giovedì 15 ottobre 2015

Kingdom Of Tonga Sailing and Cooking


“where extraordinary days just happen”

I'd love to the describe a great arriving at the Vava' u group of Tonga, but after an other challenging crossing from Niue, we just arrived in the first sheltered bay of the island and dropped the anchor in the complete darkness. We obviously trusted our electronic devices and the very useful tips of Ken Hellewell and his cruising guide “Kingdom of Tonga”, however the feeling to anchor seeing nothing around was quite awkward. Our stomachs were still rolled over and after a hot soup I just remember I crushed on my bed with Alice's arm over my chest.

We can consider the next day as the real arrival, with a weird sound waking us up. You know, we are used to hear dogs, chickens, birds, wind, waves and any other kind of noise around us. But waking up with a whale song, that was special. I haven't said anything for minutes, staring at the sunrise over my window just listening, and trust me when I tell you there are not so many things that can keep an Italian with his mouth shut.

I mean, am I really experiencing this? I am the kind of guy who grew up watching animations on TV and falling asleep at night during documentaries. But then a few times when I was a kid I tried to kick a ball over a three football field distance or jump higher than a car and it never worked. Somehow now, little things from that boring night show of Piero Angela, such as wild animals from the blue ocean, birds with blue foot and any kind of landscape I could possibly imagine, are real. They are around every day, not just a memory or something just saw on TV. Whales are waking us up on our first day of Tonga Islands and one more time I ask to my self:

“So what comes next today?”

I have very hard time to understand what the Real Life is. Especially when someone warned me about how hard it will be to be back at “the real one”. When I take a look at these blogs, at the number of great experiences shared with lots of amazing people, I end up to consider even meeting with an old friend for a pizza in my home town as a special event. Probably the secret of life is really to shift our life from what we think is the right thing based on someone else experiences, not be scare and live our journey. Learning from our own needs, without ever forgetting where we come from and trying to understand who we are and who we will be.

So I thank the very few who could cope with my philosophical moments and keep going to read this text but these whales touch me deeply.

The first day it was just the gate or better “The Pass” for a new world. These islands are the final stop for the Humpbacks whales. The real destination after thousands of miles of cold and deep ocean. Here 3000 of them come every year to swim into a crystal blue and warm water. Perfect place to rise a little calf, to scratch some shells from their belly and play with the few lucky people who decide to swim with them. As Alice always says “If I were a whale, I would also like to come here!”. This is one of the only place on earth where journalists, biologists, photographers and enthusiastic whales lovers come to find their perfect shot. Whale-watching is definitely the main attraction and laws, like in Niue, are very strict to avoid people go swimming with big mama and her calf independently, without paying the standard 250/300 Pangai Dollars (local money 150euro) for the local tours.

If you ask me: “Are the tours worth?” I'd definitely say: YES!!!!

And if you ask me if the laws kept me far from the water every time I've seen a whale around: “Hum, well that's all another story!”

I am far from being the bad guy who brakes the law just like nothing. However there are situations when you have to ask yourself: how much do you want it?

Tonga islands are the perfect place if you like to swim, snorkel and dive. Other than these activity you can hope to fish something, surfing some impossible waves or chill out in one of the many expat owned restaurants and bars. If water is like your sixth element here it's a kind of paradise. Corals are different from beach to beach, fish are nearly friendly and come really close by and if you like octopus just bring with you a spear gun, they are everywhere and big. Then, if you may like strong emotions, don't miss to free dive into Mariner's Cave. On a very sheltered side of one of the Motu, the entrance lays down 2mt underwater, and the tunnel before to breath again is aprox 4mt. Nothing really difficult, but you'll be amazed to experience how your mind will refuse to let you push your body into that dark hole underwater. Especially if you don't go with a tour guide but you take your dinghy or kayak there with nobody around and you are trying to guess where exactly the spot is.

“Mariner's Cave”

lat 18° 41' 450” S

long 174° 04' 479” W

When we arrived there, the spot was not more than 15mts far on the right side from the GPS indication. Don't expect a signal or some weird rocks telling you “here is Mariner's”. With sunny conditions you'll have to try to look for a dark spot of deep blue water right close to the coast. From the water it looks like a hole on perfect flat vertical rocks. Trust yourself, breath deeply, and see you on the other side. For the bravest ones, you can also try the lower entrance aprox 8mts deep and lot more narrow.

