Gorouna, Iki Shima
Position: 33 44.88 N 129 40.70 E
Today's sail was a bit further than yesterday's, but still a comfortable distance to do in a few hours of a fair breeze, which is what we had. We left Azuchi-o-Shima at a little after seven and within half an hour were around the south eastern corner of the island broad reaching to the north nor' east at seven knots. We experienced a minor technical difficulty early in the passage, with the control line to the wind vane self steering breaking, but this was no big deal. I locked off the vane with some hose clamps that I had placed around the vane for just this purpose, and replaced the line, re-tensioned it, then loosened off the hose clamps, and all was as good as new again, or at least as good as one could hope from a wind vane that must be about forty years old, has been around the world plus some, hit rocks, coral heads, and wharves, and dragged fishing buoys all over the oceans. It has served me well, and I am hoping that it will outlive me. And to think that my partner back in 1998 spotted it for sale in a local boating magazine for $400!
We made good time, the rain held off, and we were alongside Gorouna at eleven. Initially I tied Sylph up in the fishing boat harbour, but I had read in my cruising notes that there were three pontoons that had been built specifically for visiting yachts. I had a GPS position but the position did not tie in with my charts. Once alongside however, I went for a short reconnoiter and found the pontoons a short distance away hidden behind the main wharf. Pontoons are much more comfortable to lie to then a barnacle encrusted wall, not just because of the barnacles but mainly because the pontoons float up and down with the tide, so there is no worrying about adjusting lines or having to make like a mountain goat to get ashore at low water. It was but a short motor, and half an hour later we were secured to a nice big comfortable pontoon.
But, there was a price for our comfort! I was just enjoying a cup of freshly ground coffee (Muramoto-san had given me some coffee beans when we were in Nagasaki, but when he realised I did not have a coffee grinder he went out and bought me one - thank you Thom), when I heard a hail from the pontoon. A man showed me a badge which could have been run off on a printer that morning for all I knew who said he was from the port authority and that there was a fee for staying alongside the pontoon. “Oh bother!” I thought. He asked me for the length and how long I was staying, I told him forty feet and one night. He then pulled out his calculator and presented me with a bill for 252 yen. I couldn't help but laugh. This is less than $3.00. It could hardly have covered the petrol he would have used getting from his office to the wharf, yet alone back again. Fortunately the official also saw the humour in the absurd charge and smiled as well. But he then went back to serious business, he pulled out his quadruplicate receipt book, filled in all the details, pulled out the official stamp and stamp pad, adjusted the date, stamped all copies, and then carefully tore out the light blue one which he gave me with all due decorum. I thanked him, he left, and I returned below to my coffee shaking my head.
This incident did in turn lead me to think a bit about our own obsession with efficiency in Australia and the West in general. I do not think anyone would describe Japan, despite some more recent economic problems, as being anything other than a successful and prosperous nation with a relatively high standard of living (according to my “Pocket World in Figures, 2007 edition”). So presumably they are doing something right and I suspect that, while on the small scale of a cruising yacht it might all look pretty crazy, on the scale of Toyota and Mitsubishi it presumably all makes a lot of sense.
Having paid my fees and with plenty of daylight left I decided I would go for a walk. It was just starting to drizzle so I donned a rain coat, put my camera and other bits and pieces in my waterproof back pack and set off to explore the town. I walked through a long tunnel to get from the port area to the town proper, which made a nice respite from the now steady rain, but I have to say that Gorouna is a plain and ordinary town, so have nothing much to write about. I hasten to add there is absolutely nothing wrong with being ordinary. It is something that most of us, by definition, have to accept.
With little of attraction here, I do not intend to linger. Tomorrow I plan to head for the small island of Takashima, some forty miles to the south east..
The cat stayed down below today.
All is well.