It became apparent the good times can’t roll on forever and for a majority of the “Natty M” boys it came to a screeching halt. This abruptly occurred the morning after our great full moon surf session at Taapuna. Everyone except Kahlil and Tina woke up the next morning feeling like absolute crap and it seemed like all the fun of the previous week was rolled up into one big delayed surf/fun hangover burrito. Too bad we couldn’t all just take a couple of Advil, a little nap and wake up feeling better. For the first real time on this journey we got sick. This was no little cold, we had it all, and I’ll save you the nasty descriptions, so you can let your imaginations run wild, but fever in the tropics sucks like nothing else and my bed was thoroughly soaked with fever induced sweat for a couple of weeks straight.
Like the true angel she is, Tina was there to take care of all of us, me especially and I don’t think I have ever had someone, except my wonderful mom take better care of me and try to make me feel better when I have been contagiously ill. With massages for my fever induced soreness and frequent trips to the store to grab some replenishing liquids and foods, I mostly didn’t feel like eating. She was a true savior and I can’t ever thank her enough for trying so hard to nurse me back to health. Especially since I make no excuse for being the biggest baby ever when I’m sick, so good thing it doesn’t happen often and thank you for putting up with my big babyness and being so nice Tina!
And what do I do to repay her for all her wonderfulness, but take here out to MickeyD’s on Valentines Day. What a jerk I am! Really, I had no idea it was even the romantic holiday until I logged onto the Internet and my Yahoo home page informed me with a little cupid shooting an arrow at their logo. I’m blaming it on the fever-induced haze and our non-calendar important lifestyle that helped that one almost slip by. As I had not eaten anything substantial for the previous few days, about the only thing that sounded just OK was some greasy French fries and the relief that MickeyD’s air conditioning brings. Fortunately for me, Tina did not leave me right there on the spot and MickeyD’s had gone all out for the occasion, with a plethora of heart shaped balloons and red roses everywhere and it was actually, strangely, kind of romantic as fast food possibly could ever have been and we laughed about our “romantic” date, together all evening.
Well, the French fries ended up staying down and Tina enjoyed herself and I promised I would never do that, ever again. One Valentines Day spent at McDonald’s is enough for a lifetime. But, all my promises in the world couldn’t keep Tina hanging around and a few days later she rebooked her postponed ticket back to Norway and her much missed family and friends. So, six months after she arrived in the Marquises to hang with the “Natty M” boys, our lone girl packed up her cosmetics and sexy dresses, and headed back to the snowy winter wonderland of Oslo, Norway and her eagerly waiting friends and family. I wish we were all feeling better to a least have thrown her a proper going away party, but most of us were still on our sweaty death beads and just not feeling up to the task. So, sadly we all said our good byes and our Tahitian friend and Tina’s girl surfing partner Nina (girl in the shopping cart from my previous post) drove us to the airport for the long tearful good bye that ensued.
I slept worse than ever that night and not at all because I was still feeling sick. I was alone for the first time in months and it didn’t take too long to miss Tina’s beautiful face, kind words and warm snuggles. It is no way the same on the boat without her big smile hanging around and its an understatement to say that everyone misses her tremendously and all of us are longing for some of her freshly baked bread, delicious mashed potatoes and what have to be the best enchiladas any Norwegian knows how to make. I don’t just speak for myself when I say everyone wishes Tina all the best back in Norway and hopefully some day we will all get to see our great friend and companion again.
With Tina now gone it was back to work for the rest of us and Michelle of Tahiti Yacht Accessory, who is the man to see for boat repairs in Marina Taina, hooked us up with Patrick, the marina’s electrical expert to examine our nonfunctioning Balmar alternators and yes to no one’s surprise, they were both broken beyond local repair. Both alternators having over heated and burning up the stator (the coils of wires inside). So, with painfully slow Internet and lots of cursing, I ordered some new ones from the States along with some alternator temperature sensors, which will hopefully prevent the same problem from occurring again. Now we are just waiting for DHL to deliver the goods and there is no such thing as overnight shipping when going through French customs officials, Ahhhhhhh!
