Monday, April 12, 2010

Photos Inland Sea (Seto Nakai)

Photos from Kitagi

Japan Again 6

Japan from a yachties prospective is a peoples of contrast. Those with a government uniform seem to sometime need to prove their authority. It is difficult for local yachties as well.
We all know about VHF radio, a variety of choices available, from NZ$300 - 500. Now in Japan JRC produce a VHF, very old technology... as in no digital screen, tuning by knob, no scan memory, etc ....the charger is almost valve radio era, huge and cumbersome. Who would buy such a radio at any price. Well now Japanese regulations require Japanese yachties to purchase this one and it costs NZ$3000.00. Yes ten times more expensive. We all know LED lights use a fraction of the power and outlast conventional bulbs at least ten fold. Navigation lights are a great place on a yacht for LED...oh no... the Japanese government have banned them.

But the people themselves...we have said previously how giving they are,.. so how about this.......
We got behind our permitted schedule somewhat and we were required to re apply. this was for a change of dates only for a few port, and would take a couple of days and we could do this at Kochi City. Arriving at Kochi we had no idea where to tie up, when Carol saw someone waving to us, so over we went. We were assisted to a friendly free private marina with about 30 yachts of up to 38ft in length. We at 53 feet were show offs. Their club house had internet and great showers.
Kochi has the inevitable castle also but this one is original. Most others are concrete replicas rebuilt after fire or war damage. Seeing the size of wooden beams and the construction method was really interesting.
Saturday evening our host took us to his home for dinner with his wife, an accomplished yachtie. A huge dinner with many different dishes. Carol admired a painting of yachts sailing at sunset. "You like it, its yours"!!!!!!! said our host. But wait.... the artist lives not far away, a phone call and an hour later the artist arrives and joins in our still in progress dinner. He just happened to bring with him another painting. This one a moonlight stormy beach scene at Kochi. Brian liked that one, but Carol preferred the sunset portrait so, Brian (knowing his place), agreed to Carols choice. Come time to return to Charioteer and would you believe it we were given both paintings.!!!!!!!!
For over three hundred years Kochi has had a Sunday street market. This was a must see so this couple took us there. The stalls are mostly fruit and vegetables, flowers and plants, the usual clothing and odds and ends. Brian mentioned hoe tomatoes are expensive...oh dear not long after that he was given a bag of tomatoes!!!!. A shop caught our eye for a wander through. A Japanese set of stacking dishes of pleasing style caught Carols eye....will she, won't she...decisions, decisions....the shop owner gets our autographs and takes photographs,,...him with us etc etc..... Will she wont she...still no decision from Carol..then yes she will. But wait on...what goes ? Our hosts wife has bought it for us.....we dare not look at anything for the rest of the day.
For lunch we were taken to a lovely hotel where we join the deputy mayor and several dignitaries and their wives. A very formal affair. We learnt about the difficulties facing the Japanese Government and Industries. Seating on the floor facing a low table does not suit Brian's old bones so that was hard going for him.
Later when we were on Charioteer a call to Carol from Juichi (our host) who came aboard with a large flat parcel. Unwrapping it exposed a complete kimono. "My mothers" he said. "A gift to you". Carol was close to tears.....we have admired these kimonos in shops. Could you buy one for less than NZ$2000.00, we doubt it. The intricacies of the fabric are superb.
Monday had our permit delivered, but winds were wrong so Tuesday saw us on our way. Whilst we were at Kochi the yacht next door was being readied for a local couple who plan to head for Canada, Alaska and later the Med....a great couple lots of fun. Seeing him learning to make pizza on Charioteer, was hilarious enough without the mis-understandings of English.
On the island of Taku Shima are the 88 sacred temples of Shikoku (Buddhist). For over one thousand years pilgrims have walked the 1400 kilometers taking 30 - 60 days visiting each temple. Actually it ends up as 89 temples, as you return to the first to complete the circle. We saw several people walking the circuit..distinguished by their attire.
Kochi, formerly Tosa, was remote in old times, the people led tough lives. The women had to be tough. Local name for them was 'hachikin'. Hachi means 8, and kin means testicles......this implication being they had the strength of men with 8 balls. Brian made sure he never asked a women if she was ' hachikin' !!!!!!
So back to our journey with the need to make up some lost time. This time of year there seems to be endless highs followed by low every few days. Consequently we will be out on a flat sea all sails up. leisurly mooching along, then all hell breaks loose and we run into 40 knots against us. Once we had to anchor in an exposed bay for two days.....not pleasant.!!!!!
There can be many over falls around points of land and we struck a beauty one afternoon. All at once we had sloppy seas and winds whipping 'williwaws' off the surface. One wave came from behind so steep it washed over our stern deck !!!!!!! This has never happened previously. Charioteer was so heeled over trying to get up and over it. We found a nice bay for the night...flat as with cherry blossom trees all around us on the steep hills. It did not last..wind changed for driving right into us for two days. Then a couple of days later we awoke to mill pond conditions.
The Kanmon Strait, actually more like a dog leg, there are light signs showing current speed and direction. When we arrived we could see from two miles away that it was running at 7 knots against us, so we anchored for the night. It was mid day before we could proceed through. Before the economic downturn 600 vessels passed through the strait, but now it appears considerably less. We sauntered through at a leisurely 5 - 7 knots, being overtaken by mostly coasters, all keen to wave as they went by. On one bend we had a container ship scrape past...huge ship with containers staked 16 wide and 6 high...scary!!!!!!!
But the strangest off all was a coastguard ship which only waved as they went by...unbelievable.
The following is not usual but certainly not rare either. Our first stop after Kanmon was a sleepy port. Being low in fuel we went in search of a petrol station. This town was too small but nothing to loose we enter the post office for directions.Oh no not here, but one of the two staff took us the few kilometers in her new car with our Jerry cans to the station. She refused payment and instead gave us a gift. After lunch we tried to make progress towards Hagi, but the seas were too rough. Whilst heading for shelter Carol spied a lot of yacht masts in a bay. Heading in we were met by two locals who helped secure Charioteer. marina costs Yen3000 per day...ouch...some pleading saw this reduced to Yen1525. Later that day went walking looking for some bread. Wecould not find any shops and a young mother we spoke with said they were closed. Never mind we said and started to return to Charioteer. A few minutes later a car with Mum and three children pulls up beside us and she is holding out a was her own loaf of bread which she insited we take and refused payment for........
Even after nearly nine months in Japan the generosity of these people still amazes us.