There is a Season – Tern,Tern,Tern

So, I have been worrying about several things lately. First is that the Scaffie is not in the water. She is skulking in Dead Man’s Gulch, having been untimely ripped from her natural element due to unjustified dread of typhoons, whipped up by the right-wing media, of course.

Cancellations of various meetings leaves me with a more or less clear day. I jump on the opportunity to liberate the Scaffie. A very highly educated team show at 07:15. We rush to the hiding place and slowly but surely ease the Scaffie down the beach. I love this stuff! So many meetings during which my main focus has been how to run a Drascombe Scaffie down a remote beach on the East China Sea.

The answer lies in the boards

The answer lies in the boards

I have pumped up the trailer tires and assembled a good collection of wide plywood boards.

We just run the boat down on these with the greatest of ease.

A delightful old guy, who walks down the beach every morning at 7:30 to do his calisthenics, comes to help

A delightful old guy, who walks down the beach every morning at 7:30 to do his calisthenics, comes to help

Stupidly, I organize this adventure at low tide. We get the boat down to the water no bother but it is not possible to push her through the underwater coral to a depth whereby she will float off the trailer. No problem we just leave her  there. The tide will come in and float her off nicely. We go to the Joyfull Restaurant for a great breakfast.

Good looking people. Thanks Hisashi, David and Laura.

Good looking people. Good looking boat. Thanks Hisashi, David and Laura.

The other thing that I have been worrying about is whether the Black Naped Terns have come back to nest on the cliffs of Cape Zampa. There is a strong wind blowing and the sea is fairly wavey. I set off on a broad reach towards the nesting sites. The Scaffie charges along and we get there in 30 minutes.

Cape Zampa off the port bow

Cape Zampa off the port bow

This probably does not convey the speed through the water nor the agitation of  the sea

This probably does not convey the speed through the water nor the agitation of the sea

I come in close to the cliffs and there are some 20 terns sitting there  but looking disinterested in nesting. The sea is too bad to get in very close but I suspect these are Roseate rather than Black Naped. Why do I care? Well, last year a couple of Black Naped Terns, hyper rare birds, nested on the rock in front of my house and raised two chicks. I did not realize what was going on until the last act. This year I dream they will come back again and I will be able to document the nesting, egging, raising and flying off, for all the world to see.  Will they be back? So much to worry about.

I beat back to the house. What a great sail! It is the first time I have sailed the Scaffie in high winds and high seas. This is what she is good at. The boat is remarkably stable. Big gusts come in that would have most boats of this length healed over dangerously and the helmsperson worrying about capsize. The Scaffie just shrugs down a bit and accelerates. She is also very dry. Beating into the wind in heavy seas usually means a lot of water breaking over the bows into the boat. The Scaffie miraculously shrugs off these seas and  spreads them wide from her bow.

I have also been very anguished  about the mighty Tophatsu. This engine has done everything she can to make me happy. However, I fear that her ample figure is just too generous for the Scaffie. Should I trade her in for a more svelte model?

I take her out today to test whether we have future together.

The  reubenesque Tophatsu mounted on my ex

The reubenesque Tophatsu mounted on my ex.

I bear up into the wind, lower the sail and manhandle the Tophatsu, who has been lying quietly in the bottom of the boat, onto the engine mount. This is a manouevre that I have fretted about through many meetings, as I feared that stumbling about a small boat with a heavy engine in rough seas would lead to falling overboard.  Not so, the Scaffie is very stable in the water and I mounted easily.

The tiller on the Scaffie is fitted such that you can lift it to about 60 degrees from the horizontal whilst maintaining full control of the rudder. This means that you can move the tiller above the huge bulk of the Tophatsu  and manoeuvre the boat without difficulty. I motor around a bit and everything is wonderful.

Tophatsu is heavy and curvy but she has power and reliability. What a relief that I will not have to sell  her down the river.

Beating back from Cape Zampa

Beating back from Cape Zampa

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Smell the Rain

Big week, last week- opened an exhibition:

Potty

Potty

http://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2015/5/18/unlocking-secrets-okinawan-pottery

Talked gay stuff with Irish ambassador:

She likes sponge cake.

She likes sponge cake.

Board of Governors, Board of Councillors, Particle Physics workshop:

Not many women

Not many women

French ladies play harp and flute:

Trenet

Trenet

Dinners every night from Sunday to Friday.