Sailing around the Vava'u group is a kind of playground. It was not hard to understand why lots of foreign people from all over the world tried to stay. Winds are always between 15 and 20kts, daylight navigation quite easy and a lot of anchorages: just perfect holiday pictures. People are nice and friendly and seem to be really happy even in tough life conditions. My first step in land was obviously the Neiafu's market and the hair-dresser. Top the first and even better the second, situated into a “food court” I had my hair cut in the middle of young punk students and people frying fish, vegetables and any sort of food they could serve deep fried wrapped in rice or bread. I couldn't resist to have a 1 dollar fish burger and the next day high fever and vomit!!!!!

I'll never learn but I never lose hope.

Here in Neiafu we welcomed Miss Zus and Mr Jaques, old friends of the Captain that will sail with us south trough the “Ha'apai Group” until “Tongatapu”.

They were lucky enough to experience a lot of different vibrations on board. Starting from swimming with the whales (with a tourist boat from blue lagoon resort), sailing trough a storm, seeing the breaching whales close the boat and even some breathless anchorage. Unfortunately the weather was not the friendliest but we could cope thanks to a good storage of good food and a nice atmosphere on board.

Tonga are very special islands, out enough from tourist tracks to make me feel a real Robinson. If I have to pick a memory off the many from this place: I'll say the moment when we were sailing we saw two whales diving right in front of us. Alice and I rapidly but kindly went into the blue deep hoping to see them but nothing happened. After a few minutes of snorkel, the current of the open ocean dragged us far from the point where we originally saw them and we were slowly going back to the boat when suddenly a weird white stain 30mts below us started to become always more clear. When I knocked on Alice's leg she knew what I meant and I could feel her breath becoming louder and faster. Honestly I think I was never so close to have a stroke like in that exact moment, but the excitement and the adrenaline when I saw the two Humpbacks rolling on their belly underneath us and slowly coming up from the abyss was nearly too much. The biggest one was just staring the two humans gently swimming around, while the other was coming to us from the deep water on a vertical position with her pectoral fins crossed as if she was coming to hug us. She was not going anywhere else than to take a close by look to us. We have been followed by them. No fear, no aggressive behavior, maybe they just saw from our eyes that we were not Japanese, and they relaxed. I couldn't really relax, however I could really understand how much I was looking for a moment like that.

Uziwaonboard Discovering Niue Island

Learning the geography of the Pacific is a new discovery everyday. Islands just grow on our charts like mushrooms in the woods. We left Mopelia on a non-wind condition and motored for two days in direction of Palmerston. The most southern island of the Cook archipelago, where apparently a man saw his dream place and brought there 3 wives and had dozens of kids. For the ones who sail west, it's a nice stop over, that can be chosen also after Suvarov, another island a few miles north. Also that one has a nice story of a man that decided to live there alone and wrote a book that inspired lots of sailors to arrive there.

It was only after 24h navigation that we realized we couldn't make it. The wind started to blow over 30kts and even if LJ was proceeding between 12 and 14, the feeling was to be into a washing machine. The girls on board were doing well though the noise of the sea, the drop of temperature and the waves that were making navigation quite tricky. We tried to push hard the boat but approaching the island at night was not on our plan so, we rapidly set up a new route and calculated that with this kind of weather maybe we could push LJ over his record of miles made in 24h. So we headed directly to Niue with full sails in bad weather. LJ was pushed really hard and we were staying all the time close to the pilot to correct in case of stronger wind. At the end we made it on time. 255Nm in 24h, the record of the boat. Welcome to LJ at Niue, one of the smallest countries of the world and at the same time the biggest coral block in the world. Even if it's independent, Niue has very close bounds with New Zealand: for example their currency is the NZ dollar. All the crew was extremely happy to be on a buoy after being bumped by the agitated sea and the consequent big stress. The first inhabitant of the island to welcomes us was a big sea snake, than the dolphins and apparently we also had few whales close our boat by the sunset. Although we didn't even realize it because we were already asleep.

