Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 27, 2007 - Teahupoo, Tahiti

After a week in Papeete, during which we spent more than we have over the past three months combined (the big ticket items were refilling our fuel tanks, jerry cans, and a propane tank, paying the agent, my doctor's visit, laundry, wifi fees and lots of trips to the grocery), we were both itching to move on. Our last chore was to visit to the fuel dock. While we fueled, I watched a guy cutting up some nice tuna for sashimi - one of the local specialties. When he was done making his lunch, he turned to me and handed me a bag containing at least ten pounds of super fresh tuna. We haven't been catching much lately, so we were thrilled with this gift.

After a five hour motor sail, we shot the pass just north of Teahupoo, one of the most famous waves in the world. The pass was narrow and shallow (12 feet deep), and Sten was a bit nervous as we rode a wave into the lagoon behind the barrier reef. The surf report calls for the swell to peek tomorrow. The day after we arrived, the surf was already built up, and the waves were breaking clear across the pass. Already it is double overhead, and growing. But our anchorage, inside the barrier reef and tucked behind another "banc", or small reef, couldn't be calmer.

With the turquoise and aquamarine reef in front of us and the lush, green mountains behind us, this spot combines the best aspects of the Tuamotus and the Marquesas. And best of all, we're the only boat here. Most cruisers make Papeete their only stop in Tahiti.

Sten has been having a great time watching the surfers at the main break. Yesterday he saw more tube rides in one day than he has cumulatively up until this point in his life. When we first got here, and I went with him to check out the break, he readily acknowledged that he is too out of practice to attempt this mythical wave. But each day, he gets closer to talking himself into riding it. "Yeah, the guys were wiping out, but nobody broke anything." And that's supposed to be reassuring? Today he took his board with him. He said it was just so that he could get to a better vantage point. A few hours later he came back, grinning from ear to ear, with the news that he rode three waves. "On the last wave I kicked out too late, and wound up standing on the reef facing a six foot wall of water." Somehow, he is still in one piece. He swears that the swell was smaller today than yesterday, but "every fifteen minutes or so, an absolute monster would come through, at least triple overhead and barrelling top to bottom, keeping everyone in the line-up on their toes." By the end, he was the only one left in the line-up. Despite the professional surfing competition held here each spring, the local kids that I met are incredulous that their wave is famous and amused that someone would come all the way from Boston to ride it.

When I was storing the provisions we bought in Papeete, I discovered rust on some of the canned goods that are stored in the compartment that the fridge pipes run through. So I've taken it as a challenge to figure out what to do with some of the cans we've had on board since we left Newport. If anyone has a good recipe for white beans, let me know. Last night I did a warm bean salad with grilled tuna. In typical cruiser style, I loosely followed the recipe, substituting canned beans for dried, mint for parsley, tomatoes for arugula, and lime for lemon. The result seemed more Greek than Italian. Today we had a Dutch Baby for breakfast - leading to many baby jokes, particularly after I put the batter-filled pan in the oven. It reminded us of the puffy pancakes at the Pancake House off of Rush Street in Chicago. The recipe comes from Fanny Farmer, and couldn't be easier - and sure beats waiting an hour or more on a freezing Chicago winter morning for a table.

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