Archive for February, 2007

Adventure Kayak

February 28, 2007

Shibata-san of Algaforrest fame, and my rolling teacher, wrote on his blog about an article on Japanese sea kayaking in Adventure Kayak Magazine. 

japanskayakscene

And this text

昨年の11月、ジョン・ダウドとダン・ルイスを招いて、NCK(西伊豆コースタルカヤックス)と共催でイベントを行いました。
「シーカヤックの基本とエクスペディション BASICS FOR ALL」
久しぶりに日本を訪れた二人の感想が雑誌に載っています。
ADVENTURE KAYAK
https://www.rapidmedia.com/external/latest_adventure_kayak_issue.php
「Browse Backissues」をクリックするとバックナンバーのページになります。
Early Summer 2006の12ページに記事があります。

Problem is I can’t find the article which I feel as my duty to source. He says its on page 12 on the “early summer 2006” back issue. It’s not, I can’t find it. If anyone knows where it is let me know.

Thanks to Tim for the link to the right page (see comments). You can now click on the above image to see it at larger scale and read the text.

I also found an interesting article about surfing tidal races in the Pacific North West which begins “When dealing with the pacific Ocean it doesn’t take much to get spanked”…

standingwaves.jpg

If you can put up with the white water focus and some MTV language there might be some reading to do.

Lost Japan

February 21, 2007

…is a book.

The English Translation of the Japanese “Utsukushiki Nippon no Zanzo” (lit. Last Glimpse fo Beautiful Japan) written by an American, Alex Kerr, a long time resident of Japan.

The Japanese version published in 1993 was the result of a series of articles in Shincho 45 Magazine. It won the 1994 Shincho Gakugei Literature Prize – the first foreign author to win this prize.

It is an excellent book, much better than his more enbittered and depressing Dogs and Deamons. On page 49 he writes:

“It is estimated that of Japan’s thirty thousand rivers and streams only three remain undammed, and even these have had thir streambeds and banks encased in concrete. “

I’ll pause there for dramatic effect.

riverbank concrete
This is one from Alex Kerr’s window showing the concereted river banks, a view one can find everywhere in Japan.

He continues:

“Concrete blocks now account for over thirty percent of the several thousand kilometers of the country’s coastline.”

Astonishing statistics. These are the concrete blocks he is referring to:

tetrapods up close

I posted about tetrapods before.

This blog is copyleft

February 19, 2007

I think I offended Mark Rainsley of South West Sea Kayaking and, ironically, at least to me, of UK Rivers Guidebook. He wanted me to ask in advance before using his images. I have since removed his two pictures and apologised for any offence. But it got me to thinking and researching (the great thing about blogging).

I have had a vague philosophy about blogging and copyright which was tied in with the open source movement and the idea that “information wants to be free”:

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time.

Stewart Brand, Hackers conference 1985

This philosphy is of course an American idea and Benjamin Franklin is the first exponent with his Philadelphia library in 1731. But it is the internet which has made the freedom of information much more interesting. Because as Bruce Streling notes in a long essay on the subject – information is itself not valuable it’s attention that has become valuable:

What’s information really about? It seems to me there’s something direly wrong with the “Information Economy.” It’s not about [information], it’s about attention. In a few years you may be able to carry the Library of Congress around in your hip pocket. So? You’re never gonna read the Library of Congress. You’ll die long before you access one tenth of one percent of it. What’s important – increasingly important – is the process by which you figure out what to look at. This is the beginning of the real and true economics of information. Not who owns the books, who prints the books, who has the holdings. The crux here is access, not holdings. And not even access itself, but the signposts that tell you what to access – what to pay attention to. In the Information Economy everything is plentiful – except attention.

Bruce Sterling in 1992

I think this is the point of blogging, focusing attention. I use other people blogs as filters and connectors for the browsing the internet: they shift attention from place to place in increasingly tangential, educational and fascinating ways.

I also think that the great new developments in the world of human knowledge are increasingly open source and collaborative: discussion groups, Firefox and Wikipedia for example. Open source was started by computer programmers for whom it was very useful as a checking and editing device for long lines of code. However its application to the real world is becoming more and more interesting. MIT is putting all of it’s course materials online*, Ben Crowell asks how the internet might change book publishing.

If I were writing a book on sea kayaking I would definately make it an open source project as it would make the book easier and quicker to write and much more authoratative. I suggest that sea kayaking (especially area guides) is an ideal subject.

