Suffering Sand Snakes

I return to the tale of Ben and I’s great adventure in the Keramas.

We left Glass Ball Bay early in the morning and headed out into the wonderful archipelago. Islands with brilliant beaches, green jungle covered hills, separated by blue, blue channels. 

“A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”

“A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”

It is perfect sailing; wind but not too much, beautiful views, a sound and trustworthy boat and most of all, there is not another boat in sight.

We own this place

We own this place

We also have a mission. I realize that it took us 10 hours to get here with a nice breeze blowing behind us. What about getting back? What if there is no wind? What if such little wind as there may be is blowing straight towards us? It will take days to get home. Hmmm, we have a motor, the mighty Tophatsu, but I did not bring any gas, thinking for some reason, that  we would only use her for coming into harbor and such. I make the decision to find some gas just in case we need to motor for extended periods. We set off to the tiny fishing port of Zamami. 

It is a hot passage.

Ben sunbathes

Ben sunbathes

We decide to take a diving break,  anchor Dileas and fall backwards into the gin dark sea. The Keramas are the best place to go diving. The water is crystal, the water is blood, the coral is nice to look at and the fish and stuff delight.

The last photo

The last photo

Tragedy strikes immediately after  I took the above photo. Sea water infiltrated into my waterproof – Hah! – camera case and a dilution of whale and turtle sperm flood  the electronics of my much beloved G10 and kill her dead.

For the rest of the trip; a trip that was full of visual experiences that would  harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combined locks to part, and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine, there is no camera. You will have to make do with narrative.

We get to Zamami and tie up in the harbor.

We track down the gasorinstandu and explain in theatre that I need ten liters of gas, a gas tank and a can of two stroke oil. We get all except the tank. But hey this is Okinawa so the guy puts the gas in his tank and he drives us in his Hijet to the gas tank store. He helps us  buy the best and after a lot of grinning goes back to his gas station, which by the way is one 1950’s pump and a shed.

Gas tank all the way from Zamami

Gas tank all the way from Zamami

The oil can has no manner to visually judge how much oil has been added to the gas. You have to glare down the cap hole and estimate. The mighty Tophatsu runs on 40:1 mixture. I have 10 liters of gas. One liter of oil in 10 liters of gas would be 10:1. The oil can holds 0.5 liters thus if I poured all in the mixture would be 20 :1. Therefore, if I pour half of the can into the tank the mixture should be 40:1. I do this calculation in only 15 mins and do the pouring.

We leave Zamami and spend a delightful day sailing around the islands. A big rain squall catches us and we howl across the channel between Aka and Tokashiki at high speed unable to see anything so heavy is the rain. We are soaked in 2 microseconds but dry again in 5 minutes as the squall passes and the sun blazes down again. We dive and follow gently cruising turtles. As the afternoon wears on we head west to the most westerly of the islands, Kuba Jima, to find a suitable beach.

The beach is tricky as there is a big parapet of shingle built up at high tide  level that Ben I are unable to haul Dileas over. We call for air support but none comes. This means that poor Dileas hammers up and down on the shingle as the tide goes out and again as it comes in. It breaks my heart to see her suffer so but there is no alternative.

We eat our Spam, or pemmican as we prefer, and sit and watch Dileas’ agony as the sun goes down. I look down at the swollen knee and there is a baby turtle rushing past my feet. We gaze around and there are dozens and dozens of baby turtles storming down the beach in a wild dash for the sea. Holy Moley!

They are determined little mothers. If their path is blocked by a log, they storm it  a few times and if not successful then sprint laterally until they find the end and off they go again. Whoa,  these baby turtles really want to get to the beach. We sit, watch  and look at each other with a wild surmise —silent, upon a beach in the Keramas.

Not my photo

Not my photo

The first wave comes at 7:00. The second wave comes at 10:00. These guys seem much less determined and many appear disoriented with little idea of the direction to the sea. Some the reach the sea come straight back to land with a ” What the f*ck” expression. Ben and I help in that pitiful way that makes us feel good.

A few do not make it and as we walk up the beach with a torch we come across a rat chomping down on a evolutionary weak individual.

We lie down on our mats and watch the stars, which are very twinkly. I sleep, Ben suffers terribly fro sunburn and so ranges the beach. He comes across a snake. Later er like 12:00 he awakes and the snake is right beside him staring him out.  He gets me up and we watch the snake like squirm around in the sand totally unconcerned by our presence. We are at the end of the world, Nature does not fear man. Snake is about a meter long an looks black in the night. It finally slip, slides, away and we go back to sleep. At 2:00ish I jerk awake to a cry of “Motherf*cker!” Ben is dancing around and the snake lies at his feet. The snake had slipped slided onto Ben’s legs and he drifted into consciousness with the motherf*cker staring at him once again.

This time we get medieval.

Marcellus he say: “What now? Let me tell you what now. I’ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin’ niggers, who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.”

Actually we are quite sweet and shoo and scurry snake boy way up the beach as the stars dazzle and huge flashes of lightning fill the storm-brewing sky.

It was one of these. Akamata in Japaanese

It was one of these. Akamata in Japaanese

We sleep er fitfully especially Ben, until 5:00 when 500 millions gallons of rain are emptied on our heads. We can only stand, less surface area for the rain to hit, and wait.  Finally dawn comes as we hunch around a circle of stones futilely trying to get a fire going. Quelle nuit!

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1 Response to Suffering Sand Snakes

  1. calder Ian says:

    Marvellous! Well done, what an adventure. I see a Beach hotel near the gas station, I think I might have succumbed.

    Ps for definition of adventure see Amundsen quotes. Mind you he did desert his men at one point.

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