Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Parlez-vous De Crevettes Bleues?

Stormy weekends have kept us off the water. We consoled ourselves with food. Yesterday, I took Kimie to lunch at a new restaurant in town. The food (Japanese style) was OK but we missed Mama's Kitchen.

Then, in the afternoon, we received a cold package delivered to our door. It was from our friend who runs a ryokan hotel to our north. A box of Pacific blue prawns (called Tenshi no Ebi - angel prawn - in Japan) from New Caledonia, a bottle of sweet red pepper sauce, and wonton sheets to wrap around the meat and fry in sesame oil.

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We'd never tried blue prawns before, so Kimie prepared some for dinner. So many ways to cook them - pan fried, tempura, wonton, sashimi, soup.... Kimie kept it simple and pan fried some with mizuna (a leafy green vegetable) garlic, salt and pepper.

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Before cooking, they look silvery blue. She saved the heads for later.

I didn't get a picture of the cooked prawns - we were too busy eating them. They were so flavorful - the best prawns I've ever tasted - with an excellent texture. New Caledonia has been farming blue prawns for decades now. Their local species were not adaptable to aquaculture, so they brought in this one from Mexico. Unlike many farmed "fish", these prawns are not fed land animal by-products, hormones, coloring or antibiotics. They are raised in a way that does not harm the surrounding mangrove forests.

Today, we had the heads in our ramen (noodle soup). The wonderful prawn flavor was infused into the ramen. I did manage to take a picture this time.

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Délicieux!

Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Essentials

Caution all ye who enter here. This blog is for our own enjoyment - a diary of sorts. This post in particular is longer than most on Sweet Bluesette. Having read this far, though, it is too late to alter course, mateys... so...

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Return with us now to those thrilling shores of lake Hinuma for another exciting adventure of "The Lone Lido" ~ Bluesette sails again!*

Saturday was for trying out some new gear. (The point of having a boat is to buy stuff for it, right?)

Regular readers know we've been through a couple of types of mast floats - and capsized with one (it worked). But we are engaged in the relentless pursuit of perfection. The first was a Hobie "Baby Bob" mounted atop the mast.


Although it did prevent us from turning turtle once in the shallow waters of lake Hinuma, I think its mass and wind resistance may have actually contributed to our capsize. It's weight was always noticeable when raising and lowering the mast each sail. Maybe the thing I liked least about the "Baby Bob" was that I couldn't mount the wind vane at the top of the mast. So, great for catamarans, but I'm not sold on it (other than forking out ¥*****) for use on the Lido.

Then we tried an inflatable one which wrapped around the luff and was pulled up with the mainsail. That made raising the main a bit harder and was a royal pain in the arse when it occasionally got caught between the mast and stay on the way up. It also looked like it destroyed the aerodynamics, creating drag right at the top and again, perhaps even making a capsize more likely.



We'd seen some of the local boats us a simple 25cm beach ball as a mast float. Light weight, not much drag, and tied on with a bit of tether so it doesn't interfere with the sail (and cheap!); it looks promising. Unfortunately, when we asked Mr. Hakuta to show us how to attach it, we learned that we didn't have the required net. Next time. For this day, he loaned us a funky net float.

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Next thing we did on Saturday was to replace the whisker pole eye strap on the mast, since I purchased a new Forespar whisker pole to replace the Mickey Mouse highly ingenious one I made from a painter's extension, screw eye, and sawed off paint roller. It worked, but was not strong enough - bent went I stepped on it one day, then the threaded end broke off and I replaced the whole thing, and the reshaped screw eye was both a danger onboard ("you could put someone's eye out with that", as my Mom might have said) and difficult for the crew to fit into the (ahem) "eye" strap. It too eventually broke off.

New pole, new attach point, so ... drill new holes. The new pole mounts vertically, whereas the old one was horizontal, so the new one covers up the old mounting holes. The curvature of the new bracket doesn't quite match the mast, so I added some gel pads, which also cover the old screw holes and seal them from water - perfect.