This blog, text and images, is covered by the copyleft license, a form of the GNU General Public Licence.

copyleft

Portland Harbour Architecture

February 16, 2007

I love some of the architecture that gets posted by sea kayakers. Portland Harbour in Dorset was photographed by South West Sea Kayaking.

Portland Harbour is in Dorset, England

portland harbour

made famous by it’s stone, the excitingly named Portland Stone. The much more ubiquitous Portland Cement (i.e. concrete) was named after the stone because of its similarity. That explains the concrete-looking-ness of the above photo, but doesn’t explain the techtonics which are more Greek than English.

Portland Castle is also nearby.

portland castle by English Heritage

image from English Heritage. You would never guess it was built in 1540 something. It looks like a (stylised) concrete ww2 bunker.

“…[it] was built by Henry VIII as part of that monarch’s ambitious scheme of coastal defences against the French and Spanish. It has survived largely unaltered since the 16th century, making it one of the best preserved examples of Henry’s castles. The low-profile fortress, built of white Portland stone, overlooks Portland and Weymouth Harbour.” source

How long does a shipwreck remain?

February 15, 2007

There was a cargo shipwreck on near me on October 6th 2006. All hands were lost in a big storm. I wondered about paddling out to have a look at the shipwreck but for various reasons didn’t make it. I then thought that the ship might have been ‘salvaged’. This was a vague term in my head but basically broken up and taken away for scrap. But maybe this hasn’t happened. An image, posted by Southwest Sea Kayaking, of the RMS Mulheim wrecked in 2003 off the coast of Cornwall shows the ship slowly breaking up.

And this image of the American Star and associated story suggest that wrecks can stay where they were wrecked for a long time.

star
I should get up there to my wreck and have a look.

Growing blog

February 14, 2007

Made it to 96 on the list of top 100 blogs on wordpress today

number 96 of 100

McAuley’s Kayak

February 13, 2007

McAuley’s recovered kayak

A heart breaking image. Part of a slide show with McAuley talking about the Tasman sea crossing to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The NSW Sea Kayak Club has set up a Fund for McAuley’s faimily:

A support fund has been set up to help Vicki McAuley and family following the tragic disappearance of Andrew McAuley. To make a donation, please electronically transfer funds to:

Account name: Andrew McAuley
Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia
BSB: 062505
Account: 10184059
SWIFT: CTBAAU2S (for international transfers)

Andrew McAuley in memoriam

February 13, 2007

in memoriam

Today Andrew McAuley is lost at sea, 75km from his goal of Milford Sound in New Zealand, having crossed the Tasman Sea alone in a sea kayak (1520km).

The full story as it was emerging recorded by Kayak Quixotica and OnKayaks

I feel terribly sad. For him, his wife and his son. I have a daughter the same age, I can’t imagine what that must be like.

I also realised that in my previous posts about him I didn’t spell his name correctly.

in memoriam

Death shall have no dominion

February 13, 2007

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas

The Best description of what might have happened (quoted by Wenley)

Kayak builder speculates
By Sophie Speer – The Southland Times
Tuesday, 13 February 2007

The situation must have unravelled swiftly for kayaker Andrew McAuley not to have set of his emergency beacon, kayak builder Paul Hewitson said yesterday.


Mr Hewitson, of Australia, has been helping police with their investigation to find out what may have caused Mr McAuley to become separated from his kayak off the coast of Milford Sound on Friday night as he neared the end of his attempted trans-Tasman crossing.

A garbled distress call was made shortly after 7pm on Friday night. Mr Hewitson said one possibility was a large wave, which may not have been as large as some he had experienced but which may have knocked him out of his kayak. After 30 days in the water Mr McAuley may not have had the strength to get himself back into the kayak.

There have been conflicting reports about whether Mr McAuley had the correct safety equipment but Mr Hewitson said he had taken an immersion suit on his first attempt at the 1600km crossing, which was abandoned in December last year because of rough weather.

Mr McAuley had given Mr Hewitson a list of items he did not take on the second attempt but the immersion suit was not on the list.

It was assumed Mr McAuley had his dry suit on, which he had been wearing for the entire trip. Mr Hewitson said the immersion suit would have been too bulky to paddle in so may have been kept in the kayak’s back hatch. One possibility was that he had tried to get it out of the hatch in a hurry, leaving it open and causing the kayak to fill with water, he said. This may have been why the distress call on Friday night contained the words “I’m sinking”.

He said Mr McAuley had a rope to tether him to the kayak when he entered the water to retrieve items from the front hatch. However, he was unable to say whether Mr McAuley was using this tether at the time. “If he was, he wasn’t tethered very well.” The kayak could have moved away too fast for him to swim back to it.

