Bits and Pieces

A few details that have been overlooked due to the blazing light of the first sail.

The water pump in the galley had died after years of rubber withering heat and humility. It is a Whale pump, made in Northern Ireland. After much detective work I track one down to a boat shop on the mainland called Yuukomarine.


I send an email and get a reply in English from Colin. Hooray a boat chandler where they speak English. This will make my life much easier! It turns out that Colin knows Nick and Rika.

Anyway the new pump is hand delivered to my place at 9:30 on Sunday morning. No comment.

A far cry from Bangor,Co Down.
How sweet

Harry gives me a small Indian made pressure cooker. I find this very exciting, as I dream of stews and stuff in exotic locations.

Boiled Beef and Carrots

It is Tomomi’s birthday soon.

She gets a baby Golden Retriever
Beautiful flowers outside the bank.
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The Full Monty

So, I started to restore a Norfolk Gypsy, which was more or less a wreck, just over a year ago. It has been a wonderful project during which I have been much helped by many kind and skilled people. Today was historic. I sailed her for the first time.

Running out from Ginowan.

I have gone in baby steps since putting her in the water. First it was chugging around using the engine, then bits of sailing only with the jib. Today with Nick and Rika we raised all sail and had a glorious afternoon in brilliant sunshine.

The mainsail!

The wind was blowing more or less straight offshore and we ran out to sea with the main and jib gull-winged.

Jib held out with boathook.

Nick is a professional boat racer and it was great to have him tell me what to do!

Very reassuring.

We ran quite along way out, went on a broad reach up the coast for a bit and then beat our way back into the harbor.

Rika at the helm

Beating back to Okinawa has always been a lengthy business in my previous boats. This time it is completely different as the boat points much better into the wind but also because Nick really knows what is doing! He uses terminology that I have never heard before, “bump, lift, being in the channel” these all refer to how the boat is responding to the wind.

So much fun!

We come back in with 4 taught tacks, the last taking us straight through the harbor entrance, where we elegantly take down the sails and chug onto the mooring.

Hooray! I am so pleased! Everything worked and although I might make some tiny adjustments, the boat is ready to go. I look forward to a Summer of intense happiness and joy.

The day after tomorrow I go to San Francisco. I worry about the cockpit filling up with water and so flooding the engine compartment if there is intense rain while I am away. I have been fabricating a cockpit tent that should keep out the worst of the rain.

Also useful on adventures
I need to adjust this a bit but it will do the job.

What a great day!

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Under Way

Harry comes down. It is Saturday, but apart from that it is a very un Okinawan day. It is spitting with rain, very grey, with high wind and an inexplicably broken sea. We take the boat out anyway as I am determined to set the sails.

You can see how bad things are, Harry is wearing a waterproof jacket!

We batter our way out with the Yanmar performing heroically. It goes, ” thunka,thunka,thunka,thunka.”

There are 1 meter waves which are strangely short pitched and broken. Wind is strong. We are too scared to haul up the mainsail, which we would probably have to put 2 reefs in. I want my first mainsail experience to be calm rather than frantic.

So we chicken out but do unfurl the jib, which is a very smooth procedure thanks to Nick’s tuning.

How lovely.

We sail her around on jib alone and it is very encouraging. We do not go very fast but we certainly make way. Another encouraging behaviour is that, as we crash into big waves, the hull pushes them away and no water comes onboard. She appears to be a very dry boat. Anyway I am delighted.

My God, I am wearing a sweater.

One step nearer the Full Monty. Unfortunately, despite very overcast weather I get a very sunburnt face. I left my wide brimmed hat at home and did not apply sunscreen. I will not do that again.

I work on the cockpit cover as I am going to San Francisco next week and I do not want her to fill up with rainwater. There is a punch that er punches a hole through the fabric so you can press in eyelets. This, I immediately drop in the water. This entails a trip to Make Man, famous Japanese DIY store, to buy a new punch.

Roaming in the gloaming.

The cover is not finished but I will have it done tomorrow. What fun!

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Not what you are wrapped in for the last journey but the wire cable that braces the mast. My boat has two side shrouds and a front shroud, which is actually called a forestay. The correct setting of these shrouds has a major influence on the overall sailing performance of the boat. I have no idea of how to set them up properly. I am floundering.

