A little puddle

May 12, 2007


Harbour just south of Onagawa.

A beautiful spring day in Northern Japan. The weather was warm, 18 degrees with a strongish though abating westerly (15knots) and cold water (I estimate 10-12degrees, at least 3 degrees colder than in Matsushima). Today was a half day, putin at 10.30 out by 3pm.

I left from a beautiful and totally silent little harbour, with birds twittering in the trees and a feeling of complete tranquility. It was really unusual.


panorama made with the excellent autostitch


In the wind shadow and in the protection of the inlet the water was undisturbed, not flat calm but just a bit wobbly… It was also super clean and clear with visibility of about 5m. I tried to take an image of this clarity and it didn’t come out but I got another effect that I quite like.


The coast is fyord like with a combination of cliffy headlands and small beaches and unusually for Japan (where planted cedar dominates) a mixed, decidous forrest whose colours my poor quality camera is barely capable of capturing.


The lack of swell (and the protected areas under the cliffs) allowed me into the rock gradens to play around and explore without fear of being dashed against the cliffs like last week. It was fun playing in some white water and interesting how little support well aerated water gives you… I mean I know that but still when you experience it it’s still a surprise.


I then paddled across one of the bays past what I can only describe as a sea of bhoys, each mooring a line of shellfish. Though I’m not sure that I would eat these seeing as the nucleur power station is just round the next headland – you can just about see the pylons marching across the landscape in the background.


There was also a series of salmon farms with the salmon leaping high out of the water.

I stopped for lunch at a small beach (took some more “for sale” pictures)

ate my onigiri (rice ball) lunch


and even did some surfing: about 100m off to left there was a small break, over foot deep rocks below, which ran for about 50mbefore dashing on the cliff. There was an easy out and it was easy top get on these waves and fun, though somewhat limited. Made me sure I want to get a spray skirt for my borrowed kayak and get into surfing…


I paddled out, with the wind at my back, around the headland. The wind was strong but not too serious, I was more worried about the energyI would expend fighting back into the wind than the conditions. Further out was a coatguard vessel lay anchored at the bay entrance. I wonder why? I know the sea conditions were quite bad this weekend, 20km offshore the waves were 5m+.


I paddled about a km downwind round the headland, enjoying the bouncy ride and more agressive ocean – gave me the feeling of the North Pacific proper – keeping far from the rocks to avoid the reflected waves and to “maximise my down time”.

Heading, slogging, back I paddled straight across the bay, surfing the swell running in and keeping my head down into the wind. What is nice about paddling upwind is that weather cocking means all your efforts are expended in forward motion rather than corrective strokes.


about half way back the wind started to die down


and I could just enjoy the swell.


I took this series of images from the middle of the bay: a 360 degree panoramic. It doesn’t show much except the sea state sadly my camera is so bad, the landscape doesn’t come out…
Back inshore I was fooling around in the rock gardens taking some more pictures when disaster struck. I was always worried about dropping my non waterproof camera in the sea but instead I dropped it – in order to brace into an unexpected wave – onto my skirt only to find that there lay a puddle of water.

This is the last image my camera ever took:

wet phone

Ah well. I’m philiosophical: it was rubbish anyway, the colour was always off, no zoom, impossible to see the viewfinder in bright sunlight, poor image compression etc etc. I’ll just have to shell out on a proper digital camera.

Lastly here is my route and this link showing where I was at a larger scale.



2 Responses to “A little puddle”

  1. PeterD Says:

    Bummer about the camera. Last fall, I decided to get around this worry by buying a waterproof camera (Pentax Option W20 – Olympus has a similar one that is waterproof). Does Ok for taking pictures and videos on the water (and even underwater – I have used it snorkeling). I have some of the photos I have taken on my Blog.

    The guy at http://www.fit2paddle.com/photokayaker/ has some reviews of waterproof cameras.

    Get all the paddling in while you can in Japan. I have traveled to Japan a lot, but have not paddled there yet – one of these days.

  2. Thanks for your comment Peter.
    A bummer about the camera, actually more of a bummer about the phone but hey!
    I know about the photo kayaker and have heard about the pentax optio W20. Have heard some mixed reviews though.
    I also read a review of a sony camera, now discontinued, by seakayakphoto, need to do some research…


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