We have had a flurry of blog activity due to our proximity to civilization (Papeete), and I’m long overdue my two cents from the last five months of sailing and cruising the wonderful islands of French Polynesia. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, if I were to give a full account it would be a small novel. Foremost on my mind is a shout out to all my friends and family from across the seas, I hope this blog gives some small insight into our lives aboard the Natty M of late, and hopefully entertain those of you I have yet to meet.
Our arrival was heralded in the Marquesas with scruffy beards and scurvy drawn faces crusted inches thick with salt and fish guts after a hair-raising 3000 miles in a mere 13 days, eight hours, and twenty minutes, topping out at over 20 knots of boat speed surfing the swells, up to and over 250 miles a day under sail only. It was a trip I shall never forget, and an achievement I shall always be proud of. I shall never forget the feeling of being 1500 miles from the nearest point of land in either direction, each mere tiny islands themselves far from continental land masses. For me and our subsequent cruising in Tahiti has pushed my year mileage of blue water sailing to over 12,000 nautical miles, and living aboard boats for over a year.
The Marquesas were a trip. Skull Island style sheer cliffs in tropical jungle with forboding and volatile rocky shores lashed by strong winds. I shall never forget the islands for their faultlessly generous inhabitants, bountiful fruit, astounding sea life, and the pure childish fun of frolicking in the sea-caves and blow holes.
My Tuamotan experience was memorable for the sheer sense of adventure involved exploring remote and sometimes uninhabited atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In our pursuit of surf we truly do drive ourselves to the far flung and forgotten corners of the world, and it is one of the reasons it brings me such joy. But surf was scarce out there, and I was put to task learning the art of spear fishing, scouring the passes and ledges for tasty fish and dodging the inquisitive and hungry sharks who provided what adrenaline rushes our weak run of surf denied.
Swimming and holding our breaths for four or more hours a day and our simple protein rich diets of fish and rice made us a fit bunch. Our daily installments of collaborative bakery, driven by our doughmaster Tina, kept us active lads sustained. I passed much of this time in the peaceful and slow-paced paradise completing my first novel, which has taken me two years, and is another achievement from the last few months in which I take pride.
Next stop for us was the infamous Teahupoo, and a crash course in heavy Tahitian barreling waves, which after serving me some of the most exhillirating barrels of my life served me up on the inside with a slab of reef, an impact which left me invalid on the boat crawling about like an old man for a few days. Thankfully I have made a full recovery and live to go back and do it all over again. Teahupoo remains one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been, framed every day in the most vivid rainbows I have ever seen set with lush green mountains, turquoise lagoons, and criminally good surf.
Shortly after I once again had the pleasure of cruising with godfather Sandor, and meeting grandmother Jamie, whose presence as we completed our first of four moorean circumnavigations was a delight from start to finish and the Natty M turned on all the stops in a whirlwind of partying, surfing, and kiteboarding.
Since then it has been a rollercoaster ride of fantastic surf which has brought me countless memories, some four broken surf boards, more reef cuts than I have skin to lose, and a shit eating grin that just won’t leave my face (unless I start thinking about all those flaming broken boards, then I get grumpy). Our surf stoke is running high and Tina has caught the bug too so its no longer an all testosterone affair.
Our extended stay at Taina Marina to search for our furball friend was a difficult time for us all, and I can only say that if you are out there reading this P Kiddy then at least send us a comment to let us know you are okay. We miss you.
I would also like to give a shout out to Jill, who joined us for a spell after a work mix-up, and whose presence was enjoyed by all aboard, we miss you too.
The end of 2008 saw a run of ridiculously good surf in Moorea which for me goes down in my book of all-time sessions, trading triple overhead perfect long reef pass waves in warm water for three days and culminating in a sunset surf on the 31st with a group of friends from Tahiti and Brazil with perfect waves and a sunset with colours that make Van Gough paintings look like sepia tones. To all of you who were there, I will never forget that moment we shared.
Meanwhile the world economy crumbles, but we can barely hear it rumble out here in the wide blue. This life is a dream.
So now sees us busting ass to prep the boat for our delayed departure and escape the evil clutches of the tropical cyclone belt (which produced its first cyclone of the season south of Fiji last night, TC Hettie), which to be caught unawares in would quickly turn our dream to nightmare. Again we are taking our leave of civilization in search of the remote, the new, and feed our insatiable lust for waves. Who knows when you all shall hear from me again, if at all (don’t worry, I touched some wood). My thoughts do stray at times to my great uncle Hans Maurenbrecher who sailed single handed from the Netherlands to New Zealand in the sixties, and who was tragically lost at sea with his boat Takebora off the Great Barrier Reef. We strive on the Natty M to keep our boat and ourselves in optimal condition and conduct our explorations in the safest manner possible, rest assured. As you can see by the below photo, we take things very seriously.
I am also glad to report that our new dirty Mexican photographer Domenic is not a wanker, and is integrating so well into the Natty M run of things. I can only wonder why we didn’t prod him on to get out here earlier. Welcome aboard Dom.
Anyway, thats enough rambling from me, and I’ll save the juicy details to be savored over a cold beer when I see you all again in person. In the meantime I intend to go some extra shade of Pakistani in the equatorial sun, grow my mullet to the point where you can see your future in it, ruthlessly murder and eviscerate a large number of unsuspecting fish, and continue the transformation of my accent and vocabulary into one so influenced by the multitudinous cultures of the world to make it some proto-homogenized globo-speke that is only intelligible in current company.
K a h l i l