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An epic sailing adventure of surfing, skateboarding, kiteboarding, and exploration aboard the “Natural Mystic”

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Tales from Smashed Cock Island

April 3rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

Totally Tubular

Bigger than the Tidal Wave

Today finds us chilling on anchor in Bora Bora. This island is world renown for honeymooners who come and find romance in what has been touted as the most beautiful lagoon in the world. The Natty M boys can attest to the amour potential of the shallow sandy lagoons here, as we all were blessed to be joined by our Tahitian lady friends and had a blissful few days snuggling in the sun and celebrating Kahlil’s multiple birthdays (precise dates escaped us and we swung into premature party mode a day early).

Airport chick pickup

Pickin up chicks at Bora Bora Airport.

Bora Bora is a compact island, punctuated by the mountain that explodes out of the locals backyards, up into the clouds. The colorful and ever creative Polynesian legend decrees that an ancient thief, Hiro, was in the process of stealing the Motu of Toopua when his pet rooster gave the game away by squawking and was promptly hurled against the cliff face of Mt.Pahia to silence it, forever leaving a cock shaped imprint amongst the fractures and cracks, visible for those with imaginative minds. It is an eighteen mile road that circumnavigates the island, and with a brief stroll you quickly rotate around the imposing cliffs, and just a short walk will alter your angle of peaks.

Picking Pleantiful Fruit

Frodo's cousin Dizzy Baggins

To prepare for the upcoming ocean voyage, I spent the lat two days swiveling my view left and right of these breathtaking mountains riding about on a fruit hunt. I managed to stock the boat with bananas, star fruit, grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, mangos, butternut pumpkins, papaya, and guavas and finish my search liberally adorned in the mud from the various altitudes of the hills here.

Collecting Pomplamousse

Free fruit is the best fruit.

It was bittersweet to depart from our home and familiar routine of friendly faces and waves at Taina Marina. Before we departed Kahlil and I found ourselves caught up in the adrenaline shot of our first tidal wave drill. Recently there was an underwater seismic disturbance measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale off the coast of Tonga, the news of which we were alerted to from Kyber’s brother back in the states, who warned us of a tidal wave alert. Kahlil and I were on anchor watch later that day when gendarmes raced up to us on jet skis and told us that Bora Bora has just been hit and a wall of water was coming our way. We wasted no time in hauling up anchor and taking to sea, spreading as much pandemonium, bedlam and noise as we could generate. Within a rapidly escalating heartbeat the two of us were motoring Natty M for the first time without our captain (to our credit, it was a seamless and speedy escape) to the safety of the deeper water, and bellowing at all within earshot of the approaching wet destruction that silently advanced on the island. As on any given day the Tahitians were in number busily relaxing in the warm water, and must have been surprised and amused by the sight of our flapping arms and hollering in earnest of their mortal peril and the destruction and devastation that was sure to be here, so very soon.

The Tidal Wave is comming

Dramatic reenactment of the daring tsunami escape.

Turns out tidal waves still earn this fearful title even if they are 15 friggin centimeters high. After floating for an extremely uneventful hour about a mile off shore, expecting to see our adopted neighborhood be razed by the ravenous drenched death and the bloated remains floating out presented for our salvaging, we realized the gendarmes could have been exaggerating. In a somewhat much quieter and orderly fashion we made our way back to anchorage, and returned to our unwavering vigilance to keep Natty M safe from destruction and ever lurking freak natural occurrences.

Don't spear your hand!

Spear Fish not Hands

My exploits have been subdued of late after an accident a week ago with an over excited spear gun (gnarly, but healing fast), and have been trying to stay dry to maximize my mending. By my next blog, I hope to be as able bodied as I can manage in this rough and ready, battering sailing voyage and be back amongst the waves again.

More soon, Diz.

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Sliding Out of the Society Islands

April 1st, 2009 · 5 Comments

Pow Pow by air

Moorea's Baie Paopao By Air, Baie Oponohu behind.

After one last fun evening surf on the right with Dom and Kahlil, a hearty dinner and last minute checks of all critical systems, it was a GO to Leave French Polynesia. We weighed “Natural Mystic’s” anchor one final time from our beloved Moorea anchorage of Oponohu Bay and on a dark moonless night, with searchlights scanning, we cautiously weaved our way through the lurking coral heads, unlit boats and out the wide and well marked/lit reef pass. The consistent breeze of the day, had now completely vanished and I was reduced to using the engines to slide or rather push along.

Windless passage to Tahaa

Early Morning Motoring

The other thing that vanished was the last bit of my French Polynesian currency, as earlier in the day I did find a bank to convert my returned bond money into New Zealand dollars, The Cook Island’s currency and Euros, because there is no loss on the exchange rate, as the Pacific Franc is fixed to the Euro. With the last bit of that hassle out of the way, a new one presents itself, as coming out of Bank de Tahiti Kahlil and myself spy Cristiano driving past, when out of the blue his girlfriend finds us, informing us Dizzy cut his hand loading the speargun and Cristiano was taking him to the hospital. I had given Kahlil a brand new deadly accurate Omer 110cm speargun, with a razor sharp stainless steel articulating wishbone for loading, as an early birthday present to share with Dizzy (Kahlil did go over the speargun operation with Dizzy before Dizzy’s first attempted use, but apparently with one fish already speared, Dizzy got greedy, as he witnessed the fact that a struggling fish attracts other fish of its kind, then trying to reload with a fish still on the retrieval line and Danger Never Do This!) and it was funny how I wouldn’t let Dizzy go off on his own across the island, as I didn’t want anything problematic to happen, as we needed to be leaving the country soon and by staying close to the boat now he was headed to the hospital, only Dizzy!

Dizzy's cut hand

Dizzy always living and learning

Fortunately for us, Dizzy is a pro in Polynesian hospitals by now and no one was the wiser to his questionable immigration status. Three stitches and some pain medicine later and the gnarly flap of skin that was jaggedly cut into the palm of his hand, appears quite precariously held in place. I imagine more along the line of 7 to 9 stitches would have been a better number for the job, but oh well Dizzy is now Gimpy and not nearly as much help for a possible week long sail across the sea. Captain’s decision is made to sail the 100 NM to Tahaa and explore the island a little bit and make sure Dizzy’s debilitating cut is healing up properly, with proximity to professional physicians if that’s not the case.

Sunrise on the way to Tahaa

Our Sailing Sunrise

The swell is mild, wind nil, stars twinkle by the billions and by the gentile rumble of our diesel engines we find Kahlil and myself falling back into our familiar three hour watch schedule, with the promise to wake the other up when the wind fills in. We sleep through all our night’s watches until dawn, when Kahlil always the optimist thinks maybe nows the time, but one groggy look out my porthole window tells me otherwise and I go back to bed. I made the right call, back up and still no wind, but in a little bit a puff, then another and around 8-am, with everyone up, the sails are hoisted and we’re sailing again, just a little faster than motoring on one engine; Yippy! I love the silence, only the gentile noise of the water gliding past our hulls, as we are once again sailing somewhere new, albeit at a very distinguished speed.

lazy sailing

Just Cruising in the Shade

However, rhumb line is below our optimum downwind angle and it makes for a hot, slow trip to Tahaa, as Huahine to weather, robs us of more and more of the breeze the closer we get towards Tahaa. Finally we succumb to the allure of horsepower, drop the sails and gun it for Passe Tiare. As we arrive at the pass, the island, for all our first times, the rather tranquilly ebbing current of the scenic pass seems to carry on it, the entire vibe of the island.

Sandbars forever I love this place

A luxuriant calm descends upon “Natural Mystic,” everyone’s awestruck at the beauty presented before us, a lush mountainous island, practically devoid of buildings and a magical sand bottom turquoise lagoon that runs seemingly forever to the horizon.

Motu madness underwater water motu

The deep pass threads a gap between picturesque motus Vavaratea and Mahara and once through I immediately bank hard to port, onto a sand bar that extends north, as far as you can see and chuck the hook. Our anchor setting instantly in the fine sandy bottom, we swing lazily at anchor, memorized by what lies below in the crystal clear water.

Lion Fish

Beautiful but Deadly Lion Fish named Frank

Refreshingly we all jump into shallow water and find out. “Wow” is all I have to say; the coral heads that dot the sandy bottom were teeming with exotic and colorful reef life of all kinds.

electric clam more electic clams

electic clam 3 closed clams

more christmas tree worms christmas tree worm

clown fish tropical blue urchin

Deadly poisonous Lion fish lurked beneath many coral heads, poised to strike unsuspectingly from their lairs, while shy Clown fish hid in their protective Sea Anemone for cover, colorful Christmas Tree worms worked hard on their symbiotic relationship with the coral they grow in and bright Tropical Maxima Clams, shone like a jewels for all to see, unless you stared too hard and they clammed up.

loaded fish trap

Trapped Blue Fin Trevally, a good eating fish just not too big or maybe poisonous.

Exploration of a large local fish trap, located at the pass entrance revealed more than just trapped tasty Trevally. The main room of the immense trap was teeming with sharks too big to fit into the final fish holding chamber.

Mean sharky

Nice Fishy Fishy

Up so close sharks always look mean and menacing and Dom and I both hoped they didn’t all learn how to swim back out through the narrow entrance, as we snapped pics from semi-safety. Also I couldn’t help but to keep checking my six, thinking a new shark could be making its way through the trap’s twisting net lined channels, into our narrow little entry way/cage, while we are paying all our attention to the shark fracas forward.