It was not all bad our alternators decided to break in Tahiti. For one, at least we are in a civilized place where we can get replacement parts sent out and experts to help us fix them and secondly, we were given a legitimate excuse to extend our visas here once again. Other cruisers we have met from America or other non-EU countries complain about how they have to leave their boat behind and go back home every 90 days and the immigration officials make no exceptions for them. Well for us, that is just not the case. The head immigration official here, who upon hearing the name of our boat, “Natural Mystic” proclaimed he is a huge Bob Marley/Reggae fan. That immediately led us into a lengthy discussion of reggae music, various albums and heavy beats. So, our first extension was a generous 90 days, when our necessary letter from a shipyard stating how long the repairs should take was only 20 days. Now six months later, the friendly officials hooked us up with another one-month extension and we hooked them up a mixed CD and some fat reggae beats. The nice man in charge told us not to worry about our boat problems and if we needed even more time he would take care of us. Respect, officials!
Another great thing about extending our stay here is, we are going to be able to wait out cyclone season in the relative safety of Tahiti, cyclones do still occur here, but quite infrequently. This saved us a 1000 NM, upwind trip to Christmas Island that I’m sure would have been very interesting, but hard on the boat too. Now we are able to sail west at the end of March, when the highest chance of cyclones has passed and the ocean cooling trade winds kick back into gear. Hopefully blowing us nicely downwind to our future planned destinations of the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa and we can all hardly wait to get on our merry way towards new adventure.
We are just killing time here, alternating between going from the dock where we can charge our batteries on shore power to anchor where we save money and see how long we can last on charging from Mother Nature alone. Which seems to be about 4 to 5 days if we conserve electricity as much as possible, i.e. no laptops once they are out of batteries and keeping the lights and fans off as much as possible. Our fridge and freezer run all the time and are the real battery draining culprits. While once upon a time we were able to last for months without running our engines for charging, when the trade winds were strong and the sun was enthusiastically shining, now its different. Its the rainy season, with little wind to turn “Windy Spins” and minimal sun for our solar panels, as the heat of the day quickly builds up gargantuan thunder heads over the islands, that typically obscure the tropical sun before midday. These clouds then turn into tremendous lightning storms almost every night and more than make up for our lack of human electrical entertainment on board. One night in particular was extraordinary, as fork lightning was shooting up from Morea’s interior to the heavens above with dramatic fury and backlighting Morea’s craggy peaks with bolts and an eerie orange light. We all just kicked back and watched, as nature entertained us for hours.
Everyone is now just about over the last bit of our lingering illnesses and have been surfing for the last few days again in the afternoons. We all seem to be over surfing Taapuna these days, with it’s crowds, one small takeoff spot, short but perfect ride and ultra shallow reef, that my ass, Dizzy’s back, Kahlil’s feet and Dom’s emotional side are all still recovering from. Luckily, options around here are many and the discovery of a near by, point style reef, with 200 yard long rides, multiple connectable sections and variety from mush to tubes has been keeping us all sane while we patiently wait for our parts to arrive. Every wave there is different, unlike Taapuna and the close to town crowds are spread way out on the reef’s various peaks and bowls. You get about 10 times the amount of wave riding in during the average session there and exponentially more exercise than Taapuna, as you battle strong currents and scrap for the way outside when the closeout sets come to get you.
As all of our sicknesses wane, the happy sounds of Tahitian music starts to rise again, lifting our spirits and bringing us back in touch with this exotic place. Maruao, a local Tahitian musical legend, who sings enthusiastically and plays furious guitar with his rocking band lifted our spirits to new heights one fun night, as we sipped on Hinanos with some new friends we made from Tubuai of the Austral Islands. And all the people we continue to meet along the way, like our new friends Christian from Denmark and Mike from Port Anthony of Jamaica who just sailed here, come together nightly, as we all share food to BBQ, talk story and sway to tranquil musical melodies, continuing to enjoy our much extended stay in beautiful French Polynesia. Cheers – Kyber