Mystery Revealed: Why That Japanese Surfer Was Out At Sea
Did you read about the Japanese surfer that was rescued six kilometres off Wollongong last weekend? A lot of people did, it was the most popular article on Swellnet last week, plus it copped airplay on national and international media.
The popularity was kicked along by the inherent mystery. What was old mate doing six kilometres out to sea? The surf that day was tiny, there's no way a current could drag him that far. It was a story ripe for conspiracy. Was it an immigration scam? A drug drop off? Aliens? Who the hell knew..?
Well wonder no more, dear readers. Swellnet has solved the mystery.
Coming in from a surf at Sandon Point today I noticed a fella, a Japanese fella, camped under a tarp below the cliff. He had a yellow mini mal by his side. I'd seen him out in the surf earlier but thought nothing of it.
But when I came in the penny dropped. And being a nosy bastard I sidled up to his makeshift camp and began a subtle line of questioning:
“Are you the bloke who got rescued last weekend?”
He looked at me warily. “Oh...no...nooo.”
However it was him, he was just hesitant to talk about it.
“What's your name?” I asked.
“Toru,” he replied.
“I saw you surfing this morning, Toru. You go alright. How did you get in trouble?”
And seeing I was genuinely curious, Toru, in his broken English, began telling me what happened.
“The surf was very small, and I paddled out late. It was going to be a full moon that night. I stayed out to watch the moon rise and then the wind died off and it was still. Very, very nice...”
And then he asked me a question. “Do you like nature?”
“I like to surf,” I offered.
“I much like being in nature,” countered Toru, “and it was very nice out there. I wanted to....feel it.”
“But you were out there all night.”
“Yes. I could see the lights [from the land] and I watched the full moon and I relaxed. I wanted to see the sunrise while the moon was still in the sky.” He made a gesture to represent this. He splayed his arms wide, held each hand open as if one was the moon and the other the sun, while planet Earth was his big smiling head in the middle.
So that was it then? He was out there having an extended communion with nature. An overnight enduro on the ocean.
I flashed on the time I crossed the Nullabor Plain in midsummer. Just as I was wondering how any living thing could survive in the 45° heat I came upon a Japanese fella on a bicycle laden with luggage and camping gear. I can also recall a few other times I've seen Japanese travellers shirking comfort and travelling hard.
Maybe the Japanese have an inclination for solo endurance travel. If so, Toru was simply continuing the tradition, albeit with a slightly herbal bent. I asked him about the boat that rescued him.
“I paddled near it because I liked the shape of it.” He again made a gesture, this time to show the enormous girth of the container ship.
“But then someone appeared on the rail and saw me.” Toru is adamant he didn't need to be rescued. “I was tired, a bit cold, but I was OK. It was...very embarrassing.” It's hard to be a stealth traveller when you're on the international news. He was also concerned he'd been a nuisance to the rescuers.
Since that day a week ago Toru has been camping and surfing around Wollongong, focussing on Sandon Point, but he's worried his infamy has cruelled a shot at the sets. Sandon locals don't give too many waves away at even the best of times.
As we were chatting in Toru's makeshift camp an older local walked past on his way for a surf. “You got the best view in town, mate.”
But the view also came with blazing sun and wind blown salt. I asked Toru if he wanted to come back to my joint, have a shower, sleep in a clean bed.
“Maybe tomorrow night,” he said. “I want to be first out in the surf tomorrow.”
It's 10pm as I type this. For all I know he's out there right now.