Happy New Year everyone. The “Natty M” boys and girls (that’s right, rumor has it girls are jumping ship, just to be saved by us) welcomed in 2009 from the beautiful anchorage of Haapiti on Morea and for me it marked the end to one of the most memorable, emotional and educational years of my life. I’m calling 2008 “My Year of the Sea”, as I lived 2008 entirely aboard “Natural Mystic,” except for just a few nights spend on dry land, and was rocked to sleep by the mostly gentle waves of our world’s oceans, seas and even freshwater rivers and lakes for countless nights on end. For me 2008 was discovering our world, learning about myself, learning about teamwork and finding the strength to overcome emotional obstacles to follow my dream. Never in my life have I had such a qualified teacher, as our ocean. Leading me on this year of discovery, her unfathomable years of experience expanding my mind and shaping my character forever.
The sea has many faces and the cruel mistress that she sometimes is took away the two greatest loves of my life last year. The one beautiful girl who I truly loved from the moment we first met years ago and P Kiddy the closest thing I ever had to my own child. But her kind side showed me that there are great friends who ride the waves of our seas everywhere they break and you are never alone in this world. If you open yourself up to the help and compassion of the people you meet, you will find the kindness of strangers, quickly turns into help from new friends, who help give you the strength to continue on following your dreams, bringing that big smile back to your face and some new friends, might even grow into new love.
“Natural Mystic” does not get from one country to the next by my strength alone. This journey has been a team effort, a big THANK YOU for all their hard work in 2008 goes out to Ben, Kahlil, Dizzy and Tina and as captain you learn how to manage your crew, your team and get the best performance and work out of them you possibly can. And this isn’t just your basic teamwork dynamic, as you live every single day with your coworkers in a small space and can not escape them at the end of the day or when the weekend comes if they are unhappy. As their leader, their captain, you have to make the best decisions one can based on both a work and a personal level. Then blend that into something where your crew is working as hard as they can as a team, but still wake up happy, bright eyed and looking forward to the next day’s adventure together. Some say leaders are not made, rather borne, but you can sure hone you skills trying to get a yacht from one side of the world to the other.
If there is one word that describes how 2008 shaped me it is, perseverance. Looking at this web site and past blogs of this adventure it just looks like a blast and non-stop party and a lot of the time it is. But a lot of the time its hard work too and when the sea is you obstacle, you discover there is no “kind of right” no “almost perfect” it is either right or wrong, in the case of man vs. the sea it is black and white, there is no grey. Sometimes you do not get it right the first time, maybe not the second, but you better not stop learning, you better persevere until its absolutely perfect. And when it comes to following your dreams, doing what you see in your heart is the right path for you, there well always be obstacles, some big, some small and the only way you can ever find that path is through perseverance. You can’t give up if you want to be successful, but at the same time you have to learn from you mistakes, so your not just endlessly bashing your head into a brick wall with frustration. However sometimes perseverance can drive you mad. We all worked so hard trying to find P Kiddy when he didn’t show up that one terrible morning. I spent thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, doing everything I and my friends could think of to find our missing furball friend, with nothing to show for it. P Kiddy is still missing! But, I know in my heart I persevered and I have the respect of myself for trying so hard and would have the respect of P Kiddy if he knew how long and hard we searched for him. And you learn that maybe no matter how hard you persevere, sometimes you will fail, it truly is out of your control, but in your heart, if you know you tried your hardest, you can respect yourself in the end no matter how bad you feel about the outcome.
So, enough already about 2008, that’s so last year, its 2009 and a new year of adventure is unfolding before us every gorgeous day. After spending basicly a month at the dock in Tahiti, working every day on “Natty M” and searching tirelessly for P Kiddy we successfully have “Natty M,” as prepared as ever to tackle new lands and oceans and the hope that P is still out there somewhere and will find his way back to us eventually. I swear the entire population of Tahiti knows about us and the search for our feline friend.
