Preparing to finally leave French Polynesia, we spent a few days on the dock of Marina Taina, our adopted Tahitian neighborhood by now. I still wander around at night looking for P Kiddy every time we are here. Its chalked full of cruising boats from multitudes of countries, cruising families, mega yachts with crews just kicking it, waiting for their owner to show back up, local Tahitian fisherman and local Tahitian boat owners, that sometimes hook us poor traveling folk up with wakeskate rides, like Christian does, sick!
It really is like one big family here, with everyone hanging out and playing with the kids in the afternoons, looking out for each other and helping each other with their various technical specialties. We were supposedly getting ready to leave French Polynesia finally, gosh! But just like always for us, that didn’t happen quite so easily.
Michelle, of Tahiti Yacht Accessory who I can highly recommend for any rigging or electric problems helped us get the last of those little bugs sorted and Moira our Colombian crusing senorita lent us her back up sowing machine, so we could get some stitching on warn fabric done and Tina could redo our deteriorating bean-bag chairs with new, groovy Sponge Bob Square Pants covers to make them way more comfortable and immensely more attractive. Especially now that disgusting duck tape residue doesn’t adhere to your ass and back every time you sit down. Also super huge that she put zippers on both covers so they can be washed and decontaminated after Dizzy taints them, some hot, sweaty afternoon.
Over a bit of time I’ve gotten a little herb garden growing on our transom, in perfect fitting little trays, that are super easy to stow underway. Now we are always cooking with basil, cayenne chili peppers, oregano, and we’ve even harvested some radishes, O and aloe thanks to Tina! (which she needed the most any way in her quest to be Norway’s tannest girl alive). “Natty M” was loaded up with tons of food and provisions, but as a good little sailing boat should, Mother Nature had the final say in where we were headed and I listen to her unequivocally.
A solid southern hemisphere summer south swell was headed our way and that left us little choice but to head back to Teahupoo for more fun times. But, before we left we had to take care of some unfinished business. It was our solo sailing Brazilian friend Christiano’s birthday and we had some celebrating to do. Luckily for us, the Italian cruisers on an R/P 80 “Capricornia,” that has been converted to cruising boat were taking off for Samoa the next day and threw a solid going away party, that we easily parlayed into a B-Day bash for Christiano as well.
It was one hell of a shindig and a big thank you goes out to “Capricornia,” the crew and their owners for an extremely fun time. Complete with a melodious musical Tahitian trio, self-serve open bar, a dingy full of refreshing brews and a catered dinner fit for a Tahitian king, with all kinds of delicious BBQ’ed local meats, salads and especially tasty poisson cru (Tahitian raw fish salad) that I can never get enough of. Basically the entire marina and half the surrounding neighborhood showed up for the bash and everyone was seriously a bit loose by the end of the night. Christiano loves his whisky and thought we got him into the best B-Day party ever, with his fill of ol Jack Daniels for the evening (quite something else, as a bottle of Jack is $55 here).
As standard, the “Natty M” boys and girl shut the place down, helped clean up a bit and as a bonus reward got to take some of the excess boozes and women back to “Natty M” for an after party that went well into the morning hours until everyone just passed out together in one big sleeping snoring heap on the trampoline. Unluckily for Dizzy he passed out first and found himself getting an early morning not so fresh water shower.
As they say, there is no rest for the weary, and I had everyone up and not so rearing to go by 9am Saturday morning and we were throwing off the dock lines and heading out the Taapuna pass, past the weekend throngs bingeing small waves, headed for good old Tahiti Iti and Teahupoo 45 miles southwest. The trades were back up strong, as were the seas, all dead on the nose, so I decided to head inside the barrier reef at Mara’a to take the protected inside route that looked OK on the charts.
As we went in the pass, Tina noticed a peculiar cloud. Shaped like an arrow and pointing out of the pass, not in, or also could have meant Happati’s the good call and not Teahupoo. It felt like a sign to me, even friggin looked like one, I just wasn’t sure exactly what it meant at the time and I truly believe in signs from Mother Nature or manifestations of mana. After powering inside the reef for an hour, arriving at the pass we needed to exit from, we all discovered what the sign meant. The pass we needed to egress from was called Ava Iti West, which means “small pass” in Tahitian. The first Tahitian reef pass we ever took “Natural Mystic” through was Ava Iti East and it was OK. Well the western one looked like it might have worked, and might not have, as the still small south swell was almost closing the shallow pass out. So, no need to needlessly risk it, I followed the sign, albeit a bit late, but relieved to know that it was still the right call to be heading for Teahupoo, turned the boat around and headed back out the way we came in. As with almost any detour in Tahiti it was well worth it, just to view the up close beauty we were presented along this as yet unexplored by us part, of the Tahitian coastline.
