Yesterday I traveled to Itoman, a large fishing port at the southern end of the main island, to see the last sabani sailing race of the year. About a dozen boats took part in a mass launching from the beach. The idea was to sail/paddle out and do two laps of a triangle course but the race was cancelled due to high winds after a lap. There were a couple of capsizings, a few collisions, etc. but this event seems to be more about the fun than the competition.
Sabani don't have rudders, steered instead with a paddle, so it takes some real skill to maintain direction.
It was said that this boat is fifty years old. There were several old boats in the race.
This crew dragged in late, looking pretty exhausted.
And some people just sailed around, having fun. The folks who race are mainly young, watersports types, yachtsmen, fishermen and, I suspect, those Japanese who have come to Okinawa from elsewhere who appreciate the island life... That's a very informal survey....
I was taken to the sabani race's NPO headquarters, where they have a small museum. This is a boat made right after WWII from one half of an air force drop tank. This was a fishing boat.
Here's a look at it from the stern. Nice use of military junk.
In Itoman Port I found some old power sabani fishing boats. Most were wood covered with fiberglass and a couple were entirely fiberglass, but you see the sabani shape, with sponsons added, etc.
In one old abandoned sabani I looked inside and saw this fastening half fallen out. Thinking it would be a nice souvenir I tried pulling it out but it wouldn't budge! Testimony to this form of construction. This is the huundu, or dovetail key, and I need to devote a blog post to this form of fastening. The boat I am building will be entirely fastened with these. NO NAILS. More on this soon.
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