Sunday, March 7, 2010

Part 1-2 The Dispatch Destination of the Ryuusui-Maru

Sugawa-Kun has been asking me to tell the story of the deserted island for a long time, hasn't he. Today I'll tell you the whole thing.
The Ryuusui-Maru was a seventy-six ton, two masted schooner, running between Shyu-Mu-Shyu Island and the mainland.
The island was covered in snow and ice in the winter, and traffic from the mainland was cut off. Because of this, the Ryuusui-Maru would stay at the estuary in Tokyo from Fall to Spring. This was a total waste, and on top of that the able and skilled crew would all have to leave the ship and only a few watchmen were left on board.
When Spring came around and it was time for the boat to ship out again, we could never assemble as many crew members as we hoped. It wasn't just the Ryuusui-Maru, every fishing boat and sail boat in north Japan had the same problem.
So when the boat was put to rest for the winter, I decided to head out to the warm south seas, from Shintori Island to the Okasawara Archipelagio, searching for fishing business until Spring came again.
There were 200 sailing and fishing ships sent to port in the winter, but if possible they could be reassigned to work in the south seas. This was really a great thing for Japan. I also looked for similar opportunity with Ryuusui-Maru, and like that, I set out again. It was the Fall of 1898.
I had thought up some ideas.
In the farthest southeast of Japan near Shintori Island was an island called Grampus Island (the island was twenty-five degrees north latitude and one-hundred-fifty-three degrees east longitude, but possibly because of a volcanic eruption is has sunk to the bottom of the ocean.) Some whaling captains say that the island didn't exist, but others say it did. Some also said that long ago it was a pirate hideaway. It was a place that no one went, and among the people who knew those seas, it was seen as a place never to go.
At any rate, finding the island would be a great help for Japan. Even if just because of having been a pirate's secret hideaway, with some luck we might be able to find their buried treasure.
If I found that pirate island I could set up base there and explore the islands and ocean to my hearts content. And to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by of lack of vegetables which has long plagued sailors, I could plant fields and harvest new crop. For that, I had acquired a large store of vegetable seeds.
That and one more idea. In the south sea you could pick up ambergris, floating in large clumps like jellyfish in the sea. It was even said you could find it washed up on the shores of deserted islands.
Ambergris comes from the body of a sperm whale, and is used to make perfume. It is extremely valuable, and depending on the quality, it can be worth it's weight in gold. Some clumps are as big as one hundred kilograms.
I was thinking I might be able to pick up one of two of these. The truth is, since the olden days, stories of finding large clumps like that weren't so rare.

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