“Natural Mystic” is tiptop these days. Her reef scratched rudder is repaired, a new rain proof tarp/awning keeps us and the aft seating area dry during torrential tropical downpours, a custom crafted sun shade/awning can cover the foredeck trampolines if we desire refreshing shade, the freezer is frozen again, all the ships lights have been switched to energy efficient LEDs, our bowsprit stays shortened and respliced to get more headstay tension on the screecher, Windyspins (our wind generator) lubed up, oils changed, every surfboard ding fixed (that didn’t last too long), 70 meters or 210 feet of shiny new 12mm anchor chain, attached to a new 10 pound heavier and better setting 30Kg Brugel anchor (a German made anchor the best I have ever used, in sand it resets in place when winds shift 180?), a new mast gooseneck Delrin washer machined for the boom, the mast track and mainsail cars fixed, and countless nuts, bolts and rivets redone and relubed.
All this hard work, foresight and extra expense has paid off big time as our boat/home is functioning better than ever, giving us all more free time to enjoy life on the sea and feel much more secure when swinging at anchor. At no time was this more apparent than on New Years Day when we had a visit from a waterspout. Personally, I think it was more like a friggin tornado, it was huge! Dangerously beautiful from afar, but absolutely nerve racking up close, it was headed straight towards us for about 7 minutes from out at sea, complete with intense bolts of lightning striking the sea all around the twisting vortex, with barely any lag time to the booming thunder claps. Then mysteriously just vanish back into the clouds whence spawned it, right on the outside of the reef, 300 short meters from where we were anchored. As I had just dropped the commonwealth kids out in the surf, I just had time to quickly snap a few pictures, then stow and lash down everything I could and get ready to deploy our two back up anchors as the funnel approached, but mercifully we were spared. The menacing clouds tried to spawn a couple more of the twisters, but we all watched in thankful amazement as the spinning clouds up high never again touched the water.
This has not been the only exciting moment in the last few weeks. We’re living over on Morea, its winter in Tahiti, the rainy season and that means thunderstorms, squalls, rain and epic surf. We typically anchor on the inside of reef passes, tucked on sand bars about 6 to 10 feet deep, with crystal clear water and a multitude of marine animals that seem to congregate under our boat. Spotted eagle rays, sting rays, sharks and fish all seem to adore the shadow “Natty M” casts on the ocean floor and any peer over the side usually spots at least one of these creatures relaxing or hovering near the anchor chain, eating little animals the chain disturbs as it sweeps across the sandy bottom.
Now, picture this same animal in the dark, dead of night, instantly lit up bright as a hallucinogenic day, as frightening lightning strikes the water just feet from our boat, illuminating the entire sand bar of the anchorage from the bottom up, in what can only be described as liquid, emerald fire. One particularly intense squall found us in this position in the middle of night, as we watched a procession of lightning bolts striking the water directly in front of us, every couple of seconds grow closer and closer. We installed our lighting rod grounding probe (hangs into the water from the base of the mast) disconnected all the batteries, turned off everything electrical and quickly shoved all the hand held electronics in the microwave and oven, this protects them from electro magnetic pulses (EMPs) created by even nearby, indirect lightning strikes that can fry sensitive electronics. We then just sat back and watched the show unfold, as it was all we could do. The incessant bolts descended upon us within a pounding torrential rain, the sea was lit up every 5 seconds, way more than I cared for and as the deadly lightning struck all around us, there was absolutely no time between the flashes of blinding emerald light and deafening thunder. We could all see and smell the burning air and even feel the electric charge on our skin as the bolts crashed down. Luckily we were not directly hit, all survived and the only causality looked to be our interior electronic light dimmer, that never worked again after the storm, when the thunder eventually grew distant and we grew brave enough to turn power back on. Truly scary, beautiful, breathtaking stuff and its times like those you are really thankful you have your special someone’s arms to cuddle into, as you both try to comfort each other in the middle of mother natures furry.
Separate out the nightmare of scary storms every now and then and life on Morea is like a magical dream, that you don’t ever have to wake up from. The multitude of Morea’s majestic peaks are routinely caressed, as trade winds blow consistently for a few days and then take a few days off this time of year. Still making kiteboarding quite consistent and couple that with the discovery of a perfect sand bar, covered with a scant two to three feet of water and you have a perfect learning spot where you can both fly on the beach and water body drag in the same place. And as a beginner, when you inevitably crash your kite and get slammed forward, it is lovely gentile water that breaks your fall. I spent a day giving Tina, Dizzy and Christiano (our Brazilian friend) a day of lessons on my old kites and all had a good grasp of kiteboarding by day’s end. Everyone was mostly flying the kite with out crashing and body dragging back and forth across the sandbar and everybody was looking forward to more.
