Friday, August 27, 2010

Rainbows and Mangoes

We recently saw a rainbow in a canyon while on our vacation in Wakayama Prefecture and then, just the other day, had a full double rainbow right here at home - something that I hadn't seen in a long while and which took me back to my many years on Maui.

In Hawaii, with all the gentle rain showers and sunshine, rainbows appear often. I used to see them while flying my small plane - Manu Mele (Song Bird) - and looking down along the north shore of the island of Molokai. Seen from above, they appeared as double circle rainbows floating in the sky. Really.

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Me, flying Manu Mele over Maui's coast near Kahului Airport - sorry, no rainbows

This week, instead of sailing, we went to a new art museum which opened in April near Tokyo Station, the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, and saw a wonderful exhibit of art that was collected by the Iwasaki family (founders of Mitsubishi Corporation in the 19th century). It included architectural drawings of their home, ancient and modern Japanese paintings, beautiful ceramic art dating back to the 12th century, Impressionist paintings from Europe (Pissaro, Renoir, Monet, etc.) and even poster art for NYK Shipping Lines and Kirin Brewery from the early 20th Century.

What was also interesting was the building itself. It is a replica of the original Mitsubishi Building which once stood on the same site, designed by British Architect Josiah Conder and originally built in 1894 - now dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers behind it. Somehow, the old design looks more friendly to me. The replica has all the wood floors, doors, solid brass hardware, iron stair railings, and light fixtures like the original, but with modern glass, air conditioning, and lighting.

We'll have to return to see the permanent collection which consists of 250 works of graphic art originally owned by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901).


After, we stopped at a sweets shop/cafe and had a mango shave ice with mango slices and vanilla ice cream on top. Mangoes - another thing that brings my thoughts back to Hawaii, my daughters, granddaughters, rainbows, music, hula....

Here's George Kahumoku Jr performing "Hawaiian Lullaby" by Peter Moon

Where I live there are rainbows
and life with the laughter of morning
And starry nights

Where I live there are rainbows
and flowers full of colors
And birds filled with song

I can smile when it’s raining
and touch the warmth of the sun
I hear children laughing in this place that I love

Where I live there are rainbows
with life in the of laughter of morning
And starry nights


A hui hou kakou (Until we meet again), Sweet sailing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is Sailing Boring?

Let 3 guys choose their "weapons" for a 2 mile water race using "boats" made from land vehicles, and see which strategy pays off.

If they were talking about sailing on Hinuma last time we went with zero wind, I would agree about "boring". But otherwise, it's never a dull day on Bluesette.

Until next, sweet sailing. Um, sane sailing? Bless the Brits. They need all the help they can get.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pancake Hot Cake Sunday

Sundays I usually cook "hotto keiki" (hot cakes/pancakes) for breakfast and today was no exception. But oddly enough, the terms applied equally well to lake Hinuma. It was hot and flat as a pancake this morning.

We set sail at 11 am expecting to go out for two hours then break for lunch. "Set sail" was not an accurate term as there was hardly any wind to act upon the sails. We resorted to the paddle to keep from drifting back into the dock, which is to say, the captain ordered the crew to paddle. After a few minutes we stowed the paddle and watched as the wind vane spun around in circles atop the mast. Most of this action was not due to wind, but a few random power boat wakes that rocked the mast occasionally.

Can we say "flat as a pancake" boys and girls? Can we say "boring"?

Did I mention it was hot? And humid. We're talking 33 degrees C (91° F) with 84% humidity. Uhg. In half an hour of "sailing" we made about 300 meters progress and went through a box of orange juice and a bottle of barley tea. The sun was merciless with no wind to cool us and it felt like being adrift on a lifeboat - "please Capt. Bligh, another sip of water, sir?"

John Hodiak and Tallulah Bankhead in "Lifeboat" (1944)

As happens on deserts, the one and only other sailboat foolish enough to attempt sailing appeared as a mirage. Oh wait, no, the picture is just out of focus. Well, it seemed like a mirage.

The slightest puff gave us some encouragement on the way back to the dock, although the captain ordered the crew to move the jib from port to starboard and back more than a few times without any effect whatsoever on the progress of the boat. A very light wind did finally nudge us into the dock around noon. I could see some ripples here and there on the lake, and promised Kimie that there would be some wind after we had lunch. Having already committed to paying a launching fee, I had no choice but hope that was the case.

We were a sight entering Mama's Kitchen, our clothes drenched in sweat, but we had only one change of clothes with us, which we would need later, and thankfully, Mama welcomed us "as-is".

Kimie had pasta with eggplant and shrimp and I had mackerel in red miso sauce with some ginger on top. Oh, was that ever tasty! My rice was topped with "shirauo" - a tiny white lake fish caught here in Ibaraki prefecture.

We each went through two glasses of iced water in addition to iced coffee or iced tea. Did I mention that it was hot today? Nice and cool in Mama's though.

When we walked out the door of the restaurant, it hit us. A breeze! A nice steady breeze. Captain Pandabonium's reprieve.

Back on the water, we had a great time with the wind getting up to around 7 or 8 knots. We were actually moving, even hiking out. It was still hot - we went through the rest of the orange juice and a bottle of water - but at least we were really sailing and having fun.

We watched a loon watching a fish from a perch on a fallen bamboo fishnet pole until we got too close for his comfort and he decided to forget about the fish.

Kimie made a video of a jet ski pulling a raft loaded with people while a second jet ski made passes to splash them. Looked like something that would be fun for all of about five minutes. Yawn. At least the video does show that we were moving right along.

