We are currently sitting at anchor inside the lagoon of the island of Tahiti with 30 knot winds howling outside. A few days ago a guy came up to the boat and told us the winds could blow as hard as 70 knots in the next few days, but I doubt it, and I hope not because that will keep us trapped on the boat until the winds die down. I am not too stir crazy yet because I got to surf this morning. Yes, that's right: surf! And I surfed the 2 previous days, too.
We arrived in Tahiti on June 1. After getting permission to sail past the airport we found a spot to anchor inside the reef, just outside the marina. Soon after getting settled, Mom, Dad and I headed out into the (what seemed like a) huge city of the outskirts of Papeete. Crossing the highway was way more intimidating than I remember (2 lanes each way, with a crosswalk for the peds), and our first walk through the Carrefour supermarket was mind boggling. I have since learned to navigate the market, as well as the highway.
Our second day Mom and Dad went to do our official check-in to Papeete, while I stayed on the boat. Mom came back very excited and told me she landed me a surf date for the afternoon. Normally I do not let her set me up on dates, but these guys had rented a car and were going to drive around the island looking for surf. How could I resist?!
Pat and Mike off the catamaran Tiger picked me up at the boat around noon, and we set off. Pat is very Australian and after spending the past 3 days wave hunting and surfing with them, I am thinking about getting pissed with my mates. There has been a huge swell in the water the past few days and I have spent hours sitting in the cockpit watching the waves break on the outer reef- huge spitting barrels and nasty close-outs sending whitewash 50 feet into the air. Even the passes have been too gnarly, so we were looking for a beach break that would be nice and tamed by the outside reef.
We looked at a bunch of spots while heading south, often finding them because we saw a surfer or sponger (boogie boarder) disappear into a bunch of trees. The waves on the west side of the island were not looking so good, so we decided to go down to Teahupoo to check things out. Teahupoo is an insane wave that breaks at the pass about 1/2 mile off shore (Google image it). We had no intention of surfing it, of course, but it's kind of a pilgrimage every surfer that finds them self in Tahiti should take on. Even from the shore I could see the wave with a big enough barrel to fit a car inside. Just a huge, round, pitting, pitching barrel. A few people were tow in surfing it, and they looked like little black dots that dropped into the wave then launched out the top. I don't think the wave was very good that day, but it was BIG.
After deciding that Teahupoo wasn't good enough for us, we chose to drive around the island instead of going back the way we came. On the north side of the island we found a bunch of spots with nice little waves, but it seemed like everybody and their grandmother was in the water. Literally, entire families were playing in the surf pretty much everywhere we went. A very water oriented people.
Finally Mike found us a nice rivermouth wave called Papenoo. Although the waves were small, inconsistent and crowded, I was so stoked to get in the water. After not surfing for 2+ months it felt great to finally be on my board again, even though I could hardly get to my feet. Since then I have surfed twice at another beach break on the north side of the island that has a powerful little shore break wave. Today I surfed way better than I did the previous days and have reconfirmed my identity as a surfer.
The past couple days have been a bit of a whirlwind, especially in comparison to the slow pace of the more remote islands. Whereas I am not thrilled about sitting in traffic jams and listening to police sirens, I must admit it was pretty awesome to be able to drive around the island (in a few hours, no less!) and check surf spots from a car. Tahiti is an interesting place - the contrast of the city and everything that entails with the serene beauty that is found everywhere in French Polynesia. And I know there is so much more to be discovered.
At 6/5/2011 3:07 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°34.81'S 149°37.14'W
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