I am not a morning person. I don't pretend to be. But here near the equator it is sweaty-steamy hot by 9:00 AM, and the hours between sunrise (5:45 AM) and 8 are quite nice. I think I am becoming more of a morning person. Anyway, by 10 this morning I was blazing hot and decided to go try to get a few waves at the beach here in the cove we are anchored in. The beach is black sand and volcanic rocks, and the water is totally murky- I hope this is because of the rivermouth at the far side of the beach. Because the cove is so protected the waves are small, but better than nothing, I thought.
I jumped in the 80+ degree water (which is semi-refreshing) with my longboard. Good to be back on a board!! I started paddling toward the beach a few hundred yards away, feeling my muscles start work and pushing me smoothly through the water. I was about half way to the beach when I froze. There was a boil in the water. Then something- what, I do not know- but something BIG jumped a way out of the water and appeared to be struggling. Fighting. The water was disturbed for another few seconds and then it went silent. I looked around, thinking, murky water, rivermouth, south pacific, hmmmmm... I decided to paddle over to my friends on the boat Savannah.
"Hello, Savannah!" I yelled and knocked on the hull of the boat. Andy, an ex-Navy SEAL, poked his head out of the hatch. "Oh Hey Corie, you going surfing?" He asked me. "Um, well, I was going to but..." and I explained what I had seen to him.
"Yeah, I've seen some things around here that have not looked quite right. I mean, I have not seen any shark fins or anything, but the guide books say its really sharky around here." He told me. "Oh really," I said as I tucked my feet up onto my board. As I was about to paddle away from his boat, his 5 year-old son Jake popped his head out of the hatch and said, "If you see a shark, swim at it 'cause it will scare it away 'cause it will think your are gonna eat it." Yes, little Jake, if I see a shark in the water I am sure I will swim right at it.
Looking for a bit of support I decided to paddle over to Merkava, to try to recruit Mark, an ex-stuntman (cruisers are all sorts of interesting people!) to come surf with me. When he declined with the excuse of cleaning the hull of his boat, I told him what I had seen. "Oh great" he said, "and I was just going to jump in the water to clean the hull." "Perfect! That might cut my chances of getting chomped in half." I joked. "You know," he said totally seriously, "the only thing I have read about sharks in the Marquesas is how unbelievably big they are." I looked for a glint of humor in his eyes: nothing. "Great, ok thanks. Uhh, see ya around." I paddled back to Rutea as fast as I could.
I do not like to be deterred when I set out to do something- especially when it comes to surfing. When I got back to the boat I rethought the past 15 minutes. Was I overreacting? Did I really see something gnarly in the water? Maybe Andy and Mark don't know what they are talking about. I told Mom everything and she said, "Yea, the guide book says that it is really sharky here, but it was written so long ago..." Thanks for looking out, Mom.
I need a bigger boat. Fortunately we have a kayak, so I launched it and paddled back to the surf. I didn't see anything unusual, except for a small, peeling, fun looking left. Back to the boat, I rigged up an anchor for the kayak, attached my longboard to it, and paddled back to the beach. I anchored, and then waited in the kayak for a set to come. When it did, I jumped onto my board, caught a nice little wave, and paddled like hell back to the kayak, climbed on it, and waited for another set to come. I surfed this way for a while, and when I still had all my fingers and toes after a half hour or so, I decided not to push my luck any further and headed back to the boat.
Perhaps I was overreacting, but I was surfing alone in this crazy place. I think I might save my surfing expeditions for another time and place. Tomorrow we are going on a land adventure to see ancient Tiki sights around the island, which should be cool. Until next time, send good vibes to all the ocean creature out there.
At 4/13/2011 12:40 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 09°48.21'S 139°01.83'W
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