Sharks in a cage

Maybe a Quarter of the Total Traped Sharks

Enthralled by what we had seen, but refreshingly cooled off and out of the water, we all just lounge around relaxing and unwinding from all the commotion and exertion of Tahiti, Moorea and our departure. Everyone was enjoying the peace and quiet of this amazing island.

Tama

Tama Always Smiling and Selling Some Damn Fine Vanilla Beans

When all of a sudden a jovial dude named Tama, who maybe not so skillfully but, enthusiastically ties up to the “Natty M” with his speed boat to say hi and see if we are interested in buying some vanilla beans or pearls. Pearls no, but vanilla yes! Tahaa is where most all of the Tahitian vanilla is grown and when you buy it by the kilo from the grower, wow! What a deal, as one Tahitian bean costs about $10 back in California, but in Tahaa its less than a buck for the best smelling, freshest vanilla you have wafted up your nose. No matter where you are in the world vanilla essence costs a lot of money, so I made my own, soaking five beans in rum for the long six month wait until aromatic perfection.

Making vanilla vanilla-bottle-web.jpg

Tama, like most Polynesians turned out to be a choice guy. We quickly made friends with he and his family and they promptly got Dizzy to the local doctor to checkup on his now not so good-looking wound, not that it ever was. With that business out of the way and by doctors orders Dizzy now on antibiotics to prevent serious infection, Tama invited us around to check out his amazingly tranquil resort at the head of Baie Haamene,Tahaa’s largest bay, also considered one of Tahiti’s true hurricane holes. His mini-resort includes one waterside bungalow and one hillside bungalow, both with ample decks made for relaxing and enjoying the dramatic views, as well as plush interiors for your comfort. The two bungalows are separated by a lush vanilla growing garden and Tama’s open air home.

The hill bungalow interior The water bungalow

The place is absolutely amazing and if anyone is looking for a place to get away from it all and just relax, this is a great spot and I highly recommend it, check out his website www.tiarebreeze.com, there is no way you could go wrong bringing your squeeze here to get away from it all.

Finding vanilla together

Tito's a Tahaan' Bro!

Tito, Tama’s right hand man, showed Dizzy and myself the ripening vanilla beans, a type of tree climbing orchid, explaining the labor intensive process of checking the vines every single day during budding season, as the delicate white flowers last just one day, then fertilizing every single flower by hand, while waiting 9 months for the beans to ripen, then still drying and curing them to develop their rich flavor, all factors contributing to the high cost of the second most expensive spice in the world, saffron’s the first.

Vanilla on the vine

Growing vanilla beans, still over a year to marketable product.

Tito is an absolute choice example of a true Polynesian, breaking open perfectly ripe chilled coconuts for you to drink and happy to show you anything, you show interest in.

A speedboat ride to Raiatea airport

Dizzy Now Sitting Down

Some of Tahaa’s highlights included blasting around in Tama’s speedboat, picking up a couple of his friends from the airport on Raiatea, just a 10-minute high-speed boat ride away. As you can blast his boat straight off his bungalow’s deep water wharf, he tells you to sit down, everyone listens except Dizzy who is found tumbling backwards eventually forced to sit, as 250 HP drives you abruptly forward, everyone laughs, and now Tama really punches it. We’re all mesmerized as we fly across the deep blue water that marks the channels, starkly bordered by immense jeweled turquoise lagoon shallows, set amongst the backdrop of raging green mountains. Topical wind blasts your face, the music pumps and everyone enjoys the visually stimulating ride. We pull the boat up at the airport, greet the friends and are off again. Raiatea’s airport impressing me, as yet the nicest boating friendly airport ever, where you can wait in your boat at the ultra-close uncolored curb/dock forever if you like, entertained by the crab security guards and no annoying voice or cop telling you about colored zones anywhere.

Airport crab Commonwealth kids at Raiatea airport

Groups of friends united we all enjoy an evening spearfishing session, with Kahlil nailing a nice unicorn fish we later turn into yummy fish pasta, OH YEA! With a good night’s sleep we are out of there the next AM, sailing out of another paradise, cruising between Tahaa, Raiatea, their shared barrier reef, headed for a pass on the western side. Tama and Tito caught up to us in the speedboat to say goodbye in person, how nice and soon we are out the pass and on to “The Jewel of the South Pacific.” Bora Bora.

The blue clouds

Crazy turquoise clouds seen through my polarized sunglasses.

It’s an amazing daytime sail, as the clouds over both sets of islands are turned various shades of blue and turquoise by the reflected light of the immense lagoon waters below, like a giant natural kaleidoscope. The vertical rock faces of Bora Bora’s Mt. Otemanu and Mt. Pa’hia grow larger and larger, until you can clearly make out the imprint of the excited white cock that Hero, god of thieves hurled into its face, to shut it up, as he attempted to steal Toopua Island one night, long ago.

Aproaching Bora Bora Bora Bora from the inside

The trades were moderate, but perfectly angled for our screecher; with its new improved headstay tension and we lazily made 7 knots right into Bora Boara’s only pass, as the wind clocked right around with us. Who says no surf exists on Bora Bora, the pass can still throw some mean looking waves, in an amazing setting.

Bora Bora going off

Bora Bora, Huba Huba!

Easily through the wide pass and we jam north, up to one of the largest sandbars on the Island and throw the hook in a scant four feet of water, where one can jump off the transom and be standing in chest deep water; Yea for catamarans! Conveniently located near the airport, this sandbar was to be our base for the next few days, as a bunch of our friendly girlfriends flew out from Tahiti to do some serious relaxing with us for the weekend. Bora Bora was instantly rated the new best boat friendly airport in the world by me, as you shirtlessly pull the dingy right into the middle of the crowd waiting for luggage and greet the hottest girls just off the plane, with all the JOJ tourists staring with looks like what the hell is this place, Bora Bora?

Relaxing on the SUP Bora Bora girls

Epic times ensued all weekend, as we enjoyed Bora Bora’s sweet lagoon with perfect trade windy, sunny weather and mistakenly celebrated Kahlil’s birthday one day early, but whatever we made it past midnight anyway to erase that little temporal oversight.

Happy B-Day Kahlil

Happy Birthday You Crazy Kiwi!!!

Kahlil must have had one of the best birthdays ever, as not only were grand times enjoyed by all, but he generously scored a Santa Cruz 6’2″ rounded squash-tail Tough-Lite surfboard he had been coveting from our friend Helene back in Papeete; Yea Dude!

Sailing in Bora Bora

Bora Bora Lagoon Sailing

One gorgeous day we took “Natural Mystic” down to what was suppose to be Bora Bora’s best snorkeling, but instead we’re greeted by OK snorkeling, but an absolute electric clam frenzy, as they were everywhere by the hundreds just waiting to be discovered by the locals whom eat the pretty creatures.

On Natural Mystic Mo Fo

We Are Victorious!

Later that afternoon we sailed “Natty M” back to her anchorage and through Bora Bora’s lagoon channels, with Dom in “Red Rocket” snapping sailing shots and reminding him of his old Yacht Shots job back in the BVI. The sail through Bora Bora’s inner lagoon channels was a jibing fiesta due to the light wind and so gracefully we sailed back to our airport anchorage, as we silently slid through the flat water amongst the back drop of lush mountains and motus.

Sailin our boat Kickin it

The weekend was a friggin blast, but sadly one by one the girls departed, with more sad good byes all around and soon we were reduced to all boys once again. With everyone’s minds still in the daze of the weekend, yet dreaming once more of far off lands, with tasty waves, new adventures and ready to go. Cheers – Kyber

A dusky Bpra Bpra sunset

We will be sailing towards the setting sun, soon.

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Ben’s Tuamotu Tale of Swashbuckling Pirates

March 27th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Arrrrhhh maties. So you want to hear about me pearls?? This here’s a tale of four mangy, plundering seamen, one boat wench and a feline more frightening than any creature from the Deep.
nattym

Our time in the remote Tuamotu atolls in the South Pacific was totally unforgettable. In Faaite we had dropped the hook in the middle of the crazy reef pass, so this time we were going into the lagoon’s more placid waters to anchor. We made another memorable arrival when we finally sailed into Kaitu. After trusting Charlies Charts for guidance through the sketchy reef pass, we dragged our skeg and rudder across the coral to mark our arrival. reef mystery_meat Local’s welcomed us with BBQ and warm Polynesian charm. While in Panama, we had stocked up on “rare provisions” to trade in the Tuamotus. So we went to work with them to harvest the treasures of the lagoon.hao_pearl_dive1 We started bright and early when Tikhei and Hao came to pick us up.oyster_boat  With our local liaison’s navigating our way to the secret buoy laced with blackened gems, we suited up for the dive. They told us that a good 13mm black pearl will grow in about 5-6 years. So, with morning eye-boogers still clogging my vision through “foggy goggles”  we plucked our ripened booty from the pristine waters of the lagoon. At first, I figured these oysters would be on the sea floor 30 meters below us and the dive would be brutal especially for Hao who had polished off most of the bottle of Rum from last night’s BBQ. bbq The harvest was smooth and went surprisingly well. We hooked our anchor around the buoy and pulled the oyster bags up to a good level to dive so that we could get them in the boat before asphyxiation set in. A near tragedy occurred when Dizzy attempted to untie the oyster bag but sent it hurling towards to sea floor. Luckily Kyber was there to make the save. The entire process ended up being streamlined with help from the experts who taught us a few tricks of the trade. By 11am we were back in town and ready to rock.

pearl_farm pearl_farming cleanin_oysters hole_drilling ky_oyster pearl_clinic

We brought a boatload back to the farm where we scraped off the crusted shells, extracted the black pearls then seeded them again w/ white pearls so they could grow for another several years. hao_pearl-extraction

black_pearl tikhei We swapped our booty of electronics and  booze for bilges of black pearls… pearl_selection  tina_pearls 

” keep yur scurvy-crusted lil’ hands off my pearls ya scalawag”

 beach nattym_docked strollin handstands piggy b_ball girls puppy mini-playas hoisting_main kaitu_wave pluneria banana_hammock sunrise diving_deep cooler-o-fish kids_catch tindy group_shot reef_passin

kaitu_beach trio kaitu_beach2

nattym1 me_bowsprit pkiddy_napping

bonfire

 

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Unfortunately They Kicked Us Out

March 23rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

Moorea from above

We will miss you Moorea!

