In the Wake of the Jomon:
Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific

Published by International Marine/McGraw Hill

In 1999 and 2000, adventurer Jon Turk and partners sailed a small trimaran and paddled a sea kayak from Japan to Alaska. Paddler Magazine called this voyage: One of the 10 All-Time Greatest Sea Kayak Expeditions. In the Wake of the Jomon tells the story of the modern expedition and looks backward  at Stone Age mariners who paddled these waters over 10,000 years ago. The book asks, “Why did people with primitive stone tools leave their homes in the lush temperate bamboo forests, with salmon in the rivers and deer in the forests to paddle into the frozen Arctic during the Ice Age? Jon argues that to understand our ancestors, we must appreciate their spirituality as well as their pragmatism.  In the Wake of the Jomon combines a modern adventure with an anthropological quest into Stone Age migration, skeletal remains, archaeological mysteries, and the eternal urge to explore.

The central theme, and even the title of the book, are based on the premise that Jomon migrants were among the first human settlers to the Western Hemisphere.  Well..... Since the book was published, anthropological studies have gone back and forth, supporting my claim, refuting it, and now returning to some level of support.  That's science.  Does this dialogue make In the Wake of the Jomon obsolete and irrelevant?  I think not.  If you read the book to explore the question, "How did people cross harsh lands to enter into the unknown, and Why?" rather than "Who crossed harsh lands?" the message remains valid and timeless.


Professional Praise

Bureaucrats, faithful companions, grizzlies, ice, and unforgiving northern seas: In the Wake of the Jomon has them all. Turk sailing and paddling trip from Japan to Alaska is a modern-day Kon-Tiki expedition that paints a fascinating portrait of life along Siberian shores. Anyone interested in prehistoric voyages should read this tale of extremely tough adventure in icy waters.
— Brian Fagan, Professor emeritus at UCSB and author of numerous popular anthropology books
Jon Turk is one of today’s boldest, most inquisitive, and most articulate adventurers. His journey by small boat across the North Pacific in the wake of ancient Jomon hunters will make you rethink how humans first populated the Americas and give an understanding of what compelled them – and him – to strike off on so audacious a quest.
— Peter Stark, Author and Correspondent for OUTSIDE MAGAZINE

First Paragraph

"My kayak slid gently off a wave and settled into an eerie calm, sheltered by mesmerizing gray-green walls of water.  A part of me relaxed, even though I knew that this moment of peace was ephemeral.  To windward, the next wave reared higher and steeper than its neighbors.  The wave loomed, then overreached itself and hung above my head.  An instant later, cascading droplets leaped over the precipice and exploded into a growing line of white."


Stone Age Mariners

The Anthropology

"For the past several years, I had been obsessed with two questions: How had Stone Age mariners crossed this northern ocean, and why? The quest had consumed me, but the answers had proved elusive—as I had always known they would—flickering over the next wave top and whispering behind the next headland but always receding, just beyond reach. At night, asleep in ancient campsites, I chased phantoms through dreams, struggling to interpret signs and images. The answers I sought were out there, hidden in the shadows beyond ocean swell or firelight, if only I could see them."


On the open ocean.

On the open ocean.

The Adventure

"A wave reared above me, and I let out the sheet and surfed down its face. I’ve surfed deep-water waves before, but this wave was steeper and faster than anything I had ever experienced. The foam formed behind me and cascaded closer. The boat accelerated, and I cranked the rudder hard to hit the trough obliquely. Despite my efforts, the bow dug in and stalled just as breaking foam slammed into my stern. The boat balanced on its nose, and I lurched forward until I was standing on the rudder pedals. From this perspective, the gray ocean beneath looked dark and shiny; then it churned white. For a harrowing moment, I thought that the WindRider would cartwheel—but it flopped back down, right side up."