Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Helmets Can Be Cool

Just in case anyone got the idea from my comments on the great Tillerman's blog (and I refer to him as such in sincere admiration) that I don't think helmets are appropriate in some situations, here is a photo of myself, Pandabonium, and my sidekick Tonto K, looking cool in helmets at Lake Toya, Hokkaido, July 2011.

Pandabonium: "Well Tonto, we are surrounded by natives. It looks like we are finished."

K: "What you mean 'we' Kimosabe?"

And don't forget, when German voters replaced Chancellor Helmut Schmidt with Helmut Kohl in 1982, they weren't changing Chancellors, they were just exchanging Helmuts! And no one dared to challenge the Germans about the use of Helmuts at the time.

Until next, sweet sailing. And mind the boom!

Friday, November 25, 2011

One Hand for Yourself One for the Ship

The title of this post is from an excellent book by Tristan Jones which I read when I had dreams (delusions?) of sailing single handed around the Pacific. My reality - my boat, my "sea", and my challenges are much, much, smaller, but at least I am really sailing now, rather than dreaming about it.


Last Sunday, my sweet crew took me up to lake Hinuma, helped me set up Bluesette, and let me go out single handed while she stayed ashore taking pictures. The weather was initially cloudy and windy as the previous day had been one of solid rain and wind. Luckily, the storm had passed more quickly than the meteorological gurus had prognosticated and things gradually improved throughout the day.

At "Mama's Kitchen", Mama and her two daughters took good care of us as always. The salad bar had fried sweet potatoes which were very tasty. Kimie went back for seconds on those.

I realize that food pictures aren't going to a big hit to my US readers on the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll post them for those who read this post at some later date when they are not satiated...


Kimie had pasta with ham and asparagus while I had pasta with seafood. Ono-licious as we say in Hawaii (yummy, oishii).



Although the American holiday of Thanksgiving as practiced in the USA is foreign to these shores, Mama's dessert featured pumpkin pudding pie with fruit.


At the yacht harbor, we found that the new club house is not quite finished. Double pane windows are installed, though, and the interior walls and ceiling have been finished off nicely. It won't be long now.

Kimie was against me sailing today and reluctant at first to lend a hand with boat, noting that the last time she didn't want us to go out was the day we capsized. But I assessed the situation, noting the water and sky conditions, and determined it was a good day for it. So, she finally got behind my program and helped me to get Bluesette ready as well as familiarize herself with the camera she would be using.

Single handing the Lido 14 is not too difficult provided that the winds are moderate. Today was perfect - about 7 knots. Not that I didn't have my hands full at times, like when I retrieved the painter from overboard with the grappling hook, but mostly it was just wonderful sailing.

It was quite amazing being so alone. Not only was I alone in the boat, I was alone on the lake. Kimie saw one windsurfer when I launched. In any case, the usual "traffic" was absent. Not a sail in sight, no fishing boats, water skiers, or bleeping jet skis - not a bloody internal combustion engine to be heard. Shear bliss. My only companions were birds - seagulls, coots, ducks, - and the occasional jumping striped mullet.

From the boat, approaching Kimie standing on the levy at the yacht harbor and coming about looked like this:

(Kimie can be seen standing to the right of the boat ramp)

From the shore, it looked like this:

Later, I was approaching the harbor from the East, sailing downwind and into the sun. Rather than jibe, I elected to do a 270°, which from the camera on the boat looks a little dizzying.

What I didn't see, due to the sun, were a flock ducks nearby. Kimie captured them with the camera as most took to the air while I was turning.

Ducks fleeing as Bluesette turns

Of course, as much as I enjoyed the solo, I missed Kimie's companionship. It isn't as much a matter of having a crew to perform tasks (though I do appreciate the great contribution she makes as crew) as it is being able to share the experience with her; the beauty, the joy, the laughter, the cursing.

