Japanese Paper Chase Day Four

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 20 Jan 2014 12:40
Alongside Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Weather: cloudy, cool

I got up this morning early so that I could be at Isamu's desk at the start of business. At 8.58 I entered the elevator to the fifth floor of the Okinawa General Bureau building, and was relieved. though by no means surprised, to see that Isuma was punctually at work. After some discussion of the situation it was agreed that the simplest solution involving the least amount of paperwork (clearly a factor in Japanese life beyond the ken of most other societies) was to see if Sylph could stay within the Naha port. To this end Isamu rang the Naha Port Authority and was advised that I had to go and visit the Port Authority people to work out a solution. The Port Authority building was too far to walk to so today I was introduced to the Okinawa public transport system. Fortunately the Port Authority was quite close to the Naha Bus Terminal, and as every bus ends up at the terminal getting to the Port Authority was not too challenging.
Once at the Port Authority I was told that I could stay where I was at number three berth for another week. I filled out a form with my name and the boat's name, and that was it. I left once more shaking my head at the Japanese way of doing things. Why on earth, I thought, did I have to go all that way simply to be told that yes, I could stay where I was for another week. The piece of paper I filled out could have been done by anyone, it did not even require my signature.
Fortunately I managed to maintain my sense of humour, which after all was the only sensible approach as I was certain in the knowledge that if I lost my cool the only one who would suffer would be me.
Another little wrinkle in the day's proceedings was that Isuma's bosses needed a piece of paper declaring Sylph's tonnage. As a non-commercial craft the Australian Register of Ships does not require a record of this figure so it is not documented on Sylph's registration certificate. This, however, was not good enough for the Japanese bureaucracy. So, having sorted out the Port Authority, my next mission was to go back to Sylph and see if I could dig up something that would satisfy the floors above Isuma's. I thought Sylph's tonnage might be recorded on her original plans which I have copies of on board but when I got back on board and pored over them nary a mention was made of her displacement.
Nonetheless I knew I had seen it written down somewhere, now where was it? Then I remembered that I had had a piece of paper, a hand written note from Alan Payne, Sylph's designer, to Murray Swan, a previous owner, discussing the most suitable size propeller for Sylph (I think Murray was re-engining Sylph at the time). Included in these notes was mention of Sylph's designed displacement. Unfortunately I did not even have the original of this piece of paper, as about a year ago I was having a clean up and had decided to scan a whole bunch of bits and pieces and then ditched the originals as they were taking up valuable weight and space. At least I was anal enough to have scanned anything I thought might be of some value. So I printed this piece of paper out, which said nothing more than, “Murray, Designed displacement to datum waterline is 9.66 tons, Alan. 5 January, 1984.” With this and the copies of Sylph's plans as evidence that this guy Alan was the same fellow who designed Sylph, and therefore he had some authority in stating her displacement. Fortunately, on my return to Isuma's work place it transpired that this piece of paper was indeed going to be sufficient to maintain the Japanese system in a state of peaceful equilibrium. I sighed a deep sigh of relief.
At last it seemed the worst of the Japanese paper chase was over. I trudged my weary way back to Sylph late in the afternoon, legs aching from days of walking around Naha, and stopping by a small supermarket to buy some fresh vegetables for dinner. While not entirely happy with the situation, at least on the positive side I now have some degree of certainty in my life for the next week, and the berth we are at, while less than ideal, has at in its favour the fact that it is cheap, in fact free. Now that I no longer need to be running around chasing after bits of paper, over the next couple of days I shall attend to some much overdue maintenance.
All is well.