Shhh…

Nothing from me here today, I’m afraid.
While the rest of the world (really? -Ed.) is watching the Stormers and the Sharks egg-chasing at Newlands, I’m braai’ing at our little cottage in Agulhas, and I can safely say that there’s nowhere else that I’d rather be.

Wave, Daddy

Back from Agulhas and although, as I suspected, the stormy conditions last week led to some huge waves battering the Southern Tip. Sadly, while they those waves were doing their thing, I was sensibly sheltering from the rain, playing lego with the boy in front of a nice open fire.

When we eventually emerged, things had subsided a bit.

Still, there was the odd one which reminded you of the power of the ocean. But mainly, today was devoted to finding interesting shells and throwing big stones into the sea.

Perfect.

I’ll upload some more photos tomorrow.

Notes on Japanese ship-naming conventions

Yeah, I know. That title. You’re already disinterested, but hey – hang tight – you might just learn something today.
I know I did.

Japanese fishing vessels have been all over the news lately. If you count the one that ran aground on Clifton Beach last month and the one that was found drifting off the coast of Canada in April, that is.
The former has sadly dropped out of the news and even now, no-one is really sure how it ended up parked among the holiday homes of the German elite. The latter was a victim of the March 2011 tsunami and has been drifting across the Pacific ever since.

Their names: the Eihatsu Maru and the Ryou-Un-Maru. And I’ll use this handy opportunity to chuck the name of the only other Japanese fishing vessel I know in there too: the Meisho Maru 38. Some of that one lies aground near Cape Agulhas and has surely featured in many photographs, but most notably, this one:

Eagle-eyed readers should really give the eagle its eyes back, but in the meantime, they will have noticed the common “Maru” in the names of all these vessels, because eagles are good at spotting that sort of thing.

When you look  up Maru on Google translate, it tells you in mean “circle” and also, if you look a little below that, “suffix for ship names”. But why?

Well, god bless the internet, because Wikipedia can help us out with an answer on their helpfully named: “Japanese ship naming conventions” page, which discusses and explains Japanese ship naming conventions. And it tells us:

The word maru (meaning “circle”) is often attached to Japanese ship names. The first ship known to follow this convention was the Nippon Maru, flagship of daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 16th century fleet. There are several theories which purport to explain this practice:

  • The most common is that ships were thought of as floating castles, and the word referred to the defensive “circles” or maru that protected the castle.
  • That the suffix -maru is often applied to words representing something that is beloved, and sailors applied this suffix to their ships.
  • That the term maru is used in divination and represents perfection or completeness, or the ship as a small world of its own.
  • A legend of Hakudo Maru, a celestial being that came to earth and taught humans how to build ships. It is said that the name maru is attached to a ship to secure celestial protection for it as it travels.
  • For the past few centuries, only non-warships bore the maru ending. It was intended to be used as a good hope naming convention that would allow the ship to leave port, travel the world, and return safely to home port: hence the complete circle arriving back to its origin unhurt.
  • Note also that Hinomaru or ‘sun-disc’ is a name often applied to the national flag of Japan.

Today commercial and private ships are still named using this convention.

Of course, there are many superstitions and traditions in Japanese society and there are probably (at least) an equal number in the seafaring community, so it seems perfectly reasonable that when these two behemoths of folklore come together, we get this well-observed custom of nomenclature.

That said, many of the reasons given above are centred around the protection of the vessel and its safe return to port and that hasn’t really held true for any of the ships I am aware of (n=3). Let’s not forget that one ended up on a local beach, another ended up on some fairly local rocks and another was sunk by the US Coastguard “for safety reasons” (and, let’s be absolutely honest here, fun).

Look, I recognise that it’s Friday afternoon and you aren’t in the mood to learn stuff. But you’ll be thanking the Japanese Seagods and 6000 miles… at your next pub quiz, believe me.

Assuming there’s a question about this sort of thing, of course.

Behold The Fetch

If you are currently residing in Cape Town, you cannot have failed to notice the somewhat extreme meteorological conditions that are prevailing this morning. The rain – and there’s a lot of rain – is travelling horizontally past our windows, assisted in no small part by the ridiculously strong and blustery northwester. It’s dark, it’s grey – dark grey – and it’s cold. Cold, dark grey.

Winter. She is here.

But where did this remarkable weather come from, I hear you ask. Well, here’s your answer: :

This was the situation at midnight last night. Now, ten hours later, Cape Town (central, “helpfully” indicated by a tiny red dot) has slipped underneath that pointy line indicating a phat cold front, linked to those double-barrel low pressure centres. And that’s why we’re getting what we’re getting right now.

But, while windguru is predicting swells of up to 7 metres for the Cape coast this weekend (and that lengthy fetch shows you why), any avid surfers will probably be disappointed, as Spike from wavescape indicates:

Gather yer nuggets Wednesday as rising 12ft beasts smack thy chops stukkend. Dik SSW surf swells in glassy sea > light NW. Epic. FB 3′ early, 4-5′ in arvi. Cooks.Thursday neargale NW smelts 10′ mess, FB 4′ in stiff offshores. By lunch, strong SW thro. DIK RAIN drench from 8am. Friday heaving 5-10′ storm sea, ragged SW winds > S. Heavy squalls subside a bit. C-c-cold. FB ragged side going onshore. Saturday heaving 5-10′ storm junk in strong S > SSE. FB kak. Sunday lekker calm, leftover 3-5′ S swell. FB fun 3′.

Thanks for that, Spike. Lucid as ever. Consider my chops smacked stukkend.

The forecast for the weekend does suggest that things will calm down a little, although if you were expecting a hefty tan by Monday morning, you may be barking up the wrong country.

Me? I’ll be heading down to Cape Agulhas, where those mad swells will hopefully bring some mad photo opportunities.
And yes, I’ll be taking my thermals along with me…

Gloomy

With everything in place for our trip to the UK next month, the time between now and the holiday is dragging. And, after an unpleasant day at the football yesterday and a pleasant evening drowning sorrows and celebrating a birthday, today is dragging a little too, as is my head.

A quota photo is required and this one fits the bill just perfectly.

Something, somewhere is telling me that I’ve used this as a QP before, but I’m so tired and “jaded”, that I really can’t recall or indeed be arsed to recall.

This picture, as with life at the moment, is probably better in the dark.