, mostly in their 70’s, with great stories to tell.

I stagger home at 12:30 along Haight St at its wildest. Live rock and jazz are blaring out of bars, the sidewalks are packed, homeless party with their dogs, playing bongos and banjos, SFPD cruisers lazily swim around like sharks, people who have drunk even more than me sit up against walls, the air is blue with dope smoke. Yay debauchery!

I have a few hours sleep before setting out for more debauchery. At 06:30 on Sunday I am not in church, I am in the immortal Kezar Pub, https://kezar.pub

Before the game.

The place fills with hilarious Irish, who fall into 2 categories, construction and techie. Both groups are so funny, so inventive in their comedy. The humor is catalysed by lots of Guinness and huge fry-up breakfasts.

Kick off!

It is the best party, enjoyment amplified by drinking at 08:00. So debauched. Ireland lose the game convincingly.

I burst out of the pub at 09:00 ish into wincingly brilliant sunshine and find myself back on Haight, but a very different version thereof.

No-one here.

Almost nobody has surfaced from the previous night’s partying, except a few casualties asleep in shop doorways.

I stumble into Gus’s Market https://gussmarket.com as it opens and the first thing they sell that day is an octopus, er to me.

What a beauty!

Somehow buying an octopus early in the morning also seems debauched.

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