Fish were jumping a lot today, especially small ones, and just after we tied up back at the dock, this little one - about 15 cm (6 inches) long - jumped into the boat! Oh boy, sashimi for dinner! Not. I threw him back.

I also learned a new sailing technique today - walking on the bottom next to the boat. Well, actually the fellow was retrieving a moored boat, but it looked pretty strange.

Mr. Hakuta masterfully put Bluesette back on her sendai as his granddaughter watched from the water and his son went after a powerboat at the end of the dock that had just returned.

After washing down Bluesette, Kimie posed for this picture.

When given the order to start pushing the boat back to the tie down space, she turned so fast that her hat stayed facing the camera! What a responsive crew member! ;^)

Until next, sweet sailing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sailing On Huntington Lake

California - over five thousand miles from lake Hinuma, Japan. Nice videos of the 2009 High Sierra Regatta. Posted by MadMax4790. First is the start of race 1 with As & Bs starting together.

Huntington is just 5.83 square kilometers in size (compared to Hinuma's 9.35 and sits at an elevation of 2130 meters (7000 feet). Pretty place for a race. Nice turnout.

Next is the finish of race 2...

7,000 feet? Man, slip me some oxygen.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Captains Courageous vs The Triffids

When we went to get Bluesette ready to launch I was reminded of the 1962 sci-fi film "Day of the Triffids" or perhaps the Avengers TV episode "Man Eater of Surrey Green" (Mrs Peel, we're needed) as vines appeared ready to devour our sweet sailboat.

We were on the water earlier than usual today, as there is some weather coming our way. The sky was gray. Winds were light, but quickly picked up to a nice 5 knots gusting to 7 or so. As usual, shifting about. I guess that's lake sailing, so I'll get used to it.

Not many others on the lake - a heavily tattooed man with a bevy of bikini clad girls went out on a power boat just before us. I didn't look of course, Kimie told me later that the girls were in bikinis. ;^) Later, someone took a "Semi" (Cicada) sailboat out solo.

The orange windsurfer was about to take a fall.

We sailed to the Far East - well far east end of the lake anyway, where there are some nice farmhouses. I especially like the ones with big tile roofs. We came about just in front of a line of bamboo poles marking fish nets.

Strange, I've seen this face before....

We left Bluesette tied to the dock while we went for a shower and lunch. She was pulled out without us and we cleaned her up later (Bluesette, that is).

What sloppy crew member left those halyards dangling like that?! Oh, I guess it was me. It's good to be Captain sometimes.

Mama's Kitchen was excellent as always. I made a radical change and had the special of the day - fried chicken! This was nothing like what you'd get at most restaurants. It was more like you'd make it at home after buying the chicken from the neighborhood farmer. No desert offered today - whew! What a relief. Their deserts are great, but I really don't need the calories.

Back at the yacht harbor I posed for this pic in my Italian Donald Duck shirt (a gift from one of my sisters). On the back it says "marinae si nasce" which means "Sailors are born", and as you see, the front says "Capitani coraggiosi si diventa" or something like "Brave captains are self-made".

Well, after all, if I'm going to have to fight off triffids (not to mention bikini clad babes) in order to go sailing, I'll have to be brave!

Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quick Trip

There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light;
She set out one day,
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.

~Arthur Henry Reginald Buller, in the December 19, 1923 issue of Punch

Maybe she sailed a Laser?

We've been travelling this past week, and though not anywhere near the speed of light, we were doing a respectable 270 kph for a while - on the ground! The Shinkansen (new trunk line) - In Japan, it's "the only way to fly".

Nozomi 700 series trains in Tokyo Station. Earlier cab design (the Duck) on the right; latest design (the Eagle) on the left. The aerodynamics of the Eagle squeezes an additional 30 kph out of the Nozomi, allowing it to hit 300 kph on some sections of the Shinkansen line. The main limit to speed is noise, so near cities, the trains are a bit slower.

Think of it as flying without the time table restrictions (there's one leaving every ten minutes), waiting in line, security bozos (sorry Mam, your baby's pacifier could be a liquid explosive), waiting for luggage (you keep it with you), CO2 emissions (perhaps the most efficient mode of travel available except for my much slower bicycle), cramped seating (it's more like business class), cranky flight attendants (food and beverage service offered with grace), or air turbulence. When you consider the time lost getting to and from airports, going through check-in and security and waiting for your baggage at the destination, it is faster to take the Shinkansen than to fly. And much more comfortable.

For guys who need additional motivation for taking the Shinkansen....

Ms Hisanaga went to high school near a Shinkansen station and became interested in them. She worked as station staff for 2 years, then as a conductor for 4 years, passing the driver test at age 25. She is one of 35 women out of a total of 622 Shinkansen drivers. The job is much more demanding than shown here. Drivers must keep eyes on the track at all times, watch for warning lights and listen for audio alerts from their panels, and are busy changing speeds by braking or accelerating to match limits while making sure to make each checkpoint at the precise time required - within a few seconds. You can literally set your watch by the Shinkansen.

We visited Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture where we stayed in a Buddhist Temple, and after a 4.5 hour bus ride through forested mountains and along jade green rivers, came to Nachikatsuura on the coast where we stayed on an island for a night and then went inland again to see Nachi waterfall - 133 meters (436 feet) high, and more temples and ancient Shinto Shrines. Massive, Japanese cedar trees, hundreds of years old, towered above us everywhere we went. Awesome nature, amazing history, new friends (monks) and food to die for. All of it part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We'll be posting about the entire trip on Pacific Islander blog as time permits this week. Back to sailing Sweet Bluesette tomorrow. We are blessed.

As Ralph Kramden would say, "How sweet it is!"

Until next, sweet sailing.