Expedition Journal Day 54

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.

Glancing out behind the shore breaks, I look for incoming swells and seeing none, I go. My body angles forward, sending my feet even further into the sand as my upper body explodes forward sending the front of the kayak into a receding wave. Reaching over the cockpit, my hand firmly gripping the combing, I push on the kayak and throw my leg over. Now straddling the ‘yellow submarine’ I grab the paddle that is bobbing in the water next to me and look up just in time to see a wave seconds away from breaking over the front of my kayak. Realizing that the only way out is forward into the wave, my left hand pushes the blade into the foamy waters and I lean my face forward just in time to avoid a splash of water that was deflected off the back of my deckbag. The crest of wave, now traveling past the deck bag and down is slowly engulfing my kayak and ends with a thump on my chest. After this ordeal, my hand instinctively grabs for my sponge, forgoing the bilge pump, so as to make the bailout effort less noticeable to the people on shore.

After a few hours into the paddle and once again facing a relatively flat coast, free of any noticeable landmarks such as mountains and lighthouses, I decide to venture farther from shore, cutting across the inside of the peninsula and going directly to the tip. As the coastline from which I’ve come beings to fade in the distance over my shoulder, I take note of the small landmass extending into the horizon, appearing to be so faint it could be taken for a mirage. Paddling towards this destination causes my mind to engage in the mental exercise akin to that of a cartographer; calculating the distance between my kayak and the now disappearing coastline as I paddle further into the open blue sea, viscerally aware of the possibility of being stranded if something were to go wrong. Its during these moments that I can get a sense of the risk of an expedition like this. If the worst were to come to fruition, taking the form of any number of the potential disasters this far out at sea (a leak, broken rudder cable, or some unforeseen collision with a boat) I would be absolutely out of luck and have to find a way to somehow trace my path back across miles of ocean which will hopefully have a favorable current. With all this in mind, I paddle further out into the blue ocean and notice some sail boats enjoying the beautiful weather.

It’s ominous presence appearing as only a light gray shadow over my starboard bow, grows larger, as I paddle South East towards my next destination. Being that this is the first time I’ve seen such a ship, I’m am genuinely puzzled as to its position; near enough to be identifiable as something other then a commercial vessel yet far enough to easily disappear into the gray backdrop extending into the horizon. With each stroke, I find myself memorized by this silhouette, strong and powerful resembling what I believe to be a ship used for some type of military service. Because I have little to occupy my mind, I begin to think of the chances of being able to identify this figure off in the distance, yet within a short time my concentration is broken my a high pitched humming emanating from the direction of this ship. My mind once again takes a vacation and as this sound is growing louder, I think of what I will see materialize out of the gray clouds off my right paddle. It appears as a small rubber dingy, but its engines sound to powerful to be anything other then Coast Guard or Military. As this small black dot grows larger, I can see the what appears to be a inflatable military transport boat, the boats that are commonly associated with Navy SEALS. My hunch is confirmed once I see a American Flag flapping off the rear.

Entering Misaki Port of Joga Island is met with a feeling of relief as the sun retreats to the horizon over my shoulder. I can hear the distinctive thump,thump,thump of the engines which push the larger ships across the blue abyss echoing the buildings and homes surrounding the small 100 foot channel. Looking for a landing spot, I see a clearing just under a bridge and decide to make land. My legs, extremely sore from not being extended for so many hours, almost send me to the ground as I stumble for the first few steps on this soft ground. Immediately, just a few meters above the tide line, I notice a woman in front of some type of monument taking notes about whatever is written. Due to the obvious presence of tourists/locals, I decide it will be prudent to sent up my tent when dusk approaches so I do the second best things and pull out my dry bag so I can change into some warm and dry clothes. Walking over to the bathroom, I see two signs, one of which I’m sure says no barbecue and the other saying something related to no camping. I look around once again, for any people that may be suspicious of my intentions and whom may report my presence to the police yet only spotting the woman, I’m, put at ease and change my clothes.

On a side note: As I was readying my tent, just before dusk, and to my absolute surprise I noticed a helicopter approaching my position. As it came to a stop literally just above my head for about 30 seconds, I looked up and snapped a photo…I guess I’m on the radar.

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