On the last day of the pro trip the boys got one last sweet surf session at Tikehau, when both a right and a left were working nicely. Mauricio was finally healed up enough to start it out showing everyone up on the SUP, then transferring to his surfboard and staying out solo for several hours after the rest had retired after a very full two weeks. The poor guy had to watch a string of perfect days and it was great to see him able to enjoy in the fun. Clinton and I saw everyone off at the airport then returned to what felt like a very vacant Discovery for an exaggerated sleep session. The next morning we motored around in zero wind back to Rangiroa, landing two lovely king mackerel on the way.
The weather during our 5 days between trips was horrible. Never-ending rain and squalls kept the crew holed up watching movies and relaxing. Thankfully, the weather cleared the day before the start of our next trip, just in time for the boat to get cleaned up and our chef team to provision and prep more of their amazing food.
With the sun back in all her regalia, I picked up Cory, Patrece and their friend Augie at the airport. This would be our smallest group yet, and after 14 days with a dozen on board I know the crew was looking forward to a bit more leisure time. Whereas we had wind and swell for the entirety of the pro trip, this one would be desperately short of the one magic ingredient we need to kite. Luckily this group has fun no matter what the conditions, and we found ours early playing a drinking game called Liar’s Dice, which is apparently just a means to polish a bottle of Patron in about 25 minutes. This was followed by some terrifically terrible rum punch, which then led to gratuitous nudity and antics our neighbors at anchor may not have fully enjoyed. Some of you may recall a log back from our second trip entitled “pole dancing under the lunar eclipse“- this was the same group, sans two of the couples, but Cory and Patrece weren’t about to let the absence of people undercut the fun.
The next morning we sailed a couple hours to the south end of Rangiroa, which is peppered with uninhabited motus and beautiful white sand beaches, with the added bonus of having zero chance of annoying neighbors as there would never be any. We spent the day exploring the surroundings, which were stunning, then settled in for a sunset bonfire and shark wrestling, as always performed by Clinton “Irwin” Bolton. Lars and Hannah made gorgeous little banana leaf pouches of fresh fish, black beans and herbs that they roasted on the fire to end a perfect day.
With a continued no-wind forecast in Rangiroa, but what looked to be better conditions down by Moorea, some 200 miles south and our destination we departed early the next morning to make what would usually be a 24 hour run. This one turned into nearly 36 and became quite a gruel. For me, it was one of the more stressful passages I’ve had. We’d only been able to pick up 150 litres of fuel in Rangiroa, which nevertheless would be sufficient to get us down to Moorea if we had no wind. The first 20 hours of the trip were in dead-flat, windless conditions. A peaceful and even enjoyable motor, but I went to bed after checking the fuel gauges for the umpteenth time knowing we didn’t have enough to make it without sailing for at least some of the run. Sometime around 0300 the wind started thankfully stirring, and from the SE, which allowed us to sail on a close haul and save precious little remaining fuel. As the hours passed the wind increased, which built the seas into an uncomfortable wind swell from the east, mixing with a large SW ground swell, making for bumpy and tiring conditions.
We sailed hard into it for most of the day. Finally, with a wind veer even further to the south, making our port tack even further away from our goal of Cook’s Bay on Moorea, I dropped the sails and prayed we’d have enough fuel to slog it out. I hoped the lee of Moorea would provide both swell and wind relief, but incredibly the winds kept building. As I’d been on watch all day the previous day, then up all night, then on watch all day again, my patience wick was burning low. With winds in excess of 25 knots directly on the nose, it took nearly 4 hours to cover only 16 miles. We must have arrived on mere fumes and anchoring that night felt awfully good. It doesn’t hurt that Cook’s Bay is easily one of the most arresting places I’ve ever sailed. We came here in 2001 and I was happy to feel the same joy in my surroundings as I did the last time.
The next morning we fueled Discovery, probably the highlight of the trip for me. We hadn’t been able to take on fuel by other than jerry jug since Hao Atoll, on the last full moon, some 35 days ago. As the fuel dock was nothing more than a 10′ square we had to anchor out and back down to the pier. You can probably tell from the picture that we are probably a bit larger than their regular customer. Gordon, a semi-local from San Diego who’s been coming to Moorea for the past 14 years to surf and more recently kite saw the Best stickers and came down to see what we were all about. I invited him on for the day so he could show us the local spots, which I think judging from the gushing thank-you’s and smiles he gave to everyone for the rest of the day, might have made his trip. And we might have a new shareholder. Unfortunately this would be the only day of the trip for kiting. Both Cory and Gordon got about an hour of pretty solid conditions around on the windward side of the island. With Tahiti in the background and the green spires of Moorea overhead, it was a mesmerizing spot.
So we can’t always nail the winds but our chefs always nail the food; the locations speak for themselves; Discovery is a lovely platform to soak it all in from; so we can’t complain. We’ve got a week to get some badly needed maintenance done in Tahiti before going south to the Australs for two months, a region very very few people ever visit. Fuel, food, and parts will be near difficult to come by, so it will undoubtedly be a busy week.