Sunshine Superman

Something I have neglected, as of late, is Okinawan sunsets. July is the greatest season but the sun sets far too far in the West from where I now live, necessitating a longish walk or bike trip to take photos.

From my balcony, at this late period of the year, er, situation, I can get great shots.


I am happy here.

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A Cover Up

Hooray! I have a beautiful new cover for the boat. It is a thing of beauty and therefore a joy forever.

Not a drop of water can get in the boat now!

The cover was hand made by yet another Okinawan boating personality, the charming Mitsuda san.

He is a craftsman

The cover is very tough canvas and, after much discussion and several fittings with Mitsuda san, he speaks no English, it does not matter, I now have what I think is a very typhoon proof cover.

     A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

The cover has many little design details that come from Mitsuda san’s rich creativity.

You will have to click on this photo to see the little envelope of canvas that he has sewn in to protect the clasp on the tape that pulls the cover forward.

The boat is delighted. She wriggles with sassy glee as she sports her new handmade coat before the neighboring boats. She is so happy. So she should be. I never spent this kind of money on clothes for myself !

Kiyuna san comes by to stamp his seal of approval
He then thunders off on his Harley to rescue boats in distress.

Thank you Mitsuda san for doing such an outstanding job. It is true craftsmanship. He is now making me a sail cover. The boat will be the best dressed Norfolk Gypsy in the Eastern Hemisphere!

An aside. Next to my apartment building is a beautiful vegetable garden.

November is planting time in Okinawa. I have become friends with the couple that work the land. They speak not a word of English. It does not matter.

Wonderful people!
I can’t wait to see what emerges !
Winter-coming-on sunset tonight

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Shuri Jo

This blog is a record of my time in Okinawa. Last night Shuri Jo burned down to the ground. This is the most awful thing. I have to mention it.

Poor Okinawa.

Okinawa is a small island. Shuri Jo represented the history and culture of Okinawa to all inhabitants and also to newcomers like me.

Too awful. So sad.

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Zamami Fun

Jeremy and I head off to Zamami Jima for a few days of fun.,+Shimajiri+District,+Okinawa/@26.1978192,127.2473818,22282m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x34faacb90bb22d49:0x681887c9961eb8b9!8m2!3d26.2286041!4d127.3032561 It is a 50 km sail across the wild and wistful ocean and the Norfolk Gypsy has been trembling with anticipation since I mentioned the voyage to her a few days ago.

We started well but soon the wind shifted and as usual ended up right on the nose and we labored over with many tacks before giving up and firing up the trusty 1GM. What a joy to have a reliable diesel motor. The boat also seemed sluggish into the wind and the sail sagged in a strange way. The reason will become clear later.

Going to Zamami!

Are we downhearted? No! It is late October and we are in shorts and t-shirts. Amazingly we are the only boat out there apart from ferries and stray fishing boats. Best sailing anywhere and it is our private domain.

We finally make it over to the Keramas.

We get to Zamami harbor just as it is getting dark and tie up to a convenient pontoon.

Cosy cabin
We drink beer
Home for the next few days.
Jeremy settles in for the night.
Next morning
Breakfast, SPAM sandwiches, onigiri and hot coffee

The first day’s project is to sail over to neighboring island of Tokashiki to track down a reputed Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that I have been told is gently rotting in the harbor. As soon as we set off, the forestay tangles with the jib roller reefing set up. I cannot work out how this could happen until I look up to see a big split in the top of the mast. Disaster!

See the split. Poor Norfolk Gypsy!
There are rings on the front and back of the mast to which various halyards and the forestay are attached. The rings are held in place by bolts that go through the mast. The rings have been pulled down splitting the mast.

Back to the harbor and down comes the mast.

Thank heavens that Jeremy was with me. It was a 2 man job.

I put 4 lashings around the mast head that close up the split very nicely. Many thanks to Mr Pritchard for teaching me knots when I was 12. I also put on large washers under the rings to prevent the bolts from pulling through.

This should fix it for now but I am uncertain what to do for the long term.

Getting the mast up again was very difficult as every possible rope and wire got hopelessly tangled. No time to go to Tokashiki. The pilot cutter will have to wait.

Two dives the next morning.


Zamami is the best place to dive. The water is as clear as Bombay gin. So many turtles. Thanks to Yoishi san for the photos.

I film turtle
So many fish
Totally unconcerned by our proximity.
Such fun

The Kerama islands are the best places to sail. After the dives we take the boat out for a test run to see if the rings and lashings will hold. . Beautiful sub tropical islands, white sandy beaches, blue, blue sea, stiff breeze, not a single other boat. This was one of my best sails ever. The Norfolk Gypsy loves wind and she galloped around the islands like a colt, er that does not work, like a filly.

The mast head repair held up fine.
Gull winged between Tokashiki and Ada.

Home again on Saturday to watch England versus All Blacks. We leave at dawn and surge over to Okinawa in bright sunshine. No trouble from the mast repair.