Unfortunately it happened. The government powers that be kicked us out of French Polynesia and so on a early Saturday morning March 21, 2009 we untied our dock lines from Marina Taina for the last time and shoved off for lands unknown. Our Zarpe (the official paper that’s created when you check out) says we are headed for the Cook Islands, but which island is anyone’s guess and Christmas Island, 1,000 NM to the north is still a possibility. “Natural Mystic” is in good shape to go anywhere, her problems sorted and her holds stocked with enough pricy French Polynesian provisions (we could probably live off sweet chili sauce for two months alone) to take us hungry boys across vast oceans.

Stocked up

Fruit Fiesta Time!

Not a single one of us wanted to leave French Polynesia and neither did any of our many Tahitian friends wish to see us go. We tried to get a letter stating there was something wrong with our boat, but no such luck, as everything was for the time fixed. On our last Taapuna surf session, when we informed all our friends in the lineup (we basically know everyone now) we had to leave, they were telling us not to worry they would help us out.

Last Taapuna session

Our last Taapuna session was fun!

Enzo, a Tahitian ripper and all around great guy, has an uncle who is the head of immigration at the airport. On Thursday, our last legal day in FP he picked us up bright and early to go visit his uncle to see what strings he could pull. His uncle called the head port immigration official on our behalf and then it was off to visit the port immigration officials for their final determination.

Enzo tried to help us

Enzo, tried his best. Thanks Bro!!!

Well, it didn’t work. The port official stating, as there was nothing wrong with our boat, which is the only exception for a visa extension we had to leave. Enzo was in disbelief that he couldn’t help us out and so, with sad looks across our faces we proceeded to go through the checkout process. I have to say the FP government and their rules are not doing their country and favors. Everyone here is complaining tourism, their biggest economic producer is drastically down, but yet they force people like us who are just spending our money in their country, basically transferring wealth, to leave. And it just makes zero sense that we can all travel back to our home countries and apply at a French consulate for a one-year visa that is extendable here in person, but can’t do so while in their country. Its also a super great policy for the environment, sail here with basically zero carbon emissions, but in-order to stay for a while, you’re forced to burn tons of polluting jet fuel and all your crew does too, flying back and forth from your respective home countries, what an absolute environmental waste. Here, 90 days is the most time you can legally get, as a non EU citizen. I guess its good that it keeps people who are derelict sailors from camping out in paradise for too long, but the revenue stream generated from legitimate cruisers they kick out has to hurt their economy substantially, as we are not the only case. One wealthy couple on a yacht was forced to leave after 90 days and the dude was buying new jewelry and expensive items almost every trip into town, talk about biting the hand that feeds you. But, I guess who really cares about real economic viability and independence here, when France gives FP huge sums of money to keep the country afloat and operating. Maybe someday FP will have enough of the French and their nuclear testing based pay-offs and have a say for themselves about their own country’s economic viability.

The check out process went quite smoothly, except for one thing. As none of us are EU citizens, we had to post bonds here of equivalent value to an overpriced plane ticket back to our home countries. This amounted to $5,000 of my money one of their banks was holding for free, as you receive no interest. The first letter immigration gave us didn’t have all of our names on it, as I paid for all the bonds and so, the bank would only give me my money back. After a lengthy, unsuccessful argument it was back to immigration to generate another letter, this time with all of our names on it, then back to the bank and finally I got my cash back, but in Pacific Francs. As not to loose any more money than I would have to, on exchange rate spreads, we did all our last shopping and provisioning with the returned cash. But, when I went back to the bank and then another and yet another, none had any dollars or New Zealand dollars, the Cook Island currency to change the money back into. So, now we are leaving FP with a boat full of worthless currency that hopefully we can convert wherever we end up, what a pain in the ass! Maybe we will just have to come back to spend it.

Leaving Taina Last Time

An early morning good bye from Marina Taina, Tahiti.

Thursday, our last legal night here found us tied up to the dock right in front of Pink Coconut, the most raging night of the week for the bar. It was classic, most all our Tahitian friends who just came to the bar for a drink found us preparing to leave and all were wanting to have a last celebratory Manuia (cheers in Tahitian) with us and most did. They were all angry their government was forcing us to leave and hoped we would return someday. I know this will be the case, as Tahiti and it’s culture are a part of me now and I will return, but only God knows when.

As always there was a long string of sad good byes with all our many friends here and where usually I’m looking forward to the next land and ready to go. Here I easily could stay for much, much longer. The people of Tahiti and FP really make you feel like you are part of one big family and I will miss them all tremendously.

Thanks for the fun times!

Thanks for hooking us up with waves like these!

A big list of Thank Yous or Merci Beaucoups goes out to everyone that made Tahiti and Moorea such a special place for the crew of the “Natural Mystic,” Charlotte, Alex, Vainui, Christiano, Myra, Virginia, Helene, Leilani, Jessica, Milan, Adam, Simon, Enzo, Herman, Nelson, Christian, Teki, Manu, Jamaican Mike, Mark and his wonderful family, all the Taapuna boys, all the Teachupoo boys, Michele of Tahiti Yacht Accessory (the man to talk to if you need to get your boat fixed), Patrick (a darn good yacht electrician), Philippe and Constance of Marina Taina (great people running a great marina), Domenic, Adrian, Eve, Tina and all the wonderful people I might have missed that truly made our stay in Tahiti such a wonderful experience and leaving just that much harder. Everyone onboard “Natural Mystic” wishes you all the best and we hope to see you all again some day soon.

Tahiti is truly a beautiful, magical land that holds great power and is filled with wonderful people who are the true gems of the South Pacific. I know I will return some day, as I have never traveled to a place that has infected me the way Tahiti has, Respect!

Cristiano and Joana

One happy lady and one happy bastardo!

But, one last stop in Moorea had to be made, taking care of two, last unturned stones. The first, to say “See ya in a little bit.” To our good friend Cristiano on “Mundo Vagabond” whom we have all shared many memorable times with here in FP. One last good dinner and a couple of beers with our mate and his girlfriend, as they are hanging for another month or so, before heading west hopefully to meet back up with us in yet another tropical paradise.

The Mountain's ridges

Some serious peaks and ridges.

Secondly, to journey on a Tahitian spirit quest of my own. Attempting to attain the summit of Rotui, the main monolith of Moorea, in order to garner a glimpse into my life, that is floating on the sea way down below.

Rotui-Rige-line-web.jpg

Looking back on the way up.

The bright midday sun scorched my back, sweat poured forth profusely, as I climbed straight up the volcanic ridge, no switch-backs assuaged the elevation gain, as the narrow ridge was barley wide enough for two of my feet side by side. “Natural Mystic” and “Mundo Vagabond” sat peacefully anchored to a shimmering, sapphire sea below.

Shimmering Sea

"Natural Mystic" and "Mundo Vagabond" sitting at a Tahitian anchorage.

Natural Mystic and Mundo Vagabond at anchor

Looking at us and the pass beyond.

Up and up I went, following the overgrown way, more than a path, constantly jabbing me with sticks and the endless pricks of thorny, fern type shrubbery in my raw exposed reef cuts. The pain purifying my intentions, as no one would do this just for fun, but only with a purpose, only driven.

Moorea-arch-web.jpg

An arch frames a dot of Pacific ocean.

The deadly consequences on either side resulting from one misstep were very real, but alas I was not to obtain the lofty summit nor enlightenment. My water was down to drops, as I reached the still high false summit viewable from the boat way below and knew continuing on, even though it was the home stretch, was not the prudent thing to do.

White caps distance

A blue view from above.

Still, from way up there you could see Moorea’s verdant land sweeping down from its craggy volcanic mountains to the Pacific ocean in all directions, Tahiti Nui across the channel to the east and the winds blowing silent whitecaps across the ocean on all sides of the island. I was looking at what could be the most magnificent place to make a home someday, but if I could have jumped off the precipice and let the warm currents of the tropical atmosphere carry me to whatever destination was next, I would have. But, as I can’t fly yet probably not too good of a plan! And I know for me, I still have to let our earth blow me along it’s ancient watery highway until one day I climb that mountain, look down on the tumultuous sea below and don’t feel like blowing in the wind anymore. Cheers – Kyber

One last crunchy Tahitian sunset

One last crunchy Tahitian Sunset!

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Going, Going, but Not Gone

March 19th, 2009 · 10 Comments

Xtra flawless

A big early morning Tahitian set sends everyone scratching.

