Monday, August 10, 2009

Racing A Tropical Storm

Sunday, August 2nd, Bonnie of the blog "frogma", played tag with thunder storms to squeeze in a kayak paddle in New York, frequently checking the weather and interpreting the radar images in the days leading up to the planned outing. While others dropped out over the preceding days, she and one other kayaker stuck with it and were rewarded with some good paddling time on the water. You can read about it here: "The Best Trip I Ever Canceled".

One week later, on the other side of the world, we ended up doing the same thing. Tropical Storm Etau has been moving up the Japan archipelago threatening thunder showers and high wind. The question facing us Saturday night was whether or not it would start dumping rain on us Sunday as many weather sites were predicting. Like Bonnie, I turned to weather radar images, in my case on the Japan Meteorological Service website. They have a neat feature which analyzes precipitation and creates a video loop for the preceding six hours and a prediction of the next six hours. Watching that, I was convinced that the cells would pass far to our north and we should go to the lake and check it out. The worst case would be that I was wrong and we'd have a nice lunch at Mama's Kitchen and come home.

Well, I was right. (OK, so it was the Japan Meteorological Service that was right). We had a nice two hour sail on the lake, with moderate winds of about 5 knots. K liked that, as it meant we could sail along at a nice clip, but without a lot of spray to get her wet.

The "After" picture, as in after the repairs - just need to clean the smudge off the rubrail where she struck the dock.

I had come up on the train on Saturday and did the final touch up work on the bow repair. I can now reveal the before and after pics. Not a perfect, professional repair, but sturdy and unless one makes a close inspection one would never know I had plowed into the dock. K had gone to an Ibaraki International Association lecture in Mito City about the Ukraine that morning and joined me about 1 pm for lunch. We left the repair to dry out over night.

It is Obon season in Japan, the Buddhist holiday when people often visit their home town, place flowers and incense on family graves, and attend a dance to welcome home the spirits of those who have predeceased us. As a Buddhist "Sunday School" teacher of many years in Hawaii, it is one of my favorite times of year. If you ever get the chance to attend a Bon Dance, do so, they are a lot of fun, very colorful, lots of food, and everyone is welcome to come.

Bon odori - a Bon Dance in Kashima City, Japan.

Click above to hear the Bon Dance song "Tanko Bushi" (a coal miner's love song) courtesy Kelowna Buddhist Temple, B.C., Canada.

It is also a time when people have vacations in Japan and that means the yacht harbor can get very busy. And it was. Lots of folks out fishing, sailing, riding personal water craft, water skiing. Along the shores in certain places, scores of people were wading out into the lake to collect "shijimi" - small fresh water clams. Kids played near the shore on inflatable Orca whales and other toys.

People collecting shijimi clams near the shore.

When we arrived on Sunday, we were amazed to see the parking lot of the yacht marina full of cars. On the large grass area, there were tents set up where some people had spent the night - one of the perks of the club. We got Bluesette ready to sail in about 20 minutes or so and launched without much ado.

The winds allowed us to tack farther to the north and east than we had been before. For practice on the way back we did two jibes. We made a long run down wind, though I think it started to get boring for K, even when I used a length of small line, throwing it in the water to show how fast we were moving. So, that's when I did the first jibe and put us on a reach which would take much more time to get us back on a longer course, but would seem faster because of the wind and our speed in the water. Whatever makes the crew happy!

Among the sailboats out Sunday was this one with what appears to be a cicada on the sail - Utsusemi in Japanese - about the same size as a Lido 14. Perhaps Semi or Utsusemi is what it is called, I'll have to find out later. The striped smoke stacks in the background belong to the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute.

There are 4 campgrounds on the lake and this one on the north shore appeared full. Click to enlarge and see the crimson "torii" - a gate marking a Shinto Shrine.

High school students were out on their Flying Juniors, one of them sporting a spinnaker.

And here is the ugly "before" shot of Bluesette's bow after I hit the dock some weeks ago. It took several "surgeries" but she is much stronger now and looking much better. Hopefully a trauma never to be repeated!

We came in and docked, and all went smoothy, we dropped the sails and got ready to have Hakuta-san put Bluesette on the sendai and haul her out of the water. It started to rain. A passing shower only, but it continued all through the process of putting Bluesette to bed, soaking us. That was easily rectified by a shower and change of clothes, but I was glad that it didn't happen while we were on that long downwind leg - I would have never heard the end of it. (Just kidding, K!)

Bluesette ready to be covered and tied down before the storm arrives. Oh, and K, of course.

Next time I hope to try out my homemade "whisker pole" (for non-sailors, that is a pole which is used to hold the jib out while sailing down wind).

Another wonderful meal at Mama's Kitchen followed before we headed home. We are getting better with every sail and enjoying it more as well. We're looking forward to getting in more time on the water before K has to go back to work at the end of the month and hope the weather cooperates.

Until next, sweet sailing.


Don Snabulus said...

The patch looks great. Sorry it was and learn.

Though it was gray, it sounds like the winds were favorable. Good timing.

Pandabonium said...

Don - thanks. I felt awful when I crashed into the dock. It was worth all the time and effort to repair the bow and put that disaster behind us.

Winds were just right and we had a great day, enjoying the sights and learning a lot.

HappySurfer said...

Ouch! That must have hurt but glad it looks like new now. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Great job!

I like that campsite shot. Nice. Thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and K, of course." Hey, why do you think we are reading this blog??


Pandabonium said...

Happy - Thank you. I felt much better after I was able to finish the repair and feel like I could put it behind me.

It isn't easy to get shots of the shore with the camera we've got, but the surroundings of the lake are one of the nice things about sailing there, so we'll try.

MF - Oh, I thought it was for the boat. he-he.