The pangs of hunger are calling as I peel back my sleeping bag and expose my body to the brisk morning air, accompanied by a warming rays of a sun that is also emerging from its slumber. My eyes still blurry, I fix my gaze on the sandy coastline extending for miles in both directions, dotted by the numerous fisherman casting their hopes into the water as they wait for the ‘big catch.’
Confident that no-one on this beach will steal any of my things, I decide to venture off into the direction of the convince store I was informed of last night. Only after a short 15 minute walk, Im moving between the well manicured isles of Lawson’s convenience store grabbing my morning energy shot; a liter of milk and a snickers bar. As the digital numbers on my watch disappear and reappear, giving note of the passing day, I quickly chug the milk and take the last bites of the snickers bar while walking back to my kayak. Undressing down to my thermals, I pull over my drysuit and somewhat reluctantly, pull over the hood, sealing the rubber gasket firmly around my neck.
Pulling the kayak to the shore takes a very short yet strong full-body tugs, in no small part sue to the 10 liters of water and Frostpak Cooler brimming with food. Now at the tideline, with the water nipping the front bow, I begin to stretch and notice two fisherman are by my side looking intently at both me and the kayak. I look over once again, with a smile and say “Konichiwa” to which they respond in a smilier fashion. Within seconds I’m once again giving them a very abbreviated expedition run-down starting with why I’m doing this to some details about the journey and finally, the fact that I’m doing this alone, to which they respond with a ‘eeehhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ looking at each other slightly puzzled. I nod, and focus my attention on the waves crashing into the shore, nipping at the front of my kayak. Now its all about timing as I wait to push my kayak past the shore breaks and into he calmer waters. Continue reading
Waking up at around 6:30, I check my weather forecast on “Pocket Grib” and see that the wind is predicted to fairly strong until about 9:00am that day. Emerging from my tent, I decide to kill some time and seeing a convenience store in the distance, I decide to partake in the breakfast of champions; a liter of milk and a snickers bar with a special addition of a rice ball packed with some grilled salmon.
Walking back to my kayak, my mind carries itself beyond this wind and into the future, into Tokyo bay and landing on the beach behind Haneda airport, yet only for a second as the advice of Koji, my kayaking/life guide echoes in my mind; “You have to focus on the paddle, anything could happen.” This was advice given on the final leg of our Japan to Korea crossing, only 6 hours from our final destination. As my emerges back into the present, with the wind still gusting at about 5-6 meters per second, reinforcing Koji’s warning, I decide to focus on packing my kayak and getting into the water for yet another day of paddling.
Stepping off the pavement and back into the sand, I walk over to my kayak and being the methodical process of packing my kayak; heavy gear centered either behind my seat or against the rear bulkhead, lighter gear to the ends of the kayak. As I’m packing my kayak, I notice a minivan pull up and out comes two guys who find what I am doing very interesting, judging by how much they are shooting glances over in my direction. I catch this glance which suggests he wants to talk but I don’t have time to return his glance yet the only thing on my mind is paddling. Just then I see Masami San running over, noticeably excited. She tells me Shiojima San is here and we walk over to meet. It feels great to see them both again. Before I depart, she gives me an apple and a piece of cake.
When I return, the people near the minivan look over once again. This time I return their glance and give a nod, at which times he comes over and introduces himself. He tells me they are from a non-profit that brings children to the beach and teachers them about the environment. He also tells me that they are getting ready to have a picnic and are waiting to be joined be a few more families. Continue reading
As Shiojima San and I sit for breakfast, our attention firmly glued to the TV, we wait for the morning weather forecast. As the forecaster begins her announcement, none of which I can understand less some key words, I pay close attention the graphics; small yellow arrows pointing towards our direction indicating a head wind of 6-8 meters per second. Shiojima looks up the the TV and says “Look Its yellow, its not red so its okay.” I nod, in agreement with his statement but I still have this visceral panic about the wind, which I can hear blowing against the house. Realizing that the small yellow triangles sealed my fate, I walk over to one of my dry-bags, pop a motion sickness pill out of the blister packaging, and place it in my mouth.
Waiting on the beach, our kayaks laid facing the turbulent waters, Shipjima San excises himself and runs to the bathroom leaving me to face the ocean and the 5-7 meter per second gusts pushing directly towards us. My attention is stolen by some movement to my right. Looking over, I see Shiojima San’s kayak literally push to the right after a large gust came off the ocean. He returns and I begin to feel even more uneasy then before, I say “Kaze Tsuoi” which means “The wind is strong.” He doesn’t even pause, so I realize that he interpreted what I said as more of a rhetorical question that an actual statement of concern, although it was intended as one. We snap a few photos and push our kayaks into the water and into the headwind.
Paddling out of the protection of Teishi Port, the wind starts to push at my back and as we become fully exposed to the 7-8 meter per second tailwind. As we paddle, all of my attention and energy is devoted to maintaining a upright position but my focus slips as I hear “wahooooooo” behind me and quickly glance back to see Shiojima San riding a wave. I laugh, realizing how different our responses to this situation actually are. Continue reading