Well our alternator parts arrived last in Tahiti last Wednesday, two and a half weeks after being shipped “express” from California by the unorganized and fuct shipping company DHL. We were granted one-month visa extensions in French Polynesia in order to fix our broken alternators and unfortunately we needed most all of that time to shock our system back to life.

Patrick working on the alternators

Patrick, What's he doing with that thing?

Patrick, the local marine electrical expert, damn good too if you need one here, showed up Thursday afternoon and jumped right in with me to tackle the problem. By the end of Friday we had the new alternators installed, wired and working and the new “Centerfielder” regulator device installed between our to “smart” alternator regulators, to regulate them and voilà, problem solved. The instillation went way smoother than I was expecting and for the first time since I have been on Natural Mystic our charging system was working correctly when both engines were running. Also, making both tachometers work at the same time, a new occurrence and putting the full charging of both alternators into our battery banks for the first time ever as well. I was quite happy at having solved a problem that had plagued our boat for quite some time now.

Rainbow points the way towards Moorea

Leprechuan's hide more than just a pot of gold at a rainbow's end.

As Friday drew to a close, an unusually intense rainbow pointed us towards the direction of Morea and we all knew it was where to head next. Coupling that manna, with the info my dad relayed about Hawaii being too big and stormy to surf on the N. Shore and I knew a couple of days later we would get a tamed down version of the same swell here.

Departing Tahiti in the Pre Dawn hours

Heading out the pass dark and early for Moorea.

An hour before dawn on Saturday we headed out the pass once again for the garden island. Immediately I noticed that our port alternator was not working what so ever and as a precaution switched only to the starboard engine, motoring through he pre-morning glass the entire way. Too say I was frustrated was an understatement! But, as its like paradise down here you can’t really get too pissed about it and as Dizzy started to pepper me with questions about the issue way too early in the morning, I simply asked him to drop it, I was going to forget about the problem for the weekend and just enjoy myself on our last weekend in FP. I knew the alternator instillation went way too easily for a boat and something had to go wrong, well at least we had one good engine to use and as a sign to just relax, our anchorage of choice greeted us with super fun surf and to our surprise our good friend Christaino on “Mundo Vagabond,” returned from his Tahaa trip and swinging at anchor. As we set our hook snow white sand, in 8 feet of crystal clear water everyone shared a good laugh at Dizzy’s expense, as he fell overboard when hooking up our anchor bridle and then promptly ate shit again, as he tripped over the jib furling line after climbing back aboard dripping wet, tumbling across the trampoline and no one at all was left wondering why he goes by that
name and not Brent.

Its no ones fault but his ownHe is going to trip on that blue flecked line next Dizzy eating it again

Christaino immediately jumped on board and hugs and handshakes were exchanged, as well as thoughtful gifts he had gotten for all of us in Tahaa, what a great guy! As the commonwealth kids started to fry up breakfast, I needed to wash the frustration from my mind and immediately headed out for a surf with Dom. It was overhead, offshore and barreling with no one out. Dom and I surfed alone for a couple hours, and quickly the alternator problems faded like a bad hangover, replaced with feelings of intimate joy that only deep tubes deliver and marvelous beauty the island of Morea invokes.

A meaty one

Empty Perfection!

Jamaica Mike was supposed to join us latter in the day, after taking the ferry across, but the weather had other ideas and by noon, after a scrumptious breakfast of Kahlil’s by now famous Kiwi Potato Fritters a torrential tropical rain squalled in. Blowing out the surf for jus’ a lil’ bit, as well as, being quite bad for our planned BBQ and company, but eventually being damn good for the surf, as it obscured the wave from shore and we surfed the pumping swell all day alone, until all of our nipples, armpits and junk were thoroughly afflicted by surf rash, forcing us back to the boat and our waiting supplies of soothing Gold Bond Medicated Powder and slippery Vaseline.

Dizzy, Christiano and Johanna

Good times abound on-board "Natural Mystic."

The evening was still a little too rainy to BBQ, so I risked my health and let the commonwealth kids whip up another tasty Spagbol, thankfully with no side effects this time. While Christiano, his new chick Johanna and I watched Pineapple Express, laughing our asses off to the stoner comedy, that was graciously bestowed upon us by our Moorean friend Charlotte. It had been ages since any of us had a new movie to watch and boy what a treat it was to see a new movie and quite a hysterical one at that!

The next morning another Morean friend of ours, Adrian stopped by pre-dawn style in his boat, banging on my window early Sunday morning and without hesitation or morning coffee we were out there. Again surfing super fun offshore, overhead waves alone, with only the memento of wonderful memories to remind me of the fun super fun early session. Eventually playfully spoiled by famous Coco, the island’s marina manager and musician and his enthusiastic three boys who are just starting to rip. We surfed with them for a bit more and then handed it over to the upcoming generation of stylish Tahitian rippers.

Starting out on the hike The dark Moorean forestNice little waterfall

Later in the morning we met up on Moorea for the very first time with our friend Charlotte, she had been trying to get us to come over and visit her for a long time, wanting to show us around local style. Her father, a French alpinist, is somewhat of a well known man on Morea, and as well as running a environmental education school for the youth of Morea, he headed the effort of constructing many of the hiking trails that run across the island and up its various mountain peaks. As a kid, Charlotte helped in the construction of many of them too, lugging wood and concrete for miles up steep slopes, helping create bridges over many of the narrow, but deep ravines that channel immense amounts of rain down from daunting mountain peaks, several of which nice bridges made our hike much easier.

pickin-pinaple-web.jpg

Watch out, punking Pineapple can make the gods angry!

So, on a beautiful sunny day Kahlil, Charlotte and our friend Helene headed off for a cross island hike, from the North to the South coasts. What a hike it was, with stops along the way to pick some sweet pineapples, fresh limes and papayas that made for a super tasty lunch.

Mou'a Roa's towering peak

Majestic Mou'a Roa

Trails through dense jungle and forests led up and across the mountain’s flanks, along the way revealing ancient, sacred Tahitian burial grounds illuminated by tree filtered light and every now and then, the canopy breaking, revealing the slick, dark face of hulking stone mountains looming overhead.

Tohiea and Tamarutoofa mountain peaks

L to R, Tohiea the tallest and Tamarutoofa, Moorea's mountains.

Moorean burrial site Moorean burial site

We crossed over the divide on top of “Three Coconut Pass”, where now only one tall ancient palm remains after a recent storm destroyed the other two, but where people steeped in tradition have replanted the missing two to eventually restore the pass’s namesake. The descent down the valley Vaianae was a refreshing, short and sweet one.

waterfall massage

A cool refreshing waterfall massage!

As a cool waterfall massaged our sore bodies, Charlotte’s families home was the furthest one up the valley, perfectly positioned for us to avoid the timely afternoon rainstorm and her father, knowing we were coming, baked us a delicious Tahitian vanilla marble fudge cake with raisins. Which was just out of the oven, super tasty and eagerly consumed by all the hungry hikers. Her dad gave Kahlil and myself a ride back to the boat in the back of the family truck, depositing us on the other side of the island and BAM! We were back out in the surf. Adrian even showed back up and who-hoo! Everyone was sharing some last fun waves, before the long day vanished forever.

Looking dwon Vaianae valley from the pass

The view from top of 3 coconut pass, down Vaianae valley.

But the night was still young and the rain stayed away, the BBQ came out and so did Christiano, Adrian, some beer, and shitty Tahitian rum for a couple games of Shithead, while we waited for the chicken to get super tasty. I was narrowly able to avoid being shithead a couple of times, but I couldn’t avoid the call of my bunk and soon after gorging on peppery poultry I was off to dreamland, making up for a long week of dawn to dusk, nonstop days.

Spicy BBQ chicken

It tastes even better than it looks!

Just like everyone’s Monday’s around the world, it was back to work for me too. Getting out the multi-meter and test probes, checking fuses and all the electrical connections Patrick and I had just installed. I couldn’t find a burned out fuse or problem what so ever and was stumped. Our visas were all expiring on Thursday and I guess this was going to be our litmus test to determine if we really were meant to leave French Polynesia or not.

Lil' right tube

Unridable waves in Hawaii, equal fun waves in Tahiti.

Two hours of frustration later, I jumped out into the surf to wash away the grease of the engine room and Dom started shooting from the dink with our new long lenses, that my parents so graciously shipped out to us, thanks a million mom and dad! The swell was dying and smaller, but still provided Dizzy, Vainui and myself some fun waves to rip and pull into. By 1pm we were all out of the water, dropping Dizzy’s chick off on the beach and heading back to Marina Taina once again, to a waiting Patrick, who was astonished our alternator was not working, after we had both tested everything so thoroughly after the instillation. It was late in the day when he showed up and too was perplexed by the problem, informing us he would have to come back in the morning.

An empty one goes through

What would California be like with consistent "out of season" swells?

Tuesday dawned with solid south swell and everyone on the “Natural Mystic” wondering if we were going to get the problem solved or have to get another visa extension. While the waves pumped, we watched from afar, as we had real work to accomplish if we have to leave FP by Thursday. Patrick showed up bright and early and two hours of testing later we had the problem licked. It turned out there were hidden fuses, packed inside the engine start battery case, that either of us didn’t know existed. The fix turned out as simple as replacing a 10amp fuse and thankfully everything was working again. I asked Patrick if he wanted any more cash for his time and he generously said it was up to me, well he had taken all my cash last Friday, so that would have to wait, but it generally illustrates the attitude of many people in Tahiti, who are happy to help and share first and make money second.

Retesting the new alternator problem

Patrick, burried in the engine room trouble shooting.