After a mighty night of sweet dreams we filled our empty and needing stomachs with a rich breakfast: Alice and Mme Nicole were so hungry that they decided it was omelet time!! We all definitely needed a good meal after a 5 days and 5 nights of bumpy navigation. With our belly full of good stuff and the smile on our faces we went to discover this totally unknown island and what we found is another little corner of paradise. People smiling and slowing down to say hello even from their cars (that they drive on the right, God save the Queen!), green and variegate vegetation, one fantastic supermarket with local and western products (TWININGS!!), gorgeous natural caves and pools and even a fancy Indian restaurant!

Meeting people from the Pacific Islands makes you really feel like something in western countries went really wrong. We eventually find ourselves once again amazed and astonished at the same time, because here people are not scared of you and you can feel safe as never before. But there is more than a safety issue here: people have different needs than in Europe, or we can better say that they have needs that can be satisfied completely and that's it. I feel like we are trapped in a vicious circuit after which we have always more needs that create further needs. So we never reach a total satisfaction. Here life has different rhythms and, above all, totally different priorities. We are honored to learn and happy to share what we discover.

It's only after the sunset of our second day in Niue that we have finally the chance to meet the “sacred” treasure of this place: the humpback whales of Niue. Every year they come from the cold Antarctica and go to the warmer waters of Mexico, French Polynesia, Cook Islands,Tonga to breed and raise their calf. Here in Niue these mysterious mammals are not only respected, but also jealously protected. They came really close to the boats in the wharf, we could hear their blows when they came up to breathe. In the middle of the night I woke Alice up and together we were pleased to hear them singing! This was a very good signal for us, because when we woke up in the morning here they are!!! Two blows on the horizon but not far from the boat and two big tails diving in the water. With no hesitation, all the 4 of us jumped on the dinghy and went to meet these gorgeous creatures. We still didn't know that what we were doing was totally unlawful and the risk was a 5000 dollars fine or 18 months of imprisonment!! It seems crazy, but it's the LAW!!! In Niue you are not allowed to do whale watching activities without a licensed operator. So we took advantage of our ignorance and, following our exploding enthusiasm, Alice and I took the kayak and paddled towards the whales after lunch. All day long they stayed in the bay right in front of the boats and jumped, played, breached, made so many things to show off that even Hugo, the Niue diver instructor, was astonished and didn't believe his own eyes! We lived the most exciting day of Niue whale season! So far so good! Our enthusiasm cannot find limits. Mme decides to make me an early birthday present and gives me a whale swimming day trip, but it's a very risky and hazardous one. The Niue Dive Center asks 150 for an interaction with humpbacks, but if they don't show up or if there's a mother with a calf you cannot jump in the water and swim with them and the center doesn't refund a cent of what you pay. So, of course, we take the risk and on a chilly, cloudy morning we leave the bay with Hugo and his beautiful girlfriend Maria and go to sniff some whales. After one our with no signs of them, even our enthusiasm dropped a little bit., but at least we got to know very nice and interesting people. Right when we were starting making a hot chocolate to warm our bodies, here they are! Very close to our boat, 2 blows indicated their position. We got a bit closer (not too much, it's the law) and only when the instructors were in the water we could gently slip inside as well. The adrenaline was powerful and I swam faster than the instructors. Suddenly something happened: the young male we were all staring at in front of us turned around and, like a curious dog, came straight to us as if he really wanted to see what these creatures were. Everybody pulled back, even the instructors were disoriented and told us to go back to the boat. But our little new friend was just curious and was already taking his path far from us. Everybody was so excited! The second time we can jump in the water we meet two big adult females and it's so wonderful to see them play around, flip upside down and dive together that it seemed still a dream. After few good shot with the whales, we still have time to snorkel on a well protected reef and spot even some sea snake, a group of barracuda and a very curious turtle.

So I really have to thank Mme Nicole for the perfect birthday present that I'll surely never forget. Before to get back on board, I felt my beautiful girlfriend staring at me with the chicken killer look, so took her to eat a lamb curry with a coke to celebrate the day!!!