And that is the crux of the matter. I enjoy sailing alone, but sharing the experience is even better. Having a crew who helps me to do both? Well, deep appreciation and gratitude fill my heart.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Labor Thanksgiving Day

November 23, is a national holiday in Japan. The holiday has its origins in the mists of the past, two thousand five hundred years ago, as a celebration of the November grain harvests. While the Imperial household still calls it by the old name - Niiname sai (first taste) - and it is still celebrated as such at the Imperial Palace and Shinto shrines around the country, the 1948 law which made it "Labor Thanksgiving Day" and made it a legal holiday, dedicated it to labor and industry (reflecting the times) and a time to thank one another.

While I certainly appreciate the efforts of others, personally, when it comes to "production" I am more in tune with gratitude for food, than for industry, and hope Japan will do more to retain its own food production. Presently, Japan only supplies around 39 percent of the calories consumed in the country and must import the rest. It would be sad indeed to see us slip to the position in which South Korea finds itself - growing only 13% of its food needs and being dependent on countries like China and the USA, with all the food safety and security hazards that implies.

Regardless of the origins of our respective national holidays, we can all benefit from having an attitude of gratitude for the people, animals, and plants which sustain us - as I do the people who read this humble blog.

For an interesting perspective on food and gratitude, check out this excellent video about "Satoyama" - areas in which people work to create a balance with agricultural lands, secondary forests, artificial wetlands, and grasslands to create a sustainable life from the ecosystem. "Food" for thought...

Until next, in sincere gratitude, Sweet Sailing.

PS - for more information about Satoyama, visit Satoyama Initiative

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Goodbye Yesterday

As I have mentioned before on this blog, as well as on Pacific Islander, Imai Miki has long been a favorite singer of mine. I saw her once with her husband at Kahului Airport on Maui, as they made their way to a tour helicopter, while I was walking to my airplane. Her husband is also a pilot, flying a plane like the one I had at the time.

Anyway, I remember listening to this song on my laptop in 2004 as I was flying over the Pacific in a 747 on my way to Japan and a new home, indeed, a new homeland, and a new life.

Since the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March, the song has taken on a new meaning for me. But regardless of when or where we are on this crazy world, sailing through space, I think there is meaning and hope to be found in this song.

Unlike the version I listened to on my flight, with full orchestra, drums, guitars, etc. behind her, this version was recorded with only her voice and a piano. It highlights her vocal skills.

Here is Imai Miki singing Goodbye Yesterday (and hello tomorrow) Enjoy -

By the way, in the video, Miki-san's hair is cut short. Japanese will sometimes cut their hair short to signify a new beginning or a fresh start. This often happens after getting over some kind of hardship.

Kimie's translation:


Goodbye yesterday
Here I am now
Who was born again
Look, more than ever
Smiles suit me, don’t they?

I laughed and cried as much as I could
I found my true self
Finally I have reached
The path that leads me to eternal kindness

Every time you shed tears
The closer you should get to your happiness
Tomorrow starts from goodbye
Goodbye yesterday
And hello tomorrow

Even if you love someone
And will be hurt from it
That is a sweet scar
A milestone for tomorrow

When you accept everything
The light will approach you
When you are embraced by the sky
Eternity will be engraved on your heart

The seasons come and go like winds
I cut my hair short
The world welcomes the morning today too
Goodbye yesterday…
Goodbye yesterday…

Being embraced by joy and sorrow
I gently smile
Goodbye is the gratitude to yesterday
Goodbye yesterday
And hello tomorrow…

Until next, sweet sailing.

*Updated with new translation 4:20 AM 11/19/11

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Soapy Sails?

Thanks to Don Snabulus for this XKCD comic:

Other titles/captions, anyone? "Soapy Sails" is Don's suggestion...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tanbo Art

Tanbo is the Japanese word for "rice paddy". In 1993, in the center Aomori, the northern most prefecture on Honshu, the people of Inakadate Village created "Tanbo Art" by growing pictures in rice paddies using different strains of rice that have various leaf coloration as their palette. They hoped to increase commerce by drawing attention to the village. They plant the art in front of the town hall on which they built a castle-like viewing tower. The idea was a success, with over 200,000 visitors coming to see the Tanbo Art each year.

