All Quiet

Not much going on in these drowsy Covid days. We are still in a state of semi emergency, meaning don’t go out unless necessary, masks , distancing etc. I have been for a couple of lunches and one very fine dinner but life is quiet. A series of small technical hitches have discouraged boating. All these months of reduced activity have ingrained an overall lethargy.

There have been some high spots.

I buy a new bag of rice!
Hokkaido Saba
Delicious cucumber soup a la Tim

I buy a new actually old, but new to me, lens, it is a Nikkor 180mm f2.8. These are famous lenses.

I love it because it is manual focus and you set speed and aperture yourself. I find modern cameras and lenses rather dull as they do everything for you. I go to the stinking Triangle Pond to learn how to use it.,127.6548555,1128m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x465dddfa94de705c!8m2!3d26.1720552!4d127.6563361

Black faced Spoonbills a long way away
Immature Moorhen
Common Sandpiper
Black winged stilt with bad hairdo
The lens

I have not yet mastered it. It is a strange focal length 180mm not really a long distance lens for birds and stuff.

When I finally remove the cockpit cover after all the typhoon excitement I find all the innards of the motor ignition switch scattered around the cockpit seat.

A mystery

I have no idea how this could have happened. Maybe I kicked it when installing the cockpit cover but I doubt it as the switch is well recessed. Maybe while I slept, my enemy came and sowed tares among the ignition system. Anyway it is a drag as I need the motor! Kiyuna san of course reassures me.

Use any key!

I will have to find a more permanent solution but at least I can now take the boat out.

A friend gives me a beautiful bunch of grapes from her hometown in Kyushu. They were exquisitely wrapped and all round wonderful. The Japanese really appreciate fruit! The variety of grape is “My Heart”, although it would be wrong to interpret the name as a motive for the gift!

Delicious and beautiful!

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2 Weeks in Narita.

I am afraid that this post is once again principally about my boat cover. I know you are sick of photos of reddish canvas but it is what it is.

Anyway, something else to start with. Japan has not allowed non nationals to enter into the country. However the ruling was changed as of September 1st, permanent residents can come back into Japan. Hooray!

I plan an adventure in the mountains of Montana during which I can take on my alter ego of bear. A few weeks of something else and then back to Okinawa. I am very excited about shaking off dull sloth.

I go to the Immigration Office in Kadena to try to understand the necessary paperwork. After some iterations, my plans are dashed. Returning to Japan, I would have to spend 2 weeks of self-isolation in a hotel at Narita airport. Can’t think of anything worse so I hang up my Grizzly costume and settle back to life in Okinawa.

Great excitement about the next typhoon, Haishen. It is a big one and I anticipate that the boat cover will again be blown off despite my best efforts.

Not so, the typhoon goes North of us and we have high winds and lots of rain but it is not the screaming madness of a big boy typhoon.

I wake up and rush down to see if the boat is OK.

All good.

I am gathering data on what the cover can withstand and how I can strengthen the set up. I wonder what happens in Norfolk, where she comes from? Well, I suppose they do not have many typhoons there.

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It Is What It Is

I have noticed the title expression cropping up frequently lately. I wonder where it came from.

Still licking our wounds post Typhoon Maysak, Typhoon Haishen is on its way to further test our resolve.

I rig the cover differently. First I put a line around the mast to the end of the boom such that the boom cannot droop. Same thing as a boom crutch really but I hope more resilient.

This is fun.

To stop the boom moving from side to side and putting strain on the system, I put a line around the boom to the aft cleats.

I tighten it later.

The wind will be coming from the Northwest, that is to say directly over the bows. I dread it will creep under the space between the cover and the cabin roof, blowing off the whole caboodle.

Maybe I should tape that edge down. Worth a try.

I am convinced that there is a set up that will permit the cover to resist the worst. It may take some time to find it.

The adversary

Wonderful full moon.