The trip took a little bit longer than typical, with the strong unfavorable seas and winds, but gave us all a little time to catch up on some sleep we might have missed the night before and some 8 hours later we were safely anchored in a bay just on the other side of the Teahupoo marina.
It was nice to spend Saturday night anchored off, as Tahitians love to drink on the weekends and we wanted to get some rest before the swell hit. If we went straight to the dock there is just no way we could keep saying “No Thanks” to all our Tahitian friends who would undoubtedly be coming over with cold Hinanos and other fancy treats.
Sunday dawned with a small fun swell and we surfed the playful waves with the friendly locals. Rumors of Andy Irons and various other pros showing up were floating around and as we checked Teahupoo right before dark, sippin on a complimentary cold Heineken for a change, we got to see Andy and Cory Lopez just destroying the now building swell. They had a good piss on after watching the Super Bowl and drinking beers all afternoon and even an inebriated Andy Irons was absolutely killing it, smacking thick chunky lips with reckless abandon, and getting shacked out of his mind in the now growing solid surf. We ended up being the only boat around and gave the smashed boys what turned out to be a funny boat ride back in, both telling some funny stories, seeming like nice blokes, all as a crazy electrical storm instantly broke out at sea to the southwest, as if Mother Nature was exclaiming something is coming with thunderous exclamation!
Kahlil and Dizzy cooked a meaty pasta for dinner, which was quite tasty and we all went to bed early ready to be on it early next AM. However, maybe I should have installed a conspicuous sign in the kitchen saying “All crew please wash your hands thoroughly, after using the bathroom or scroaping” (Dizzy is famous for this not so sanitary male routine of ball play). I woke up from a dead sleep at 3 am to find my insides cramping up something fierce and as I got out of bed to assess the situation, I was so screwed up I couldn’t even climb back up the 3 feet to get back into bed and instead curled up on the hard floor in absolute horrendous abdominal pain.
There was commotion upstairs and I couldn’t even get too my feet to go check out what it was, so Tina went and discovered Dom in a similar state and both of us cursing the food we ate for dinner. Dizzy and Kahlil were seemingly unaffected, as the two sometimes suspected lovers probably are immune to what ever inhabits their deep dark places.
As dawn broke on Monday morning it was perfect. Teahupoo was flawless, all the pros were out, getting barrel after barrel and I was just not up to the task at hand, still feeling like I had a little demon living in my bowels. If your AI its one thing, but as a normal good surfer you need to be absolutely 100% to be out there getting waves on a solid day, so I was happy to take a back seat and just watch the show unfold, video a little and support Dom as he swam with the 6 or so other water photogs, trying to get some shots. Not an easy task at all, especially when your guts rotted out.
All the pros were very good, but Andy just stood out from the pack without a doubt. He is unbelievably talented/gifted and makes riding one of the most dangerous waves in the world look like an absolute breeze. Taking off nonchalantly, sooooo deep and just airdropping into standup, no grab pits without any hesitation or even look of effort. It is like the guy is riding a magic carpet, while everyone else is on surfboards.
Young Kolohe Ando was out for his first session ever at the wave and I have to give him props too. So much of the surf Mags are hype and cater to 13 year old boys, you really don’t know how well to expect a 14 year old to surf, especially when it seems they are super over exposed in all the surf Mags recently. But Kolohe started getting into rhythm and scored some sick pits out there and is truly a great young surfer with unlimited potential ahead of him. Tons of waves were coming through, everyone was getting plenty, the vibe great and what a show it was to watch, as barrel after barrel went down, with most made, but still a handful of nasty reef gashes here and plenty of broken boards there.
Jamie O’Brien was the other pro that stood out from the crowd. He just sat way outside and deep, waiting for the biggest ones to come through and went on absolutely anything, typically as everyone else was scrapping to just make it under the heaving lip, and camera men were swimming for it trying to save their lives (expect Jack McCoy who had his video camera mounted on an underwater scooter and buzzed around the reef like a mosquito). Jamie would typically make it out of the most insane, deep pits, some times switch and while not as effortless as AI, still one hell of a great surfer and a joy to watch.