There was to be no necessary letter from a Marine Repair Facility, to take to immigration stating we had another boat crisis and deserved a visa extension. Its looking like we really are leaving here now and everyone spent the rest of the day, ignoring the pumping surf and working on projects of all sorts.

Kahlil going over our rig

I'm up a mast Mo Fo, Mo Fo I'm up a mast.

Kahlil checking the rig and discovered “Windy Spins” had broken her plastic mount which we can hopefully jury rig. Dizzy cleaning, organizing and getting water. Dom working on photos and our outboard, and me……Sweating more than I ever have in the mid day heat, working on already warm engines, in a small insulated space, flushing and changing both engines’ coolants, replacing the engines’ raw water pump impellers, tightening and replacing broken hose clamps and generally cleaning the engine rooms, trying to keep them, as grease free and tidy as possible.

Changing the engine coolant

I was still smiling this early in the morning.

Like a good mechanic I swore and cursed all day long as I covered my self in grease, but opted for a late Taapuna surf session instead of a cold brew to forget the drudgery of the day and Kahlil and I proceeded to use the spinning barrels of Taapuna like a washing machine to power wash away the grime of the day. Its truly amazing how frustrated or full of angst you can be, but once you jump out into good surf, with your friends and grab a few fun waves, all your troubles seem so distant and removed. Water both chemically and emotionally is truly the universal solvent.

Gettin a good one after a days boat work

Dom and I both nailing the tube.

Which brings us to today, our second to last legal day in FP. We still have much to accomplish before I will feel comfortable about going out into the unknown pacific, probably headed for the Cook islands, but as of yet still undetermined. Not to mention, we currently have cyclone Ken, currently 55 knots gusting 75, spinning just 500 miles to our southwest and kind of in our way, if we head there. Who knows, maybe its gods last chance to keep us here and so we will just see, where Ken is headed over the next day or so.

Perfect waves

We don't want to leave this!

As the realization sinks in to all of us that our days in Tahiti and French Polynesia are numbered, I can’t help but reflect on our time here. French Polynesia truly changed my perspective on how I view the world. Here I discovered, that the nicest, friendliest, happiest people I have yet to meet in our world, seem to have the least amount of worldly possessions. They are happy to share with you what they do have and live day to day in a land that provides them with everything they need to survive and prosper. In the Tuamotus they say, all they need to be happy is the ocean and coconut trees, as together they provide shelter, food, water and a modest income for their families. In Tahiti a true land of plenty, Tahitians don’t know about saving or preserving anything except their culture, as the land and sea have provided them with all they have need since their culture came into being. Their culture developed no jams or jellies to preserve their bountiful fruit, food is meant to be eaten today and shared by all, as it comes. This permeates their culture, as a case of beer is to be drunk and enjoyed with everyone until its gone. Why would you save it? And as there has always been an excess of food here provided by both the sea and fertile soil, they share it amongst themselves and generously with the strangers that visit their land. Some of this might not always be applicable towards modern life, but much is and you can’t help, but be infected by some of the Tahitian’s ancient beliefs and philosophies. What all this really boils down to is Tahitians really know how to enjoy life and what good is life, if you don’t share it with the friends and family around you, lessons we all can benefit from.

French Polynesia's rugged land

Rugged Hiva Oa, Iles Marquises.

I reflect on all the good and bad that has occurred here and know that it is just the give and take of our earth. You can’t have one without the other and no place in our world is free from either. The worst thing that happed to us on this journey thus far was the disappearance of P Kiddy from Marina Taina in Tahiti. I never intended to leave here without finding him and it breaks my heart we will continue on, without our very loved, super cute, fearless feline. I know Tahiti must be a very scary place for a spoiled cat, I wish him all the best of luck in his new home and country and who knows maybe P will still turn up some day. The hardest thing is not knowing what happened, but I ask myself. Would I rather know if he was dead or not know and still have a chance of finding him some day? The answer is easy for me, I would take the hope he is out there and could still turn up some day. For this one reason alone a part of me will always feel like I left a piece of me in Tahiti and I don’t think I will ever give up the hope that maybe some day I will see my fur ball again. But one thing is for sure, when I do come back to Tahiti I will always keep looking for him, as I do whenever I walk, bike, drive or boat anywhere over here.

Keep looking for P Kiddy Tahiti

I love you P Kiddy!

Tahiti has truly been an educational, growing experience I will cherish forever. I learned so much about life, love, hope, disappointment and myself. In a way I would never have been able to grasp without, throwing myself into this land that seems to take the energy of our earth and amplify it like one of God’s Hi-Fi speakers. A land where the waves are the best you have ever ridden, the beatings more severe than any you have ever received and you can’t help but feel you are certainly living life to its extreme limits while in Tahiti. Cheers – Kyber

A greasy cheese for Bill

This Tahitian greasy double cheese is dedicated to Sir William

→ 10 CommentsTags: Natural Mystic · Tybur's blog

Begining at the “End of the Road”

March 13th, 2009 · 15 Comments

Photographers about to get punished!!!

Learning how to shoot surfing from the water at Teahupo’o

Sorry for the delay on this blog… As you know from Kyber’s writings we headed to Teahupo’o, one of the most menacing and impressive waves in the world. It captures not only the imagination of anyone who has seen this beast in a photo or on film but demands the respect of a deadly giant. The boys had ventured here before but this was to be my first glimpse of a wave that I had wanted to see, surf and photograph for years. Needless to say when I heard we were headed in that direction because of an approaching swell I was full of anticipation… a mixture of nervous excitement and sheer terror at having to be in the middle of this unforgiving wave that is literally the ocean folding in on itself over a shelf of razor sharp reef. “This wave has teeth” and I would have to not only to surf it but put myself right in front of the THICK crashing lip to get some shots. Luckily for me and anyone else watching we had the opportunity to see some of the world’s best surfers tackle this ola.

View from the water

Teahupo’o (pronounced Te a hu po, Not poo! As I was quickly taught not to sound like a turista) is an extremely beautiful quiet place meaning “Wall of Skulls” and is found at the end of the road! This is where, as I usually seem to do in not such a bright fashion, I tried to learn the hard way!.. After only being in the water a handful of times trying to learn the ins and outs of surf photography I put myself in the harshest training ground in the business!! Right smack in the middle of 6-8 foot Chope’s… just in front of the impact zone with the worlds best putting on an amazing display of surfing. This was a great opportunity to get some sick shots and try not to get killed in the process. In the end this proved to be much harder than even I expected, and it was a lesson in overcoming frustration, disappointment and exhaustion.

evening barrel Mr Lopez

The first day of my battle started with me nervously getting my camera gear ready for the onslaught of lip bashings and the rapid-fire capturing of images. Setting my camera to shutter priority at a hi speed (not to bore everyone with to many technical details) and alservo focus with the highest frames per second my camera allows, 8, to catch the most action as it goes by at chaotic speed. Ready and all carefully enclosed in the underwater housing (GRACIAS ERIK!!!!) we climbed into “red rocket” to go see what Chope’s had to offer. When we got there my anticipation turned to pure “Oh Shit! I am going in there?? “Bring it on” is all I could muster with half machismo, half this is just stupid! There was a zoo out in the channel… photo/ video boats, people just out to watch the show, about eight photogs in the water and of course the people everyone was there to see… Andy Irons, Corey Lopez, Jamie O’Brien, Danny Fuller, Kolohe Andidno and est. est. I slipped on my fins and swam in to join the circus. I was cautious that first session because I didn’t know exactly where the big sets were breaking. Even after watching for a while from the dink, being in the water is a whole new world as to positioning. There was also some west bowls coming through just cleaning out everyone holding a camera. So I did as anyone would do… sit just outside the photog’s who were already in the water. I did this not only to get a sense of what was happening from a minimal safe distance, but out of respect for the photographers who were working getting these shots for sponsors, surf mags and movies. I did not want to get in their way and ruin what would be a good shot and their way of making a living… and since I want these people to eventually be my colleagues, I did not want to start off on the wrong foot when I could learn so much from just watching them first hand.

Andy finding the gold at the end of the rainbow

After a waiting a while of a none stop shuffle of the current and getting some shots of the pros from a distance I started venturing closer and closer to the inside section. This was a exercise in stamina, strength and how long I could hold my breath while trying to stay in an optimal position to get a shot of Andy and company as they slid by me in the barrel. My first sequence in the more critical position went by with me shooting at a frenzy before having to duck and swim under the wave, all before the lip landed sending me towards the reef… I made it out the other side of the wave with a false sense of security, thinking “that wasn’t that hard.” Just as I thought that, Corey dropped in on a large set wave that seemed to come up and hit the shelf and triple in size in a matter of seconds. He made the drop and started driving right at me and the rest of the photogs… I started shooting him pumping down the line, but panic kicked in when I looked at where the wave was breaking! It was setting up to break just in front of me, or the lip was going to very well just end up detonating right on top of me. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh F*#k me!.. Was the last thing I yelled before Teahoupo’o unleashed all it’s furry on me. My brain must have sent my body into full survival mode because I don’t remember having any thought, not that I had time for such a luxury, as to how I was going to get through this. I just found myself entirely detached from my own body… I was swimming paddling and stroking like mad just to try to get as far away from the impact zone as possible when the inevitable happened… the current sucked with to much strength and drug me right into where the lip lands on the shallow reef bellow. All of about three feet of water. I have a fleeting image of trying to clutch the housing to my chest and brace myself for the worst. When the lip actually hit It felt like I was watching what was happening to me like as if it was happening to someone else, but still fully aware that it was my fate that was unfolding. Hope that makes sense because that is exactly what it felt like. I was torn in so many directions at once that I was just wondering when the horrible feeling of my flesh hitting the reef would bring me right back into my own body with the realization that real damage had just been done? To my astonishing luck that moment never came. I just got the most violent machine washing experience underwater I have ever had… even after getting drilled going over the falls in Puerto Escondido, and that is saying something. When the foam finally let me come up for air I realized my lungs were burning and gasping for air. That is when reality hit and I came up to see that, as it happens in surfing, it was all about to happen again as the next wave hit… again to my luck and surprise the wave had pushed me down the reef and into a safer place to get hammered. This time I hit the reef, getting only minor injuries. When it was all said and done I was washed out into the channel. After a short breather I had to swim back to go through the whole process again. I got out of the water exhausted and happy to have what I thought at the time to be some good shots, and to be in one piece.

