An early start

July 11, 2006

So as I was saying here (Ajishima or Kinksan) I went to bed on Saturday night at 8:15pm! As you can imagine I woke early. I actually woke at 3am considered getting up to watch the 3rd place playoff in the world cup (Germany v Portugal) but wasn’t sure it was on terrestrial TV – the final isn’t. So I dozed till 5am then decided to go Kayaking. I had until at least 11am.

Rather than a long trip report I’ll keep it short and post pictures.

shortcutrevealedatlowtide

I left from the beach at Oku Matsushima at 5:45, now definitely my favorite put in.

thewayout

The sun gets up at 4.45am – in my opinion ridiculously early (see here).

I paddled out to the caves and sea stacks around the bay. I had tried getting here before but there is a bit of an exposed crossing at one point and I never made it past there. Today though the wind and waves were very light and the ebbing tide made it no problem.

On the way I was passed a flotilla of small boats piloted by wet-suited fishermen. Turns out they were free diving among the rocks at low tide.

freedivers

I hazarded a guess that they were after Uni. (The link is to a good site about US sea urchins and difference between Japan’s bafun uni ; literally “horse turd” sea urchin ewww).

uni

If you come to Japan someone will ask you if you like Uni. The correct answer is no.

Driving home later that morning (at 9:45am) I saw the queues forming at the supermarket and big bags of orange and black uni being unloaded onto tables in front – must have been the self same sea urchins.

I got to the caves at low tide which allowed easy access with lots of headroom

entrance

caves1

Entrances to 2 of the caves (colour is pretty amazing).

cave1

cave2

My head light was less than useless, but the feeling of floating in complete darkness is really quite an experience, disorientating and invigorating at once. It kind of reminded me of those old Viking movies where the Vikings would float off in their boats to Valhalla. The only thing I could see was a faint shadow of my kayak and the breaking waves at the back of the cave or was it just that I could hear those waves?

rockycoast

stack1

stack 2

I passed the cliffs, sea stacks and amazingly beautiful rock formations – white sandstone eroded into beautiful curves.

texture

My old boss Thomas Heatherwick would have loved it.

On the way back I paddled the short route going about a mile out from shore and watched the big boomers on the now exposed low rocks. I can see why the boat rental place (where I hire a bigger boat) requested that I not take their boats to this area – without some local knowledge of the sea here it would be difficult to pilot a boat without having problems.

When I arrived back at the beach I met Sato-san owner of Yuyukan the sports store that I talked about here. He was waiting for a friend and they were going kayaking around Matsushima bay. While he was waiting he showed me on the beach how to roll using just your body and hip flicking up. We used his river kayak – a super light fiberglass model – and got sandy. Basically we were doing hand rolls, without using the hands. On his kayak it felt do-able and I have confidence next time I try rolling in the water I will be successful.

He also gave me some good advice about packing out my knee braces. It seems the high deck of my dagger kayak will make it difficult to roll…

Today was fun and despite the clouds and light rain a beautiful trip, albeit an early start. I was tired out afterwards but it was great to be home again relaxing at 10am, the time I would usually be getting up.

Lastly here is my route.

9july

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