What else could we ask to this place?

sabato 15 agosto 2015

Maupiti & Mophelia the perfect unknown

After a week of rough weather in Bora Bora, finally the Maramu (a typical strong local wind) calms down and lets us sail to the close and mysterious Maupiti. We heard about a heaven on earth, an isolated and preserved paradise that very few people have the chance to discover. Apparently many yachties avoid this island and our next one, Mopelia, because of their ultra-dangerous passes: most of the people are scared of the legendary waves and currents that could easily smash their boat against a shallow, naughty coral reef. Our captain feels confident and, thanks to his skills and the good weather conditions, Lazy Jack enters the Maupiti pass with no problem at all. And... Yes!!! If you're maybe wondering if we are a bit getting used to these beautiful places, well, the answer is: Bingo! Maupiti is an enchanted pearl, a kind of Bora Bora but instead of luxury resorts you'll see fishermen colored tiny houses, instead of the restaurants you'll be invited to drink and eat for free during a local party, instead of the marinas you'll have lots of smiling people to talk with and from which you'll learn that, yes, happiness is real only when shared. After all these gorgeous blue, green, fantastic waters and beaches, the real treasures of these islands are the people and their natural smiles. These uncontaminated waters hide a unique and rare creature you cannot fall in love with at first sight: every morning we are amazed by a solid group of 7 huge mantas, 3 mt wide, they move so elegantly and softly and are not scared of you at all. They know you'll respect them. Polynesians used to call them "the sea devil", because of their black mantel. They just stay around a single rock for hours. It's easy to dive down and lay on the sand not more than a meter close to them. Their big eyes are just following you all the time, we really had the feeling they wanted to know more about us and on the other side we were amazed to spend some minutes face to face with them. This is really the place to be. If we consider all the society islands we visited, Maupiti is definitely the most complete, friendly, colorful, different and organized island. We had also the chance to be there for the annual event: the "heiva". It's a dance competition that involves almost all the island. Anticipated by few days of sport competitions and the ceremony of the 14th of July. I could describe for hours how amazing it was, however I'll tell you only about a very simple thing that happened during the ceremony. We were probably ten tourists in the middle of three or four hundreds locals, listening the chief of the village and bla bla bla. So a nice lady came to everyone of us, just to inform and make sure that we understood that the food and beverage the Maupiti's shire was offering for free to his community, it was also for us. So don't be shy and take everything you want to eat and drink. They were so honored we went to visit them and happy to have us with them in that day. Again the people are really the greatest quality of French Polynesia. We'll be never grateful enough with these persons that showed us Europeans which are the true values after all.

So to thank them for their kindness we spread the news that we were heading to Mopelia, a very isolated island 90 Nm from Maupiti, where only 11 families live. These families are originally from here and they live on fish and copra, the dried coconut pulp that the French government supports with generous financial aids, and they get supplies only once a year from a small cargo boat. Later we'll explain better why a “small” one!

The morning after the party we wake up with three boats full of all kind of goods in front of us: bread, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, rice, cane sugar, water, letters, baskets, dishes, clothes. Lazy Jack is going to be a big cargo full of supplies and surprises for Mopelia's community! We are so happy that somehow we found a way to help these smiling people out. Vahine, the woman who organized this transfer, is also bringing us a little boy that doesn't see his mom since one year and his dad since 5 years!! After a double check with the major of the island, who gives his permission, we welcome on board the cute Taumihau, a 10 years old boy, very strong and with a wonderful smile. Lazy Jack is ready to set sail and face the famous pass in a creative condition: 4 mt waves right against our nose make us shake and jump like hell!!! 2 minutes of fear and we are spit out the pass. That's why we call this the heaven through the doors of hell!

