The rains of the past two weeks had left a puddle in the cockpit, in spite of the cover, so we mopped that up. Then we spread the cover out on the ground to dry it and clean it a bit. K cut out new waterproof patches for 3 small holes which had developed earlier (due to running the tie down rope over the cover rather than under it). Then we put up the mast and jib. The mast was a bit problematic as it was missing the nut that holds the bolt at its base in place. That bold keeps the mast attached to the deck, so is crucial. K found a replacement nut soon enough, and then working like a detective located the original on the ground. (A good crew is priceless).
By the time we got done, it was 11:30 and we decided to take an early lunch at Mama's Kitchen. The place was unusually busy with five customer cars in the lot. We took a seat by the lake side window. K had a teishoku tray with pork in ginger sauce as the main dish, while I opted for pasta with clams, asparagus, and mushrooms. While we ate, even more people showed up. We were happy to see Mama's so busy - though I didn't appreciate the smokers. Desert was cheesecake and fruit, which the two of us shared. The cook came out and presented us with two large sesame rolls stuffed with sweet potato slices to take home. We ate them with dinner and they were delicious.
At one point, two men came in and took a seat at the counter in front of the kitchen. After a few minutes, Mama came over to our table and introduced to us to one of the men who, it turns out, is her husband.
When we returned to the yacht harbor, we noticed two of the cars that had been at Mama's Kitchen were now there. Candidates for the Japan boating license were taking the practical exam today, and the cars belonged to two of them. They would be using the dock for the test as well as maneuvering around some buoys placed out on the lake, so we'd need to watch for them and not get in the way.
I don't think I'll ever tire of the view of Tsukuba-san. Although the mountain is only a modest 877 meters (2,788 feet) tall, it stands out above the Kanto plain, displaying its beautiful symmetry in every direction. K and I hiked to its summit a few years ago. We should do it again sometime and take a picture of lake Hinuma from there.
We launched a little after 13:00. The wind was nice at about 3 m/s (4.7 mph). The sky was clear and visibility very good, with Mt. Tsukuba dominating the view to the west. It was warm - 20C/68F - and K felt hot in her wetsuit. The only other sail boat (not counting windsurfers at the west end of the lake) was a sea hopper.
Some of the trees around the lake were taking on their autumnal tints, adding to the backdrop. Flights of ducks went by. Other birds were swimming in large groups, diving in unison to feed on the bottom in the shallows.
After a long downwind leg, we turn to follow the Sea Hopper. He was surprised as we gained on him, and kept looking back to check our progress. What he may not have realized is that while he was pointing up as high as he could into the wind, we were on a close reach that did not parallel his course, and being a bit off the wind were going faster.
We were on a port tack so sitting on the port side. While K held the camera for another shot (she takes most of the pictures), a large fish - about 40 cm (16 inches) - came out of the water close off our starboard bow and swam half out of the water around the bow and down the port side past K and then submerged. It was quite a sight and I was trying to tell her about it throughout the event, but she didn't believe me, so missed it entirely. She did get a nice shot of the Sea Hopper.
K declined to take the tiller this trip. A bit to much wind to try it again after the capsize. I know the saying goes that if you fall off a horse (something I have also experienced) you should get right back on. But I would hasten to add, not at a full gallop. Not even a canter.
The wind kept increasing, bit by bit, until after an hour or so, it was over 6 m/s (13.4 mph) with white caps on the water all across the lake. There were some pretty serious gusts too (though nowhere near like we saw November 1), and it began to feel like déjà vu all over again. The conditions were not the sort we came to sail in this day, so we headed for the dock.
I timed the turn at the dock just right so coasted right up to it, and K was ready with the grappling hook to catch the line on the dock. She pulled us alongside, hopped out onto to the dock and secured the bow in such a smooth flow of motion that it looked as if she'd been doing it all her life.
Until next, sweet sailing.