Fathers day

June 19, 2006

Sunday 18 June 2006

Fathers day saw me sent out of the house while the children made me a fathers day card and helped their mum bake me a cake.

This is also the first kayaking trip I've been on since I started this blog so I took more pictures and was a bit more organised than usual.

The weather was overcast, forecast to rain but didn’t, warm (24 degrees C) with very light ENE winds. High tide at 07:24, low tide at 14:34, tidal change of about 1m in total. The water temperature is rising steadily, about 1 degree per week, it’s up to 19 degrees C.

The sea was forecast with ‘medium waves’ at 1.8m (I don’t know if that means from trough peak or mean to peak). My original plan was to launch from one of the exposed beaches and explore the sea stacks and caves there. But having stopped by that beach the night before, the sea looked a bit too rough for me and the launch a bit exposed – some smallish surf and boomers to negotiate.

So I settled for a launch from the flat calm of the bay with a launch from the same fishermans concrete wharflaunch spot but planned to head out to the sea proper to see how it felt there.

It’s interesting that I am already bored with the bay. It’s just so calm. I know that I want to do sea kayaking not lake kayaking (except when I go fishing). That said I did see some beautiful things on the bay today.

bamboo 2 Bamboo poles

Here are two pictures I took of the still water with bamboo poles sticking out that are used in oyster cultivation. My pictures are taken with a mobile phone (as I don’t want to risk dropping either the family digital or my SLR in the sea!) but despite the poor camera you can see how ‘aesthetic’ the bay can be.

I paddled out towards the sea taking a wrong turning and going the long way round. Eventually I was past the harbour and on the sea. To begin with the wells were small but fun after the flat calm of the bay. I stopped at a small beach to take off some clothes as I was so hot and practiced my beach exit and surf re-entry (albeit into 6 inch waves). I also did some of the drills from the Eskimo Rolls book that I borrowed. If I had brought my wet suit trousers I might even have tried some wet exits and swim to the beach. But it was a bit too overcast. I was reminded however that the kayak will be great way to get to some of the cleaner (inaccessible) beaches and do some swimming in summer.

I paddled further out from the bay and the sea became steadily bigger. The swells felt like about 1 meter and in a couple of places they steepened quite sharply so I was definitely looking up at them. But the lack of wind gave the sea an ubroken, glossy finish and I enjoyed the swells. I paddled around a few large rocks which marked the exposed edge of the sea and enjoyed the waves breaking off the rocks.


Beyond this the sea looked a bit too rough for me so I paddled around took some photographs and enjoyed the sense of freedom. As soon as I have my rolling down the sea state won't worry me so much. I feel very secure and confident in my ability to stay upright – my low centre of gravity and good balance are useful – I just feel that I should be conservative for the moment.

I was aware that the light wind and 0.7knot tidal current had gotten me out here and that I had forgotten my lunch in the car. So I headed back with the waves at my back, speeding up to catch the big ones. I decided to take a different, and slightly longer route back and settled into a steady pace. I am still getting very tired by prolonged paddling and worry that when I take a trip with Hoshi-san and his friends I may end up trailing badly.

The route back takes me past a couple of sea arches. One has low headroom at the peak of the waves but is passable between waves. I decide to go for it but lack of aggression / assertiveness means I end up mis-timing my run and have to brace against the rock with my hands – nicking one of my fingers against the sharp rocks. I resolve to be more aggressive and trust my instincts.

It’s a long hard slog back to the launch site but with a few nice spots on the way. One of things I like about the kayak as opposed to bigger boats is that you can go anywhere – any depth water (almost any head height!) and importantly across fields of seaweed which would quickly clog a propeller. The seaweed was so thick in one place that it looked like dry land. The noise my hull makes as I paddle through, only getting my paddle 3 inches into the weeds, is a kind of ‘shusshht’. I imagine getting stuck in the weed in the same way that sea ice formation can be a danger – not being able to progress or return but the land-like surface not strong enough to walk on…

Sea ice has several stages of formation

Frazil or Grease ice is a collection of loose, randomly oriented crystals which gives the ocean's surface a slightly oily appearance.

Shuga ice is the thickening of the frazil ice into a kind of slush on the sea surface (I imagine the name is onomatopoeic of the noise a kayak would make going through it).

Nilas ice in quiet conditions the frazil crystals soon freeze together to form a continuous thin sheet of young ice; in its early stages it is still transparent up to 5cm thick.

Dark Nilas: as the ice grows thicker the nilas takes on a grey and finally a white appearance up to 10cm thick.

Pancake ice: areas of nilas form together through wind, tide or wave action into pancakes of new ice which then collide and merge to create sheets of new ice flows.

Paddling through frazil ice is possible, through shuga increasingly difficult until nilas becomes almost impossible. Yet new ice even 10cm thick will not support the weight of a human until it is at least a week old. Leaving the hemmed in kayaker stuck on the ice with no way out. When I read about this I was left with a feeling of: what a miserable way to go.

It’s not the same as the seaweed of course. I make it through the weed and get back to port. All in it’s a 4 hour solid paddle and I am pretty exhausted and totally coated in sweat my lower body particularly in the confines of its plastic enclosure. It’s really a workout kayaking. I guess maybe I did 12km today at a fairly steady pace.

I also did a few extended crossing of a km or so without feeling at all nervous. (I think this blog will be fun for me to read in a few years when I am much better (I hope)).

car and rook rackI eat my bean filled donut (I’ll miss these weird Japanese donuts) in the car then load up and head home for a shower and an afternoon nap with my children – life doesn’t get any better.

Here is my car and kayak outside our appartment.

Ah, almost forgot an exciting story about my trip. One of the many fish jumping out of the water with fright as I pass seemed to jump, in my peripheral vision, really far. And then just keep going. I turned to see a flying fish gliding about 20m across the sea. Wow, that means my waters are officially 'tropical' as they are only to be found in tropical waters – certainly not in Scotland! I got this photo off the interweb, I didn't have time to snap it, though this was my viewflying fish




Lastly here is my route.

June 18th Trip


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