Archive for May, 2013

Tea'hupoo shopTea’hupoo (pronounced Tcho-poo) is a very small town on the southwest coast of Tahiti which even to this day remains largely untouched by the hands of mankind.

It is literally the end of the road on the main island’s south eastern offshoot called Tahiti-Iti and to give you some idea of what a sprawling metropolis it isn’t, this picture is of the only shop in the town.

Tea'hupoo CrowdTea’hupoo was completely off the rest of the surf world’s radar until the story broke about a phenomenal wave that occasionally breaks there in the late eighties.

Since that time the break has been regularly making headlines, snapping boards, and hospitalising surfers.

It features almost every year in the XXL biggest wave wins contest is now one of the regular stops on the world tour. Pictures like this one demonstrate how badly the water drains off the reef that causes the wave to break (you can see it sloping downhill!) to leave anybody caught there in the impact zone where the wave lands with a more than thirty foot high water hammer heading their way and less than two feet of water between you and the reef anvil below. 

Mechanics of TeahupooIt is a freak wave that sometime doesn’t appear to follow the laws of physics because of how thick the lip at the top of the wave is.

This diagram explains it all far better than I can so I wont try to explain it. 

Teahupoo Forecast

Every once in a while the waves break here on an unbelievably  large scale, and as luck would have it I have arrived in time for one of these monster swells. This is a screen print of the forecast at the moment

Such waves cannot be guaranteed here and it may be only every few years that they break this big so I am incredibly lucky to be here. 

Tea'hupoo BackdropI’m not saying no to paddling out just yet, but I strongly suspect it might end up being a bit big for me.

It is an awesome wave and the backdrop is no less impressive, however whilst I am willing to push the envelope a certain degree I do not wish to throw away my life.

The top pros who live for this stuff will be flying in from all over the world just to try and bag one of the monsters that are going to be available this weekend, all of which makes me wonder if it will be above my pay grade despite the amount of practise I have enjoyed recently.

 Going BadlyFor some of them they will get the surf of their lifetimes.

For other things might not go so well…

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Papenoo 2The last you heard from me I was enjoying all the delights of the island paradise of Mo’orea, near Tahiti but as ever my time there was limited so I had to move on again and after completing a lap of the island to ensure that it was indeed perfect (it is) I made my way to the ferry.

There was a huge swell hitting the boat during the crossing and me and my hire car had to be strapped in, all of which meant that the giant swell predicted for the islands during my stay had arrived. 

Papenoo 10However I was keen to get another surf in before my trip around Tahiti-Nui and then onto Tahiti-Iti because it would more than likely be dark by the time I arrived on the south of the island.

I turned left off the ferry and drove around the coast road until I got to the picturesque beach at Papenoo which you see here. 

Papenoo 12The surf was far from epic on the sheltered northern beaches and there were mostly families in the water having fun in the thigh high waves, but I got in to enjoy some more surf in French Polynesia

I won’t pretend that it was an epic session because it wasn’t but I really had fun with everybody else in the water here. Every surfer on the island knew that the real action was going on around the other side and in all honesty I couldn’t wait to get there myself so after catching a hat-trick of fun rides I got out the water and went around the coast to check out the rolling thunder at Tea’hupoo.

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I'm BackHowdy Folks.

My apologies for the extended radio silence but I have been having countless technical issues, which I am going to try not to moan about too much even if I must gripe a little.

However as a consequence of all the problems I am now nearly a month behind on my activities, so you will have to forgive me if there are a whole heap of posts hitting your inboxes over the next week as I try to catch up.

Shiny New ToysI sincerely wish I could tell you that having splashed out on some shiny new toys here in Sydney that all my woes were over. Sadly that is not the case.

I bought a new Windows 8 laptop and mobile phone in the hope that this should minimise potential issues because they would speak to each other easily. How wrong I was!

I am a Microsoft certified technician and I couldn’t work the damn things out for ages, even having to search online to see how I go about turning the laptop off! (How ridiculous is that!) After a few days of pain I strongly suspected the laptop had a corrupt installation and upon returning it to the shop discovered that it was indeed broken. Getting it replaced for another piece of hardware was easy enough but that meant a whole week of installations, registrations, downloading updates, configuration, transferring data, etc. had been wasted. Grrrr!

Windows 8Not impressed Microsoft and have to say that I am far from convinced by the merits of Windows 8 on both devices. I feel that I have just traded in my concerns with my old computer and phone only to have them replaced by newer shinier ones that I have no comprehension of at all. I was hoping for relief upon spending my cash but feel more stressed about technology now than I have at any point prior to this.

Moan over. Sorry I had to get it out of my system. Hope you enjoy the more entertaining posts and that the baffling operating system starts to make more sense to me the more I use it.

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Time OutI am sorry but I am having too many problems with IT at the moment and it is costing me valuable time for enjoying myself in New Zealand where I am now situated.

