Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Wow, we're famous here in Noboribetsu, at least for the day...we're top national news thanks to being blacked out from a crazy storm we had yesterday and a giant power transformer/tower crashing over a national highway. Luckily, only a few people ended up with minor injuries. According to the Hokkuden (Hokkaido Electric), we'll be without power for the next three days.

Time to fire up the BBQ and have a bit of a yakiniku party before the meat goes bad. Full story available here:


We're going to tough this one out at home (even though they have set up an emergency center a block away in the Noboribestu Community Center). We have power at work, so no problem there...we can shower, eat etc. at the university, and then just head home to sleep...it all should all be straightened out by Friday, fingers crossed...

(NHK news photo)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall session on Board 4

Out this morning on the 6'8" fish. Still over 10 degrees here, with stiff offshores and a declining swell. The waves were small, but clean. I haven't been riding this one much recently because the swell has been up, but today was the perfect chance, small and nobody else out. The board caught waves really well, and rode nicely in the pocket. It's buoyancy is really fantastic...the only problem is the rails, but can't do anything about that right now, so I'll just keep on riding it as is. 
Snow forecast for Sunday, time to dust off the hood...    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fall Update

It's been a bit of a weird fall weather-wise, some beautiful stretches of days punctuated by some crazy rain and wind. The result has been some really nice sessions with glorious waves and decent weather. The sand at the rivermouth at Kako has shifted resulting in a heavier inside section. Last Friday caught some of the heaviest waves of the year, got some really fun rides, took some serious beatings, and am still smiling about it...only two people out...

This morning, had a fun day at Kanesan-mae, the weather has been fantastic...The left here breaking back towards the point was a lot of fun. Everyone else was going right, so I had it all to myself.

The repair is well underway for Board #3. I planed open the upper rail and deck area over the length of the board, then turned it over and let dry out for a couple months. Luckily, the paulownia wood came as advertised, and appeared to dry nicely and doesn't look to have warped or sucked up any water. I am now gluing up new pieces and sanding them down. It gave me a chance to thin out rails, which is something I wanted to do anyways...looks like this one will get a chance to ride again... 
As a last note, Ping and Pong are still in the house...or in the shed...fattening up for winter. Here's a pic of Ping with my new camera (Canon S100). I usually take pics with a SLR, but needed something smaller for travel. Been playing with the S100 over the last couple weeks, and really like it. Ping helped me test it out by posing for a few shots.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Avocado trees, well endowed tomatoes, and big waves...

Responding to various requests, I'm throwing up a few pics.

First, the avocado tree that actually started growing from a seed I put in my garden (it's now been put in a pot and will be live in my office over the winter).

The best day of the year for waves...last month. Got out with two other guys and had it all to our selves. Lots of people came to look but no one wanted to come in. The key was picking the ones that stayed open...awesome day.

I had some unusual tomatoes this year...I hope its not from radiation...

 It been a beautiful fall...how blue does the sky get in Hokkaido? This blue.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Board 4....last of the year

Finished up board four and already have taken it out for a couple sessions. It rode really well, by far the best so far. Takes off and catches waves really well. The rails and outline turned out to be a little off, but the weight and overall feel of the board is the best so far. This time I used a new vent I got from Wood Surfboard Supply, and it works like a charm...really easy to install. I like it better than the Goretex vent I used on the other boards, it feels really tight when riding, almost like an inflated ball, and after your session when you open the vent the air hisses out and the board seems to "relax" a bit. Pretty simple mechanical setup, but it seems to work really well.

For those in the family wondering what the black Japanese character is on the board, it is a black (Kuro), tree (ki), meaning Kuroki, a tribute to a little town in Saskatchewan and to wooden  board building in general...who would have thought that this particular bundle of genes would have passed through a little farm town in the Canadian prairies named after a Japanese general to a life in Hokkaido...ah the beauty of chance and providence.  

That's it for board building for the winter, but will be planning for the next build after the thaw. Time to wrap up my thesis anyway, so its the perfect time to take bit of time off and get back to the research grind. I will, however, try to keep this updated with winter surf pics from Hokkaido.

