She’s Gane! She’s Gane! She’s frae us Torn, The ae Best Lady e’er was Born!

So Dileas goes to her place of final rest. She was a fine, brave, boat and, although our time together was short, we went through moments of emotional intensity that few people have the luck to share.

Today the croquemorts came to take her away. Her road to the grave was long and hard but her final moments were very calm and dignified.

The hearse arrived outside my house at 2:00. I was very impressed with the undertakers who were both respectful and efficient.

Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under

Mourn, little harebells o'er the lee; Ye stately foxgloves, fair to see; Ye woodbines, hanging bonnilie, In scented bowers; Ye roses on your thorny tree, The first o' flowers!

Mourn, little harebells o’er the lee;
Ye stately foxgloves, fair to see;
Ye woodbines, hanging bonnilie,
In scented bowers;
Ye roses on your thorny tree,
The first o’ flowers!

Mourn, ye wee songsters o' the wood; Ye grouss that crap the heather bud; Ye curlews calling thro' a clud; Ye whistling plover; And mourn, ye whirring paitrick brood; She's gane for ever!

Mourn, ye wee songsters o’ the wood;
Ye grouss that crap the heather bud;
Ye curlews calling thro’ a clud;
Ye whistling plover;
And mourn, ye whirring paitrick brood;
She’s gane for ever!

Ye maggots, feed on Dileas' brain,  For few sic feasts you've gotten;  And fix your claws in Dileas'heart,  For deil a bit o't's rotten.

Ye maggots, feed on Dileas’ brain,
For few sic feasts you’ve gotten;
And fix your claws in Dileas’heart,
For deil a bit o’t’s rotten.

The Princess Of Thailand came yesterday to offer her condolences. Noblesse oblige.

The Princess Of Thailand came yesterday to offer her condolences. Noblesse oblige.

Later this afternoon, the undertakers rang the office to inform us all that Dileas had been laid to rest with the utmost gentleness and respect. This is true. Okinawa.

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Mrs Nagamine

Okinawan weddings are a riot! A colleague, Hidemi san becomes Mrs Nagamine and a big reception is held. The business starts at 12:30 and continues through to 4:00 and then the younger people go off to party.

We have been in strict regime of preparation for several weeks as it is expected that work colleagues will provide entertainment at the reception. We practice a big dance number with Arisa singing, “You’re too good to be true.” whilst the rest of the division go through a series of routines with pom-poms. We also prepare a Beethoven Minuet and an O’Carolan piece.

Getting ready

Getting ready

The bride and groom are magnificent.

Hidemi is a total sweetheart

Hidemi is a total sweetheart

Maki, the groom, is a journalist and seems like a very suitable young man. I warn him sternly to be nice to Hidemi. He looks a bit confused. His newspaper prepares a special issue to mark the wedding.

Naoko reads all about it.

Naoko reads all about it.

There are a series of speeches and acts from friends and colleagues, all of which are devoid of pomp. We are  acts.

Roll Over Beethoven

Roll Over Beethoven

It helps to have the graceful Arisa, who is a wonderful singer! Hear her sing here. http://youtu.be/X4e8PAdp-8I. Thanks Youhei for the video!

Johnny be good

Johnny be good

Here's to you Mr and Mrs Nagamine

Here’s to you Mr and Mrs Nagamine

Okinawa! Thanks Micheal for the photo

Okinawa! Thanks Micheal for the photo

The order of ceremony, in English for my benefit.

The original is of course in Japanese but they go to the extra effort of an English version for the few of us that are illiterate.

The original is of course in Japanese but they go to the extra effort of an English version for the few of us that are illiterate.

I love Okinawa. It is a culture of fun , playfulness and mutual respect that fits into my idea of how things should be.

No pomp

No pomp

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Dior

My intended adventure in the new boat was stymied by cold, rainy, windy, weather. However I profit from the opportunity to take the boat out of the water to repair the various blemishes she suffered when washed up on the beach. How to drag her out of the water?

Well, this is something I have been thinking about for the last couple of months. I need to get the boat into safety if bad weather blows in. I need to be able to do it without assembling a football team of helpers. So, I bury a pole deep in the sand at the top of Dead Man’s Gulch. I buy a portable winch  that runs off a 12 volt car battery. I repair the nasty little trailer that the boat arrived on, putting on new wheels. I have grave doubts about these wheels as they are small diametrically and I fear they will sink into the sand.

