I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How do you say "Is it sharky here?" in French?

I should know how to ask if there are sharks around here in French, but it is a stupid question. Of course there are. When I jumped in the water with my surfboard to catch some waves, I was not even thinking about sharks... until I saw some big creatures fighting in the water. Uh oh.

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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  1. so sketchyyyyy!!!
    that was a good idea to go back out with the canoe

  2. Hahahahahaha, Corie, this story was amazing! And beautifully written :) Glad to hear you kept your fingers and toes, sending my good vibes to all the ocean creatures out there for YOUR sake, hope you're feeling the positive energy coming from California halfway around the world, mama <3