Paddling on Ether

The Tuamotus Diaries #17, Day 35 – July 2nd 2016

During the first year of our Journey, our Paddleboard has been a toy we have utterly enjoyed – even when cruising the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest, upwards of latitude 40N. We also used it a lot when cruising Baja California. Our excitement with it was such that we even bought a second one – a well used inflatable board put out for sale by a fellow cruiser back in La Cruz.

But more or less one year ago, the weather got ridiculously hot on the Sea of Cortez and we settled in the Marina in San Carlos. The board was deflated on rolled up on deck. When temperatures got milder, we made the decision to come here, and the ensuing many months were filled with hectic preparation – it was all work, no play at all. The board remained rolled up – now beside its newly acquired pair.

When we arrived to the Marquesas, we inflated both boards and each of us spent some time on them. But anchorages in the Marquesas are often very roly, and paddleboard in them proved to not be very enjoyable.

This week I was sitting on deck here on our heavenly anchorage in the atoll of Makemo. It was a bright sunny day. It wasn’t hot nor cold. The water was still as glass, and I realized I had forgotten about the Paddleboard !!!

I inflated it in haste and was soon gliding with it across the bay.

Lucky me – it was an experience not to be forgotten. Ever.

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The water was incredibly clear, and even at depths in excess of 40 ft I could see the sandy bottom and the cloud-like coral formations perfectly. Reaching closer to the shore, and slaloming in between the coral heads, it felt as if I was flying above it all.

The colorful Parrot Fish ran away from my weird contraption, while the Shark came to check me out (well, in fact I am well known to them by now – it was the Board they were curious about). An unusual black feature underwater just a few meters to my right proved to be a large Ray, and it was just so beautiful to see it flapping its wings under the board – augmenting the sensation that I was indeed flying.

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I kept paddling SE along the rim of the atoll, until I found an indentation on the reef, a rupture on the island that forms along the rim, consisting of a thin layer of exposed reef separating the atoll’s inner waters from the open ocean. These indentations are normally dynamic places, for the ocean is roaring close enough outside, and seawater seeps through the reef, forming a decent inflow current. But not on that day. Conditions were so calm, the ocean outside didn’t bother to roar against the reef, water wasn’t seeping in. In fact, nothing was happening inside the pool of crystalline waters formed by that indentation, and – standing still in there – it truly felt that time had stopped. I ceased paddling, sat on the board and stayed there, motionless, just enjoying a state of absolute piece and calm as I had rarely experienced in the whole of my life before. It was a precious moment, one of those that make all efforts in getting here well worth it.

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My moment of elation was interrupted by an uncommonly larger Black Fin shark who came really within just a few inches of the board and my hand, giving me just the injection of adrenalin I needed to resume from that state of prostration and back into paddling.

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The next day I planned on repeating the whole experience, but the sky wasn’t as clear as before, and a faint breeze was rippling the water. It was still great paddling, mind you, but not the perfect experience of the previous day.

As I have learned from an experienced Brazilian adventurer a long time ago, when out there in the elements, each day is unique, and has to be enjoyed and experienced as it were the last.

I am glad I did.

Click HERE to watch a version of the video that generated these images (clicking on the pictures above will also send you to the same video).

 

THANK YOU for Watching !!!

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