A.I. Layback

When we got back to the Natty M and downloaded the photos I got a quick lesson in just how hard it is for a surf photographer to get a good working shot/ sequence. In an environment where you, the wave, the sea and the surfer are in constant motion, as well as wind bringing clouds to cover the sun it becomes a real task to get a clean, crisp up close image of the rider. Out of some 400 shots only a hand full made had any semblance of a good shot. Either the auto focus would delay and blur the image or I would track focus on the water moving in front of me and not the surfer. The result being that the surfer is out of focus and the water crisp as can be. All this due to small depth of field because of cloudy conditions etc, etc. No excuses in my first round out at Teahupo’o, many things “shit the bed” including me… I did not allow enough exposure for changing light conditions and my images paid the price for it. Seeing a perfect shot of Andy in the barrel only to have him out of focus is enough to piss any photog off. After seeing the sad state of my pics I was discouraged and flat!! So, I locked myself in my cabin for some good old-fashioned self-bashing. This is unfortunately how it went for a few days… trying new settings and exposures to get the focus right. I realized that autofocus was failing miserably and set the camera to a fixed focal point with hope of a wide depth of field. A dark day and a different break brought the surfers too close for that fixed focal length, so back to frustration and the proverbial drawing board.

Andy out of focus ARRRRRRRRR!!!!

To add to all this camera trouble… On my last surf session at a great right I managed to paddle into a wave and eat it. I didn’t even get a chance to get to my feet and when I came up to grab my trusty? Firewire surfboard it was snapped clean in two, this on my first wave no doubt. This I thought was the last straw… it was advertised as a much stronger board and “practically unbreakable” according to the company, yet there it was in two sad pieces. One less board in my quiver this early on… not good!! I had bought two firewires for this journey thinking that they would last longer as they were meant to be more durable and I had read an article about these boards, where Nev (the company owner) had stated that if it broke clean by a wave or defective, it would be replaced??? (as a side bar I have since e-mailed Firewire explaining the break and attached photo’s… I got a no such luck reply from the company, as to replacing the board under some silly analogy of even oil tankers sink?? They told me the board was not defective, how they know this without inspecting the actual board I do not know? It must be a go to reply to unhappy customers. But alas to inform anyone who wants to trust in the fact that these boards are much stronger than a regular PU boards, think again… this board broke on a less than threatening wave that my PU boards have survived. So, I am left an unsatisfied customer from to what seems to be false advertising from Firewire.

Firewire boards break too!

As it happens Murphy’s Law came to haunt me after battling with my images and a broken board, I also got the flu from exhaustion. But all was not lost… just when things look bleak a glimpse of good hospitality and new friendship restores faith that things after all are GOOD!!!! Josh Humbert provided this much needed lift in spirits. He is a fellow surf photographer new to the world of surf photography, living in a very cozy place that has the feeling of   “home”. Surrounded by greenery. Josh who was/ is a spear fisherman by trade, before trying to tackle surf pics, invited us to his house for a freshly speared dinner. We ate, drank and talked like simple kings. He showed us his photos that were taken the same day I was out at Teahupo’o. His images where quite the site… They were deep barrel shots that spoke of how menacing and amazing that wave truly is. They are great shots that I hope he gets published as they are more than deserving of being seen by the surf community at large. Great work josh! I hope I can gain some of his knowledge on the subject and pick his brain some more in the future. Thank you for all you help and hospitality amigo. Hope I can offer you the same in Mexico un dia!! (please keep an eye out for his shot of Anthony Walsh in upcoming surf mag issues)

Corey getting a good one at Chope's

With a full belly and feeling better about life in general I looked over my photos again and to my surprise found a few more that had some worth. Here are some of those shots… including young Kalohe who graced me with punting a nice 360 air right in font of me and a nice long exposure shot of the boys in lightning storm.

Air Kolohe

All in all, this experience keeps teaching me patience frustration management, and surprising me when I think all has gone the way of the wind. So my lessons learned, sometimes you have bath in caca to come out clean and refreshed on the other end. Cheers to all and hope that you enjoy the photos that gave me all those ups and downs.

Lightning storm from the dock

Bless, Dom Beso para mi querida!!


→ 15 CommentsTags: Dom's Blog

What a Long, Slow Trip its Been

March 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Wierd Tahiti Wedge

Well, our necessary replacement parts traveled for over two weeks DHL style from S.B. to L.A., OH, NY, Sydney AU, New Zealand sitting there for a week, making for a long slow trip to Papeete, Tahiti where we are currently waiting for them to clear customs. “I guess we should have used FedEx,” like everyone in their old ad campaign proclaimed. Now with some luck we can get the new alternators installed and have a fully functioning boat again shortly. While hopefully improving the system, to limit the charging of the alternators with an alternator temperature sensor should they start to overheat and a “centerfielder” device to coordinate charging between the two sides, when both engines are running simultaneously. Will it all work and go smoothly? Answer, it’s a boat, and the first rule of boats should be. If you don’t want problems don’t be involved with boats. Once you realize that, the stress of boat problems just washes away, into the deep blue sea.

Our friends on “In Motion,” all great folks, were having similar issues with their basically new Mega-Sail Yacht; Hydraulic problems, compounded by wrong part problems and DHL fucktness too. Trying desperately to make a Monday March 9th departure date heading up-wind, the wrong way, to the Galapagos, driven by the prevailing winds of her removed from the journey owner. On our last BBQ Friday night with them, that Christian and Danny (their lovely crew) helped put together, their compounding problems had driven their engineer almost to the breaking point and it was quite odd to find such a stressed out individual in Tahiti. But, as luck would have it for them or rather $700 bucks on a Saturday, for customs officials to go to work. They received their tardy parts and their visiting, expensive, sitting on his ass for days now hydraulic technician had the problem licked, with plenty of time to spare for their planned Monday departure.

The sun is setting on "In Motion's" stay in Tahiti

It will be sad to see them all go, we have had the pleasure of spending months of time with them all, as our neighbors in Marina Taina and everyone aboard “Natural Mystic” wishes them safe sailing and no winds on their passage to the land of Darwin, because there is zero chance of having fair winds, unless you go way, way out of the way.

As for the “Natty M” boys, we don’t seem to get too stressed out about it all, it is totally out of our control and we might as well enjoy life in the meantime. Now imagine this, a Tahitian culture that emphasizes relaxin’ in the first place, combine that with all the excess holidays of the French and one has a culture with heaps of days off work and as you’re on an island, you don’t travel someplace, you party! Thursday rolled around, another Tahitian holiday, with no waves, but bright sun, which equals Sand Bar party. You make friends here real quick and what do you do when they all offer you ice cold Hinanos and good vibes, but quench your thirst. One thing leads to another and soon your partying Tahitian style, in turquoise waist deep warm water, with tons of scantily clad and half scantly clad girls and women dancing on top of boats, SUP boards, and most anything that semi-floats and the good times quickly turn classic.

I helped ferry over round two and some more ice from a stash in a nearby car, and as “Red Rocket” is low in the water when compared to the bigger boats, it made a perfect floating platform to put ice and drinks in for people to grab, unfortunately. The previous day, our point and shoot “waterproof” camera leaked, while we took a picture of a repair we made to a crack in the faring plate around the port sail drive. Once out of the water it wouldn’t turn on, but to Dom’s credit and perseverance, he huffed and puffed some hot air and magic into the device and got the camera functioning again. I don’t know how long it would have stayed working, as saltwater did penetrate it, but the camera was working again, unfortunately we never were able to confirm this. It came with me to the Sand Bar and I had it stashed intermittently in “Red Rocket,” trying not to get it too wet again, while everyone snapped plenty of party pics. Tons of funny photos of me with older topless Tahitian women who took a particular liking to me existed on that camera, when I noticed it had vanished some where during the fiesta. Oh well, ce la vie, as they say over here, its nothing we can’t eventually replace. So, you don’t get lots of pictures of this Blog as a result, which really is too bad in this case, but with some luck maybe they will turn up in next year’s Tahitian Topless calendar that dot the shelves of every tourist store here. And there is even more hope however as, new batteries for our old backup camera should arrive with the tardy DHL shipment breathing new life into a long dead digital life form.