After a sleepless night with 25 knots of wind, heavy rain and solid waves around, we arrive to the remote Mopelia and immediately understand why only a “small” cargo comes once a year and get in that lagoon: the pass is very long and narrow enough to make us wonder... are we really gonna make it??? A lonely ray of sun shows up and lets us see what you'd love to discover while snorkeling... Great and uncontaminated coral heads are everywhere, schools of fish and sharks follow the boat and flow around. After slaloming all the gorgeous but dangerous coral heads, we get close to an enchanted sand bay, where Taumihau's family is already waiting for their most important gift: big hugs and smiles, Hére is the happiest mum in the world right now. She invites us at her house for an opulent dinner to thank us of all the things we brought her and the community. Even if it's raining again, the 11 families of the island are now on the beach recollecting all the goods their relatives in Maupiti sent them. This is a very happy moment for Lazy Jack. The rain forces the tired crew to sleep and chill out a little bit. The day after our arrival, three more boats enter the difficult pass and join us in this idyllic anchorage: Good as Gold with Deana and Malcolm from Canada, Free Spirit with Laurie and Jim from the States and our friends Melinda, Ed, Jade and Gus from Lorien. Hére and Taria, Vahine's son, are organizing a huge dinner for us and invite all the crew of Lorien to join us for the night. Walking along the beach, I spot an octopus and Taumihau's dad grabs it with his hands and puts it directly on the grill with the other 50 lobsters, 7 parrot fish, 12 rosins and 2 x 5kg coconut!!! Alice and I look each at other in the eyes very often that night, we don't need to talk, we are thinking the same thing. For us, bringing all that stuff was nothing, but for them it meant really kind of all.

We check the weather forecasts the next day and realize the time to leave has come. We have 600 nM before Niue Island and a storm approaching in two days. As people that received a big gift, we look at this perfect island again while she disappears under the orange horizon thinking that we couldn't expect anything better than what we had to say goodbye to the French Polynesia.

venerdì 14 agosto 2015

Huahine Surf - Summerfield of Raiatea - Tahaa Style - Raining in Bora Bora

It was hard to decide to leave Moorea but in these days we would love to spend a month on every corner we visit. On the other side we are always happy to see something we just flow with the 14 knots wind that pushes Lazy Jack along the 90Nm to Huahine. “The Woman Island”, titled like this because arriving there on the early ages someone swore he saw some woman open leg's shape in the mountains. I don't know what to say about this impression, but definitely I don't have the same whiskey on board. This island is practically unknown to tourists, there are only few family accommodations and for some reasons it's really hard for them to have a regular people flow like the other islands. The result is obviously amazing desert turquoise water, excellent snorkeling, perfect anchorage for LJ and beautiful landscape to explore by kayak or MTB around the island. Only sail boats often stop here for mainly two reasons: firstly that's the only stop between Moorea and Raiatea, secondly, and I swear I'm telling you with very low voice tone... the waves!!!!

Huahine has some of the best waves in Polynesia, someone also told me about angry locals and unfriendly vibrations in the water. As usual I prefer to report what my experience teaches me, and I can definitely tell you about the beautiful time spent in Huahine's water, surfing amazing and nearly mechanic waves on a razor sharp coral reef. The water so blue to make you think the fins of the board will not pass through while the little lips covering you are trying to push your mind to remember that moment for the rest of your life. The five or six locals surfing with us were practically exciting us to take off as many waves as we wanted to, giving us some tips and pushing on Alice's fear of the reef, singing and helping her to find the good feeling and finally get her wave! We had the smile on us all day long, even when I saw her standing on 15 cm deep reef after a wipe out with a overhead set coming straight on her ;-(

When she managed to take herself out of that nasty situation she only told me; “I tried to dive but I touched the bottom and I understood I was fucked!!”

You are always my hero my darling!!! Diving 15 cm was a hard decision!!!!

A bit more of navigation with the trade winds that are still caressing us and we are already exploring Raiatea. We actually started from the biggest bay on the eastern point, where the only navigable (by canoe or dinghy) river of all French Polynesia meets the Pacific Ocean. Even after years of traveling, I'm still surprised of the nature of this place. Fruits are everywhere, flowers are incredible and still untouched by the crowd. Vanilla plantations and nice people are the non plus ultra of this magical part of the world. Alice was almost kidnapped by a Polynesian bull, who turns out to be the pirogue champion of Raiatea!!! He's only 21 and teaches at school the national sport of Polynesia. Big surprise, he lets us all try his flashing new pirogue and that's how we discovered Alice's next sport!! Pretty difficult at the beginning, you can very easily flip upside down and find yourself in the water without knowing how! We say goodbye to the champion and his island and set the Volvo Breeze to the very close tiny Tahaa. The captain heard about a wonderful mooring right in front of an exclusive resort: Le Tahaa, that makes part of the Relais et Chateaux resorts. We can simply say “WOW”: the dream is real. A private island covered by a flourishing vegetation, gorgeous little bungalows on a crystal clear water, white sand beaches and one of the most exciting snorkeling so far. A coral garden in a shallow transparent water and all kinds of little, colored, cute fish that seem curious and at the same time totally conscious that nobody will hurt them. We are thinking of leaving a copy of our resume... Who knows!!!