Anyway,  the winch is on pole, cable and rope arrangement is attached to the trailer on which sits the boat. I press the red button and the winch hauls the boat satisfactorily up the beach

Notice tiny wheels

Notice tiny wheels

Satisfactorily? Well, sort of; I need another person to guide the trailer and place boards under the wheels.  Thank you David. One wheel digs into the sand and concurrently the battery runs out of er, you know, stuff.

When the power ran out. Notice buried wheel.

When the power ran out. Notice buried wheel. Good looking boat!

No worries. I take the battery home to recharge and lie in the drizzle and rain, repairing the boat. Dior does a very good line of boat repair products.

The set up

The set up

Next morning I sally forth with charged battery, looking forward to dragging the boat a bit further up the beach. I place the battery in the cooler near the winch and start to pull out the metal winch cable. Somehow the cable gets coiled and flips over. Miraculously, it lands on both terminals of the battery.

How could the winch cable get in there?

How could the winch cable get in there?

Flash, sizzle, melt! I do not know what to do really as grabbing the cable would probably result in extreme pain. I watch it all sizzle for a while and then kick the cable off the terminals.

The upshot is the winch no longer works.

Oh well.

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A Stitch in Time

So, I have a new boat. She is moored in front of my house. I have sailed her and she is a fine boat. However sailing and anxiety are joined at the hip and I worry that the carabieneri that I use to attach the anchor rode to the anchor chain is weak. It is a crappy thing that I bought 6 of for $2 in San Francisco. It was at hand when, in the euphoric delight of setting up the boat, I needed a carabieneri for the  anchor rode.

The weather has been wonderful, with calm seas and gentle zephyrs and I knew that the boat was safe at anchor even given the febrility of the carabieneri. I knew the weather would eventually change, so after work I went to the carabieneri store and bought a stout stainless steel version that I could trust in the worst of weather.

When I got home it was dark and a little rainy and high tide. I did not wade into the sea and replace the feeble carabieneri. I stayed at home, ate octopus and practiced Beethoven’s Minuet in G on my flute. Big mistake, probably.

Corrupt and honest carabieneri

Corrupt and honest carabieneri

I was awoken  at 6:00 by the un-ignorable alarm clock of howling wind and waves crashing into the shore. I leap onto the deck and stare out to sea. No boat!

In 4.3258 milliseconds I am on the shore and I spy the new boat aground on a beach very close to where Dileas hurtled to her doom. Thankfully the wind was onshore else the new boat would be in China now.

Big swells are crashing onto the beach and I use them to heave the bows into the seas as the waves lift her keel. I get her out into the water, which is mountainous, and begin to haul her back to the mooring. Once again I am up to my neck in the wild and wistful ocean at 6:15 am rescuing a boat.

I get her back to the mooring which is a big Fortress anchor. http://fortressanchors.com/

Sure enough, there is no sign of the crappy carabieneri. It must have absconded from duty at some time during the night. Do not trust the Italian police.

I then swim home to get my fins and mask as I worry that the anchor might not be holding. I dive down to the anchor with a lump hammer and batter the anchor deep into the compacted coral sand bottom. It is 6:30.

New boat back on the mooring.

New boat back on the mooring.

I make tea, shower,shave, go to the toilet, put on my suit and go to work.

Whoopee! I love it when things go wrong! I got to work feeling 110% alive. So, the question is  – should I have done the sensible thing and changed the carabieneri immediately? Or, given the fact that the boat is undamaged other than a few egratinures, did I have a more rewarding experience plunging around in the East China Sea at dawn?

I hasten to add that the East China Sea is warm. Similar activity in West Loch Tarbert at 6:00 in April would probably have killed me.

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Cutting Out

I am out of the house at 6:15. I have a mission. Can I launch my boat at Double Skull Harbor before the guards wake up after their Saturday night of carousing?  I need all kinds of permission to launch my boat at a commercial fishing harbor but I know this will take weeks. I intend to sneak in and wheesht the boat into the water before anyone sees me. I have been practicing ingratiating Japanese all week in case I come across a guard.        “Choto dakai, onaigaishimasu, onaigaishimasu, ikey dakai, onaigaishimasu, onaigaishimasu!” I also have big bills in my wallet.

