Thursday, August 30, 2007

August 28, 2007 - Teahupoo, Tahiti

"This is what Hawaii was, 30 years ago," said Tony, one of the guys that Sten has been surfing with. Tony and his friends come down from the Big Island every year at this time of year to spend three weeks surfing Teahupoo. They like this season because the wave is still big, but all the pros have long since headed home after the Billabong Pro. Well, not all of the pros have left; for one of them, Teahupoo is home. Today, Vetea David, aka "Poto", was using a jet ski to tow a friend into bigger waves. One of those monsters swept through and cleaned out the line-up. Before Sten could get out of the way he found himself on the wrong side of the breaking wave. After getting tumbled, having his fins pulled off and their safety cords wrap around his ankles - effectively binding his legs together, and using the leash on his body board to climb back to the surface, two more waves broke on top of him. In twenty years of riding waves, this was the worst beating he has ever taken, by far. Before a fourth wave could pummel him, Poto swept in on his jet ski and pulled Sten out. Thanks, Poto.
One of the girls with whom I was chatting the other day described her village as a big family. She laughingly pointed to each of the guys standing near us and explained how they were related. I'm glad that we got to spend a few days here. It gave us a chance to see Tahiti as it used to be. Lush, well tended gardens surround the houses lining either side of the road that ends just beyond the village. There is little traffic, other than kids riding their bikes. It was just the antidote we needed after the noise and bustle of Papeete.

Just a note for cruisers that follow - don't anchor in front of the village. The water there is brown and silty from a river that empties into the basin. Anchor around the point, about three miles away at 17 50.3S, 149 16.9. This spot proved to be protected from most of the wind, swell and showers that constantly sweep Teahupoo. And best of all, the water is crystal clear. You can easily walk (people will stop to offer you a lift, it is that kind of place)or dink to the village. Be sure to get baguettes from the magasin - they are the best that we have had in French Polynesia. And if you are lucky, the owner will throw in a few fresh donuts.

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