Archive for August, 2006

Hardly worth the effort

August 31, 2006

Thursday August 31st 2006

Its hardly worth the effort but I wanted to record my kayaking on this blog – that was one of its functions.

I went kayaking and took my whole family. The day was beautiful, sunny and warm but by the time we got to the beach at 5pm the sun was dipping and it was getting cooler.

In Japan, or at least in Tohoku, the summer season finishes on the last weekend in August. The Monday following they pack up the life guard huts and no one goes to the beach. It amazing. On Sunday we went to the beach as a family and there were hundreds of people. On Monday I went kayaking and there was no-one there.

In my first year here I found this hard to understand because it was still hot and humid right up to the middle of September, and the water is warmest in September. Still I wasn’t complaining, we had the beach to ourselves. This year however it really feels like summer is over.

Today however was very warm, sunny and bright so we decided to go to the beach and take the children. We went to Tsukihama.

I gave my oldest daughter rides in the kayak with her sitting in front of me, running parallel to the beach (she didn’t have a lifevest so I was very cautious). Then we fooled around, her sitting alone in the kayak and me swimming, pushing her around the surf. She even sat in the front hatch – she fitted fine (3 years old) and would have eaily fitted in the larger rear. Like the image I posted of Freya Hoffmeister way back when. (My youngest daughter didn’t want to go – too chicken!)

Anyway we had great fun. I then gave her a rest and did some rolling practice. I was only hitting about 60% of my short rolls but was able to roll up every time using the back up roll (the name of which I need to research *edit* ‘the put-across roll’). My wife cheering me on. I also managed a long pawletta meaning I now have four rolls! よかった!

I did some more re-entry and roll practice – this is easier I think than the cowboy re-entry. I also practiced high and low bracing and did some more edging the kayak and sculling.

In conclusion warm water is great for being ‘Beyond the cokpit‘ as Derek Hutchinson calls it and I can see the attraction. I also feel like I have now moved out of the beginner category.

Sorry no pictures.


An itch

August 30, 2006

Monday 28th August 2006

Its one thing to roll a nice narrow kayak. Its quiet another to roll a big red bus. I was itching to try.

So first Monday back at work I headed off straight after to my usual spot at Nobiru.


My plan was to roll and practice my self rescue techniques; cowboy re-entry, re-entry and roll, and rolling the boat after wet exiting in ways to avoid lots of water ingress.


The water is very warm now – nowhere near as warm as in Tokyo but still a nice temperature. I wore my wetsuit top though as I planned to be in the water most of my evening. Read the rest of this entry »

Tokyo Paradiso

August 30, 2006

Thursday 24th August 2006

Not many people would believe you if you described Tokyo as paradise. But just 70 minutes on a commuter train south east of the capital is the company Algaforest, a beautiful rocky coastline and the balmy Pacific Ocean.


tokyo area

Algaforest is a tour company run by Shibata-san a very well respected paddler in Japan and all round cool guy. He lived in Canada for a few years as a young man where he learned first canoeing then kayaking. He has spent a summer in Greenland and a 5 month solo expedition from Oslo up to the Russian border along the exposed Atlantic coast. His English is great. He told us that he has never had a job that didn’t involve kayaking – respect.


shibata-san Shibata-san from Algaforest website Read the rest of this entry »


August 18, 2006

I’m oan the sick. The subject of a hilarious three hour diatribe by a friend of mine and the case at the moment. A full week off work, and two weekends ruined, and even still I feel terrible; like I’ve played 90 minutes of football; can’t catch my breath…

No paddling for two weeks and had to cancel this weekend’s trip with Nori. (Sorry)

Just to have an image to post I thought this was beautiful in a disgusting way:


from here

Sea kayaking in Scotland

August 9, 2006

I am often asked by Japanese kayaking friends here in Japan, ‘Do many people Kayak in Scotland?’

In truth I don’t really know the answer. I’ve never kayaked there and the web presence of Scottish Kayakers isn’t huge (some links on the left bar). However the landscape in Scotland is very condusive and famous for kayaking so i would be surprised if it was not popular.

There are big surf beaches, tidal races (like at the Falls of Lora), exposed shorelines, protected bays and thousands of islands. It may be a bit of a cliche but many people say that the highlands of Scotland are one of the last true wildnernesses in Europe.

Rather than just point you off here I’ve posted a few of the wonderful images from that site to give you a flavour before you go:


near crinan



August 9, 2006


I was a boy scout. I was also a beaver, cub scout and venture scout. From the age of 8 to 18 I was a scout in some form or other and it was great. I did some great stuff; I went camping, kayaking and canoeing, sailing, scuba diving, cycling, rock climbing, snow holing and mountaineering. I also learned a lot of knots. Not all of them are still with me unfortunately, but I remember the bowline, sheet bend (which I thought for years was a sheep bend) all the hitches, figure eight, reef knot (square knot) slip and granny.