Hand held at 6:00 this morning. Calm before the storm etc.
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Oh Dear

Typhoon Maysak was pretty bad, well actually is pretty bad, as she is still blowing away as I write. However the worst is over.

The storm started with a lot of rain on Monday afternoon but the real ferocity came during the night. I was asleep.

I get down to the marina at about 07:00. What has happened to the boat? Watch the movie.

Could have been worse.

Everything is closed except for the praiseworthy Lawsons, which is right in front of my apartment. Lawsons is a chain of 24 hour got everything you need shops so typical of Japan. They are usually known as Konbini. Nice to know I can stock up on stuff if I run out. Like beer.

Situation as I write.

Some background information.

Here is an update on the state of the boat at 4:30.

I am surprised to see the cover is still on and not even full of water, even though it was hastily and loosely attached this morning. It has been blowing hard all day and non stop rain.

There is a guest appearance from Pat at the end of the first video. He is a Swiss professional sailor who lives on his boat in the marina. He makes his living by delivering yachts from Japan to USA single handed! He is usually pretty blasé about tough weather. Even he admitted that there had been some really bad gusts last night. This makes me feel better for my poor cover. She clearly struggled against terrible odds before finally giving way.

What fun!

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Fiddling While Rome Burns

Serious typhoon coming over the island tomorrow and Tuesday.

What better time to have fun.

This might calm us down a bit.

Kikuta san has added new pieces to his exhibition. Off we go to examine.

I was terrfied of eels when I was a young boy.

I am very tempted to buy this. When young in Scotland we fished for eels and my elder brothers would tell me ghastly tales of eels never letting go once they had bitten you. Certainly once caught, they refused to die and decapitated heads would still try to bite you. Double click on the photo and you will see that these eels have a truly malicious view on life. The eels he used to paint the piece were 2.5 meters long!

We then all go back to the boat for a fun lunch. Dockyard friends join us and we have a wonderful time.

Poached Salmon on Raita.
Add a salade lyonnaise.

At times there are 6 of us and a dog. I am the only non Japanese. This does not matter, I understand little but bathe in companionship. In fact I love it. I had always felt an obligation to contribute, to promote, to catalyse conversation. Now, I can sit quietly and grin. So relaxing.

Kiyuna san was at his best.
Kano san, the best of men.

The marina is buzzing with people putting on extra mooring lines, taking down sails. and generally lashing down anything that can move.

We eat and converse.

Hoppepan buns and grapes known in Japan as Shine Mascat. They are very prized, as much for their beauty as for their flavor.
Latte san, Kano san’s dog. Great company.

A wonderful afternoon but around 3:00, the heat finally wears us down. We go our separate ways. Such enjoyment with no alcohol. Strange.

I lie down until 6:00 and then return to rig the cover in preparation for the typhoon.

Before getting to the cover, I double all the mooring lines.

This is going to be the real test. Will the cover be able to withstand the rigors or will she buckle and fill with water? I spend a lot of time making the cover as taught as possible and install the camera tripod as a boom crutch.

Super tight.
Waiting is the worst

So, this is the great reckoning for my cover. Can she withstand the evil typhoon? Do not miss the next thrilling episode.

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Take Cover

Ho, ho a typhoon! It was only a small one but it showed up a design weakness in my cockpit cover.

Looks good

The cover is attached to the boom. However the boom is only held up by the topping lift. If you click on the photo you can probably see two thin lines going from the boom to the top of the mast.

Anyway, the wind, strong, was coming from the South such that it hit the side of of the cockpit cover creating a degree of concavity.

It rained like crazy!

The terrace
Early in the day. It got much worse.

So concavity caused by wind allows rain to collect in cockpit cover. The weight of the rain pulls the boom down, which deepens the trough in the cover. I get there to find a bad scene. No water gets into the boat but it it is not an elegant scenario.

I hope this has not stretched the cover. You can see that that the boom has dropped onto the traveller or maybe horse.