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By then it was close to noon, so we launched - for lunch at Mama's!

The mini-Mama sisters were there as well as Mama and Papa. (Papa has a different job but has been recuperating from a work related injury for several months. Heartening to seem him getting better.)

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Kimie's asari clams and mushrooms

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PandaB's eggplant and tuna in tomato sauce

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Dessert - oh, my. Cherry tart. Mercy.

This has been our third year of sailing Bluesette and coincidentally(?) Mama's third year in business. As she has done on her two previous anniversaries, she presented us with some goodies on the way out.

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Well, we can save the cookies for later. Oops. Kimie also bought two more slices of cherry tart to take home. What diet? What does Kimie do with all those calories? Scary.

Meanwhile, back at the yacht harbor, builders have been busy on the new club house. They are working on it every day and should be finished by the end of November. Wonderful!

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We'll be back!

The new clubhouse is about 80% of the floor area of the original, but taller and much more earthquake resistant. The beams are cut to fit each other and bolted together rather than nailed. In addition, there are metal straps between them. By the end of the day, half the roof was covered in ply.

On the water, one of the bits of new kit we were trying out was our Zhik floatation vests. Not to USCG specs, which require 15.5lbs of buoyancy, these are made to European CE specs for people who can help themselves in the water and so they supply about 11 lbs of assist.


They are form fitting and thus don't present a problem ducking under the boom or trying to re-board the boat after a spill. I do like our MTI vests and will keep them for guests, but more than once I've caught mine on the boom when coming about and found it tougher to get back into the boat. The Zhik vests give us enough help floatation-wise without restricting movement or getting caught on things. I might think twice if we sailed in rough waters, but lake Hinuma is a small, protected lake, and help is always close at hand.

On a long downwind - which I arrange when getting thirsty - we tried out the new whisker pole.

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The new whisker pole worked well. Much easier for Kimie to handle, more robust, and just as easy to stow.

The striped mullet were really jumping. More than we'd ever seen before. I was singing the tune "This Joint is Jumpin'". Here's a short video clip. Look between the blue jib sheet and the turnbuckle of the white stay to see several fish leaping.

This joint is jumpin'!


Speaking of gear, here's our camera mount, a "Camzilla" from Australia. I bought their kit which has six way to Sunday for mounting the camera.

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There is a safety strap tied to the jib cleat and the the camera has a floatation wrist strap which is suction cupped to the hull as well.

There were two other sailboats on the lake - almost twins: a Sea Hopper and a Laser. At one point they were sailing right toward us and I thought I was getting some great video of them. Oh, well. I had the camera pointing too high and they were often below the bottom of the frame. I did get some decent frames toward the end.

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It was a gorgeous day and we had a wonderful time playing with our new toys and chasing rainbows as it were. The wind was at about six knots - just perfect - and when we went to dock it died just as we reached the dock.

Hopefully, I won't find too many more "must have" bits anytime soon. I've spent enough this year. But happily, we have come to appreciate the things we do have and can focus more on how to get the most out of them.

"Get 'em up Scout!" "Hi ho Bluesette, away!"

From an excellent and timely movie - "Brassed Off"



Until next, sweet sailing.

*Trivia: Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger, lived a few blocks from the house where I grew up. A great guy both on and off the set, I remember that he gave away (plastic) silver bullets on Halloween. We need heroes like him today. Where are they?

More Moon Viewing

A favorite singer of mine, Miki Imai, singing "Moonlight Lovers"



Moon viewing reminds me also of Japan's first novel which dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century about a moon maiden - Princess Kaguya - who comes to Earth and is found inside a glowing bamboo by an old bamboo-cutter and raised as his child. Yes, Japan's first novel was about an E.T.!: "The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter".

Princess Kaguya weeping over having to leave her Earthly love and return to the Moon
- kawaiso desu ne (so pathetic)


Until next, sweet sailing...

