Saturday, September 5, 2009

No Such Thing As A Free Launch?

(Pictures in this post can be clicked to display a much larger image.)

This morning we headed for the lake for a "freebie". We've launched ten times and so today's winching fee would be waived.

We stopped along the way to check out an overhead crane along the shore of Kitaura lake, which K had spotted from the main road. The roads to the lake were very narrow, so we parked the car and walked a route which zig-zagged between farm houses and rice paddies. It was a beautiful morning and K picked a ginger blossom which added a heavenly scent to the scene. The small boat harbor, like so many along Kitaura, is little used and there are some boats tied there with weeds growing in them, while others are half submerged. Obviously abandoned and too much trouble for authorities to take away - the aftermath of Japan's "lost decade". Still, some old beaten up fishing boats are still operating there - one can tell by their newer looking outboard motors, neatly stowed fishing nets and other gear.

The boat with fore and aft poles is used for net fishing, the net being strung at the ends of the poles and dragged sideways, a method invented in the 19th century and used by sail powered fishing boats called Hobikisen which could be seen on this lake as late as a couple of decades ago.

The first order of business at Hinuma Yacht Harbor was to finish the lettering job on Bluesette. I had left the decal with the transfer membrane still covering it so that the letters could bond well to the hull. It was facing north and covered by the boat cover, so it would not get heated by the sun or dry out. In the morning, I spayed the transfer membrane with slightly soapy water again and gently pulled it off. E Viola.



Now we have a name that can be read in daylight as well as being reflective at night. We sailed with it right after applying it, but had no problems. After it sits for several days to completely dry out, I'll cover it with boat wax.

The decals were both from StreetGlo. Excellent product and service for everything from numbering to full custom graphics for commercial boats. (They do motorcycle stripes too). They took the time to answer my emails and offered me great advice on how best to remove the existing decal (I used a water based paint remover, but another option is warming it with a hair drier) - and also what NOT to do. They have an excellent video on how to apply new decals which I'll include here for anyone thinking about putting lettering their boat. As you'll see, using this method really makes it easy, but you have to be patient when doing it as the video emphasizes.

By the way, you may notice that Bluesette doesn't have any registration numbers. That is because in Japan, boats under 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length don't get registered. And by keeping it at the harbor, we don't have to license a trailer either. (read, no taxes).

K thinks this whole topic is a bit boring (she's tired of me asking her, "doesn't the new decal look great?") so I'll move on...

The Hakutas (owners of the yacht harbor) were holding a class today for people studying to get a boating license. In Japan anyone who skippers a motorized vessel of any sort with more than a 2 hp engine, needs a license. The course gives one everything needed for a Class II license, which allows one to sail up to a 20 ton boat within 5 nautical miles of shore. Trust me, Japan's oceans are no place for an amateur, and the fishing and freight traffic is so intense, you had really better know what you are doing, so the licensing requirement is a very reasonable one. A medical certification is required as well. After completing the course, there is a written exam and a practical demonstration test.

The class meant that power boats would be operating from the dock and we had to fit ourselves in for launch and return. We left the dock at 11:00, a bit hurriedly in order to get out of their way.

The winds were perfect for us at about 3 m/s (6.7 mph). That's enough to give us some speed and make things interesting without having to work too hard at avoiding a capsize. It also means K doesn't get soaking wet - well, at least not from the waste up. ;^)

No searching for wind this day. Not only was there a nice breeze, it was uncommonly steady in both strength and direction over the whole lake.

In a coincidence you will understand by the end of this post, we were both wearing Blue Impulse aerobatic team towels around our necks.

There were seven sailboats on the water, the most we've seen. A few windsurfers too. Thankfully few PWCs (jet skis) with their intrusively loud engines. (It is hard to get away from the sound of internal combustion engines these days).

Perhaps blown into the lake by the recent typhoon (which broke the glass entrance door of the clubhouse), we came across trash now and then - a can, a foam food container, a plastic bag. We made a game of plucking them from the lake.

A Laser flies by as we scoot downwind. The other sails belong to Sea Hoppers, a Yamaha version of the Laser.

Across the lake from the club and a bit west is the launching point for windsurfers.

We were due back at 13:00 but as we approached the dock there was a power boat coming down the ramp. We went across the lake a couple of times to give them time to launch. However they tied up behind another power boat. I decided that since the wind was up to about 4 m/s and there were two boats already tied up on the leeward side of the dock, I'd use the walk in method of docking. K called the clubhouse with her (waterproof) cellphone and asked if we would be in the way if we docked. No problem. As we approached, Mr. Hakuta came out with his long bamboo pole and motioned for me to dock in the 6 meter or so space between the power boats. I made a sweeping turn into the wind and coasted up to the doc, K grabbing the bamboo pole so Mr. Hakuta could pull us in and tie us to the dock.

After we lifted the centerboard, removed the tiller and lowered the sails, he rigged up extensions to our bow and stern lines so he could maneuver us around the powerboat between us and the ramp. K stayed in the boat.

Like a puppet master, Mr. Hakuta leads Bluesette gently onto her sendai.

It was past 14:00 by the time we had everything put away and headed for Mama's Kitchen. The special was unagi (broiled freshwater eel), with rice, pickles, miso soup, baked kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), and flat peas.

Next weekend we won't be on the water as the JASDF (Japan Air Self Defense Force) is having an open house and airshow at Hyakuri Air Base, which is about 10 km from lake Hinuma. We're not keen on military machinery, but do love to watch airplanes fly, and the JASDF aerobatic team, Blue Impulse, is outstanding.

Until next, sweet sailing. (and flying)


Don Snabulus said...

The new lettering looks great! Looks like the weather cooperated too.

I like the look of the Impulse jets...not as martial as our air military fleets and that is a good thing.

O Docker said...

Toots' toot is toute cute.

Pandabonium said...

Don - Thanks. Yes, the weather was wonderful - as you can see, scattered cumulus, fairly good visibility and a temperature in the 70s F.

I like the Blue Impulse planes too. Kawasaki T-4 training airplanes. The soft lines come from being subsonic.

O Docker - Merci beaucoup. Loved the "Pas de lieu, Rhone que nous!" French quiz on frogma blog, by the way.

HappySurfer said...

The new Bluesette looks great! What a day for sailing.. Love the pictures especially the one with K in it. Woot!

Pandabonium said...

HappySurfer - Thanks. It was a beautiful day. K was having a lot of fun.