The Hare bell chases away the rainy season you know. This is the time for the Hari Krishna boat races, https://quietripple.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/hare-krishna-hare-krishna-krishna-krishna-hare-hare-hare-rama-hare-rama-rama-rama-hare-hare/ I am too old, too fat, too infirm, too busy to compete. It irks me.
However there is no doubt that Summer is here and so I must guide the Scaffie to the shieling. I take Friday afternoon off and head off for Minna Jima.
It is a wonderful two hour sail across the the deep blue sea with the wind more or less directly behind.
Only when I get to the entrance to the big inlet, do I realize that there is a bar of coral that forbids travelers from entering. This results in a complex sail around the island to the harbor as what you can see on the North of the island in the photo.
There is nobody here. I lope up from the harbor and ask the only person on the island if there is a guest house. He knocks on a door an lo there are now two people on the island.
Person two says sure you can stay in a room in my house. Later two other people show up and we have a great evening sharing food. They provide, sashimi, kimchi and an excellent miso sauce. I provide Spam. We drink beer.
Next morning early I zoom off to Ie Jima. A brief stop to snorkel on the reef. The water is so clear that it gives you a headache. I then hurtle over to Ie Jima with the wind straight behind. As I am about to enter the harbor a huge ferry shows up going at about 20 knots, clearly going exactly where I am going. Steam should give way to sail but several thousand tons of steel going very fast against the tiny Scaffie is not a good time to stand on one’s rights. Unfortunately there is only a very narrow channel into Ie port between banks of coral.
I end up on the left hand bank of coral. There is just enough water to prevent the Scaffie, God bless her shallow draught, from obliteration but big waves are coming in and crashing over the reef in a very spectacular way as I beat back out and finally get into the shelter of the haven.
I rent a scooter from typically delightful people who only want to make you have the best and easiest possible time whilst on their island, and zoom around the island. The weather is incredible, the island is beautiful. I weep that 50% of the population were killed in one day during the battle of Okinawa. Hmm, God where were you then?
I eat a great meal of octopus sashimi and pork and veg stewed in blood. I stay at the Karigoya Guest House, which is run by a delightful couple in their 80’s who do everything they can to make me me happy. They lay towels on the floor as I walk to my room. Why? They take my beach shoes, clean off the sand and hang them out to dry.
I am up at 5:30 as I know there is a big day ahead. The wind is blowing Force 5/6 straight against me. I have to go to work tomorrow. At 6:00 I set off, under power from the mighty Tophatsu, through the harbor gate greeted by seriously stormy conditions. Big white horses are combing in and we have a very bumpy ride through the reefs into the open sea.
The sea is so bad that stopping to remove the engine and putting the sail up is out of the question so I batter over to Minna Jima hope to get some calmer conditions in the lee of the island.
I remove the Tophatsu and set sail only to find myself becalmed. I try to sail out of the lee of Inna Jima but after an hour I give up and remount Lord Tophatsu. I motor out into the open sea and hit a Force 5 wind blowing straight at me. The sea is rough with white horses breaking all around. I am scared, but having re-removed Duke Tophatsu on my hands and knees and having set sail, my anxiety is quickly extinguished. The Scaffie loves the wind, she loves the waves. A big comber comes in, whereupon she rises into it and gently slides down the other side. Not once, in really difficult seas on the passage back, did I feel concerned. She is a sea boat. She is a viking.
I choose the worst course, preferring short term gratification to longer term achievement. I set off on a wonderful reach that drives me over to Okinawa but of course way short of my house. This means tacking out again towards China and then back in again and again and again and again. The wind is very strong, the waves are high, the tide is against me, the sun is unrelenting. After the initial success, I spend some 4 hours beating across the Bay of Tancha. Glorious sailing but unfortunately each tack only gains me about 500 meters in the direction I want to go.
After 11 hours in an open boat, I finally remount Count Tophatsu and motor the last couple of miles home. This is disappointing as I can see my house clearly but know that it will take forever to get there under sail. Even Baron Tophatsu struggles against the battering waves and wind.
Anyway I make it. What a long, hard, trip.
Here is a short video that does not do justice.