Arrived Kametoku Ko
Mon 3 Feb 2014 12:21
Wind: Light and variable
Swell: East 1 m
Weather: cloudy, mild
Last night turned out as expected, with a combination of motoring, drifting, and even a reasonable amount of sailing having us off the entrance to Kametoku Ko at high water just before 9 a.m.. A large blue ferry was entering port as we got to the harbour mouth so I stayed out of its way until it had berthed then followed it in. The entrance to the boat harbour revealed itself tucked in behind the main wharf where the ferry had come alongside, just as drawn on the "S Guide" chartlet. There was plenty of water under the keel and once inside the small harbour I found a nice length of unoccupied wharf to tie Sylph up to.
A man kindly helped me to tie up and once Sylph was secure I attempted to ask him whether there was a harbour master's office that I needed to check in with, but the communication barrier proved insurmountable. I won't say unfortunately for as events transpired this turned out to be a great stroke of luck. The gentleman in question proved to be quite resourceful; he simply rang a friend of his who spoke both English and Japanese. He handed me his phone so I could talk to the translator. The translator turned out to be of Canadian origin, by the name of Murray, who worked in Kanetoku teaching English. Murray was nearby so he decided it would be simplest if he came to the port personally to sort things out. A few minutes later a slender man of middling height and approaching middling years arrived on a motor scooter. He professed that his Japanese was not actually that good, so he rang another friend, a lady by the name of Saori. She also decided it would be best if she came in person. On her arrival Murray departed to go to a class, but not before leaving his email address so we could perhaps catch up at some time later. Saori and I then went in search of the port authority.
We initially went to the ferry terminal, where the lady behind the glass window advised us that we needed to go to another building a few blocks away. We climbed into Sauri's small brown box of a car, drove the few blocks and sought the office. Here we were told that we were actually in the right place to start with, and that the person we needed to speak to worked in an upstairs office. We retraced our tracks, climbed the stairs to the first floor, where the office in question was found to be locked and unattended. We went back down to the ferry office. The young lady behind glass, whose misinformation was now politely corrected by Saori, rang the person we were after who it turned out was wandering the docks but would return in about ten minutes. I suggested to Saori that we wait on board Sylph where I could make us a cup of coffee.
We sat in Sylph's cockpit, RC enjoying the additional attention, while I enjoyed Saori's company and conversation. Here is some of what I have learned, not all from our cockpit conversation. She grew up as a young girl in South Africa, her family Buddhist, and some of her friends Jewish and Christian. The confusion this caused her led her in later years to study comparative religion at Auckland, and hence her excellent English. She is married with three children. The harbour official arrived within the promised ten minutes, and in this short time it seems that we managed to cover a lot of territory. Saori soon explained everything to the harbour master who gave permission for Sylph to remain where she was for the next several days.
With that first important problem sorted out, Saori then drove me around town chasing up a few things I needed, as well as showing me the chapel to the local Catholic Church, explaining the variations in the usual Catholic iconography that had been made to suit the local culture of the island. We had lunch with a new friend of Saori's (they had met only the day before) at a nearby hotel, gaudily European in its interior décor, but with a god value meal at 850 yen for an open smorgasbord. Saori's new friend (I regret I have forgotten her name already) was born on the island but has lived in London with her Croatian husband for many years. She has returned to her islands of origin for a holiday of four weeks to trace her ancestors, and to understand their history and thereby her own background, her quest apparently motivated by the Fukushima disaster. Interestingly, related to this tragedy, Saori had previously told me that she moved to Tokuno Shima to get away from the tremors which daily plagued her own town, which was somewhere near Fukushima. Saori said that they experienced 3,000 earthquakes a year there. I was incredulous, that meant on average about ten tremors every day. Saori said that was right and she just got sick of everything moving all the time. Ironically she shared this story with me while drinking coffee in Sylph's cockpit, at which point she noticed Sylph's movement caused by the surge entering the small harbour. She immediately felt unwell and we had to get back onto dry land.
Later in the afternoon Saori ran me around town chasing various items that I needed, but undoubtedly the most useful thing she has done for me was to take me to a supermarket and educate me a little in recognising what was what, including how to recognise the Kanji symbol for wheat, so now I have a much better chance of avoiding food containing gluten.
After Saori returned me to Sylph, sufficient daylight remained for me to get a bit of a leg stretch, during which I was pleased to locate a Laundromat nearby. Dinner, a simple vegetable curry, has been served, and now it is time for a good night's sleep It has been a highly satisfactory day.
All is well.