My first ever solo kayak trip

May 31, 2006

Wednesday 31 May 2006

It’s been windy all weekend and all week (for the moment I won’t go out unless the conditions are very good). Today its much calmer with wind speeds around 3-4m/s from the northeast. So I blow out my weekly drinking / English conversation partner and rush home from school.

By 4:30 I’m loading the car for the short drive to a convenient beach – albeit concrete. And by 5pm I’m on the water. As predicted the wind is coming from the NE so I head into it (so my return will be easier) sticking close to the shore – so if I capsize I can get ashore if required.

The shore is also the amazing bit. Matsushima is a beautiful bay full of carved sandstone islands and covered in pine trees. That’s what the name means: matsu = pine, shima = islands. Matsushima is also one of “The three most beautiful views in Japan” these were chosen by a Confucian scholar named Shunsai Hayashi who was traveling around Japan circa 1643. He apparently had a prediliction for coastal views as all of his choices were seascapes. More on Matsushima here and here:

I know I am very lucky to be here. The sea is a 5 minute walk from my house (too far to carry the kayak unfortunately so I drive), the water is in general very warm – 17 degrees C today (compared with 9 degrees C in Edinburgh) and there are many amazing places to explore around the bay. The bay is also good because it provides a lot of sheltered inlets and a variety of sea states from the lake-like-stillness where I am today to some more serious swells in the open pacific side.

As I paddle I realise that the small waves which are breaking across my bow are actually tiny hardly more than ripples and my confidence is growing. I spend a couple of hours exploring some inlets that I had never seen before then headed back towards my start point – very easy with the wind. The fish jump out of the water near me when I pass and one almost makes it across my bow. Maybe next time I should bring a net and see if I can catch some – feels like they are very close. I take a note of good locations for fishing another time then head with the wind towards the main fishing port of Matsushima town before circling back.

I practice sculling, leaning the kayak and bracing as I have read about. Can’t imagine ever being able to lean the kayak with a brace till my ear touches the water! Am very aware that I need to get a decent self rescue technique down. That said I could stand up here the water in these inlets is only 4 feet deep.

Its almost dark by the time I haul the boat out of the water and back on my roof rack – feels great going on your own a real feeling of peace and solitude.
here is a site I use and you can change for other locations for sea surface temperatures

Two about the beaufort wind scale and a useful summary

here is a great one covering all the conversions metric imperial etc which will cover you for wind speed conversions m/s to knots = x1.943846

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