snorkeling in Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa [left] and Sunset Beach Oahu [right]
Jim surfing “on the reef” in French Polynesia
Getting tatted in Nuku Hiva by Isidore Haiti
Jim on a secret break in French Polynesia. The locals came out and told me politely, “No Photos!”
Jim with an ear infection paddling around in our dinghy while I snorkel in Ua Pou.
May 2 was the anniversary for two of the most significant life events in both Jim’s and my life. In 2005, Merrik was born and in 2000, we set sail on a 9,800+ nautical mile voyage throughout Polynesia on a 38′ Downeaster cutter rigged sloop. This trip changed both of us and still affects the way we live today. We learned that less is more and that everything most people are chasing after can’t even compare.
We promised we would be back on the ocean by now but after Maliea was born we decided it would be best to wait until she is at least 6 before heading out again.
Here is an excerpt of one of the letters I sent back to family-handwritten even though we could find email access here and there on some of the islands:
“As we approached Hiva Oa the night was magnificent. A warm breeze blew across our bow and the sky was dark. Save for the stars that peeked out from behind the clouds, not much shimmer landed on the seas.
A strong scent encircled the boat for moments at a time. After 27 days of unscented air except for the flying fish we found on deck, the smell of earth, rotting fruit, tree and flower now came strong but mysteriously.
As day broke and we rounded Hiva Oa’s south shore we were revealed, piece by piece, the shear cliffs, tree-lined ridges and cavernous valleys of the island. Our first anchorage was Atuona. A double lobed bay off a larger bay, we found safe immobility in Tahauku Bai. The town of Atuona itself is about a mile hike on a road around the bay and a point of land to the edge of the western lobe. Atuona consists of a Gendarmerie, Post Office, Bank, Air Tahiti office, several stores and a couple of “Snacks,” the Marquesan version of a cafe or fast food restaurant.
After setting bow and stern anchors, we wandered off to find our newly discovered ‘civilization.’ We arrived on Sunday so the town was extremely quiet. As we walked back to our cozy anchorage (we shared the tiny bay with 30 other boats) we happened upon a black sand beach at the head of our bay. It was lined with dense vegetation and housed a fresh water stream at it’s center. A beautiful young woman sat with her feet in the stream, her hair crowned with flowers. A group of men gathered behind her were engrossed in the food they were turning on the fire and more on the table. As we neared the picturesque Polynesian scene we were beckoned by on of the Marquesan men to join in the festivities. We were generously prepared a plate of roast pig, chicken, fish, breadfruit and beans smothered in barbeque sauce.
The next day after completing our official check-in procedures at the Gendarmerie, we surfed the 3′ waves at the black sand beach in town while the sun went down behind Mt. Temitui. On the black rocks at the base of a tall cliff next to the surf break, a local blazed a fire. ”
This brief anecdote doesn’t go into detail about how Jim was in the clinic for the first week right after our surf session then was transferred to Papeete. We found unbelievable beauty and adventure everywhere we went but the trip had it’s major scary, frustrating and exhausting aspects too. It’s definitely not the type of travel for everyone but we found solace in the lifestyle after about a 6 month adaptation period. Both Jim and I had our moments and learned a lot about each other. If you want to know if you will be compatible with someone, go sailing together for 2 years! Our souls are bound together now and we both learned how not to let the little things get to us about each other. It’s such a peaceful place to be in a relationship. I highly recommend going cruising before you get married.
[all images were shot with Fujichrome Velvia and Provia and Fujicolor Reala with a Nikon 8008s or Nikon EM. I took over 300 rolls of film with me and had no problems with storage. I didn’t see my images until 8 months after I started shooting. No instant gratification there!]