Smooth and relaxed we set the sails and go for the only 20nm from Tahaa to Bora Bora. The most worldwide known island of the french Polynesia. Here tourism is a present in a box where everybody already looked inside once in life. Hotel rooms built on top of the blue water with exterior spa on private terraces overlooking the emerald mountain right past the lagoon. Restaurants with good food and buoys right in front for the yacht to attach without even dropping the anchor. The only hard thing for us is the weather!!! Since our super nice friends Shishi and Furu joined us in Papeete, rain is unfortunately pouring very often. You know, after all we have seen till now, we can't really complain, however these places change so much with a little sun ray that everybody gets really exited when we have the chance to take a good picture or walk somewhere. The only good thing of this weather: off shore wind and correct swell on the pass. Obviously I couldn't lose the chance to surf the Bora Bora pass, even if nobody was there and is not marked that it's surf-able. Anyway, to make the long story short, my friend Mike R. and I tried to enjoy as much as we could the scary lefty!!! Result was not bad, so I guess if someone wants to try that, just make sure to avoid the coral head right where the wave becomes hollow and starts to barrel, and you'll have a very decent ride!!! Otherwise you can also decide to rent a bike and do the island tour, 32km of fun!! Not like riding waves but at least you'll see that Bora Bora is not made only of luxury resorts and honeymooners hotels. The locals are friendly, traditional dances are still alive and the vegetation makes your eyes confused about what direction they have to look. But be careful to look to much here and there, it could happen to step in one of the thousand coconut crab that are always sneaking everywhere, some of them are real monsters of 5kg and I'm not joking: a 5kg crab is a bloody monster!!!!


If you hear about someone in Bora Bora looking for a catamaran that broke three buoys in three days, please don't think we are criminals. Just to let you know, we heard a story about three guys that were on the internet at the Maikai restaurant when a dive instructor asked whether the boat that was flowing with the wind half meter from the other boats was ours. Fortunately these lucky fellows could jump on their dinghy and arrive at the boat and pull back ten meters before the reef could crash his port side. So they decided to go on the other side of the bay, theoretically more protected, and take an other buoy, but in the middle of the night TRAK again: the buoy's rope explodes and that catamaran started to move around again with no control. The most fantastic thing was that trying to take the next buoy, the 35knots wind pushed the boat too close and the propeller melted with the rope, so for a few minutes they where receiving 35kts and the only thing holding the cat was the actual propeller attached to the rope. Luckily, someone told us, that there was a team of German guys and a kind of Italian surfer (still don't know if an Italian can be a surfer, but this is the story we heard) ready to help the cat's captain. This Italian boy in the middle of the night had to dive, with 35kts wind and his screaming girlfriend, who was scared to see him crunched like a hamburger while he was trying to cut the rope from the propeller. Apparently the hero made it, handling the situation and also returning to his beautiful woman on his legs!!!!

Surfing Teahupoo - When Living the Dream is putting everything on the line

So many stories of surf have been told on this blog. From Morocco to Australia, Indonesia to Hawaii. I drove around Europe and traveled South America telling about every fantastic swell I've been honored to surf. Now, after we've crossed the Pacific Ocean with our UZIWAONBOARD mission, we decided to take the south west direction, straight from Tuamotus Island to a little village not very well known to the crowd, however famous for the surf addicts: Teahupoo, the surf mecca for the ones who really know how to handle a surfboard under pressure. Someone told me the meaning of the name, “broken skulls”. I forgot to check if it's true while I was there, but I guess I can believe it anyway, that name fits perfectly. Call it fate or coincidence, from the moment we entered the Havae pass by boat, everything changed around us. The swell was on, the pros were towing and, from behind the break, I could only see the smoke of the water evaporating after slapping the reef. Fortunately we could manage to anchor before dark. The tiny bay was just perfect for Lazy Jack. I couldn't take my eyes off the several waves from the close reefs. After dinner I felt like to lay down on the trampoline for few minutes. That noise was incredible and that place was real. Not a myth anymore, not a picture on Surf life nor a video on youtube. In a few hours, that swell was going to be right under my board. I felt awesome. Thinking about taking off on that wave, getting barreled and surviving a ride made my dreams way to far from reality. In that exact moment I decided I'd rather not surf that wave. I didn't even need to explain to myself why I made that decision. It was obvious. So I opened the window of my room and gave a kiss to Alice.

