Sunday, September 5, 2010


I went from Chagwido Harbor to Gwakji Beach (23 kilometers) on Saturday afternoon/evening, and bright and early Sunday morning I managed another 11 kilometers from Gwakji Beach to a harbor a few kilometers west of Iho Beach.

If The Jeju Big Swim was a novel, the storyline is basically complete and it could be sent off to the publisher's press in a few days.

There are just a few more small chapters to write about Saturday's journey and Sunday's arrival and concert at Samyang Beach.

Everything that follows - whether it be extra money support for environmental action or education, additional media attention, or another repeat attempt next year (with different characters, I presume) - is for now, a future addendum or an entirely new story to be written.

The climax of this current adventure was our arrival at Chagwido Harbor on August 23rd. After 11 days of inactivity, Sherrin, myself, and Sung-mi met KCTV at 12:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon for a television news story before I paddled solo turning the northwest corner of the island.

A solemn, peaceful, non-stop cruise into Gwakji Beach awaited me for a bit more than 5 hours. I wish I had the pictures of this stretch, but words will have to do. And I was so far offshore, there was really nothing worth taking a decent picture of coming up to Biyangdo while passing Jeolbuam,Yongsu-ri, Yongdang-ri, Geumdeung-ri, and the tandem, white-sand beauts of Geumneung and Hyeopjae beaches. I continued and went by Ongpo-ri, Hallim Port, Hansu-ri, Suwon-ri, and Gwideok-ri. Just getting by Hallim Port, a police boat cruiser came in close, and shouted "Hana?" (meaning One?") I gave an affirmative grunt. One minute later, one of the two deficient English-speaking officers yelled, "Hey!" and gave me a thumbs up.

Under dusk, Gwakji Beach appeared and I landed at the most eastern stretch of sand, set up the tent, made some phone calls and texts, and worried about getting up at 6 a.m., to continue onward.

I made my way to the off-beach center of makeshift markets and found Pocari Sweat, cheese and crackers, and corn chips, as the older male owner was dutifully being served dinner by his wife. I hope young Korean women realize this is not how it works in the rest of the industrialized, non-Confucian world.

I tried to get some sleep in the lumpy sands of Gwakji, but was beset by other problems of the distant cell phone ringtones blaring the most intelligent Korean pop music, fireworks, and soju-fueled arguing. I thought to myself there must be more to life than this. Immediately, I was more homesick than I had ever been in the last two years. Sleep occurred at some point.

Awoke about 6 a.m., off in the kayak before 7, and struggled east. On my right was the picturesque coast road between the beach and Hagwi, where I was forced to stop at the harbor due to an oncoming strong wind and the tide going in the wrong direction. I called Sherrin and Sung-mi about 11:15 a.m. They picked me up and took me to Iho Beach to film for a KBS-produced show to air the following weekend.



  1. Good job, Steve!!!! A few more strokes of the paddle and you'll be the first, as far as I have heard, to Kayak completely around the Island. Well done!

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