My stomach stared feeling better by the next day and we were in the water early the next morning, before the Pros were on it and while not as big as the day before, it was still super fun and tubing. The swell stayed around all week, sometimes getting a little bigger, sometimes a little smaller and we spent the days surfing Teahupoo and the various other waves, mostly uncrowded with a few locals out or sometimes with the pros, who were fun to surf with, always respectful, with everyone taking turns, as there were so many waves to go around.
Really helping push my surfing to a higher level and making me a better surfer for sure by the end of the week. You get to see the lines they draw up close, as they bust 360 airs with ease and they push you deeper on the peak, making you get every inch of travel out of the barrels that were to be had, and always friendly Cory Lopez might even offer up a good little surf tip to help ya out.
It was absolutely one of the best weeks of surfing of my entire life. To be able to surf in such a beautiful place as Tahiti, with some of the best surfers in the world, in some of the world’s best waves, enjoying it all with your friends and girl. Christiano ended up following us down a couple of days later and getting, some fun sessions in too and Tina would sit on the inside of the right, trying to catch the tail end of the waves and avoid the reef (not 100% successfully) and being sucked out to sea in the ultra strong current, complete with cheers of encouragement and advice from the Pros.
Dom was getting into the Tahitian swing of thins too, he would switch it up between shooting and surfing, relishing the opportunity to have some of the world’s best to work with. But, the learning curve is steep, both photographically and surfingly out here. With focus issues plaguing many of the photo sessions, but that’s really nothing compared to having to dodge the lip of Chopes’ west bowl and the insane rip current of the right, which makes it almost impossible to stay in optimum position.
Combine that with trying to surf Teahupoo and the right for the first time on a sold swell and you get dished up destruction, as the macking right broke Dom’s brand new, supposedly unbreakable Firewire board clean in half, leaving me to surf perfect waves all afternoon by myself, while Dom and the girls cheered the tubes on from “Red Rocket”. He still has not heard back from Firewire about their supposed replacement policy for a true broken board. I think they are dodging him, screw that company their expensive boards break like all the rest.
It was also funny to finally meet Dizzy’s chick Vanuie. She is Tahitian and lives over in Morea, but would hook up with Dizzy wherever we seemed to be found. Morea any coast, Pappete, Teahupoo, she had family everywhere and would pop up to pick him up in the evenings after a hard day’s work. This went on for months and we never even met her once, only saw grainy pictures. We were all starting to suspect she was some Tahitan tranny, hopefully a hot one at least and were pleasantly surprised when we finally got to meet her on the Teahupoo Dock and she was quite nice and lovely and only has about a 7.2% chance of still being a tranny.
It seems like when you follow Mother Nature she knows things you don’t yet. On the trip down to Teahupoo I noticed out port engine alternator was not working. And I’m thinking one nice thing about having a catamaran with two engines is redundancy; we have another alternator for back up power. However the starboard alternator didn’t last much longer either and soon broke too. So, after a couple of days we were eventually without any way except Mother Nature to charge out batteries and Christiano’s attempt to help us out by lending us his portable generator, was met with pure failure. Christiano got it running once, warmed it up, turned it off to place it on our deck, hook up the cables and then the pull starter just self destructed, with no easy fix and that was the end of that friendly idea.
So, with the realization that we had to leave our beloved Teahupoo once again, head back to Marina Taina and civilization to fix our boat, absolutely nothing new there, we packed it up. And so, we all said good-bye to one of the best weeks of surfing in all of our lives. But, it wasn’t quite over just yet. Sunday evening found us anchored off the Marina, hanging with our lovely Tahitian friend Charlotte, all with a couple of celebratory beers in us and an enormous full moon rising. I made the call to head out to Taapuna and get some full moon barrels, having to amp up the rarely non-frothing commonwealth kids and Tina. And that is how our wondrous week ended, in perfect 4 foot barreling waves at night, lit by a silvery, shinny Tahitian moonbeams that danced like happy children on the shallow reef below, through crystal clear water that you can barely feel on your skin as the temperature is so, like almost everything Tahitian, absolutely perfect! Cheers- Kyber