A Wasted Wind

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 25 Jan 2014 11:52
Alongside Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Weather: sunny and mild

I sit here this evening and struggle to recall what I have achieved today. What springs more readily to mind is what I have not achieved. I did not finish off my painting, and I did not go sight seeing.
I decided not to finish off the painting that I have been doing on deck over the past few days as I am now ready to apply the top coats, and the berth is so dirty that I reckon my paintwork would end up looking terrible. Rather I will wait until we get to a port where the conditions are cleaner, and gloss paint will have half a chance of looking glossy and not like gritty non-skid.
I also decided not to go sightseeing. My reason was uncomplicated, I was just not in the mood. There are two things here in Naha that I reckon would be worth seeing, one is the Shurijo Castle Park, a re-creation of the castle that was initially built by the Ryukyu dynasty around the fourteenth century. Unfortunately the original was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing stages of World War Two, so the current version is mostly a replica. I am sure it would be very interesting, but I must be in a bad mood for as I contemplated walking around its attractions all I could think about was the fact that as a material artefact of a feudal system it would have been built on virtual slave labour, that of its serfs.
The second thing that I think would be worth visiting is the underground headquarters of the Japanese Navy used in the defence of Okinawa during the aforementioned battle that destroyed the ancient castle. However, I knew such a visit would fill me with even more doom and gloom than the Shurijo Castle. The brochure tells me that during the two and a half month battle 200,656 people died, 188,136 Japanese, most of whom were civilians, and 12,520 Americans. 2,400 people died in the underground headquarters alone, many of whom the brochure says died an “honourable death” by committing suicide when defeat was imminent. I thought, no, I will not go to the Japanese Navy underground headquarters today.
The other influencing factor in my decision not to go sight-seeing was that as I was contemplating the pros and cons thereof I glanced up at Sylph's flag and noticed that the wind was in the south for the first time since we had arrived. This meant that Sylph was being blown onto the wharf and, given the state of the wharf, I was loathe to leave her unattended for any length of time on a falling tide. Instead I pottered about the boat for a while. I made a more permanent fix to a leak in the fresh water pump which I had temporarily repaired with some self-annealing tape several weeks back, washed my foul weather jacket and applied some waterproofing spray, lugged some more water, this time with the aid of my trolley, then went for a short walk to another bric-a-brac shop I had walked past yesterday but was closing just as I got there. Here I purchased a second hand foldable work bench which I have a project in mind for.
Later I went to an internet cafe with the intention of uploading some photos but, for boring technical reasons of a different nature to previous boring technical reasons, I was foiled again. The photos that I have aren't even that interesting, so I fear that after all this suspense the disappointment to my few faithful readers will be extreme. I can only beg their patience, which I reckon they must have in spades if they read even half the stuff I write. I guess it matters little. I sit in blissful solitary ignorance, undoubtedly even if no one was reading my blog I would still write it, just for myself.
Several times during the day I looked at Sylph's flag flowing to the fair breeze and thought how crazy is this, that I am forced to wait until Monday to leave harbour because of a piece of paper. On Monday the winds are forecast to be fresh from the north east, the direction in which I wish to go. I try to remain philosophical, and have it on good authority from a very experienced cruiser that once we are away from the major ports that the authorities are much less prevalent, and then we can be guided more by the dictates of good seamanship, and less by those of a bureaucracy obsessed with control and order.
However while I saw not the regular tourist attractions, while being largely boat bound for the day, I did enjoy watching the goings on in the port. Naha is served by some tidy looking little cargo ships, perhaps of about a thousand tonnes or so. They are modern and well maintained, but unlike most ships these days they are clearly general cargo carriers. One of them berthed close by Sylph last night. Today cranes hovered over her pulling out all sorts of things, mostly steel girders and large plastic pipes, and from right down the bottom of her capacious little hold a surprising number of containers. Meanwhile large fork lifts buzzed around the cranes like bees distributing honey all over the port, fork lifts which I had to be careful to dodge in my short forays ashore.
The wind returns to the north tomorrow, and while not favourable for sailing at least it will be blowing Sylph away from the evil clutches of the unwholesome wharf that spreads its blackness over all that comes near it. Despite the enveloping blackness, with the wind back in the north I will feel comfortable trusting Sylph to the wharf's unsupervised care for several hours if so inclined. Maybe I will go and see the castle, and with a little luck I may even have some success posting some photos later in the day.
The little ship has just departed, riding high, her burden discharged. I could hear the distinct dry note of her exhaust, her engine perhaps firing at no more than a hundred beats a minute, little more than a person's heart.
All is well.