Artwork from a beautiful edition of "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" - Konansha publishing, in Japanese and English, with kiri-e (papercutting) illustrations by Masayuki Miyata

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Full Moon At Hinuma

Tomorrow (October 12 in Japan) there will be a full moon. It will be a "Hunter's Moon" - the farthest, and thus smallest, full Moon of the year. I hope the weather cooperates so that we can view it.

I was surprised to come across this woodblock print of a full moon over Lake Hinuma (1946) by Hasui Kawase 川瀬 巴水 (1883-1957):


I had no idea that Lake Hinuma, where we spend so many days sailing each year, was ever the subject of a woodblock print - let alone by such a famous artist. Kawase was one of the most prolific Japanese artists of the early 20th century. Unfortunately, most of his early wood blocks were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

He was part of the "shin hanga" (new print) movement. Unlike Edo Period woodblock artists who designed, cut the blocks, and printed their own art, shin hanga artists split the tasks between artist, wood cutter, and printer, and gave credit to each for their contribution to the finished product. Shin hanga artists also worked to create limited edition pieces which were not to be mass produced like the famous ukiyo-e pieces were.

Kawase's subjects were mostly landscapes, and the places he chose to depict were not famous places in Tokyo and evirons, but rather picturesque rural areas which still had the appeal of being more natural and undeveloped parts of a rapidly changing Japan.

Well, I must say that it is those same characteristics which led me to settle in Ibaraki and to choose Lake Hinuma as home for our sailboat Bluesette. Full Moon At Hinuma captures well the serenity we find there.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Undersea World Of Laser Sailing

"The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" (1966 - 1976) was one of those few programs that demonstrated what television could achieve if put to the highest purpose of educating the public. He gave us a look at a world most of us would never have the opportunity to see first hand, along with a deep appreciation for the web of life on our planet.

But now, evidently inspired by him, there are people who are following in his footsteps to explore our world beneath the sea. They are called "Laser sailors".

Perhaps Laser sailors should adopt a mask and snorkel as de rigueur gear?



Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cloudy

Cloudy... and the air was in the mid 60s F. Kimie thought she'd be cold and wore her wetsuit. I just wore pants and a knit shirt, but covered it with a Columbia Titanium windbreaker (I'm forever grateful to my generous daughters who help support Dad's sailing habit).

We stopped along the way to the harbor to pick up sushi bento which we ate before sailing.

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The yacht harbor was busy - the result of a push for more license classes, and the return of the fishing crowd. No one else was sailing though. I can understand why, with winds of only 4 to 5 knots, but we are never in a hurry and as long as we have enough breeze to make some headway, we're OK.

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We don't race, but we always find fun things to do. Like dodging bamboo poles -
You can hear Kimie jokingly warning "stakes, stakes, stakes". Caution, expletive not deleted in this clip ...
The "what was that?" turned out to be something that fell out of my pocket - my Pentax OptioW60 - crash.

Or harassing seagulls...

Or watching water skiers...
Sorry, but I missed videoing the part where he jumped one wake wave and did a face plant on the next.

Though the sky was grey, there were also flowers to brighten the day.

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And a couple of ultralight trikes cruising above us like giant colorful insects.
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I'd forgotten the hook Kimie uses to grab the line on the dock, but in the light winds, I was able to make a very gentle approach and she just grabbed the dock line with her hand while a fisherman was kind enough to get the bowline (an unnecessary but still much appreciated gesture).

On the way home we bought cooked Sanma (Pacific saury) and glazed chicken breast to take home for dinner.

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So, it was cloudy today. We'll not wait for the "perfect" day. No grumbling about clouds, fickle winds, cold mornings. Time shared on the water is always precious. Some might say that the "perfect" days are just a bonus, but for me, they are all perfect days.



Extra points if you noticed a change in our PFDs (life vests), it's because Pandabonium forgot to bring ours this morning. Sleepy old Pandas are like that sometimes.

Until next, sweet sailing.