Saturday morning and I go down to the boat. I have things to discuss with Tabata san. My main concern at the moment is the engine. Clearly if I am going to spend the rest of my life voyaging around remote Japanese islands, then a trustworthy engine is essential.
Imagine the calm before the storm. A mega typhoon is coming and, as is fairly typical, the wind drops beforehand. I am out of sea with a engine that does not start.
The first step is to take the engine out of the boat. This a big job with tools and cranes and stuff. How can I find someone to do it? I explain this to Tabata san. He casually cast his gaze sideways to the guy sitting close by and utters the magic words, “China san.”
China, pronounced Cheena, san comes over and we bow and introduce ourselves. He grins and between his English and my Japanese, which are similar, I find out that he is a mechanic, that he is 70 years old, that he does not like sponge cake, that he will take out my engine! I ask when he can do it. He says, ” Today.”
This causes a turmoil of emotions. First, joy but then conflict as I have told my dear friend Naoko san that I will come to a cultural event that she has organized at the university. I have to go, but this means missing my engine being banished, a milestone in the history of restoration.
At the boat, I talk, sort of, to China san. I lay bare my soul er like, let it all hang out. I tell him about propeller shaft alignment anxiety, wiring worries, support stress. To each whimper he says, “It’s OK, I can do that.”
Anyway, we get on famously and slash our palms with sharp knives to become brothers.
Anyway, I go to the talks and miss my engine being taken out. Probably a good thing as I would undoubtedly have got in the way. Cannot wait for tomorrow when, all being well, my engine will be parked beside the boat.
Once again my luck holds strong. Enterprise of great pith and moment can be fixed by being in the right place at the right time to meet people like China san.