As I stretch awake, the sound of footsteps and voices fill the small space I’ve crammed by body into the previous night as my alarm is blaring its last loud beeps into the brisk morning air. I sit up and pull my sleeping bag off my body looking at the early morning walkers off in the distance, disappearing behind the small forest of trees separating us. I quickly pack my gear and give my Sea to Summit compression sack bag its last few firm tugs on the nylon straps while I sit on it to squeeze out every ounce of extra air. Walking over to my kayak and removing the hatch covers, I store the relatively small amount of gear (sleeping bag and pad) I’ve taken with me the previous night inside the semi-damp bulkhead compartment. Finally, I grab my drysuit and walk over to a paved walkway overlooking the kayak and a small bay in which I will be kayaking.
As I’m pulling on my drysuit, I look over a see a surprising sight; two kayakers loading their gear for the days trip. I walk over to greet them as they are inserting their fishing rods in the holders mounted on the kayak and beginning the process of lifting, what appears to be, a fairly heavy cooler on the back of the kayak. As they finish their preparations, I take a minute to watch the pair push their kayak into the water and step onto the kayak. I notice the person in the front, wearing a drysuit, has a much stronger and consistent paddle stroke as I watch the rear paddler take short strokes, with the paddle diving into the water a only few inches.
In Tokyo Bay its especially easy to get lost and being no stranger to the phenomenon, I once again partake in staring at my map, trying to figure out where I am in relation to Yokohama port, yet this time I can at least partially blame my map. When I first printed these maps, my main goal was being able to identify only large landmasses like mountains or islands, which created a serious problem when I’m trying to locate a small channel, not even 10 meters wide. Not only is this map giving me problem but add this to the fact that that when you look around, everything looks relatively the same; buildings and more buildings with the occasional cargo crane towering over the port. Continue reading
Once again, chasing the mornings first light, I arise from my slumber and emerge into the quiet early morning harbor. Although I awake at 5:30 with the idea of getting in the water early, yet I still have the urge to find a convince store to satisfy my craving of some milk and a snickers bar. Not having the slightest idea where one of the ubiquitous convenience stores are located in this sleepy harbor town, I begin wondering around. I find myself walking up a gravel path leading to small road lined by a few homes and with no obvious sign as to where to go afterwards. I ask a man leaning over some large plastic buckets in his garage. “Sumemasen,” I say with a slight bow and he approaches, ready to intently listen to my question. I ask him where I can find a convince store or “Omiseo,” which are the more common small community stores, especially prevalent in these small harbor locations. He asks why and I tell him “Asa Gohan,” (breakfast) and he nods, thinks for a second, and says something in Japanese which I soon find out means, “I will take you, lets go”. After only a few seconds, Im planting myself in the passenger seat of his small car.
After I have my ceremonial milk and snickers bar, with the addition of some sweets and fruit curtsy of this friendly man whose name I later find out is Fujita San, I once again find myself next my kayak, beginning to disassemble what was my shelter for the night. Finishing my small morning meal, I feel a sense of regret come over me as I realize that I’ve missed an opportunity to get a picture with him. Not really overwhelmed by the desire to return and once again ask him for something, I continue with my morning preparations and just then I hear someone jogging down the path and see Fujita San with a small plastic bag in tow. He comes running over and tells me his wife made lunch for me. I look in the bag and see two large tinfoil wrapped rice-balls. I thank him profusely and use the opportunity to get a picture with him.
Within the first few hours, I thick fog begins to form, making the landmass in the distance fade away behind the gray cover. Confident of my direction, I continue to paddle North-East towards what I believe to be Tokyo Bay yet because of the thickening fog and relatively flat landscape, I am unable to make out any identifiable object and begin to lose my bearing. Continue reading