Maintenance and Bureaucrats
Alongside Miyonoura Ko, Yakushima
Today was again sunny and clear. After a day of touring the trees yesterday I thought that I had best spend today giving Sylph some TLC. But before I could change into my work clothes there was a hail from the dock. At this relatively early part of the day I was still in my track pants, having just finished breakfast, and I was still sipping on my tea. The heater was still going and Sylph was all closed up, the storm boards in and the companionway hatch closed, to keep the heat in. I opened up the companionway and clambered out over the storm boards, to find that the boss man from the local prefecture office was on the dock. This time he had an entourage of only one and only one car, though I did notice that he was wearing a very well cut suit and quality leather shoes, unlike his last appearance. Perhaps he had dressed down on his last visit given its purpose and the weather.
He said, “You are still here, you said four days.” I was a little taken aback at this. He was by no means unfriendly or impolite but the statement did sound rather like an accusation, and I got the impression that he thought that I should have left by now. I thought his sums a little ungenerous, as I had arrived late on Monday night, and by my calculation four days later would be Saturday, and in any event I had said four or five days, dependant on weather. I tried to explain to him that a small sailing boat could not keep to a strict schedule because of its reliance on the wind. I pointed to Sylph's flag, and to her sails, trying to get him to understand that the wind was from the north and that I was waiting for it to shift direction or for it to ease some. I pointed to the ocean and waved my hands up and down, to indicate that I also wanted the seas to calm down. I think he understood me, for he said that I should stay for as long as needed to to be safe. He shook my hands several times, told me to stay safe a couple of more times, and then left.
I went back down below, finished my cup of tea, and then donned my working clothes; paint stained and patched jeans, and an old grey wind cheater. My top priority job now that it had stopped raining was to attend to the leak in the cockpit sole. I once more pulled it apart, the major chore being to move the liferaft. It is much heavier than my previous liferaft, I think mainly because it has so much stuff packed inside the cannister; food, water, EPIRB etc.. Of course having all this stuff in the liferaft is very good, but the downside is that it is so heavy that I reckon that if I ever need it I could well do myself an injury trying to launch the thing. When I get it serviced I will probably reduce the amount of stuff in the cannister so as to make it easier to handle.
With the liferaft moved, the gas bottles disconnected, and the cockpit grates lifted I could see that the sealant I had used must not have stuck as there was no sign of it anywhere, not even a remnant. I recall that it had rained quite heavily the night after I had applied it so my guess is that it had just washed away. I cleaned the joint with a wire brush and methylated spirits and once more applied a liberal bead of sealant all around the joint. Hopefully this time it will seal up the leak much more effectively. If it doesn't I will try a different type of sealant.
While I was waiting for the sealant to dry so I could put the cockpit back together I did some repairs to the timber gratings. I was using a nearby concrete sea wall as a work bench as it was a very convenient height and very, very solid. As I was working a lady approached me.
“Are you Robert San?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
She introduced herself as being from the prefecture's office and that she had been sent to see me by her boss She spoke relatively good English and I gathered that her boss was concerned that there might have been a misunderstanding, so he had sent the lady to clear things up. She was very pleasant and made it clear to me that I must stay for as long as I needed, and that I must stay safe. Apparently her boss had looked up the weather for tomorrow and thought that conditions were not good for me to leave so soon. Perhaps he was worried that I had gained the impression that he was pressuring me to leave. Well the lady and I had a nice conversation, she was rather impressed by Sylph, especially the fact that she has a heater. Apparently the north side of Yakushima has a completely different climate to the south, it is much colder, and the lady was from the more tropical southern side.
In reflecting on this whole incident I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at the courtesy of Japanese officials. I am also inclined to shake my head at the way their bureaucracy is set up for dealing with yachts, but, in their defence, apparently the whole of Japan has maybe only a dozen foreign yachts visit its shores each year. As this particular fact was a major attraction for me in coming here, as I do like to take the path less travelled, I can hardly complain that the system is not streamlined to meet my needs.
Now I will try and get some photos posted.
All is well.