I trail the boat to the harbor but alas the gate is locked with huge ceremonial padlock.

We wait outside the gates, being very quiet.  It has just got light.

We wait outside the gates, being very quiet. It has just got light.

At 7:00 a truck turns up and the guard, who is returning to the fortress after a night of heavy drinking and probably wenching, opens the gate and leaves it open. I slip in behind and in no time, I have backed the trailer down the slipway and the boat is in the sea for the first time for many years. She likes the sea.

Not a soul to be seen.

Not a soul to be seen.

How beautiful is this?

How beautiful is this?

I row out of Double Skull Harbor with muffled oars and get clean away! Yay! I have launched the boat.

However, I have forgotten to rig the rudder without which sailing is impossible. I plunge over the side and with immense difficulty finally manage to locate the rudder pintles into the pintle brackets. The sea is warm and turtles nibble my toes throughout the exercise. I heave myself back into the boat with immense difficulty and rig the tiller. In doing so I manage to pull the rudder pintles out of their brackets and I am back to square one. I abandon all thoughts of sailing home and start to row.

Rudder pintle.

Rudder pintle.

So, here is an immediate improvement over poor dead Dileas. The new boat has hand made oars and in fact rows extremely well. I glide the mile or so over the lagoon and tie up at the mooring in front of my house. It is wonderful to be back on the water.

Safely moored

Safely moored

I am back in the house for a cup of tea before 7:30!

Boat from deck. Hooray.

Boat from deck. Hooray.

I rig the rudder and put retaining rings on the pintle holes so it cannot dislodge. Off we go onto the raging ocean. As usual the wind is coming straight off the land and we cruise out very elegantly. She sails beautifully and points to the wind much better than I had expected. The sail is very easy to raise and control single handedly. This is going to be so much fun. After an hour of exercises, I head back home as it is the time of Spring low tides and I worry that the lagoon will drain and prevent me from getting back to my mooring.

So, so shallow, I have to anchor the boat way out in the lagoon and even there she dries out.

So, so shallow, I have to anchor the boat way out in the lagoon and even there she dries out.

The shore is alive with families collecting food from the reef.

Ancient seaweed arts being passed on.

Ancient seaweed arts being passed on.

Grandma plays with baby while the rest of the family  pulls Moray eels from crevices in the rocks.

Grandma plays with baby while the rest of the family pulls Moray eels from crevices in the rocks.

The tide comes back in, as it tends to do, and I set off for a gentle evening sail to watch the sun go down. It is perfect. I have a surprisingly fast and stable boat. Check this poorly made movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf-fOFUDbAw

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The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck

All these photos were taken either in the kitchen or from the deck.

April is a good month in Okinawa

April is a good month in Okinawa

Spring low tides.

Spring low tides.

Then

Then

Now

Now

I go down to the Chelsea Drug Store to buy an octopus. Great excitement as a boat has just come in, heavily laden with anchovy, sardine things. There are tons and the pharmacists are selling big bags for 500 yen.  They are really fresh.  I grill them and eat them with olive oil and lemon. A classic.

Before I eat them. Actually there was no way I could eat all of them. I think I will make an offering to Poseidon.

Before I eat them. Actually there was no way I could eat all of them. I think I will make an offering to Poseidon.

People come from all over the world and pay trillions of, er maybe millions or probably more like thousands of yen, to go diving in front of my house.

I dived, I dove? I never know which.

I dived, I dove? I never know which.

Pacific Rim Egret ( White morph) fishing for crabs right in front of the house.

Pacific Rim Egret ( White morph) fishing for crabs right in front of the house.

What an amazing day!

Tomorrow, I will try to launch the boat. There may well be local resistance of the fisherman ilk. Am I man enough?

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Paul Robeson

Light is the burden of labor when each man bends his back with his neighbor.

I work here

I work here

Here too!

Here too!

When I leave work, I watch sunsets.

The sun going down on me.

The sun going down on me.

Ying tan tiddle I po

Ying tan tiddle I po

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