The Old Man And The Seas

Minoru Saito has circled the globe seven times solo on a sailboat. The last time he did so he became the oldest person to sail non-stop around the world solo. He was 71 years of age.

So where is he now? Well, he has spent the last two years sailing around the world for the eighth time! But this time, instead of taking the usual route going west to east, he is going the "hard way" - east to west. This route has taken him against the prevailing currents, waves, and winds, especially in critical areas such as the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The few sailors who have attempted rounding Cape Horn east to west solo have compared it to climbing mount Everest alone - without oxygen.

Saito-san has paid a price. His boat has been badly battered, its sails torn, the auxiliary engine overheating, his body broken (a gash in an arm, broken bridge of three front teeth, emergency abdominal surgery). After making it around Cape Horn on the second try, he refused to abandon ship as demanded by the Chilean Navy and was towed 400 miles to port where he spent the winter in a small fishing village making repairs.

He is now in Hawaii, 87% of the way around the world. The boat is getting more much needed repairs, thanks to his many online friends, for the final leg of his voyage which will return him to Yokohama, Japan. Saito-san is in a hurry, for the typhoon season in Japan starts in a matter of weeks, and he must get home before then.

To see a local news interview of Saito-san, click here: KITV News, Honolulu; or here: KHON News

Asked what he misses most, he answers "hot springs, ofuro (Japanese bath), tempura and sushi".

When he arrives, he will be 76 years old, and most probably the oldest man to have sailed around the world alone. Saito-san says this will be his final voyage.

Recently in the news, Abby Sunderland, who was trying to set the record for being the youngest person to sail non-stop around the world, met with disaster in the Indian Ocean and had to abandon her boat. Happily, she was rescued. While she is to be admired for her attempt, somehow, to me, being the oldest person to achieve such a feat carries more weight than being the youngest. Youth has quick wit, strength, and vigor to apply to the task, while the aged must muster all their waning resources to make such an attempt.

Saito-san's journey has been most difficult, but his age has not stopped him. He is a reminder to us all to never stop dreaming and doing.

[On the other hand, considering the troubles of this latest trip, perhaps the message is "learn to quit while you're ahead".]

His websites are here: www.saito8.com/ (English/Japanese); Logbook Blog - http://saito8.blogspot.com/


It's A Jungle Out There

In my yard, that is.

We've recently had our trees and hedges pruned and to deal with all the cuttings, I bought a 6.5 hp chipper/shredder machine (my electric shredder couldn't hack it) and we've now got a mountain of mulch for weed control and composting.

Just before the trimming started I went to the back of the house to survey the weeds and found this fellow hanging from a Japanese plum (ume) tree.

It's an aodaisho (lit. "green general") or Japanese rat snake. Quite common in Japan, we see them often around here. They aren't venomous and eat rodents, frogs, and lizards mostly as well as bird eggs. Coloration varies. I found this one quite beautiful and well camouflaged for our weed patch. It was about a meter long, which is good sized, but not as big as the first aodaisho I saw back in 2005 and wrote about in the post "The Mild Mannered Snake".


K-9 Kool

Normally I'd let Momo write about this, but decided just to post some pics with brief comments as I think the pics speak (bark) for themselves. (click pics to enlarge)

Back in April, we had some nice weather one weekend and decided to give Momo a birthday present of some time at a favorite park - Suigo Prefectural Forest Park.

So many trees! And the lake below with a wild cherry tree still in bloom above. Doggy heaven.

She loved playing on the big grass amphitheater - back and forth between PandaB and K.

Great day at the park. One very happy doggy!

Memorial Day 2010

I've been out of the 'States so long I've forgotten the dates of holidays, so a day late with this post. Memorial Day's roots are unclear, but one thing is certain to me - it is the most regrettable and unnecessary holiday ever. Not that we shouldn't honor those who have died fighting in wars, but one would hope that by remembering them we would learn not to have any more wars. That would be the greatest honor we could bestow.

A Girl Scout (my granddaughter Bailey) placing leis in the Veterans Cemetery on Maui, Hawaii. I remember her mom as a child, making leis for Memorial Day.

Can we stop the wars now, please?