Somewhere in the past few weeks this train got off the tracks at reality and hasn’t returned. I keep waiting for the hammer to fall, to wake from the dream, for something to happen that is just hum drum. The expedition peaked right after Christmas at The Edge of the Earth, went completely over the edge with a bunch of the world’s best in Legends at the Abyss and though I don’t remember much as I was pretty sick, continued the exponential climb in a Matter of Perspective. The quality of the winds and waves in the Marshall Islands were simply insane and we seriously considered just halting the whole thing there as I thought there would never be chance to find better.
This isn’t a comparison log. I’m not going to go on and on about finding another epic location as I’ve written plenty of those over the years. I want to leave the Marshall Islands where they belong- undisturbed in our minds as the closest thing to perfection kiteboarding can come. But there’s this other place many miles away, across another line, into another country, into another realm that I’m having trouble finding fault. But it didn’t start that way.
To get there we sail almost dead-downwind for nearly two days and nights, leaving the world of flat atolls and endless reef for a completely different jurassic park land of mountains and waterfalls. Steep peaks shrouded in mist and clouds held together by walls of impenetrable green great us on arrival, yet another stop where we are the sole boat visiting these waters. But the beauty is washed out by the rain. My god it can rain here. For three days it never quits. Walls of water in great heaving sheets platter and pop, drowning out the cacophony of insects that must number in the millions per square mile. By the 4th day, the day our new guests were due to arrive I was beginning to think we should route to another location. It’s not a lot of fun sitting in the rain on a boat. Bruce, who’s been on board since early January and the crew and I discuss the option of sailing on to Pohnpei, which at slightly different latitude may have more promise.
Our guests arrive, many time zones distant from where they’d started thrilled to be in a new part of the world but they are met with saturated bodies and glum faces. The forecast calls for more rain and light air. I am keen to sail on but we’d lose two days of the trip underway and there would be a lot of cost involved to change flights. Lance and his wife Elena and Keith and his buddy Martin are open and flexible, keen to just be here and their fresh perspective makes us realize a bit of patience is in order. It would have been nothing short of an immense tragedy if we’d left.
Over the next 10 days Discovery hardly moves. The anchorage is dead calm, something we haven’t had in nearly two months. The winds pick up to a steady 15-25 knots every day; the sun makes her appearance and stays more than she goes; and we find a wicked right-hand break about 2 minutes from the anchorage, complete with a mooring ball to protect the reef we can use instead of anchoring. Bar-none it is the best wave anyone has kited to date on the expedition. Two big swells will visit us on the trip, both times they bring triple overhead waves, and side shore winds make the money break complete. Keith and Martin are newbies to wave kiting but they jump in with both feet. Martin goes a little too hard right off the bat and visits the “green room” and promptly says goodbye to his board. This is only the beginning of our gear woes as waves this big make mincemeat of mistakes. 4 kites and one board get trashed and I spend hours each day repairing bladders and torn kites. It is work I undertake gladly- we are the first to ever kite this break and a few mistakes are a small price to pay for this level of wave kiting.
Elena and Lance are here for Elena’s 50 th birthday compliments of their son and owner Luc Greggain. Though not kiters, they fit into our little entourage like family. Lance entertains everyone each night on guitar while Elena keeps us all smiling with her ineffable wit. For the first time ever we have equal women and men on board and I realize we finally have the right crew mix this year. I run the boat but have three gorgeous women (Sole, Pia and Jody) doing all the things I can’t (which are numerous). Why it took me til year 3 to figure out that having women around is a lot more fun is a mystery and testament to my tawdry management skills.
We take a break from the kiting mid-trip and explore a bit of the island. Everyone but Lance, Sole and Elena are divers so they take a crash course while the others go for a reef dive. My ear drum has healed, but I’m wary of putting too much pressure on it and opt for a bit of maintenance. This will be the only day of the trip we don’t kite. By the next day the wave is thundering again and duty calls. It is so good in fact that Bruce cancels his flight to return early as planned in the 11 th hour. More swell is on the way and we both agree to leave would be dense at best.
Each day we return to our anchorage from the break a little more beaten up, a lot more tired, more and more satiated. The conversation is always animated, the beers flow freely and we are each inwardly thrilled at what we have found, what we are doing. It’s impossible to be more removed from the goings-on of the world: the dire news, the lay-offs, the economy, the problems. Out here our lives are dictated by the sun and rain, but the wind and calm, by the swell and sky.
If I have anything to do with it, we’re going to keep this train on this crazy track for as long as I can. Reality can stay right where it is- a long way from here.