I clearly need a boom crutch that will keep the boom high, no matter what, and consequently keep the cover taught.

I rig my camera tripod to hold the boom high.

This should work for the time being.
This system is very adjustable. Maybe I will keep it.

So, a nice new project to build a boom crutch. There is another typhoon coming in on Monday. Fingers crossed that my hacked together system will withstand Nature’s awfulness.

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It has been a dour last few days. General fed upness with Covid restrictions resulting in little contact with other people, but mainly because I could not get my flute to work.

As I have mentioned, the flute was overhauled by Takaesu san. He was clearly excited by the project and it was obvious that he took great pride in the work he had done.

As I have also mentioned, the flute played beautifully except for the 2 lowest notes, E and D. The flute can play about 3 octaves. The highest essentially I never use for Irish tunes, concentrating on the lower two. The repaired flute played the highest and middle octave like never before. It was easy to get the notes and amazingly they were all in tune with each other. However I could not get bottom D. I told myself that this would come with practice but it did not. It was very disheartening.

I realized that I was playing a completely different flute. I have owned her since 1979 and she has never behaved like this before. I dreaded going back to Takaesu san to complain. I think he would have been hurt.

Last night I spotted something different about the flute.

Back to normal.

There is an ingenious system for moving the cork up and down the head joint. The cork had been pushed down the barrel such that the top of the indicator was flush with the cap. I simply raised the cork out to the position shown in the photo and magically she reverted to her normal personality. Her honk is back.

I am so pleased.

I think Takaesu san, with all the best will in the world, must have set the flute up to perform optimally for classical pieces. But I need a super strong bottom D for the rhythmic structure of Irish flute playing. Now I have it again. I can no longer blame my tool.

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The Pause

Several of my American friends have referred to the period we are living through as the Pause. I think it is an apt description.

Here in Okinawa we are still asked to stay at home and refrain from traveling around the island. Social interaction is very limited. I have only seen one friend all week and that was a bemasked boat trip to watch the sunset.

It was not a very good sunset.
We ate well
Prawn and avocsdo, bacon and stuff, deep fried shrimp on choucroute. Thanks Hoppepan.
Got back very late. Masks on boats, strange days.

I still get mail. Most is from the local government about health insurance. I am still, after nearly 10 years, entranced by the Japanese approach to official communications. So playful.

This is my health insurance bill. 38,500 yen for a year of total coverage!
More health related stuff. Happy family.
I think this is about electrical equipment check. Artwork by the electrician’s 8 year old daughter

My great friend Hanada san now only opens her wine store on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. She keeps me bottles that she thinks I will like.

Such fun. Each time I pop in she is bubbling with excitement and proposes a selection of interesting wines.

Here is a video about my kitchen.

Sad really if the most exciting video I can make is about my kitchen sink.

There is a small typhoon on its way. That should brighten things up. The boat is beautifully covered and well attached to the pontoon.

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Level 4

Says it all really

So, the virus has returned dramatically. Each day we are getting more cases than the whole months of March and April when the virus first arrived. Okinawa is now the worst affected, per capita, prefecture in Japan.

Yesterday, Governor Tamaki inevitably announced that Okinawa would go into the highest level of epidemic reaction, Level 4. This means stay at home.

Well, that is pretty much what I have been doing since the resurgence about two weeks ago. This entry is necessarily rather dull as it covers sitting around on a very hot and humid island not doing much.

Hot and humid! I think it must be age but I cannot remember being so incapacitated by the heat in previous years. As always I have lots of little jobs to do on the boat but even an hour outside leaves me drenched in sweat and dizzy. I worry about heat stroke.

I do manage to buy some proper rope and bend on a new jib sheet. I did the same thing about 2 weeks ago but the rope was useless and kept slipping through the cleats at critical moments.

Amazon Japan.

Taking her out in the heat of the day seems too much effort but we have been on some good sunset sails by which time it is only 28 degrees or so.