Great plans to relaunch the boat stymied by the serious onset of the rainy season. It rains like crazy.

Storm drain in front of my house

Storm drain in front of my house

The red earth washed down by the rain stains the sea

The red earth washed down by the rain stains the sea

Actually this is wonderful as it gives me the excuse to generally vegetate most of the weekend. One thing I like at this time of year is the strange growths that er grow out of the palm bushes.

Hello

Hello

What am I for?

What am I for?

Seeds I suppose

Seeds I suppose

Grey Heron in the rain

Grey Heron in the rain

Night Heron sans umbrella

Night Heron sans umbrella

Little Egret - notice the yellow feet

Little Egret – notice the yellow feet

Nagahama Dam

Nagahama Dam

This is also the time of year to pay Road Tax. The bill comes in a pink envelope with happy, little cartoons all over it. What’s wrong with these people? Can’t they take taxation grudgingly like any normal society?

Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben , flowerpot men.

Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben , flowerpot men.

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How Green is my Valley

Opinels are the best knives. James gave me a great one at Xmas that I use a lot. It has a corkscrew built into it. Not in a clever technicological way as Swiss Army Knife but a design suited to  the montagnards savoyards for whom these knifes were built. Savoie borders on Switzerland. Oh, how much difference those few kilometers make in so many ways. The blade of Opinel, which can be sharpened to razor like keeness, fits tightly into the wooden handle and can only be released by using “le coup du Savoyard” This means rapping the heel of the knife smartly on a hard surface. This springs the blade.

Good

Good

Business end

Business end. Thanks James

Another strange thing is  that Tunnocks Wafer Creams are very popular in Okinawa.

I ate these as a kid in the fifties!

I ate these as a kid in the fifties!

How did these biscuits get from Glasgow to corner shops in Okinawa?

That's my hobby

That’s my hobby

I have seen them nowhere else in the world. Can you get them in England?

Amazing colors today.

Thanks Okinawa

Thanks Okinawa

I spend the morning at the University as big meetings are blowing in.  Naoko and Arisa are setting up a new exhibition and priceless ceramics are lying around everywhere.

These are big and I want one.

These are big and I want one.

Ben made the most exclusive set of Shisa in Okinawa. They are one of a kind. I have kept them inside but Shisa are born to guard the house and I decide that they must be released and so place them on the coral wall outside the front door.

F**k Off!

F**k Off!

Looking at me or chewing a brick?

Looking at me or chewing a brick? Thanks Ben

Anyway, all of this is a preamble to the real news of this day, my 63rd birthday. I have been anguished for many months as my Green Card expires in May. I have applied for a renewal but I have severe doubts that this will happen. A Green Card is a residence permit for the U.S. I live in Japan. I love America, well, California, well, the Bay Area. The idea of going back to tourist status after so many happy years in California is awful.

Ben sends me a mail  saying my new Green Card came through the post today. On my birthday! This is the best birthday present ever. I will be 73 and dead before it expires! Thank you California. Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay!Yay! Yay! Yay! You get what I mean.

Rock and Roll bands, I'm your biggest fan!

Rock and Roll bands, I’m your biggest fan!

You tell them Joni!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q4foLKDlcE

This has been the best birthday.

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It Takes a Long Time to Become Young

So, tomorrow is my birthday and I glide gently toward the mid sixties. I have never felt better apart from my knee, which is crank. The kind people at work celebrate the event with a soup birthday party. The admirable Atsuko san’s birthday is today and we have shared festivities for four years now.

Atsuko san is very cool

Atsuko san is very cool

We drink Okinawan clam chowder – oichi!  The wonderful people at Kaito had written on each and every paper cup.

In English too

In English too

One activity recently has been designing the graduation robes for the University. I think I will go into fashion design.

Piled High and Deep

Piled High and Deep

Anyway, a very good day. Thanks to all those who made it so.

I don't like sponge cake

I don’t like sponge cake

“The sky, at sunset, looked like a carnivorous flower.”

“The sky, at sunset, looked like a carnivorous flower.”

A pot

A pot

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Don’t It Always Seem to Go

The most beautiful day of the year. Good breeze, calm sea, glorious weather, just perfect for sailing.

7:00 am on the deck

7:00 am on the deck

So what do I do? I pull the Scaffie out of the water.

Why? Typhoons on the way. So soon? Er, I suppose so. What can I do about it?

