A long weekend

July 18, 2006

Sunday 16th July 2006

Yame

This is my kayak in front of a sign which says Yame-yo and then some kanji I can’t read (could be fishing?). Yame means DON’T DO IT and Yo means REALLY. So what is a foreigner to think? These kind of signs always scare me.
Monday 17th July was 海の日 = sea day. A national holiday in Japan and the biggest holiday in Shiogama (the next town to me) where they celebrate by carrying the ‘portable shrine’ from the town shrine to the port, load it on a boat and parade it around Matsushima bay, praying for a safe and boutiful year ahead. Finally there are fireworks in the evening.

I spent the day dozing – this weather makes me totally listless. However I did go kayaking on Sunday.

The rainy season is rubbish and I want it to end now. Saturday was a total wash out – I had good plans to play ‘park golf’ in the morning and then kayak in the afternoon. It got so bad after a day stuck indoors that I had to go to bed early with a headache (maybe I’m just getting old and need to go to bed early?). Hence again I woke at 6am on Sunday and decided to go kayaking. The weather was glorious and by 7am I was paddling under a blazing sun (a 9-10am sun in my opinion).

I didn’t go far, explored a new beach – paying an old farmer in one of those wee yellow plate trucks 500 yen to park there – and paddled around a few coves.

500yen

beach
This is the beach I set off from (here). It would be beautiful without the concrete and rubbish.

Then I found a small surf beach further out to sea and did what I came to do. Eskimo rolling and wet exit practice. I also got a taste of surfing small waves. Difficult but definately fun!

I am no where near getting the rolling right. I also find it difficult because once you fail and have to wet exit it is a lot of work to get the water out of the kayak so you can try again… By which time you are tired.

I also tried the reentry and roll, but never got beyond re-attaching the spray skirt. As they say in Japan: Musukashii!!

On the plus side I found the outrigger paddle float self rescue worked much better this time – less air and better secured.

I realised a few things

  • that I need a bailer, a small bucket or something, as when the kayak is awash (hit by a wave and filled with water) it is impossible to get in, balance and pump using the bilge pump. So I needed to stay swimming while I got some of the water out but I couldn’t operate the bilge pump with one hand! Design fault! The bilge pump should have a sucker than fixes it to the bottom of the kayak so you can pump with one hand. There you go; free design idea.
  • that everything needs to be tied down inside the kayak; after wet exiting I had to chase after my pump and tow rope in the surf.
  • that when you see rubbish floating in the sea its not always an act of willful ignorance (I lost a kit-kat wrapper in a wet exit and am very ashamed).
  • Although I have seen solid foam paddle floats I like the design of my inflatable one because it is essentially a bag that can also be used to bail the boat.

I also practiced taking off my spray deck and using it to close the cockpit while I pump and swim in the water. This worked well enough though when it came to getting back init wasn’t easy to slip through the spraydeck. (I have an adjustible, velcro closing, touring spray deck, not one of the neoprene ones).

As I was finishing up I heard a plop just behind me, a weird noise, not like a fish at all. Then another, five feet away, to my right. To my horror I saw a fishing line and realised the plops were the weights hitting the water as three guys started fishing from the cliffs above. They were obscured behind the trees and couldn’t see me / were not looking. I paddled out a bit and gave them the hard stare. They just blanked me. Morons. There is something about fishermen, inbred, small town mentality or something. I should know I’m a fisherman myself (albeit a poor one).

One those weights, maybe 250grams travelling at 60mph down a 20m cliff makes for a very sore head! I paddled away thinking about one of the anecdotes from this book – about a kayaker who got caught in a fishermans’ line and nearly drowned.

I was home by 10.30 and the rain started again at 12.

My next kayaking day will be around Ise near Nagoya. I am taking a tour with Paddlecoast on Monday 24th July. Really looking forward to it.

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