Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Next Expedition 次の遠征

Leanne and I will be leaving Amakusa this weekend for this somewhat ambitious expedition. It's one that has been on the backburner for a while, but now we finally feel we've gathered enough experience to tackle it. Besides distance to be covered in two weeks (370+km), traversing from Amami to Kyushu requires numerous open crossings, some of them quite long and exposed. But the main problem comes in the form of the powerful Kuroshio Current, which flows across the route at about the same speed as one can normally paddle a kayak. Besides the obvious navigational problems, the current can also combine with ocean swell to create unpredictable areas of tall haystack waves near land or over shallow areas (marked with blue lines). Besides these challenges, the main attraction of this trip will be the beautiful volcanic Tokara Islands, one of the most isolated and inaccessible, yet inhabited island groups in Japan. Once again we will be paddling Waterfield Kayak's Whalewatcher, a very stable tandem kayak. Thanks again to Mr.Mizuno for supplying the kayak and spray skirts. We will also be using both the large size Windpaddle sail "Cruiser", as well as the smaller sized "Adventure" sail. Thanks again to all those people helping us out and sending us good vibes.


A typhoon is crossing the area as I write this, but things will have calmed down by the time we arrive in Amami by ferry. We hope no more typhoons will brew up in the Philippine Sea, at least during the first week of the trip! The expedition will be tracked by means of the SPOT Satellite Messenger, which will also serve as an emergency locator should the need arise. Jerremy, our one-person support team in Amakusa, will be updating this blog with our progress, so keep your eyes peeled. Internet access is virtually nonexistent along our route but should we get the chance, we'll also try to upload a picture or two.


This is a movie of a computer model prediction of the Kuroshio for August 2009. In the Tokaras, where the Kuroshio usually makes a sharp turn to enter the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea, the current is predicted to be weaker than usual mid-month as well as generally easterly (rather than the typically south-easterly) setting. These two factors ought to work in our favor. The prediction for August 17 is also depicted on the main expedition map.

The current speeds are difficult to read off the previous map, so I enhanced the colors of the prediction for mid-August to more clearly show the slight but significant break in the current flow that we may be able to use to our advantage. The area we will be traversing is outlined in red. 先のイメージは、流速が読みにくいなので、8月17日の予想のイメージには、もうちょっと明るい色をつけました。横断の海域が、赤の直角形に囲まれました。これで、有利にしたい黒潮の弱めがはっきり見えます。

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