I have loads to update you on but the final straw this morning was filling the hard drive of my laptop (with loads of great pictures) making it almost impossible to post because the PC is so slow as a consequence.

That BT have also decided to suspend my email account without warning just because I had the affront to log in somewhere new in world, using a perfectly good login and password combination is just an indication of the sort of stuff I’m dealing with. (The latter took a 50 minute international rate call to some fuckwit who didn’t have the first idea what was going on or how to fix it!)

I was going to replace my laptop anyway in Sydney where I arrive on 15th June and will have loads of time there to catch up. Consequently I am taking a time out from the blog until the new machine is purchased to make the most of surf opportunities and everything else that New Zealand has to offer.

I have been noting everything down, so you wont miss anything of what I have been up to. Massive waves, old friends, amazing wildlife and so much more…

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IMAG0249

After the epic surf session at Ha’apiti I went back to Mark’s Place where we had hired the kayaks and trolleys to get our boards and belongings to the break, to ask the owner if he had room for me for one night.

Mark is a lovely American guy who settled in paradise many years ago and will now do everything he can to help you out and make the most of your stay. He even gave me a special rate for the night in what he calls the Honeymoon suite. (www.marksplacemoorea.com)

Kayak Trolleys

You can see the kayaks we used to get out to the break here as well as the trolleys underneath them, which Mark has fashioned himself to make transporting everything the short ditance to the beach a great deal easier for his customers. 

Haapiti Church 4

Mark’s Place  is set in a stunning area and you find the turning for it very close to this beautiful little church in Ha’apiti.

I’m not religeous but am sure that few churches worldwide could claim to have a better setting.

My Place

I had been allocated the two buildings you see here with my bedroom being on the left and my kitchen and bathroom building being on the right.

It was a wonderful place and I’m kicking myself for not finding it earlier. I had a great chat over beers with Mark through the afternoon who showed me some of the other amazing carpentry projects he is working on.

IMAG0257You can see the bedroom of my shack here whose walls are made from the local coral stone and are interspersed with glass bottles to bring some funky light into the room.

I even treated myself to a massage under the stars in my little garden area that evening. It was excellently administered by a lovely French girl whose name I didn’t note while I had an interesting conversation with her, speaking some sort of hybrid version of English, Spanish and French with the occasional dash of Welsh for good measure.

Outdoor Shower

I really can’t fault Mark’s Place or indeed the local area, and am pretty sure I will be returning, however I didn’t go for a second surf at Ha’apiti whilst there, because I thought I would only damage the previous days oustanding memories.

The only other amusing thing to report is that mid way through heavily shampooing my hair in my open air shower as I got ready to leave the island I opened my eyes to see the female half of the Austrlian couple that were staying next door stood directly in front of me, staring at my efforts, whilst I was wearing nothing more than soap suds.

After stumbling into my garden having followed my path in error I clocked her looking at me for a little longer than would be accidental and had time to give her an equally inappropriate wink before she bolted. Very funny.

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Haapiti Lagoon Paddle

Myself and a Swiss guy called Christian, who was also staying at the Moorea Surf B&B, were itching for a surf, so we drove down to Mark’s Place (where I had originally wanted to stay, but failed to find) to see if we could rent some of his kayaks to take us the couple of kilometres across the lagoon to the waves you can just see breaking on the reef in the distance. 

Blacktip Reef Shark 4

Mark told us that if we were quiet when paddling across the lagoon, dolphins and reef sharks would come right up to and alongside the kayaks for the journey.

Making as much noise as humanly possible and towing my surfboard behind me I covered the distance in about 20 minutes, and whilst my racket kept the sharks away it did not put off the dolphins which were swimming around me the whole time. It was an outstanding experience and the most unusual start to any surf session that I have ever had. 

Ha'apiti Mooring

The next bit was a bit more sketchy because to secure the kayaks it is necessary to slip into the afore mentioned shark infested waters on the sheltered side of the reef then dive down and tie the mooring line of the kayak to the reef to ensure it was still there after your surf session. All this was achieved without any worrying incidents with angry fish, and I’m happy to report I didn’t even see one.

I unattached my surfboard from the kayak and paddled out. The surf was about shoulder high but apart from my usual fears relating to angry fish I was also worried about the coral reef. It was the first time I have surfed over the edge of one, and because I was using Eric’s wife’s board the last thing I wanted was to return it damaged after bouncing across the reef during a wipeout. I needn’t of worried though because I was all over it having a blast in the predictable waves.

Moorean BeautyIn the water there were five stunning Hawaiian girls on an assortment of surfboards, boogie boards and longboards. They had sailed into the lagoon on a catamaran to take advantage of the waves, were in their twenties and all were wearing thong bikinis for their surf session. As you can imagine I was having a ball bantering with all of them in between the many excellent waves I caught, and was delighted that my chat was being so well received.