Before the rain

One night we got into a fantastic downpour. It snuck up behind as we were oohing and aahing about sunset. Within seconds we were completely drenched. Rain like everything else on Okinawa at this time of year is hot. The crew loved it.

What else?

Ah yes, after 10 years of accepting that cream was not sold in Japan, I was again proven wrong. Well, I knew that you could get cartons of thin stuff that could whipped up for decoration but not thick cream for sauces. What is a Summer picnic without strawberries and cream?

Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton

I have written about my water dispenser. I drink so much cold water in this heat. I go to the local water depot to stock up. This was my first visit and I expected a gloomy warehouse but found a dazzling shopfront with uniformed staff who of course load my car for me.

Interesting backhand v sign.

Oh yes, nearly forgot, I have a new hobby. Great rafts of hard skin have built up on my delicate feet. In a pharmacy type shop I find a great device, a battery driven hard skin grinder.

Get one.

My evening are spent grinding away at my feet.

Have you dozed off yet?

The big news is that I have got my flute back. My friend Takaesu san has replaced all the pads on the keys and has done a fine job.

He is a great bloke.Not wearing a mask, very unusual.
New Okinawan pad on F key made in 1824 in London

The flute plays beautifully except I have yet to persuade her to consistently produce the hard bottom D note that is so important in Irish music. It is rhythmically sprinkled in nearly all tunes especially reels. The drive and lift of good flute playing is to a large extent produced by the D.

I think this is G #.

So, I have been playing a lot and little by little the hard D is returning. Is this because the flute understands what I want or because I am minutely adapting my embouchure and blow? An early 19th century wooden flute is a stern mistress.


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Power Gives Way to Sail

Once more the languid existence of Covid 2020. There has been a very marked upsurge in the number of cases on the island. We had none for months but suddenly it is back. With this comes polite and gentle urgings from the Governor to stay at home and avoid social gatherings. We all ,of course, wear masks, spray our hands with disinfectant and distance. Everybody but everybody conforms.

This new spike has put the kibosh on several dinners and being with people fun.

You get the idea.

I lead a low key life and look forward to the excitement of walking to the supermarket.

Full of surprises

I also visit an exhibition by old friend Kikuta san.

Good bloke
I would buy one of his screens if I had space to put it. He is a very knowledgeable birdwatcher.

Principally, I fuss over various problems on the boat; jib sheets, water in the cabin, sail lacing, and all the other tribulations that boats are heir to.

Of course, there is a lot of time on the water.

I go out with Chris on Sunday. There is a fog coming off the sea which is called a sea fret, or a haar on the East coast of Scotland.,over%20the%20cold%20North%20Sea.

The wind is strong, almost always over 15 knots. It is is cloudy and choppy as we blast over to the Sand Islands.,127.6090131,12360m/data=!3m1!1e3

Coming home is not so easy. She does her best but we are sailing into the wind. long tacks back to Okinawa. In the distance we spot a big cargo/container boat. It is coming straight for us. This happens often and always the big boat just steams on and in fact passes nowhere near us.

This was not the case yesterday. The closer we got the more evident it became that there was a good chance of collision. Had they seen us? So, in theory, power gives way to sail but a 100,000 ton cargo boat going at 20 knots may think differently.

We were rattled as the huge boat came closer and closer. Then it changed course and passed behind us. Thank you Captain of the cargo boat. It was scary.

The video does not capture the distances.

The wind was strong and we beat back. It is not comfortable sailing as you crash into the waves and seem not to be making much distance. However I am determined to get as close to Okinawa before we resort to the mighty Yanmar. It is getting late. At a critical moment my $100 hat blows away into the sea. It floats away at great speed. Turn around and try to fish it out ? Like Hell, we have let’s get home mindset and who cares about a $100 hat anyway? We fire up the Yanmar and motor the last kilometers.

Fresh air.

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