An amazing thing

June 27, 2006

Monday 26 June 2006

Finished work at 4, rushed home, packed up and was paddling by 4:45 from the beach at Oku Matsushima. The weather forecast was for 12-14knot winds (high for me) but the observed wind at Shiogama was only 2m/s = 4 knots. Today was a very large tidal range, full moon. I arrived just before it peaked and after 2.5 hours paddling left with the tide at the same height – just after it peaked.

tide graph

The sea felt like your bath when it’s overly full, kind of sloshing around at the edges. But I think that was more of a result of the wind; despite the Shiogama observations the wind was really quiet strong. A stiff breeze from the south east which is the direction with the longest fetch – about 5000km! All the way to the USA.

Paddling through the headlands there were some interesting wind funneling going on, at one point I had to lean into it and really heave to just to get through. As I reached the open sea I was worried about the wind. Maybe this was too much for me. Not the wind so much as the waves. It was fairly choppy out there as I looked from my position in the wind shadow of one of the large rocks.

What a difference from the large waves from my fathers day trip. Those waves were ocean swells, long rolling waves with 8-10 seconds between them. Today the waves were much smaller, irregular and fast – 1-2 seconds between them, and alltogether less comfortable – proof that size isn’t everything!

I felt my first ‘air stroke’ when you go to paddle and a wave has just made the water disappear under your paddle. Quite a surprise. I had decided not to go out past my protected waters but wanted to take some pictures of the sea. After a few minutes with the waves coming across my bow as I snapped some pictures I realised that the waves weren’t actually that bad. I could stay fairly stable even when taking pictures. Maybe I could go out after all.

So long as I kept the sea off my beam (didn’t feel so stable with the waves coming across me) I should be okay. There was an island, large rock, about 500m out which would provide some wind and wave shadow and a place to rest. So I paddled straight out to it. I had to sprint for a while when a small fishing boat headed straight for me, with the following sea keeping his bow up I didn’t think the pilot could see me. Anyway I made it out to the rock then thought I can make it to those stacks another km out and so it went.

Confidence is an amazing thing I think. After a while out in the sea it was really no problem and the sea seemed not too rough at all. But I had to really summon some courage to get out into it. Of course I am really glad I did. I got some great views as the sun headed down into the western mountains and on the way back in I really caught some of my first waves. When you catch them they really speed you up. At one point I plowed down the front of one small wave and into the trough in front, my bow disappearing into the sea. Even if this was only for a second it was quite a sight, porpoising! I could definitely see the attraction of surfing! (By the way the most fun I have ever had with a kite was porpoising the kite into a lake – you dive the kite down into the water and then pull it back up, basically the kite ‘flys’ underwater, amazing).

sunset and sea stacks

I came back into protected waters near the fishermen as the tide started to run back out. There were lots of fish and as I was pushed in by the sea was able to quietly drift past large fish just below the surface, their fins texturing the surface like stands of seaweed; the whorls and swirls of their sudden escapes surrounding me and looking just like my paddle strokes. It was really beautiful at dusk and I wished I had a rod to do some fishing. (Actually a spear would have been more fun!)

My launch site was a pleasure; a clean(ish) sandy beach in protected waters. I can see why here is a popular launch point with the jet skiers.

Lastly here is my route

june 26th trip


One Response to “An amazing thing”

  1. […] About half way across are 4 old guys in a fishing boat obviously locals. I nod hello and one of them shouts something indistinct and points back to shore. This puts doubts in my mind, is there something I don’t know about?, but I want to make it across to the island. The waves are maybe 2 feet max but when I turn around to look at them they are creating white caps. Sometimes the wind gusts down and blows spray across my back. But I’m having fun and feel like I have been in worse (see gjka a lovely Thuday skj) I paddle on watching out for other traffic. […]

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