Check out the movie at the end of this log!
I’m not used to this. Sitting down at the computer writing about a trip where everything went right..or at least mostly right. Ok, a few people got sick but in Madagascar that’s pretty much par for the course. But no one got hurt. The wind and waves paid us a number of visits. Knock on wood, but maybe our luck has finally returned?
Sky Solbach and Kristin Boese were on board in hopes of getting footage for their respective sponsors, and also to provide some wave inspiration for the guests; Thomas Scheuring, Bryan Roth, and Rob Born. In fact the only problem at the start of the trip was that our videographer, Dan Connelly was missing. We wouldn’t learn for another two days that he wouldn’t be coming, due to a family emergency at home.
Humpbacks are out in force this time of year and it was only a few minutes after our departure from Tulear that we began seeing several breach on our way to Ifaty. One in particular caught our eye as he seemed to be signaling to us. Of course this was not the case, but as we closed the distance under sail the giant continued whacking his tail, sending great volumes of water into the air, much to everyone’s delight. We have been in Madagascar for now well over a month and a half, and still we haven’t seen another yacht. This vast playground is ours alone.
The swell forecast looked solid for the entire trip. As long as the wind would pay a visit, our long wait to kite some of the amazing waves on this wild southwest coast would finally be realized.
It wasn’t much of a wait. When we pulled into the pass at Ifaty the lefthander across from the channel from where I’d broken my rib two weeks previously was working and we had 20 knots of side-onshore wind. Everyone launched their kites shortly after we had the anchor down. We didn’t have everyone back on board till well after sunset in the near pitch black of a new moon night. Good first day. Waves, whales, kiting, and a blissful sunset.
The gang repeated the Baobab forest tour we’d done on the previous trip and came back ready for more adventure. A bump in the swell sent us north again where we scored some fantastic surf, then moved on yet again and got some beautiful, perfect flatwater kiting inside the lagoon near Anakao.
Two evenings in a row the wind paid a very short visit from the south, which allowed Sky, Kristin and Rob to get two awesome wave sessions in at Flameballs, which we’d yet to score. My healing rib kept me off kite and board, but it was good enough to allow me to swim in the waves and take some photos. The exercise was sorely needed- both for the body and the mind.
Rob’s girlfriend Kelly joined us mid-trip, arriving at the same time as Bryan, Sky and Kristin got hit by the bug that has been nailing people since we arrived Madagascar in May. Some kind of intestinal beast that puts people down for 24-48 hours and keeps the plumbing working overdrive. Thankfully Bryan came out smiling and voiced what we all know to be true. These trips are for many people the highlight of their lives, but they aren’t necessarily easy, and never go according to plan.
At the swell’s peak the wind disappeared, but left some phenomenal waves for first mate Tim, Rob, Sky, and Julienne to rip. The highlight for me was swimming with them all as the sun was setting behind the wave, which would light up an absurd color of green when it went hollow that was entirely surreal. It was just as fun taking the waves over my head with the camera as it was for them to surf (or at least it felt that way to me!). Rob commented that his last wave of the night, which was so dark we could barely see him, made the trip half way around the world worth it.
We spent three nights anchored right off the break, close enough that sleep was nearly impossible- the roaring waves kept the imagination in overdrive, the desire for sunrise insatiable.
The light in southern Madagascar reminds me of the Southwestern United States. Each evening at sunset blue sky turns into a piano of crimson- a hundred different keys, played out one gentle stroke at a time. It is impossible not to watch in a state of bewilderment. This daily event would signal it was time for a beverage, maybe a game of chess, music and the anticipation of dinner; driven by blissful smells emanating from the galley, compliments of our lovely chef Julienne.
One final surf session on the last day was enjoyed by every person on board. As always, we had it all to ourselves, which I still find incredible, even all the way out here. Discovery has taken us to the far ends of the earth, even crippled as she has been without a motor for nearly two months. She is as stubborn as I am- determined to go on whatever the price and toll.
“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will people be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. ” ~Wallace Stegner