And so, there is also no photographic evidence to document the longest trip we had yet to undertake in “Red Rocket.” Dom was off on a hot date, and I growing weary of our lengthy stay in Tahiti and wanting to get away from it all, jammed over to Haapiti on Morea. Scoring some fun waves on a mediocre surf day for Tahiti Nui. “Red Rocket” blasted across the fairly narrow channel, 10 NM and obviously trade wind absent day with no problems, allowing us to breathe in the lush, calming air of this garden island. For we have been on the city island for way too long now and I could feel my soul revitalized and soothed, from the relative rushed pace of life on Tahiti Nui. The long churning lefts allowed me to whack away all my aggression on the pitching lips and carve away my worries and my continuing interaction with the French was tested yet again, as one French surfer said something to me in a not so pleasant tone (I find you really don’t need to understand the language to understand the French) and I just replied with a boisterous “NO.” Instantly resulting in a look of pure astonishment, that a person existed who had the audacity to talk to a Frenchman in such a manner. My Tahitian friends in the water were all laughing and doing imitations of the quizzical look of the Frenchman, as they filled me in on the meaning of his words and my appropriate response was confirmed. The little adventure was absolutely great fun and a jumbly ride back across followed, as N and S swells collided, bringing back memories of crossing the treacherous Santa Barbara, Channel, as I did so many times on “Jackpot” the sea urchin fishing boat I worked on for a year and like the SB Channel its totally doable, if you are prepared with a good boat and proper offshore kit. With a cell phone, VHF radio, GPS, flares, warm clothes even in the tropics and enough food and water to last you a little while should you need it.

N coast waves

A N. Coast Setup

As, typical for Tahiti there are fun things to do somewhere most all the time and everyone has been getting their share of fun in. Whether it be more Taapuna sessions or some of the boys romantic themed surf expeditions over to the N. Side with its easier on your flesh beach breaks I have still yet to surf or hiking expeditions to the top of Tahitian mountains, that Dom and Kahlil arduously conquered one day. Unexpectedly spawning an unreciprocated gay love affair towards Kahlil by one way too friendly local, who generously gave the exhausted, sweaty, muscular, handsome boys a ride home. Culminating days later in what had to be on of the funniest yet disturbing text message barrages the “Natty M” cell phone has ever received, causing raucous belts of laughter to emanate from the “Natty M,” breaching the typical tranquil silence of our nighttime anchorage and turning Kahlil just a bit rouge.

View from the top of the hike

The view from the top of the hike

Yes, its truly hard not to enjoy yourself in Tahiti, a true land of plenty and its hard to imagine a better place to be stuck in for a little while, even if you do have to pay a high price to be here sometimes. I imagine we should have the replacement parts in our possession sometime before midweek and Patrick the man helping us install them hopefully has a semi-free schedule to perform the work, or else its going to be back to the Immigration Office once again, for yet another attempt at a visa extension, ours expire Thursday, March 19th. I’m kind of hoping this is the case, for it would be a shame to be unable to visit the famed leeward Tahitian islands of Bora Bora, Tahaa, Riatea and Huahine while we are in this neck of the oceans. Well, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed in the mean time and like always we will keep you informed to where the wind blows us next. Cheers – Kyber

Solar Panel Sunset

Sunset on our Super Solar Panel

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Jerks and Surfs

March 4th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Doggy Motu

Beatiful Tahitian Morning and one Dirty Dog

All of our crappy illnesses have faded to a distant memory now and good friends leaving start to be replaced by good memories made with new ones. As we patiently wait for the necessary parts to arrive in Tahiti to fix our alternators, good times flourish once again aboard “Natural Mystic.” No one seems to be sweating the fact that DHL is one way screwed up company. My wonderful mom, packaged up a few necessary items I had sent to their home, to eventually find their way out to me, as well as our new alternators. DHL worked flawlessly last time we used them, months ago, getting us a new BBQ in only a couple of days and since they already have our necessary customs paperwork on file, why not use them again? This time was different, the parts should have been on a flight out here from LA, yes one flight, but went instead to Ohio, New York, then Sydney, Australia and now are in New Zealand. These are heavy ass parts, what an absolute waist of energy in this time of global warming. I heard DHL might be going out of business and its no wonder why, with absolute crappy money/time/energy wasting shipping routes. Bottom line is, our boat still broken, parts still not here and what are the boys to do but have some more fun and hone our various skills.

The left point

The left reef point looking fun

For Dom, the commonwealth kids and myself that takes the roles of surf photography and surfing. We had been hitting up the new left point for a few fun afternoon sessions and as the waves were sick, the light was always back lit to hell, with the blinding sun directly behind the waves in the afternoon when we most seemed to be on it, the story with west coasts world wide, so everyone just surfing was the call.

Returning from an afternoon surf

Damn were feeling fine after another fun Surf!

On one particular fun session with a S. swell still running, Kahlil in a froth induced blindness, as no one is really sure if his conscious mind has control of his motor functions when riding a wave, tried his best skewer me with his pointy board. Narrowly skirting in front of me, good, but only to kookfully cut-back right in front of me, loosing his balance in the whitewater, as I protected my head with my arms and dove for safety. We ended up on top of each other and as I don’t take kindly to kooks endangering me in the surf, no matter whom they are, I reflexively, angrily untangled our boards, chucked his board towards the inside, called him a kook at the top of my lungs and told him to split, while the locals looked on in amusement. It was funny really, as my aggressive side doesn’t need to come out too often here and the insident reminded me of surfing in crowded Southern California again. However, we still had to have a little chat later about how the waves here are dangerous enough without worrying about your friends unconsciously putting you in harms way. Then after a few days the south swells started to die out and a new N. started to fill in. This was first discovered late one evening when we hit up the left point and found the dying south and north swells were hitting simultaneously.

Off the top

I'm slashing the left point

Death rights were firing down the opposite side of the reef that I tried futilely to catch, as wanted to keep living. I ended up paddling back over to the lefts that were still workable, warping as the N. swell was making all kinds of crazy wedges everywhere, with short fast rides on the various sections into the shallow reef. The top corner of reef was especially gnarly, S. and N. swells would come together, doubling the wave in height and throwing latterly, a crazy pie shaped wedge onto almost dry reef you wanted nothing to do with. But, the afternoon waves were fun, the drops intense, the rush heavy, compared to the length of the ride and the next day we knew we needed to change it up.

No one really wants to surf this place

Not where you go to surf for Fun!

Its Kahlil on anchor watch again, because Dizzy still hadn’t come back from one of his many nights out with his chick Vainui. So, Dom and I split alone, headed for the North coast and the new swell. Checking spots along the way, the wind was offshore or nonexistent and it looked like all the variables were coming together. We looked at one of the deadliest waves I have ever tried surfing, a slabbing right, that is so hard to get into its crazy and then breaks on a super shallow, jagged coral ledge/shelf, that your fins scrape if you are on the bottom trough of the wave. It mostly the domain of boogieboarders, which a pack of greeted us warmly waving for us to paddle out and also two surfers who were yelling at us not to take pictures, like anyone really wants to surf this place for fun, its just a psycho wave. We watched a couple of sets turn spongers into reef meat and the surfers pulled back on all of em, and we split for more bountiful waters.

Setting up for the not so secret tube

Setting up for the not so secret tube

A secret spot we found previously hidden behind a motu was firing and we were out there. Dom in the water with the camera, trying to figure out the lineup and where to wait for the best shots and me on my 5”11” quad fin, grabbing fun barrels right off the bat. Dom barley got a chance to snap a few shitty shots before his memory card malfunctioned and he was reduced to surfing with me. Oh darn! The waves mushes through the top section, connecting into a wrapping barrel when big, that is perfect, heaving and just so much fun. Really only a few people were out, it was super mellow, but still its great to have Dom around to know when people are talking shit about you in French here. The language is still basically gibberish to me, thus I have no idea what people are saying, but Dom on the other hand is fluent in French and busts the froggy fuckers all the time. Calling them out and making them feel like the stooped fools, its great! In this instance out in the water, one French guy, sitting next to us was proclaiming “How stooped Americans are, that they come here and surf our waves.” Dom quips in French “Stooped is thinking you are the only one who knows your language.” And laughs in his face. He tries to tell us this is some local’s spot and Dom makes him feel like a retard, pointing out the obvious fact he is not Tahitian with a nose like that. Even the local Tahitians are laughing at the French kook and he splits after another shitty wave. Photographically the session might not have been too successful, but it was sure fun as hell and we stokedfully jammed home, dogging rain squalls and rainbows on the fairly long ride home.

Rainbow time

Who doesn't love rainbows?

That evening Dizzy was excitingly claiming he surfed the same spot earlier in the day for his first time and Vainui wanted to take us surfing tomorrow morning if we were up for it. I told Dom to fix his memory card issue and Dizzy spent more than a few minutes massaging Kahlil into serving yet another anchor watch for him and now I believe owes him five anchor watches; He’s going to be hating it when the surf is pumping in front of the boat and he’s stuck onboard manning the ship.

Dizzy Vainui checking the surf

Might have been a cute picture, but Dizzy's ass ruined it.

It was a fresh flowery smelling Tahitian morning, Vainui showed up with the car and we loaded the boards on the roof and for the first time since I can’t remember, I was going surfing by car again. It was fun driving in a car, as we don’t do it often and it offered a different perspective of Tahiti Nui. I have to say though, in Tahiti it is way faster to travel by boat, even our little “Red Rocket.” The barrier reefs create smooth, aqueous highways here and the air is way fresher out on the ocean. For, my ocean purified nose notices the exhaust fumes of all the cars exponentially more these days and I don’t think one feels how polluted the air actually is when driving on streets and highways, until you give it up for a fair bit of time. And as I reminisce fondly of my SUV collecting dust back home and all the great surf it has brought me too, I find I really don’t miss it much at all.

ass-air-web.jpg

Concentrate on the Landing!