Ground swells seem to hit the island nonstop and you can wake up to it being flat in the AM and pumping by the PM. Morea isn’t too big, its a 60 km. drive around the whole island, so we can easily take “Natty M” to whatever side is going off and “Red Rocket” out to the proper pass. Firstly, Dizzy’s 24th birthday on the 30th of December was rewarded by an out of season South swell that continued to pump well past New Years. We were going to head to Teahupoo to catch it, but when you score perfect double to triple overhead waves that are 200 meters long, with 6 people out and 3 of them are from our boat why would we leave, so we didn’t. We staid in Morea for New Years and surfed our brains out, it turned out to be the right call, as the swell was well forecast and while we were grabbing some big uncrowded barrels off the top. Then smacking the lip, carving huge gauges repeatedly and getting more tubes on down the line, as the wave bends back on itself on the inside. We knew we made the right call, as we got first hand reports of Teahupoo being just OK shape, but big deadly and crowded with 35 people out, its holiday time in Tahiti after all and Christiano brought his boat around to join us in the surf and for New Years celebrations.
Then just as the South swell fades another North swell fills in and we move to the North side of the Island to keep reaping the benefits of being situated between two swell producing regions of our world. The trades keep one of the rights offshore all the time and its an all out barrel fest when the swell is on, as you can backdoor the right wedge for a perfect gaping tube every time, then float it or whack it off the top a couple of times and kick out before the wave dumps you on dry reef. As the trades back off the various North Swell lefts come into their own and you can take your pick from slabbing hollow wedges, to perfect spinning cylinders, to ultra racy down the line action. It just a smorgasbord of surf spots and its hard to get any better than this, but I kind of left out the extremely important part that all these waves break on super sharp, mostly very shallow coral. Its mesmerizing to watch the reef fly by underneath you, as you make some lake drop and set up the wave to spin a crystal cylinder around you, watching the colorful colors of coral skim by just under the water’s surface, broken by deep blue reef fissures and channels the waves suck extra water out of, increasing their power.
So, the rumors are true and there is another girl aboard “Natty M” these days. Jill, who oddly enough is from Switzerland the French part (Yea! She speaks French), but was living for a long time in Santa Barbara, before showing up in Tahiti, as chef onboard the Mega Yacht stinkpot “Seabird.” She had a little falling out with the owner and quit in the Tuamotus along with the head stewardess. Maybe it was the memory of the “Natty M” boys or should I say boy, hot, sea sculpted bodies showering on the dock in Marina Taina that made quitting her job a little bit easier, but what ever the case or reason we now have a gourmet chef onboard and Tina has a new ally in her battle against too much testosterone.
Jill caught the exhausting 7 minute flight and coughed up the ultra expensive $10 fare for the tedious flight from Tahiti to Morea and on New Year’s eve day showed up with bags and cooking utensils in hand for her stay aboard “Natty M”. Kahlil was stoked to know he would have somebody to kiss later that night, after a gourmet dinner of pan seared Foie Gras with a balsamic citrus reduction, mashed potatoes, Tahitian fresh garden salad and grilled garlic stuffed fillet minion, finished with a traditional French New Years eve desert, three wise men cake. Which is like pastry dough with sweet almond paste filling in a pie shape and who ever finds the hidden in the cake, king icon gets to be queen or king for the night and crown his or her chosen respective king or queen. Tina’s piece held the hidden king and we rocked our crowns into the new-year as we all relaxed on the trampoline in a surf, food and alcohol induced tranquility. Which was abruptly broken as the clock struck midnight and the couples kissed (Dizzy and Christiano excluded), fireworks shot forth in barrage after barrage from the shoreline and even “Natty M”, as you can buy some quite awesome and powerful Roman candles and fireworks in just about any Tahitian market.
Unfortunately the arrival of Jill was just one day too late to save Kahlil from making some of the worst French fries ever created by mankind. It had been a while since Kahlil had concocted a culinary abomination, but give the man some potatoes sliced too thick, a pot way too small, oil too cool and you have a recipe for. Limp, soggy, oily potato slices, thoroughly saturated with oil, sporting no golden color what so ever and what Tina proclaimed were the worst French fries she had ever tasted, Period!
