We can’t leave Huahine. And dammit we don’t want to! We picked up our skeleton crew, Richard and Paschi in Tahaa on day one with every plan of staying in the area, but by that evening (after a nice kite session of course), we were back in Huahine. Huahine has a tractor beam on Discovery that I’m happy to keep getting sucked back into. Richard and Paschi would be joining us for a week compliments of Best Kiteboarding as they won the sales competition this year (nice incentive Best!). Having just two people on board is kind of like a vacation for us and we’d make the most of it this week.
Early the next morning, with a light forecast we headed around to our secret spot on the windward side of the island, hoping to see some whales on the way. Whoa. Now we’ve been fortunate to have a number of amazing whale encounters in the last couple months, but on this day the rest would all be trounced. First, a giant male breaches right next to us. He seemed to rise straight out of the ocean, a pillar of gnarled black beauty just to look right at us. Now usually, or at least in our experience, this is when they take off. But not this one. After the breach he swam right up to our stern. I abandoned the helm without a word to anyone (thanks Lars!) and quietly slipped into the sea. Our friend rolled past right under me, singing like a whale possessed. Did he think Discovery was a possible mate? I pondered this for a moment as he wandered beyond my vision. Elated, I jumped back on board and we continued on. A minute later the same male, some 40 tons of whale jumped COMPLETELY out of the water right off our stern. I’m talking tail and everything. Then again, and again. And right next to him, a female. Apparently the singing worked and we’d just witnessed the equivalent of a post-romp smoke.
Our guests were predictably stunned. Not a bad second day. We carried on to the lagoon where we are always guaranteed to be the only boat, met up with Jody and Xavier and went flying. A forest fire had started the day before and ripped right through launch, but miraculously left a small patch of grass the exact size of a wing. If you screwed it up the wing would go in the black. This was a one shot gig, and luckily we pulled it off.
Writing this now, thinking back on the experiences of those days actually sends adrenaline through my veins. Richard and I did a long downwinder all by ourselves in a place that is just pure eye candy. The colors of the water are so many shades of blue I think my mind created it’s own acid trip. You just can’t process the beauty and we say feeble things like “wow”, “whoa”, “jesus christ” (that was Richard’s favorite) trying to describe how we’re feeling, but no words tell the story or the whole truth. Maybe the photos lend it a bit of justice…
I’d had my eye on this downwinder since we arrived some many weeks ago. But this was the first time we had wind. Richard and I stopped for a bit on an outer motu and while I waited for my breathing to slow and my heart to stop pounding I took another look around. I am the luckiest man alive- to be here, to see this, to share it with someone who clearly is as equally blown away? Damn.
The next day we toured around the island a bit. Checked out the famous fresh water blue-eyed eels, the ancient and still operational fish traps, the maraes. That afternoon the wind returned and out we went again. The water just off the bow of Discovery is about 2 feet deep for oh, I don’t know- a long long way. I think I saw upwards of a few hundred rays- spotted eagle, eagle, sting and who knows what else. It was easily one of the best flat water sessions I’ve ever had.
We sailed for Tahaa thinking that OK, this would be our last trip to Huahine. Ah, but her magic would work one last time. We dropped off Richard and Paschi, who I think were pretty reluctant to leave (and we were sorry to see them go- see you in Micronesia!!!) and picked up Troy and Les, who were joining from Florida; and Ryan and his girlfriend Beth who had also won a sales contest. We would almost mirror image the trip before. Kite that afternoon in Tahaa, check. Discuss going to Huahine, check. Go to Huahine, check. See whales on arrival, check. This was the best broken record that had ever been played! We’d anchored in our private lagoon many times in the last month and never gotten good enough winds to kite. Now on this trip we nail it both times? Ryan went from total beginner kite skills to the near upwind-master. Les nailed his first forward roll kiteloops, Troy smiled so much I think he has permanent wrinkles in his cheeks. As always, its the group that makes the trip and we were fortunate to have more wonderful people join.
But Bora-Bora was high on everyone’s list to see, so we set sail first for Tahaa, where we spent the night, then onwards the next morning for the famed South Pacific island. Even after a lovely visit, with unfortunately no wind, I still rate it a far second to Huahine and the Australs, but check out this picture- it is pretty darned gorgeous.
We toured the famous lagoon, had drinks at Bloody Mary’s, swam in the clear waters, played games, paddled the SUP, ate fantastic food. Even when there’s no wind life is pretty good. We finished the trip with a perfect upwind sail back to Raiatea. The seas were near dead-calm, winds a light 10 knots, just enough to sail at the same speed with the boat barely moving. Just carving along steadily under full sail. Discovery is our starship, right here on planet earth.