Sailing with Saori

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 7 Feb 2014 12:45
Position: Alongside Tokunoshima
Wind: East, F3 gentle breeze
Sea: moderate
Swell: East 2 meters
Weather: overcast, mild, showers

Today's big event was to be taking my new friends for a sail, however the weather was somewhat against us with showers and rain threatening. Come 10.30 it seemed to be clearing so I decided to persist with the event for those interested. As it turned out the only taker was the intrepid Saori. She arrived punctually and we were soon under way a little after midday.
Unfortunately conditions did not improve. The swell was worse than I had anticipated and the shortly after leaving the wharf a steady drizzle commenced which gradually strengthened into light rain. Sylph pitched and tossed in the swell, steepened by its entry into the shoaling bay which forms Kametoku Ko. At times she would nose into a wave, scoop up a bow load of water, then, rising, send it sweeping down the side decks. The fact that the wind was relatively light did not help to stabilize Sylph's motion either. Despite the challenging conditions, or perhaps because of them, Saori seemed to enjoy the experience, exhibiting some pride as the daughter of a fishermen in her ability to cope. I was impressed with her positive attitude for this was not the sort of weather, grey, gloomy, wet, and lumpy, that I would ordinarily go out in, and especially not for the purposes of introducing a novice to the pleasures of sailing.
Consequently we made it only a short sail and were back alongside at two, postponing lunch until we were on the unmoving land. We sat in the ferry terminal where it was dry and stable and ate picnic style, and I was privileged to partake of Saori's first ever home grown salad.
Once again we had an interesting conversation, mostly around environmental issues. It started with me trying to understand Saori's situation, how it is that her family has become split in two, with her and one of her sons in Tukunoshima, and her husband, elder son, and fourteen year old daughter in a city (difficult to catch the pronunciation yet alone the spelling of Japanese words) that is quite close to Fukushima. To perhaps oversimplify, I would put her reasons for moving down to a combination of the stress caused by the earthquake's frequent after shocks, the fear of food contaminated with radiation, the desire to protect her and her children from these risks, and a need for Saori to get away from the megalopolis of Honshu's eastern seaboard. This somehow led to the feral cat problem on the island which is contributing towards putting some local species under threat of extinction. and then to the more controversial issue of Japanese whaling, including the infamous (according to a Western perspective) annual dolphin slaughter.
I think we both struggled a little to understand each other's point of view, and I would say Saori, as someone who is well travelled, is fairly moderate in those views. Saori it seems was not aware that Australia had challenged Japan's “scientific whaling” in an international court, and for part of the conversation I felt that each of us, perhaps not unnaturally, ended up acting as a representative in the debate for our respective countries. (Has the decision from the trial been announced yet? I have not heard anything about it for some time.) The whaling issue is undoubtedly the most difficult subject Saori and I have discussed, but for me this is part of what I enjoy about travel, the opportunity to make contact with different cultures in a meaningful and personal way, to respectfully try to understand each other.
And now I feel the need to be making tracks. At this stage I hope to be leaving Tokunoshima on Sunday. Sunday's forecast is not ideal for heading north , but, as long as it is not blowing too fresh, I shall give it a go. I also regret to report that the cockpit leak, while much improved, is not completely fixed, as a few drips are still making their way through the cockpit floor. Unfortunately I am not able to scratch it off my to do list just yet.
All is well.