Nagoya paddling

August 2, 2006

Monday 24th July 2006

uphill

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).

We launched from what looked like a campsite without tents – cabins. And the place seemed to cater for sea kayakers; there were at least six North Shore kayaks in a shed, facilities for washing kayaks and lots of kayaking pictures in the showeroom.

I paid quiet a lot of money 9,000yen for the tour (including lunch) plus 5,000yen rental. Although I think the tour price would go down if you had a few people – my problem was it was just me and them!

Paddlecoast are authorised builders of North Shore Kayaks and I rented a fine Calypso. Kazu was in a Mistral and Izumi in her own Shore Line (the classic). I had also asked to rent a greenland style paddle as I am intending to make one myself and wanted to try it out.

rafted

paddleG

My greenland style paddle even had the proper tips, though a resin replacement for the traditional seal ivory.

The weather was great, we seemed to be in a pocket of good weather, as the we passed through the Minami-Ise mountains it changed from low cloud and drizzle to beautiful clear skies and hazy sunshine (Nagoya was drizzly all day long I was told). Temperature about 28degrees with the water about 20.

The Quiet Sea lived up to it’s name – it was like a lake. I said to Kazu that I would prefer to ‘feel the sea’ so we headed out to sea a bit.

long stroke

(A note on this; I think many kayakers enjoy the nature aspect of kayaking, getting out into nature, seeing flaura and fauna that you couldn’t see from walking etc. For me kayaking is about the sea, I am more interested in seeing, being on and experiencing the sea – waves, swell, different sea states – than the land which buts up against it or the animals and birds which live on, in or near it. Just me I guess).

As Kazu had expected the pacific swells were quiet big 1-1.5m but there was little wind so no chop – perfect conditions I think! Around the headland we experienced some confused seas as the waves bounced off the cliffs and the going was a bit tough! After that though it got quiet calm and the big rolling swell with no chop felt really nice to paddle through. Between the waves we would loose sight of each other which made it feel ‘proper’. Of the images Kazu took only this one really does the sea state justice, in the rest the sea looks flat calm – it wasn’t!

bigswell

We headed to the next headland about 1km away and to some rocks that were funneling the swells through into what looked to me like gigantic waves (maybe 2-3m). We rested behind the rocks and then to my surprise Kazu suggested we go through the big waves! I really wanted to go for it but I thought Kazu would err on the cautious side (my experience of tours if that they tend to be cautious). Great!

nice looking boat

 

We timed our run to avoid the biggest surfy breaking waves but even still it was quiet exciting. Izumi said after that this was near the limit of her comfort which I was quiet surprised by – she has over 100days paddling , can roll, and is training as an instructor. As for me, had I been on my own there is no way I would have done this big wave run and maybe not even gotten this far out into the big swells – it was great to have the confidence of a very experienced paddler leading us.

We stopped for lunch – spaghetti marinara cooked by Kazu on the beach. Izumi was only with us for the morning – she had her day job starting in the afternoon and she left just before we ate lunch (she had brought onigiri).

After lunch we headed back across to a lagoon just above the high tide line (looks like it gets filled during the highest, spring tides).

our boats

We carried our boats up the beach and into the lagoon and paddled through the still green waters. There was lots of wildlife, turtles, birds and at least one sea snake. There was a big animal maybe a deer or a wild boar, out of sight in the mangrove swamp but which made quiet a noise as it splashed away following our quiet approach.

lagoon

I then asked kazu to teach me to roll – we had about an hour left. We paddled in to the quiet sea and found a suitable beach, Kazu standing in the water and supporting my attempts to roll.

We tried the Short Pawletta rather than the Long (which I had done with Nory) and I found it much easier to visualize my movements. Kazu also had some good avice about body positioning and not ‘pulling down’ the blade but sliding it towards you which made perfect sense.

The North Shore Kayak was easy to roll, it fitted me well and had good thigh braces so I’m sure that helped too. In the end I was getting quiet close I’m not sure if I did one totally unassisted or not but I going practicing again tonight (with new home made thigh padding) so we’ll soon see.

Being taught to roll is quiet an intimate thing – you have to trust your teacher as he holds your head, or positions your paddle. Afterwards I felt a kinship with Kazu-sensei, a bit like after my brother-in-law Paul Slifer, gave me a tatoo, I felt closer to him…

rockgarden

afterthechop

Here is the route we took.

quiet

I also found it in a magazine which I will buy later and post here. It has a list of 55 sea kayaking routes in Japan a total of three of which I have now done – one is in Matsushima, the other an hours drive away.

The day was expensive 1,400 yen plus 7,000 yen in road tolls to get there. But TOTALLY worth it. Maybe the best day kayaking I have done so far; partly a result of the sea state and weather (near perfect) and partly due to kayaking with an expert.

Thank you to Kazu, Izumi and Paddlecoast. I highly recommend them. Also if you want to buy a North Shore Kayak in Japan they are the people to speak to!

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One Response to “Nagoya paddling”


  1. […] Past the headland though the waves are much bigger and the wind is creating a lot of chop. They are not the biggest waves I’ve seen (I enjoyed 2m high rolling swells in my Ise trip) but it’s the most ‘disturbed’ sea I’ve paddled in. […]


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