Nick from New Zealand and Rika from Hokkaido are old friends from the early days of the restoration. They have been away for 6 months as Nick has been racing huge yachts in Thailand. Nick is the real thing. He and Rika sailed their Bristol Channel Cutter to Okinawa from New Zealand and he has been building and racing boats all his life. They arrived back in Ginowan yesterday. Their boat is about 4 boats down from mine. I am so pleased they are back, firstly because they are fun but also because Nick knows everything about sailing boats.

Rika and Nick

The shrouds are attached to the boat by rope lashings. Nick takes one look and says they have to go. He fetches lengths of Dyneema, ultra high tech rope, and sets to .

Rika, Nick with splicing kit. Almost surgical

I stand by and watch as he puts beautiful Brummel Eye Slices on all the shroud fixing ropes.

Brummel Eye Splice
Putting a eye splice onto the new Dyneema bobstay lashing.
Sorting the forestay.

I spend a glorious couple of hours watching Nick tuning all the rigging. The mast now has just the right aft tilt, the shrouds, forestay and bobstay are perfectly adjusted. I am so happy, Thanks Nick, thanks Rika!

He also tunes the jib roller reefing system
Mast with carefully set aft rake.

Just a couple of happy Japan images.

Very official car tax demand!
At the supermarket across the road from the boatyard.
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So, here is a badly made movie about the boat. What a beautiful day! The water is already warm. The marina is so clean, the water is so turquoise. View in the highest definition possible.


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Stairway to Heaven

On Wednesday morning it rained like crazy. This very heavy rain is bad news as there is no self draining system in the cockpit and it fills up very quickly. The great danger is water pouring into the engine compartment. I get to the boat just in time, the water level is just an inch below the engine compartment lid.

Grating floating around in flooded cockpit. click on this photo

I think I will rig another automatic switch under the grating and use Gulper to empty the cockpit when the water reaches a certain level.

The fun part is that I get to wear my sou’wester.

The rain stops on Thursday so I try to make progress with the dive ladder installation. It is a hellish job. As I mentioned, access is terrible but add to that trying to engage nuts on the bottom of bolts that you cannot see, whilst also trying to keep heavy dive ladder in place on the transom. I fail.

Kiyuna san shows up and says he will do it. I watch. His approach is a masterpiece in practical problem solving. He cuts a large backing plate from the teak plank that my friend at the woodyard had given me.

He measures carefully and eventually drills holes in the backing plate.

Next he produces special nuts that have serrations on one side so you can hammer them into wood. This he does onto the underside of the backing plate. This means the nuts are all in place and all we have to do is screw down the bolts from above through the carefully measured holes and they should engage.

It is still not easy due to the restricted access but it is much easier dealing with one object, the backing plate, than lots of fiddly loose nuts and washers. He succeeds in getting all 4 bolts screwed down tight. Hooray! But wait, he has forgotten the ladder

“Only a test Neil san.” grins Kiyuna san. He then marks the position of the centre of the backing plate on the transom, drills through and screws the plate in place. It is tightly fixed in the correct position. He removes all the bolts, slaps on lots of sealant, places the ladder and bolts it down.

Note backing plate retaining screw.

The whole process took less than an hour. It was a privilege to watch.

I have a diving ladder. Now I can fall overboard and get back into the boat and er also go diving.
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I give Kiyuna san a bottle of Islay Mist in thanks for his work on the boat.

He blesses the boat by splashing whisky around and muttering stuff.

And all who sail in her.

The next day I find a package in the cabin.


The package contains 2 framed collages that Kiyuna san has created from the Islay Mist box.

I do not know what the Kanji says
Finlaggan I think

Thanks Kiyuna san.

My new boarding ladder that I ordered from Amazon arrives, hand delivered, on Sunday morning.

It is a 4 stepper

Here’s the rub. Installation should be easy, drill four holes in the transom and bolt down the ladder. Reality is different. Access to the space under the transom is through a small opening in one of the aft lockers. You need very long and jointless arms to be able to engage the lock nuts to the bolts that hold down the ladder.

I think I will buy a pet Gibbon and train it up.

Prehensile arms are a must in small yacht restoration.

Not to worry, I can always eat the best Sashimi in the world off the best plate.

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