The “Natty M” just isn’t my dream come true, but has allowed the others to realize their dreams too. Tina and Jill grew tired of surfing the inside of the dangerous reef passes, so they decided to swim with dolphins.
Any one who has ever spent time on the boat with Tina knows she friggin loves dolphins and when you tell her we are moving the boat to a new anchorage, gets excited as a little school girl when she knows dolphins live in that anchorage, as they usually tend to frolic playfully around the boat. Well one anchorage in particular has some extra friendly dolphins that let you feed them, pet them and even ride them as they tow you underwater. Kahlil and I surfed some sick waves on the racy left while, we let the girls go play with and ride their cetacean friends and Alex the French dolphin dude showed them the ropes. When Kahlil and I arrived to pickup the girls from their date with the dolphins, I don’t think I have ever seen Tina more excited and happy about life ever (except maybe the day before) and ready to give up on art and drawing and become a marine biologist/dolphin groupie, as she even made out with one lucky dolphin, I think maybe I should be jealous.
So, the day before the Dolphin seduction, Tina turned 24 years old on the 4th of January and we headed back to Cook Bay anchorage once again under the guise of a new North swell (partly true). But the real reason was The Pearl Resort, one of Morea’s nicest and romantic hotels is located there. This is where we shared a gourmet dinner with Jamie, Ben and Sandor (thanks again Sabork) while watching, beautiful Tahitian dancers gracefully move amongst the backdrop, of intricate wooden over the water bungalows and a majestic infinity pool that makes it impossible to discern where the ocean starts and stops. Tina is a true gem of a girl and has given my sore back way more than it’s fair share of massages after many a hard days surfing, so I spoiled her and myself with a spa day. A couples massage for the both of us to start, after we both had a fun little surf session on the right, delivered by exotic Tahitian women, complete with hot lava rocks, refreshed afterwards with local fresh ginger iced tea, as we relaxed in our own private Zen garden. Then lounged and lingered for as long as we wanted in their well equipped and private shower and steam rooms. It was magical for both of us, as Tina had never had a professional massage before, nor a real shower since stepping aboard “Natty M” four months ago, and I think the last time I enjoyed a real shower was back in Santa Barbara when I last visited, 10 months ago. I don’t know about you, but I have been to my share of spas in nice hotels around the world, as I like massages for my active body, but never as a couple and I have to proclaim. Spas are way better and super fun when you go with you girlfriend or significant other and pamper yourselves together. Well, our skin could only take so much loofahing and eventually, slowly emerged from the world of the spa wonderment, to enjoy a refreshing B-Day cocktail or three at the bar with the rest of the crew, before heading back to the boat for another gourmet birthday dinner prepared by the “Natty M’s” new chef, Jill. As the day drew to a close I was ecstatic that Tina said she had the best B-Day ever! Whoo-hoo!
And so this is our charmed life in Morea, good friends, sick waves, crunchy sunsets from the water, tasty food, bountiful wind, gorgeous anchorages, clear water, its hard to imagine life getting too much better than this, but some how I think we can still find room for improvement. I wish we had better photos to share with you all, but part of the reason were hanging in Morea is that’s what we are waiting for. My friend Dominick, a professional photographer, who I first met in the BVI last year working for Yacht Shots at the Bitter End Yacht Club, is flying out here on the 15th to join our crew. He is half Mexican and Canadian, multi-lingual, a good surfer as he grew up in Puerto Escondido, noted ladies man and soon once again we should have some better visual eye candy for all the fans of MysticSail.com.
I wish all my family and friends out there the best New Years ever, may all your dreams and resolutions come true this year, remember “perseverance”. I’m going to work on mine all year long. Which are, to sail even safer and break and loose less stuff (like our mast track and anchor) while sailing across the oceans of our world, as I’m calling this year, “My Year of the Oceans.” I can’t wait to get started! Oh and to make you all hate us all even more Tina is just putting some freshly made cinnamon roles in the oven and it already smelling real dam good. Cheers Everyone- Kyber