Dawn in Zamami

Back home, we eat a huge goat stew, drink beer and fall asleep at the beginning of the 2nd half!

How can I fall asleep in an historic game? Age probably.

Here is a short video:

What a great adventure! Full screen, hi def please
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Sailing Stupidity

Off we go! It is early in the morning and our destination is Nagannu island.

Everything goes perfectly as we dip our way across the East China Sea to an uninhabited sub tropical island. What could be better? It is 28 degrees, bright, sunny and the water is warm. We are sailing a lovingly restored Norfolk Gypsy, who behaves immaculately; breeding don’t you know.

Nagannu !

We anchor just off the island using my brand-new, tailor-made, coral anchor.

We snorkel over the amazing coral. Jeremy sees a White Tipped Shark!

White Tipped Shark bites Jeremy’s toe.
At anchor.

Oh dear, time to head home. Oh dear, things start to go wrong. We raise the anchor, in fact we raise the rode and chain as the anchor has mysteriously detached itself ! Jeremy dives in and heroically rescues it. I would have been very sad to lose my beautiful anchor on the first time I used it.

The chain was attached to the anchor with a stainless steel carabiner, which I thought would do the job nicely. Obviously not.

How not to do it!

Anyway off we go, expecting a pleasant broad reach back to Okinawa. It is indeed very pleasant until we get close enough to recognize buildings. I do not recognize any. I then realize that I had not lowered the center plate when we left the beach and therefore the boat had been drifting south at about the same speed as we were sailing east. I felt very stupid. We now had to beat back up against the wind for about 15 kms. This she did valiantly but time ran out and we had to motor the last 5 or so as the sun went down behind us. God bless the mighty Yanmar 1GM.

We finally got back to the marina in the dark and I completed the display of incompetence by crashing into our mooring pontoon. Could not see anything.

Here is a video:

On the way back the apartment, much blasted by sun and wind, we stopped off to celebrate the opening of ‘The Bacon Bar’. This is an business started by 2 young people from OIST who are going to make bacon and all kinds of charcuterie. There is no tradition of charcuterie on an island that is obsessed with pork. Strange. Go there!

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Japan was hit by a ferocious typhoon, many died and there was vast damage. My very sincere best wishes go to all who suffered.

The rugby match between Japan and Scotland was threatened with cancellation. I knew it would be played as the Japanese were so determined to win their matches in front of the world but also to demonstrate their resilience in the face of natural disaster.

Japan have never beaten Scotland.

Scotland started very strongly and scored a try early in the first half. There was an inevitability about it. The Scots bigger, more experienced, would crush the spirit out of Japan. Not so, there followed the best 40 minutes of rugby I have ever seen. The Brave Blossoms, what a great name, played with such intensity, such ferocity, such speed that they scored three wonderful tries and had 80% of possession. Scotland were not in the game.

There are no supporters like them

Japan scored again at the beginning of the second half. 28 -7 Japan had the game.

I was so pleased and proud for the team and the nation. Japan needed good news.

Scotland came back strongly and scored 2 tries in 5 minutes; great credit to them. 28-21. Japan looked tired, Scotland looked strong. 20 minutes to go. Oh no, Scotland were going to win. How can I have said that? I am Scottish.


Japan held on for a historic victory. Best game I have seen in years. I was almost in tears.


Japan have won all 4 of their matches beating the giants of Ireland and Scotland.

I am happy that you are happy.

Well done Japan! Sorry Scotland for your defeat and the fact that I supported the other team. Japan has that effect on people.

He will remember this.
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Japan Pension Service

I mentioned in a previous post that I had received a notification from the Japan Pension Service that I was going to get a state pension. It has been a complex business but is now sorted out.

My good friends

Here is a sub plot. Mitsuba san is a sailmaker and boat cover maker and he is going to make me a tailor-made cover for the boat. He comes by on Monday and starts measuring up the boat for its new set of clothes. There will be several fittings before the bespoke cover is finished.

Being Okinawan, Mitsuba san overflows with humor and wit.
Strong juju
Which side do you dress on?

We have a lot of fun. The next day the estimate comes and it is a lot of money, about $1000. Oh dear, in my diminished circumstances I try to avoid expensive stuff but I really have no alternative and, although I have no bespoke suits, my boat will have one.

This morning, I get a letter from the Japan Pension Service saying they will deposit 120,000¥ in my bank account, apparently for back payments.

Yay! This covers the cost of my, er, cover. I have always been tremendously lucky.

A huge typhoon is roaring towards mainland Japan, which will certainly mess up the Rugby World Cup. It will miss us, but even at the edge, we are starting to feel the effects.

Sea signaling

I predict bad weather by bird behavior. Golden Plovers and Kentish Plovers suddenly congregate on grassy space near the shore.

Watch out! A storm is coming.
Wind on Great White Egret’s neck.

I hope Scotland can play Japan despite the typhoon. I do not know who to support.

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