Showing up by land you discover why its a “Secret Spot,” as one can’t see the wave very well from shore. Hidden mostly by a motu and looking flat from so far away, its well camouflaged from most kooks. For the first time in ages I found myself paddling out from land and not a boat, what a novelty. We all made the long paddle, Dom struggling against the strong current with his camera gear propped on his board, having to cross the sharp reef and offering flesh as a sacrifice, as he eventually yielded to the unrelenting current in the channel and had to walk it. We eventually all made it out to the lineup and well, it wasn’t quite as big as the day before, but still super fun.

AI taught me a new trick or two.

AI taught me a new trick or two.

Dom’s camera seemed to be finally dialed, the sun intermittently cooperated and anther fun session went down. It was great to surf with Vainui, who for so long seemed to be Dizzy’s little secret. She got plenty of fun ones and even made me smile as she snaked boogieboarders with no hesitation.

Vainui snaking spongers Vainui driving off the bottom

Then apparently every Tahitian’s, Saturday’s night hangover wore off all at once and instantly we were surrounded with a pack of flailing, spazzing boogieboarders (the real scourge of Tahiti, apparently they haven’t got the memo here that you should start surfing when you grow up and leave the boogie for kids), a bunch of local surfers and now with a solid pack out in the surf, I was over it. Opting instead to relax in the warm shallows of the motu, chatting it up with Vainui, as the last minutes of morning ticked by and Dom and Dizzy battled the crowd for some last tasty waves. We scored it, every one was happy as stoked little surfers after the session and thank you a million for coming out of the closet as Dizzy’s girlfriend Vainui (only a 2.3% tranny chance now, I kid), and hooking us up with fun times and surf.

Dizzy sneaking into one

Where is Dizzy?

All those exhausting fun times make growing boys need to eat good, scrumptious food to say fit and healthy. On the “Natty M” we know what good eating is all about. Life is just too short to eat poorly and soon, god willing we will be in the middle of nowhere eating what ever is at hand, but right now there are well stocked markets close by, albeit expensive markets and nightly good eats have been going down. Homemade BBQ’ed sauced T-Bones one night and tender teriyaki sirloin stakes another, but then the good got even better.

Jamacia Mike always happy!

An always happy Mike

Jamaican Mike, who is by now an honorary “Natty M” crewmember, had a special, special gift for us. I’m not talking about his West Indian/Caribbean tooth suck sound, that Dom had been missing and brought me back to warm Caribbean memories; Even though what usually follows after the tooth sucking sound is never good news nor a kind reply, but sass. This gift traveled across multiple oceans, all the way from Jamaica, its birthplace, hand crafted by Mike himself, with nothing but the finest of Jamaica’s herbs and spices blended together. It was authentic Jamaican Jerk sauce. Upon opening the bottle your nose is greeted with the potent smell of spices, a little sweetness and the pungent odor of goodness, that instantly makes your mouth water before you can inhale another heavenly sent.

Mmmmm, Jerk pork and lamb chops

Chicken Wings and Lamb chops so F'n good!

Everyone had been reminiscing about chicken wings and Caribbean BBQ since the day we all left the place, now it was a reality! The Jerk spent all day marinating hand fulls of chicken wings and young New Zealand lamb chops and that night it was a Jamaican BBQ feast. Dizzy was off once again on a hot date, which was great, because there was just more for us to devour and we wedged on succulent, spicy meat, we greedily pulled off the bone with our teeth. Dinner was so good and brought us all back to a place we love, The Caribbean with its African culture, music and finger licking good BBQ, what an absolute treat way out in Tahiti.

Tahitian friends

Big Boys

The great Jamaican dinner we had that night, was preceded by yet another gorgeous Tahitian sunset we thoroughly enjoyed watching from “The sandbar.” “The sandbar,” is a long shallow, obviously sandy, mostly coral free area just inside the barrier reef, where Tahitian catamaran party barges and tons of local boats anchor on the weekends and everyone wades around in waste deep water, dancing to competing beats and enjoying the simple pleasures of life, i.e. the opposite sex and alcoholic refreshments. You hang out with big jovial Tahitian men who warm you with their friendly spirits and generous gifts of beers and strange alcoholic punches I always try to avoid, as well as topless Tahitian women, who are quite friendly to us haollies and whom I also try to avoid. For like I said big friendly Tahitian men abound and I don’t want to see their other side. As the sunset fades into a starry night, the party starts to wane, the girls get cold and everyone weighs anchor, most headed for various local eateries to soak up the booze of the day.

Tahitin Boobies

Underwater Tahitian Boobies

The next evening we were hungry, growing boys once again after the fun Sunday morning surf session and yep, you could have guessed it I’m sure. More tangy Jerk sauce, marinating thick, juicy pork chops were awaiting us to be covetously consumed. I grilled the other white meat to absolute perfection and once again we were in gastronomical heaven. All of us greedily devouring the deliciousness and then just keeling over, right there on the spot, from the excess food and probably the previously consumed alcohol too.

Pork chops in Jerk sauce BBQ Jerk Pork Chops

For it was Sunday afternoon and we had strictly been observing the Sabbath, not working, relaxing on the boat, afternoon breeze blowing, most still in an afterglow from the fun surf of the morning, so we kicked it into high gear and started playing Shithead. If you don’t know Shithead, it’s a fun card game with no winner, just a looser, the Shithead, who typically has to drink something nasty or potent as a reward for being the Shithead. A perfect game to get rid of your left over booze from previous parties or stuff you don’t want to drink, but might just chance it, hopefully to watch your friends gag it down. In this particular case it was Kahlil’s only for trading, cheap, shitty, red box wine that was the poison and everyone received their dose, but Mike got destroyed way harder. It was quite classic, as you can be doing oh so well, but your last three cards are face down, unknown to you and if you choose the wrong one, Ouch! It can turn the tables dramatically. You end up getting unloaded upon and Mike’s sly luck from the previous nights games had all been washed away, eliciting jabs and pokes of fun from everyone else and plenty of, you had if coming to ya’s.

A game of Shithead anyone?

Playing some Shithead

As if the jerk sauce wasn’t enough, Mike came over the following night and made us a big pot of Jamaican chicken curry, with rice and damn did it hit the spot again! You couldn’t scrape a drop off the side of the pot by the time we were through with it, it was so good.One truly feels like you are brought back to times of old, when we are all cooking and sharing food together in the evenings, playing games, talking trash and story. I find it quite amazing how interactive and social people are, when there is no high-speed Internet at you fingertips and TV to watch on demand. I construe, most of the busy people of the world could benefit from a healthy dose of, the old-fashioned way life.

Jamacian curry chicken dinner

Can you smell that Jamaican chicken curry?

Well, good thing the sun has been shining and the wind blowing more these days, helping us keep our ships batteries charged. Its now officially back to high season here as of March 1st,, doubling the once affordable dockage rates of Marina Taina and making us not want to go back and tie up any time soon. But, we do seem to know how to play the waiting game quite well and I guess we will just continue to do so, enjoying ourselves in the process. I’m getting a strange kind feeling, like our parts are going to be lost forever and we are going to have to apply for another visa extension soon. I know all our friends here are rooting for that one, but for now we will just wait and see what’s in store for the “Natty M” boys, next. Cheers – Kyber

Tahiti Sand Bar sunset

Sand Bar, party barge sunset.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Natural Mystic · Tybur's blog

East Coast Mayhem… backlog1 from Ben

March 1st, 2009 · 2 Comments

Howdy y’all. I’ve been mix and mingling w/ the southern folk here in the great USofA for over 2 months now. Even though I’m in landlubber mode, my mind is still out on the briny waves. As I edit the billion pixels from last years sail-a-thon I’m equally amused by the photos I took that haven’t been published. Here’s some shots I took in October and November of 2007 prior to the Natty M’s maiden voyage.

We were moored in Newport Harbor in Rhode Island for 6 weeks before the remnents of Hurricane Noel kicked Ty and my ass. We saw it coming, heard all the predictions and rode it out moored safely until the chafing compromised our position. So when we fired up the engines to re-attach the mooring line securing us, Mom Nature was spewing 55 mph Northerly hell-wind  gusting 75 knots on our 85′ mast. So it was no walk in the park getting in the Dingy to reattach another bridal to the buoy. Ty and I fought through the wind and waves from the fury Noel had unleashed that spawned in the bowels of the Atlantic.

 It’s a good thing we never became totally free from our mooring. After the winds and weather stabilized we found out our hydraulic steering valve had been closed. Had we been cut loose, major catastrophe would’ve ensued.

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End of the Fun Times

February 27th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The

The "Natty M" Boys

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.

Tina gettin a freeboard in on her last day in Tahiti

Tina rippin it up on her last Tahitian day

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.

Both feeling sad as Tina departs

A sad goodbye

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.

Tears were flowing as Tina left for home

Sometimes its OK to cry a little bit

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.

Yumm Tina's Fresh Bread

Now thats some fresh warm bread!

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!

Heading into immigration for visa extensions

Immigration always a fun time!

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!

The nice immigration officals of Tahiti

All ready behind bars, just in case.

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.

Lightning over Morea

Electric Morea going off

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.

BBQ'n at sausages on the dock

Dock BBQ's almost every night

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.

Jamaica Mike and Dizzy

Dizzy and Mike are feeling fine

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

Sun setting over Marina Taina Anchorage

Another one bites the dust

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