6'8" Twin Fish: Paulownia and Red Cedar

The new vent

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Board #4

Well, I finished the 6'7" single fin and took it out for it's first run. Pretty small day, maybe thigh high, but pretty clean and a beautiful day (still trunkable here). Didn't think it would be enough board for the day, but I was pleasantly surprised. The reduced weight really made paddling easier, and it pumped and went smoothly down the line. Unfortunately, there was something up with the vent, I guess I didn't screw it down tight enough, and quite a bit of water got in the board. It's since been  drained and is drying out. A bummer, but my own fault...hopefully  I can can salvage it.

I'm under way on board number 4, my last for the year... I'd like to get this one done and up and riding before the snow starts falling. I started by making a frame this time, this seems to be the most popular approach, so I thought I'd give it a go. It was interesting making the frame, lots to think about. After making the frame, I laid up the bottom, and have started to build up the rails. I'm working off a 6'10" fish template, but have shortened it down to 6'8". I'll post again when I get the rails done.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Board 3: Finishing

Just finishing up board #3. No glass this time, just a few coats of spar varnish and we'll see how that goes. The board is already way lighter than the others, in terms of both weight and the finish color. When I get it done I'll throw up some finished pics. I made some big mistakes in terms of not using enough wood in rails, and thus limiting the amount of shaping I could do on them...but, as a test board I'm pleased that I'm finally getting the weight down, let's just hope the varnish finish will be enough to keep the water out.

Paulownia with cedar stringer 

Board #3, a 6'7" single fin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Board 3

I've been working on board #3. I used the same build approach as the last one, but have tried to reduce the weight by drastically cut down on the amount of wood and shortening up the length (it's a 6'7"). The results have been really positive so far, the board is probably half the weight of the others. I'm not going to glass it, just marine varnish...I'll post up further pics as I varnish it and get the fin on.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Surf Trip

It's been while since I updated the blog, so here goes. Back today from a surf trip up the Hidaka coast to Hiroo Town. Got some really fun waves, ate some really good BBQ, and drank a few too many beer. It's been 16 years since I'd been out to Erimo misaki and surfed Hiroo...must say it was nice be back. Here's some pics from the trip, starting at home at Kako here in Noboribetsu (first three pics) and continuing in order to Erimo and Hiroo.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Board number 2 is finished and out the door...actually, I took it out for a few waves this morning. The conditions were a bit steep and fast for the board, but looks like it'll be fun. It's got more float, and takes off quicker than the first one. Still, it's heavy (about 11 kilos)...but should be fun in the small summer waves. Here the line on it:  
7' x 23" x 3.13" single diamond tail; hollow wood (paulownia and cedar). 

One of these days I'll get some pics of the wood boards in action.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Board #2, almost there...

Just finishing up board number two. One more coat of varnish on the bottom and I'll be done...here's a quick shot of the finished top. I'll post more complete pics soon...I'm throwing up a pic of a young "Ezo shika" (Hokkaido deer), who was plowing down on the grass outside the kitchen Sunday morning...cute little guy eh....

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Started glassing the deck today. Will be going with a single layer of 4 oz. cloth all around; the board itself is really strong as is, so a heavy glass job is not going to be necessary. The paulownia and cedar are coming out really nicely, good contrast and the grains in the paulownia really jump out.

Rode wood board #1 in some fun, but windy, chest high waves this morning. It really cuts through the wind chop well, really fun for down-the-line surfing in those types of conditions. Stalls big time on cut backs, but if you keep it going horitizontally it can be a lot of fun.

Next update when the glassing's done... 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gluing up the bottom

About time for an update...got the bottom skin glued on, so now have a proper blank to work with. I shaped the rails, and have been sanding this week. It's not as light as I hoped, but due to nature of the build it has a lot of volume carried out to the rails so should float pretty well for its size. I just got my shipment of System Three epoxy and varnish, so should be ready to glass in a week or so.

 It's been beautiful here, and we've had good waves over the last couple weeks. Here's a pic of the homestead and my "shaping shed"... gotta love that Hokkaido greenery...not your typical image of life in Japan.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Internal frame

Things are moving along on board #2. I put down a layer of 4 oz fiberglass and epoxy on the inside of the top deck and placed the frame cross pieces in. I was going to do a spine up the middle, but it doesn't look necessary. Placed a block inside for the center fin, which will also provide support under my back foot. Just finishing up the bottom skin, and will lay it up over the weekend. Still lighter than the first board, but is getting heavier...hopefully, when I shape the rails I'll be able to take some weight off.