I posted about the Tanbo Art on "Pacific Islander" back in 2005 - - during my first year of living in Japan.

Tanbo Art has not been without controversy. In 2008, in an effort to cover costs, the village revitalization group who are responsible for the art, planted advertisements at the base of the pictures - one for Japan Airlines, another for a local newspaper. The town government was so angry that they threatened to no longer lease the land for the art in following years. After a vote by the townspeople, the rice seedlings for the advertising portions were removed.

This year, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami gave a new focus for the art and the messages grown in the rice.

The above picture is of Kaguya-hime, a princess from the Moon and the main character in Japan's oldest novel Taketori Monogatari, "The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter". She is shown being returned to the Moon at the end of the story. At the bottom is written : "Gambaru Japan!!" a common expression which has become the nation's post 3/11 slogan. It means "Do your best, Japan".

The second picture is of the Bamboo Cutter and his wife and the glowing section of bamboo in which, as the story goes, the princess arrived on Earth as a baby. Under it, it says "please think of others."

I also happened to write about the novel on my Pacific Islander blog in 2007, as I have a beautifully illustrated and translated book of it. The original novel dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century. At the time I wrote that post, Japan had just launched a moon exploration probe named "Kaguya" after the Moon maiden.

That post is here - and if you haven't read it before, I hope you'll do so and that you find it interesting.

For more remarkable images of Tanbo Art, just search for it in Google Images.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Smooth Bottom

We went up to Hinuma to check on Bluesette and do some basic maintenance.


First stop was Mama's Kitchen, where Kimie enjoyed some pork, ham pilaf, and sides, while I had pasta with sardines in tomato sauce. We shared my fruit and cheesecake desert. One of the sides we were each served was interesting and very tasty - sweet potato stems (in the square white dish in the photo).

I won't bore you with details of everything I did - mostly cleaning (acetone makes a good cleaner) and lubricating. Of course the first thing we had to do was bail rainwater. One fine day, when it is sunny and I have lots of time, we'll scrub boat cover and after it dries spray it with Teflon to make it waterproof again.

I crawled under Bluesette and checked out what was going on in the centerboard trunk. We've been having trouble getting it to retract all the way up into the trunk. Not an uncommon problem with Lidos, but it was getting worse, with the board hanging down 4 to 5 inches at the aft end.


Does your board hang low? Does it wobble to and fro?

I hate getting into such confined spaces, and squeezing between the steel frame of the sendai and the hull is to invite bruising, but it had to be done. I found a bunch of reed stalks up in there which I cleaned out. Also found a piece of fiberglass, but couldn't fetch it. But after the cleaning we were able to get the board to retract so that only about 2 inches hangs down. Good enough I'm told. My main concern wasn't drag anyway, but making sure we clear the frame of the sendai when launching. As I recall the classic Lido I sailed as a kid had a mahogany centerboard which was much lighter than the present fiberglass ones and was not difficult to raise.

View from down under.

Time well spent. It was a bit cold - 68 F - and I had neglected to bring a jacket. After first helping me with the centerboard, Kimie relaxed in the car - nice and cozy - with a book.

Had we not had maintenance to do and had dressed warmly it would have been a good day to go sailing, but we'd have been the only ones doing so. Better not to defer maintenance though. It always seems to come back to bite one in a most awkward place.


The new club house is coming right along. Mr. Hakuta informed us that it will be completed by November 15th!

Until next, sweet sailing.

New Lido 14 Class Association Website

New website. New information.

The Lido 14 Class Association has a new and improved website which looks very good and is well organized.

There are also some new documents available which some readers - especially those interested in modifications - might find of interest. One features a drawing and photo of an adjustable traveler for the classic series boat. Another addresses issues relating to the boom.

Check it out at

Until next, sweet sailing.