Ryukyu Mike and together we met up with another camera man and fellow Okinawa based blogger, Chris Willson.
After picking up Mike at his studio office in Kin, our plan was to head up the road a bit to Kanna Beach in Ginoza village and check out the Sabani races. Chris was going to meet us there where he and Mike would ride in a chase boat while I drove along the coast and took images from shore.
Mike had a contact with one of the boat owners who had arranged things for us in advance. He had met him during a recent trip out to Zamami island when he took in the races from the Kerama isles to Naha.
During that trip, after drinking copious amounts of Orion beer and Sake and dazzling the locals with his mastery of the Okinawan Hogen dialect as well as his ability to carry a tune to sing Karaoke tunes in Japanese while totally blitzed out of his gourd, Mike got a personal invitation to take in some future races. My guess is that they mistook him for homeless, since that is the way he normally dresses, took pity on him and figured if his body could survive that kind of abuse, anything the sea could throw at him would be insignificant at best.
But I digress...
As it pertains to the Sabani, one of the things that really impresses about these vessels, in addition to how sleek they are, is the craftsmanship that goes into building one. A properly built Sabani uses no nails or screws. How to build one is becoming a lost art as the old master boat builders die off and no one is apprenticing with them to learn their methods.
It's also surprisingly well they handle even the roughest seas, though some owners do enhance that capability by adding outrigger pontoons for stability.
The Sabani is also quite versatile. Typically they're propelled through the waters by a crew using canoe type paddles and they're the vessel of choice for the many dragon boat races held here in the Far East and around the globe. As previously mentioned, you can add a pontoon for stability if you feel you really need it and you can also attach a sail for added speed. Many older professional fishermen who still use the Sabani over commercially built boats have simply added a small inboard motor to assist them getting in and out of the harbor as well as out to the happy fishing grounds.
Feel free to click on the individual pictures for a better look at these beauties if you like....
More to come a a few daze....