The best one that I forget is nicknamed the cowboy knot – that is secure when load is applied from one end but comes undone when pulled from the other. Can’t find it anywhere (don’t know its real name).

But I did find Grog’s site. Which has some simple and clear stop frame animations of knots. Very easy and has some good explanations and history.


August 9, 2006


Can you see what is going on in this picture?

It is a pair of seal skin mittens from Greenland with two thumbs. The idea is you wear them while kayaking and when they get wet, rotate them around and use the other thumb hence having dry mitts again. Good design.

Image from Freya Hoffmeister’s Greenland blog

A review of 3 books

August 8, 2006

I have read three books on kayaking and thought I’d review them here.

Firstly (before I bought a Kayak) I read:


Sea Kayaking; a manual for long distance touring by John Dowd

Dowd has a way of sounding like your dad and the tone of the book is very relaxed and easy to follow. It claims to be pitched at intermediate kayakers starting out on expeditions yet basic skills like bracing, sculling and rolling are included. Even the most basic things that are left out are assumed by their absence and that keeps the book from being patronising in an overly wordy ‘beginners guide’ type way.

He gives a very informative overview of the sport and its locations from polar kayaking to the tropics. He then gives a reassuring overview of a sea kayak’s ‘sea worthiness’ (dependent on the paddler) explaining some hurricane force winds he has personally endured in a kayak. He also discusses at length the issue of kayaking alone (an issue that was dear to my heart) and concludes Read the rest of this entry »

I love summer in Japan

August 7, 2006

Sunday 6th August 2006


Before I wrote all hail the Eskimo roll but I’m back to all fail the Eskimo roll!

Nori invited me to go kayaking with him as he planned to meet up with some friends and go to Kinkasan depending on the weather. The forecast was for small waves but potentially some difficult wind – opposite the wave direction. In the event the wind was almost non existent and the sea was calm.

I got up at 6:45 and, having stopped to buy ‘esa’ (a kind of lugworm), on the way was 10 minutes late to meet Nori. I was then delayed another 10 minutes trying to find him (no mobile phone coverage) in the big port of Ayukawa. This launch site (or putin, eh Nori?) was from the very place I suggested wouldn’t be a good launch site is my last post about Ajishima or Kinkasan. Today I was going to find out I was wrong about a few things: Read the rest of this entry »

All hail the eskimo roll

August 3, 2006

2nd August 2006

I can now eskimo roll. It’s official. [The crowd roars its approval. Thank you. Thank you.]

First let me tell you about customising my kayak. I got some advice from Sato-san, Yu-Yu-Kan owner, and followed it.

I bought some dense foam (difficult to compress and returns to original shape) from my favourite hardware store (Daishin), 1,000yen plus a contact adhesive suitable for plastics/foam 800yen. Using a cardboard template I cut my foam to fit the existing braces but then before bonding I checked and realised it would be better should the knee brace foam overhang the existing blocks hence the scored line in the image.

foam and adhesive
Read the rest of this entry »

A black current

August 2, 2006

Not one of these, a black currant

Its an oceanic current called Kuroshio or ‘black current’ (the kanji is tide). This is a slightly intimidating name – like you don’t want to get caught in that! It runs at 2-4Knots which is why you don’t want to get into it, unless you’re going North. Fast!


This image was from this website of a crazy guy ‘island hoping’ (his route is red) through Japan’s Southern Islands. What is amazing is the distance between some of the islands – at least 700km I would guess. You can read more about him on his site and even meet him if you go to kayak with Nishiizu tour group in Izu.

Read more at wikipedia and see some nice colourful images Naval Research Lab.

Nagoya paddling

August 2, 2006

Monday 24th July 2006


So as I reported earlier there is a company near(ish) Nagoya (also near Nara not miles away from Kyoto and Osaka) called Paddlecoast.

I was in Nagoya visiting my father-in-law and to watch the final day of the Sumo Tournament (which was great by the way). So decided to go kayaking with Paddlecoast.

Having e-mailed them a few weeks in advance I arranged to meet up with Izumi and Kazu. Kazuyuki Suzuki is the main instructor and trip leader along with Yoshikado-san who owns Paddlecoast. Izumi was an English major at University and is currently a trainee instructor with paddlecoast. They could both speak English well.

Kazu izumi

We met in a small town (玉城) just off the expressway at 9am (I left Nagoya at 7.15am) and then we drove for a further 45minutes south, over the mountains to Minami-ise (South Ise) to what Kazu called The Quiet Sea (kanji are 古和浦 so the meaning might be more like the calm bay). Read the rest of this entry »