Cleared Out for Japan


Alongside Tong Yeong
Wind: Calm
Weather: mostly sunny, mild to warm

Having slept on what I am going to do next, I have decided to return to Japan. I had already sent the paperwork to the Japan Coast Guard, and while weather conditions are not going to be ideal for the sail back to Japan, they are OK. Furthermore, I think what I would like to do now is to sit still somewhere for a little while, do a spot of much needed painting on Sylph so that she doesn't look quite so old, and maybe get to know some people well enough to be able to obtain a slightly deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

So this morning I caught a bus into town to the Customs office. Once the customs paperwork has been completed and the document declaring that Sylph was free to leave the country obtained, I proceeded to the Immigration office. I arrived there just as they were closing for lunch so I decided I would follow their lead and have some lunch as well. I walked past a nearby doorway which from the signs outside was clearly an entrance to a restaurant, but I could not see inside. I thought I would be daring and take pot luck as to what was behind the doors. It turned out to be a small traditional Korean restaurant with everyone sitting on the floor. I left my shoes at the entranceway and the waitress directed me to a table, where I made myself as comfortable as I could in an unaccustomed cross legged pose. The waitress could not speak any English but pointed to a sign which I think was a standard lunch dish. I nodded my head in agreement, and hoped it did not contain any gluten. The waitress subsequently brought out a variety of dishes and showed me what to do with them. They were all very tasty and most had the typical Korean spiciness. She seemed very pleased with the fact that I ate everything.

I returned to the Immigration office feeling very content. The immigration paperwork was similarly done efficiently and my passport imprinted with the departure stamp. I then walked most of the way back to the boat, once more passing through the traditional fish market. Being somewhat better rested and not quite so distressed as I was on my arrival, the market did not appear quite so overwhelming to me. Inspired by my lunchtime repast, I even bought a spicy marinated octopus dish to have for dinner.

Nearby the immigration office there was also four replicas of Korean “turtle' warships dating from the sixteenth century. Apparently there was a famous naval engagement in the waters just off Tong Yeong where a small, well managed Korean fleet managed to repel a much larger Japanese invasion fleet. The replicas were presumably built in commemoration of the victory. Being generally interested in ships and things naval, I purchased a ticket and partook of one tourist activity during my short stay here in South Korea. Fortunately a few of the signs were in English which allowed me to appreciate why the vessels were constructed the way they were. Though relatively small, about forty meters by twelve meters, they were very heavily built. They were beamy looking barges to me and did not look at all manoeuvrable, and certainly would have been very unwieldy under sail, but apparently, compared to the Japanese craft, they were quite agile and able to run rings around their enemy. The signs advised me that the ships were beamy so as to provide a stable gun platform., and their square bows and sterns allowed for guns in all directions, small cannon though they were. A dragon's head over the bow was apparently contrived to emit fumes of sulphur and smoke, so as to inspire fear and confusion in the enemy fleet. The uppermost deck was curved and had numerous iron spikes sticking out of it so as to prevent boarders gaining access to the craft, and this feature gave them the shape of a turtle, and hence their name. Finally, their shallow draft made them agile under oars. So, in all, an informative and interesting experience.

From there I walked to a supermarket, bought some supplies, and caught a bus back to the boat. Now I intend to have a quiet evening so as to be ready to sail at around eight tomorrow morning.

All is well.