I am without my gopro during surf sessions at the moment, so sadly have no pictures of the ladies concerned, but found this shot online which gives an indication of both the views I was enjoying at the time. The back drop to all this was the stunning island of Mo’orea. (I do realise the mermaid in this shot appears to be au naturel, but given the difference was only about 20cm2 of fabric it is a pretty accurate depiction of the scene I was enjoying.)

Dolphin 2Not to be outdone however the dolphins I had seen on the way out to the reef had never really left the scene, and were enjoying themselves by flying out the face of waves all morning, doing backflips, spins and somersaults. There was even an occasioal rainbow seen through the spray off the back of the waves!

I am half way through my trip now and think I may well have enjoyed the best surf session of this trip and possibly even of my life here at Ha’apiti. I think only discovering Alantis during the second half of my travels could top this! You have no idea how big my grin is right now. Stoked doesn’t come close to describing it.

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moorea-islandI have hired another car and the first thing I do with it is catch the catamaran ferry over to Mo’orea. It is only half an hour away on the boat and the management of the crossing is really efficient so it is painless too.

Tahiti and Hawaii are gorgeous but Mo’orea is as close to paradise as I have ever seen. Every corner you turn around produces a vista even more pretty than the last. Nothing I say will do it justice, but here are a few snaps to give you an idea:

Beautiful Moorea 2 Beautiful Moorea 1 Beautiful Moorea 4 Beautiful Moorea 3

 

 

 

 

 

Moorea Sunset

With finding a board and lots of driving around it has been a trying day and I opt for a room at the Mo’orea Surf B&B largely due to the sunset which is happening when I am scouring round for a place to stay for a couple of nights.

As well as an adorable puppy that lives at the B&B there were also some friendly people staying from Canada, Switzerland and Brazil and it was good to have some company for a while. However there was no electricity in my bungalow which is just an aggravation, because blogs camera, phones, are pretty useless without it, and the surf taxi to the local break was also not going to be available tomorrow so I will push on in the morning.

I am in paradise however so rather than get worked up once more about the never ending frustrations I abandon posting anything (which is why I am now so far behind!) and just soak it all up. I really can’t recommend this island enough.

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Mosquito RaquetMosquitos love me. I don’t know why but they definitely bite me more than almost everybody else.

I was getting savaged through Central America and desperately tried to locate one of these electric tennis racquet things everywhere I went.

The local are so used to it that they don’t bother about the insects and as such there is no market for them, and I had to do without. In Tahiti there certainly is a market for them with the affluent tourists, and I buy one for my travel bag.

Electric-shockYou could never win the war with mosquitos, but I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to win a few battles.

I have no qualms in admitting to smiling as I taser each one of the little pests. I hope it hurts them as much as their bites irritate me!

The sound is fantastic:

ZzzzzZZZZzZZZttttttt!

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Surf FashionSurfing has been used to advertise aftershave, cars, beer, insurance comparison websites, Hush Puppies, and many more random items that it has absolutely nothing to do with in an attempt to capitalise on it being so ‘cool’. 

However the result of silly adverts like this one is that most surf shops are just another retail outlet touting overpriced garments that will make no difference to your surfing apart from leaving less money in your pocket to get to the beach. There is more than a touch of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ about it all.No Surfing

Having had to abandon my board in Chile I wasted a whole day trying to locate anywhere that hires them. All the big name brands have shops in Pape’ete but none of them actually appears to cater for surfers. Not one even had information about breaks on the islands.

I am having a shocker locating a vehicle and now wondering if I have been a bit too rash offloading the surfboard in spite of the obscene fees. However I try a different tack and head for the surf breaks to ask around there. At Papara I meet a lovely guy called Poi who has just been surfing with his family, who in turn introduces me to one of the lifeguards at Tea’hupoo, which is Tahiti’s headline wave. 

leg sideEric is a really interesting guy. A real waterman who loves the ocean and has so many tales to tell about kayaking, outrigger canoes, surfing, etc. We get on well and he is kind enough to lend me his wife’s surfboard for a reasonable fee.

Eric’ wife cannot use the board for a while because she is having major surgery to her leg to remove joints and bones before replacing them with artificial implants.

I am more than a bit bionic myself (see attached) so have every sympathy for her and promise to look after her lovely 7’4″ which is really chunky and ideal for me to use.

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Llyn Peninsula Tremor 2013

I had a bit of a chuckle when  I heard that there had been an earthquake in North Wales recently.

It is rather ironic that I am covering almost the entire Pacific rim with it’s associaed seismic activity but have yet to feel so much as a tremor during my holiday, whilst the whole of North Wales is getting woken by a sizeable earthquake. 

Llyn Peninsula Tremor 2013 DevastationI had to forward on this picture that somebody has posted online detailing the devastation left behind by the 3.8 quake.

Very funny!

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