Going to hit us on Tuesday

Going to hit us on Tuesday

The Scaffie has to come out today, what with it being Sunday. This is of course the best fun. I have been planning how to do it for weeks. I set up the mighty Tirfor.

These are the best. I do not know what goes on inside but it allows you to drag a heavy boat up a beach with  little effort.

These are the best. I do not know what goes on inside but it allows you to drag a heavy boat up a beach with little effort.

I row the Scaffie up to Dead Man’s Gulch and with the help of John, Micheal and Harry, get her onto the little trailer, whose wheels are far too small. Not only too small but the tyres are also  horribly under inflated.

Nice day

Nice day

Approaching the Gulch

Approaching the Gulch

In fact it is not an easy exercise. The wheels on the trailer are hopeless and the blue strips of plastic that I had thought the wheels would run over easily in fact just sink into the sand. The plywood boards are however ideal. I winch and winch and slowly the Scaffie works her way up the beach to her place of shelter from the storm.

At rest

At rest

What a beautiful boat and winch of course.

What a beautiful boat and winch of course.

Although a little difficult today I now know exactly what stuff is needed to facilitate – lots of plywood boards and better wheels.

The Scaffie will probably lie here for the next 2 weeks as once the typhoons, there are 2 on their way er by the way, the great storms of the Board of Governors meetings blow in. Wild, powerful stuff and I doubt that I will get out on the boat.

At 3:00 pm on a Sunday I nice man comes with my new Mac.

At 3:00 pm on a Sunday I nice man comes with my new Mac. It is amazing.

The Brugmansia is about  to go insane.

The Brugmansia is about to go insane.

A spider watches me cook supper.

A spider watches me cook supper.

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Just One of Those Days

So Golden Week is the best public holiday concept around. You can start on Wednesday, public holiday, take off Thursday and Friday; then comes the weekend; Monday, Tuesday Wednesday are public holidays; hey, let’s take off Thursday and Friday to meet up with next weekend. 12 straight days of you know.

I do not do this, but one day I will. I still get a lot of days of fun.

Today was just one of those days. As I stumble to the kitchen I notice my flowers are blooming.

Good morning!

Good morning!

I set off in the Scaffie across the lagoon to the coast of Cape Zampa. The weather is ideal. The sea is limpid. The wind is just enough. I anchor on that fatal shore and go underwater. Here is a video that totally inadequately tries to capture the wonders of scuba just down the road apiece from the house. The colors are washed out and the poor little GoPro cannot get  distance. Anyway, watch this videos full screen and at maximum resolution. There is a little icon that looks like a cog in the bottom right corner of the YouTube screen that allows you to set the quality. Hai!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuV0MIX7FqY

I dive in one place and then row over to another place where there is a big bank of coral pullulating with brilliantly colored fish, of which the GoPro fails to capture the zing thereof.

I then set off on a run across the lagoon. It takes 15 minutes to get back to the mooring. Oh, if only it had been longer.

I anchor the Scaffie way out in the bay as the tide is really far out.

Can you see her?

Can you see her?

As the sun sets, I set out again.

Check out the cleat that I have screwed onto the tiller. It was a drag having both hands full.

Check out the cleat that I have screwed onto the tiller. It was a drag having both hands full. Now the main sheet is under control.

Red sails in the sunset.

Red sails in the sunset.

Not spectacular but tranquil.

Not spectacular but tranquil.

Okinawa.

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Golden Stuff

This is Golden Week, which means I get a lot of days off. I intend to sail like crazy and indeed do on Saturday. Then the wind gets up and the sea goes into peril  zone.

Great weather but peril at sea.

Great weather but peril at sea.

So I go and look at things.

Little Egrets

Little Egrets

Cattle Egret in Summer plumage.

Cattle Egret in Summer plumage.

Another one. Its knees look a lot like mine .

Another one. Its knees look a lot like mine .

A turtle. These things are about a foot long .

A turtle. These things are about a foot long.

Chinese Bulbul.

Chinese Bulbul.

The tide is still like totally far out. The Scaffie is beached.

Not going anywhere.

Not going anywhere.

I go out to talk to her and promise that we will go for a gallop tomorrow. I spy Pacific Golden Plovers. It is Golden Week. It all makes sense.

Now, this is a really exciting photo! The plover on the right has its summer plumage whereas the one on the left is right in the middle of the change.

Now, this is a really exciting photo! The plover on the right has its summer plumage whereas the one on the left is right in the middle of the change.

Summer is here

Summer is here

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