“Are you going to try tomorrow?” she calmly asked.

I took a breath “Don't think so darling, what I saw today is way out of my league”.

“You scare me, don't even think about it! Crazy man. Have a good night.”

Waking up in the morning, I was relaxed and glad that I was going to finally see in person that insane surf spot. Fortunately this wave is very predictable most of the times and very easy to approach the surfers even with the dinghy. So I was dreaming of a picture of me with my board on the water with the wave behind. Not surfing that wave, just having it on my background. It was at least the only way to say: “I've been in the water at Teahupoo during big swell!”.

So this is it. I should end this post telling you how beautiful was to stand in front of those waves, watching the surfers doing what they are made to do, taking epic pictures and describing the crystal water we were in. That was heaven on coral reef.

However, as you can imagine this story doesn't end like this.
Until this moment I was the good guy, who made a decision and took the best from it. Suddenly I found myself to be another guy, the one who thinks to be born for surfing. The one who starts to talk with anyone in the water. The one who takes the chance to jump on a jet-sky with Jack Jonson and feels like to score his own epic wave.

Very easy. You cannot show the ball to a Jack Russel and don't throw it. I just waited until the waves were small enough to try, paddled to the break and waited for mine. Usually I would be here describing how good was the feeling of jumping on that massive hill, but not this time. The swell suddenly dropped down making the take off doable even for a keen like me. For two hours we didn't have any “bombs” on the spot and I took my chance. I didn't even have the time to sit completely down on board when a big set came out from nowhere. I didn't even paddle so much, I understood straight away that I was right on the impact zone. Looking rapidly around me I saw that every other surfer was going to be hit as well, but even that was not going to save me from drowning or hitting the reef. I remained as calm as never before, I tried not to stare the lip of that first monster and looked only the base (that makes the wave look smaller), but didn't work. So I dropped the board on my side, hyperventilated for a few seconds and tried to go down as much as I could. When the lip touched the surface my only hope was not to be aspired by the power of the wave and be rejected straight on the reef. But hopes in that situation are just the way to feel less responsible for our own decisions. In fact I was not hoping, I was fighting for my life. I never underestimated that massive wave and I guess that is the reason why I'm here now. I couldn't even protect myself, my arms and legs were powerless so I just accepted that energy, kept my adrenaline under a stroke limit and tried to think about the next move. I was never breathless, however it's always a good sensation when you feel your board pulling up your ankle, trying to take you away from the darkest place on earth. Reaching the surface I was expecting to be suddenly hit by the second wave of the set, but luckily she was still three seconds away. I quickly inhaled and down again. This time was all another story. I touched the reef underneath in the same moment I tried to dive. The second hit was a real blast, the water was boiling and rocks were everywhere. I could feel them scratching my shoulders and my feet. When I came back to surface, my board was not pulling on me anymore. I looked at it and saw my board snapped into two pieces. I released the leash and swam to the left trying to avoid the deadly right wave, but I didn't even have the time to worry a bit because the fantastic duo, Mathai Drollet from the water and Trevor Jonson with the jet sky, was already there to take me out of hell. I saw it on the video so many times how to do it, they make a little round and you have to take the hand while jumping on the back of the sea scooter. Believe it or not they arrived one meter from me and than couldn't come closer because of an incoming wave...

Mathai never left me, showing me where to swim and a few seconds later I was on the back of the jet sky, with Alice taking pictures of the big ego surfer just few seconds before he passed out.

After all, I thought to find myself in a corner, maybe scared to surf again or having some nightmare while sleeping. Honestly there are a few snapshots before the first impact I will never forget. But at the end of the day, I feel a kind of proud.

I know it sounds crazy but I can not imagine my life to be different.

Surviving Teahupoo was a very good welcome to Tahiti!!!!!