The last few days have been some of my strangest. Semi conscious in London, semi conscious Helsinki, semi conscious Osaka, I finally arrive at my house in Okinawa to find that I have given bad info about my front door key, resulting in me being locked out. It is a desolate scene, after 24 hours of semi conscious travel, I huddle for shelter from the driving tropical rain in front of my locked front door. It is dark.
Anyway I am finally saved but wake up the next day to find my Scaffie has disappeared. I am astonished as she was well anchored and there were no extreme conditions during my absence. I find her beached in roughly the same place that all my boats beach – luckily sand rather than rock. I do not feel well.
Grind, crunch, wallop early in the morning.
The rode, as what is the rope that leads from anchor chain to the boat, has worn through due to coral abrasion leading to the Scaffie making a break for freedom.
I cannot get the boat back in the water as the tide is low. I have difficulty locating the anchors, They have moved – very strange. I finally locate them jammed carefully in deep fissures in coral about 20 metres from their original positions. It looks like someone has moved the anchors to a position that they assumed to be stronger than the original placing on sand. Big mistake – the rode passed right over the coral and it would have taken about 3 minutes to slash through the rope.
A mystery. Anyway after much late night boat saving, Lemsip swallowing and submarine anchor untangling, the Scaffie is now back on her original mooring.
However, she has no rudder.
Lemsip is a traditional british cold remedy. I need it as I fall sick in London. I spend the final two days in England semi-conscious in a darkened room in Clapham.
This is not what I had planned. However, there is something luxurious about drifting in and out of sleep listening to Radio 4.
Soseki san was a famous Japanese novelist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natsume_S%C5%8Dseki
He lived just around the corner from Ian’s house
His picture is on the front of the 1000 yen bill.
Clapham will never forget
I am now in Helsinki with my Lemsip. I am not sure of the ethics of taking 12 hour flights with a severe cold. I do not even have a Japanese cold mask.
I go to England. The first day I stay with Ian and Anne. Conveniently Rosy and Barry are also staying. We have breakfast.
Breakfast in Clapham
Rosy, Barry and I train it down to their house. Alan joins us, so we have breakfast.
Breakfast in Sussex
Post breakfast euphoria – Alan, me, Barry, Rosy
We go to see our Mummy. She is very old and er we are pretty old.
I then train it back to London.
Lunch. I eat it with my fingers on the train. Bliss.
The Pembroke Players from Cambridge University pay us a visit. First we have lunch.
They then put on a yeeha version of Romeo and Juliet to a packed Auditorium.
My only love sprung from my only hate
Sunday started badly and got worse. I went to the supermarket to stock up on edible pleasure for the coming week. Half way through the check out, as the teenage girl pulled each item from my basket, said what it was and how much it cost, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. I drive home, pick it up, drive back to Marudai and pay. Delightfully the folks had put my basket aside so I did not have to start from scratch but I felt asinine even so.
I go diving and somehow on the walk out to the boat I drop, I think, my mask into the sea. This is a mask with prescription glass so I can see clearly now. I search but to no avail. I go back to the house to get another. I finally set off and after feeble attempts to sail, there is no wind, I finally row out to the dive spot. All of this is irritating.
I strap on the BCD and tank and flop over the side of the boat into the crystal water. Unfortunately I have not put on my fins. They are lying in the bottom of the Scaffie unreachable. So I have to take off all the equipment, heave it into the boat and then heave myself in after. This is becoming increasingly difficult as my once noble body slides more towards the slack, fat end of the spectrum.
Anyway the whole point of the trip was to try out an underwater bag thing for my big Nikon SLR. The bag thing certainly looks the part and I like the idea of very high quality underwater photography. You put the camera in the bag and go through an elaborate ritual of closing such that water does not get in. I had not thought things through for the camera bag is full of air. This means extra buoyancy resulting in extreme difficulty in sinking underwater. I did not have enough weight to compensate for the rubber ring effect of the camera bag. All of this is intensely irritating.
I finally abandon the trip. I go back to the boat and try to dislodge limpets from her hull. This results in severe lacerations to the fingers of my right hand. I scramble back into the boat and row home with blood everywhere.
At home I open the camera bag. It is full of sea water. My beautiful camera has died.
I loved this camera like a very brother. But I killed it.
In the garbage.
I only have my IPhone.
Sailing across the bay I notice a yellow circle on one of the concrete slipways. I go investigate this morning.
There is a lot of yellow around.
Path to beach
Cannot remember the name of this flower but there are masses of them at this time of year.
I find an amazing graffiti. It is yellow with a sun like theme.
The art fits perfectly on the beach. The beach is a kilometer of white sand and sparkling blue sea. There is not a soul on it.
Outside the Joyfull Restaurant
So we stayed in a guest house in Aka called Sakubaru. It is shabby, disorganized, devoid of ceremony, pretty much like the rest of the village of Aka. I love it.
What I finally noticed about Aka and indeed other villages in the Keramas, is that there are no big hotels, no tourist shops. It is just a little remote Japanese harbor. People rent out rooms to visitors but that is about it as far as the tourist industry goes. I ask about this and am informed that although they could make millions by selling land to Sheraton , Best Western, Hilton etc, they prefer not to.
Kinjo san and his wife Mari san, as what own the guest house, ask us up on the roof to watch the stars.
We drink awamori and Orion beer. Soon Momo san and Mami san show up with a sanshin.
After a while another Kinjo san shows up. Now he can really play that sanshin and what is more he knows Scottish tunes. We sing Auld Lang Syne, Morning Has Broken, Amazing Grace and amazingly, Coming Through the Rye. He had no idea where he had learnt the tunes.
Anyway he played and I sang with help from the other Kinjo san.
Anyway Aka Jima is an amazing place.