Saturday, August 29, 2009

A New Name and a Milestone

Friday, K dropped me off at Hinuma Station on her way to Mito City so I could ride my "Hinuma-cycle" to the yacht harbor. She did stop by at the yacht harbor long enough to drop off some cookies we bought at Disney Sea two days before for the Hakuata's grand children, and to undo Bluesette's cover for me (ain't she sweet?).

My mission was not sailing, but a change of name. No, Bluesette is still Bluesette (and I am still Pandabonium), but I decided that the decal I had chosen did not offer enough contrast to the color of the hull - a mistake I made due to the fact that under light at night the decal lights up like a street sign (a good safety feature in some circumstances). In fact, the decal came from a company called "Streetglo" - more about them and their excellent service in a future post.

This decal lights up light a traffic sign when hit by direct light, but in ordinary conditions, I felt like there was too little contrast to the hull color.

Anyway, I had brought with me my new decal with white lettering, and some water based paint remover and a plastic scraper to remove the original decal. It all went as planned, except that the scraper proved to be harder than I thought and left a haze of tiny scratches. Ack! As a result, instead of applying the new decal I spent the next few hours wet-sanding out the scratches with 1000 and 1500 grit sandpapers and then buffing with rubbing compound.

A dragonfly observed from its perch atop the fence.

It was a hot day, and I was glad that I had worn my Aussie style hat that offered some personal shade. At some point I took a break and rode the bike down to Mama's Kitchen for a well deserved lunch. They were surprised to see me without K and that I had arrived by bicycle. They took good care of me, of course. In the end, Bluesette looked pretty good, but not quite ready for prime time. The new decal will have to wait a few days until I can use an electric buffer to make that section really shine.

After putting everything away, I rode the Kashima Rinkai Tetsudo train home. I had left my Yamaha hybrid bicycle at our local station to ride home. A beautiful day, if only half as productive as I had hoped. Hopefully, Saturday would be better.
Rice fields and houses next to Hinuma train station.


Saturday morning, K drove us to the yacht harbor, dropping me at the Hinuma train station so I could ride the bike again, which helps keep it a) from being stolen by not leaving it in the same spot, and b) keeping the mechanical parts in use and thus in better condition. One might add c) giving me some added exercise - I can use every little bit that comes my way. As the station is only a few kilometers inland from the Pacific Ocean, the bike is already picking up some rust. I brought some oil this trip to help ameliorate that.

The weather forecast was for scattered clouds, a warm/hot 26 degrees C (~79 F) and 1 to 2 meters per second of wind (2-4.5 mph).

Before launching, I removed the aft set of hiking straps from the boat. I don't need them at this point and it will be some time before I am able to or have a need for them. Meanwhile, I find they are mostly in my way.

At first we wondered if we would have a repeat of our earlier "no" wind day. The sails could not make up their mind as to which way to luff as what breeze there was would come from the south for a while, then from the north. A bit further onto the lake we got established on a tack, only to have a reversal. It was bizarre and a bit frustrating. At one point we were sailing with wind coming from the North but a Sea Hopper only a few hundred meters away was sailing with winds coming from the South!

After we tired of chasing from one patch of ripples to the next - finding a bit of wind here and there and then being becalmed - I turned west and things gradually started to pick up. I had K put up the homemade whisker pole, adjusted to 183 cm in length (72 inches) as per Lido 14 class rules. Worked great. We shifted our weight to heel the boat a bit and reduce the drag from the hull (though not too much so as to keep K comfortable), pulled up the centerboard, and were actually keeping right up with a Sea Hopper off to our starboard. He seemed as surprised as I was.

Sea Hopper looking for wind early in the day.

When we reached an area near the west end of the lake, K had difficulty getting the whisker pole down. The simple hook I used to attach it to the mast was too curved. With bamboo fishnet poles getting uncomfortably close, she collapsed the adjustable pole a bit and was able to get the pole free.

We beat our way back toward the yacht harbor. We missed the dock on the first attempt and went back out for another try. I am, understandably, a bit shy about the prospect of plowing into the dock, and sometimes come up short when turning into the wind to dock as a result. The second time we were short again and ready to sail back out, but Mr. Hakuta ran out with a long bamboo pole which K grabbed hold of and we were pulled in. (I love this yacht club. Such service!). We lowered the sails and tied up for a lunch break.

Mama's Kitchen offered a great lunch as always. As a break from pasta, we had a "teishoku" (set lunch) with salad, Japanese style fried chicken breast (I pretended it was a fish), rice, boiled mackerel with grated dikon, pickled veggies, miso soup, and potatoes. On our way out, "Mama" gave us some fresh celery from her neighbor's garden.

Before raising the sails again, I took out some pliers and went to work on the whisker pole hook, making it a bit less curvy. We sailed out to the middle of the lake and turned west again. The wind was up to 3 to 4 m/s (7 mph or so). We flew down the lake as long as we could until we met up with some obstacles - bamboo poles holding fish nets. This time, K was able to bring in the whisker pole rather easily.

K and the homemade whisker pole

We were due in at 15:30 (the yacht club has everyone file a kind of "flight" plan). We got back closer to 15:00 which is a popular time for fishing boats that have followed the river out to the ocean to return. There were three lined up, so we tacked back and forth across the lake a few times until they had been pulled out of the water.

I told K to forget about the grappling hook this time. Since the wind was blowing pretty strong, I would just get close to the dock, slip into the water with the painter in hand and walk us in as I have done once before. As it happened, Mr. Hakuta appeared again and I sailed the boat right up to the dock before losing all speed so he was able to just reach out with his hand and grab the fore stay.

Our time back was 15:30 as planned. A perfect end to an almost perfect day of sailing. This day was a milestone of sorts, as it was our tenth time out. We had acquitted ourselves rather well I think. We're becoming much more smooth at coming about as well as launching and docking. Before leaving, Mrs. Hakuta gave us some nashi - Japanese pears - to take home. They were delicious.

Until next, sweet sailing.

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