Mr Hewitson viewed the kayak on Sunday and said it was in perfect working order. The only thing missing was the cockpit cover, which was designed to provide shelter while sleeping as well as to right the kayak when it capsized.

It was not clear at which stage the device detached from the kayak. Photographs taken by someone on the Clipper Odessy, the cruise liner that picked up the kayak after its discovery on Saturday night, may help answer more questions.

This would include whether he was paddling at the time of the incident, or whether he had finished for the night and was preparing to “shut up shop” and close the cockpit cover, Mr Hewitson said.

Kayaking in Kyushu

February 6, 2007

kyushu kayakers

6 years in Japan with a number of decent crossings, long expeditions and crazy 24 hours paddles mostly around Kyushu and Okinawa, Leanne and Rik Brezina’s blog is about Kayaking, climbing and mountainbiking.

Thanks to Skoogle for alerting me to their existance.

Norway

February 6, 2007

Part of me loves Norway. I feel a kinship with Norwegians except they are mostly crazy (that means you Katarina).

As proof check this out:

snorkel tours

Would you can do a snorkel tour with killer whales?

They have an amazing landscape though, sadly I have to say its like Scotland but better. Maybe only New Zealand comes close to this kind of masculinity?

Stetinden votes Norways most beautiful mountain

source (I really like this kind of homemade architecture)

Compare that to the feminity of Japan

copyright bastish dot net

A good story about kayaking the fyords looking for Orcas (and other stories too) and the source of that link a comment on Douglas Wilcox‘s blog on an Orca pod in the Firth of Forth.

Goals – open crossing

February 6, 2007

I’ve been considering paddling to Ajishima from Matsushima.

25klicks

The distance si about 25km fairly protected waters, and in my experience fairly predictable weather. Tidal range is a maximum of about 1.6m and currents here are pretty non existant (though about 2knots run in some parts of Matsushima bay itself).

The main hazard in this crossing, assuming good weather, would be other sea traffic of which there is a lot.

The aim would be to try and paddle there in May or June.

However the probelm with this goal is that I actually don’t think it is that challenging – completing it wouldn’t give me a sense of ‘wow I did that’. So I was wondering if there were some other crossings that I could consider that were more challenging? Two spring to mind. The first is probablay too challenging for me – crossing to Hokkaido from the Honshu accross the Tsuguru strait (I blogged about that before).

The other one though that might just be possible (although it gives me butterflies thinking about it) is Niigata to Sado Island (Sado shima or Sado-ga-shima).

location map

Its about 33km as the crow flies but if I were to get the ferry back it would be a further 15-20 km along the coast to the ferry port of Ryotsu.

distance

If I were to do this I imagine an early morning Saturday start, 7 hours of paddling; camp on the beach then Sunday morning along to the ferry port for a lift back.

From checking the wave heights in Japan site it appears that the Japan sea is relatively benign, although storms can kick up, swells tend to be smaller than on the pacific side. The Tsushima current runs north along the west coast of the island.

The biggest risks are again other sea traffic, including fast ferries (at 40kmph). Also Sado shima has a very rocky exposed coast so landing spots would have to be well planned.

Sado shima is famous as the place to which people (including an emperor) were banished in feudal Japan; the now exhausted gold mines; and an excellent troupe of taiko drummers. (My wife would laugh at this term “taiko drummers” as the two words mean the same, like edamame beans). Looks like a beautiful island.

sado

image copyright mike media

beach

image from the town website.

Not a skiing blog

February 6, 2007

I know this is not a skiing blog but what I haven’t been kayaking properly since the end of November and it is skiing that is keeping me off the water.

poles

a virgin piste

We had an awesome weekend at onikoube ski 所. The snow was as good quality as snow can be – squeeky on the groomed areas and up to 1m deep of powder off piste.

empty

this was taken at 9:30am more than an hour after opening!

The best thing was that it was so quiet. On both days I was first up the mountain and had at least 30minutes alone on the mountain.

first

first up

It’s been a bad year for snow in Japan, like in Europe, but this weekend was really great although on Sunday there were a few times that it was near white out conditions!
carcleared

Our car after we dug it out…

My oldest daughter really enjoyed sledging (the youngest not so much) but we have decided that she is now old enough (3 and a half) to start skiing. so next weekend I am taking her for her first ski trip…

Newfoundland architecture

February 2, 2007

shacks copyright Alison Dyer

Some beautiful photographs from Alison Dyer aka the squidink.