One Man's Trash . . .

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 24 Jan 2014 13:49
Alongside Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Weather: sunny and mild

My routine over the last two days has been to continue the maintenance tasks of a morning and then in the afternoon to go ashore and pursue other boat related activities. Yesterday's ashore goals were to collect the original copy of my cruising permit from the Department of Transport, to find a company that rented out mobile broadband devices (called pocket wi-fi here), to determine whether I needed to see the immigration people before sailing on Monday, and to track down a place where I could get gas bottles refilled as I am now down to about one half full bottle.
Collecting the cruising permit was very straight forward, and from there I caught the monorail out to the airport, as I figured this might be a good place to pursue my remaining objectives. I found a very helpful tourist information person who also rented out phones, but, alas, his company had stopped renting mobile broadband devices some time last year. Strike one. He and another lady then spent considerable time trying to find a company that would fill up propane tanks but in the end it seemed the task was beyond them. Strike two. I then went in search of the immigration office which I found but it was shut as all the staff were, unsurprisingly, clearing in a plane load of passengers. Strike three.
I decided to catch the monorail back to Kokusai Dori Street, otherwise known as International Boulevard, and search for the elusive tourist information centre again. This time, for some reason, I managed to find it straight away, right where it was supposed to be. I have no idea why I could not see it when I was searching for it high and low last week. While the sign indicating that it was in fact the tourist information centre was on the small side it was still quite clearly written in English and the shop front itself was of a good size, so I will just have to put my inability to see it last week, despite walking past it several times, down as one of life's little mysteries.
Here one of the staff spoke excellent English and she was able to understand my problem about refilling my gas bottle relatively easily. However my question was obviously not the normal sort of thing they get asked but she was still very helpful. She searched on the internet and did a lot of ringing around. Despite the fact that I have seen many large gas bottles besides building, particularly restaurants, it seems the Japanese, or at least those who live in Okinawa, do not use gas for barbecues and the like as we in Australia do. Nonetheless she eventually found a company that refilled bottles but was told that they could not fill a foreign bottle and that in any event I would have to bring all my cooking equipment in for them to inspect before they would fill the bottle. Alternatively they could come out to the boat but there would of course be an inspection fee. This was not what I wanted to hear. Probably the main hurdle, apart from the expense, was that I installed Sylph's gas stove many years ago myself after the old kerosene fuelled stove had become more trouble than it was worth, and I pretty much knew for a fact that my installation was not going to pass their inspection. So one of today's objectives, after the morning maintenance, was to buy a portable gas burner that uses the small disposable cartridges. This I am glad to say has been accomplished. While not my preferred solution at least I will be able to continue to consume hot food and beverages, though I hope I can get the bottles refilled from somewhere before I leave Japan for the next ocean crossing.
Another objective I had was to purchase a small trolley. The nearest tap is quite some distance from where Sylph is tied up so in order to top up the water tanks I have been making like a mule over the last several days, lugging heavy water containers filled from the tap back to Sylph. A small fold up trolley seemed a good solution and providence has since provided me with one. As I was walking around this afternoon I walked past what appeared to be a bit of a junk shop. It was a large open garage full of all sorts of bits and pieces, mostly scrap metal. Outside on the footpath in front of what I took to be a sort of rag and bone shop, a man was out the front cutting up an old bicycle with an angle grinder. There hanging on one of the walls were two small fold up luggage trolleys, just what I was after. I went inside cautiously making my way through and around all the bric-a-brac and asked a lady whether I could look at them. She attracted the man's attention and he smiled and nodded his head. I pulled them off the wall, had a good look at both, and decided on the smaller light weight aluminium one as best suiting my needs. I pulled out a useful little translation book I picked up at the tourist information centre, opened it to the appropriate page, pointed to the question, “How much is this?”, the translation for which was written alongside it in Kanji. The man looked at my book and waved his hand. Initially I did not understand what he meant but I quickly realised that he was allowing me to have it for free. I said thank you very much several times, then tied my back pack to the trolley and walked away wheeling my new trolley behind me, feeling very happy with the world.
Another thing I have been trying to do over the last couple of days but have been less successful at is to upload some photos. The explanation is long and not at all interesting, mainly involving computer issues, but I am sure I will get some posted soon.
Tomorrow, after doing a spot more painting, I hope to actually get a little sight seeing in. Maybe I will even get those photos posted.
All is well.