VINCENT & CLARK\’S \”Ship\’s Log\”
Two weeks ago, we were on a different planet. At least, it felt like it on
the other side of the world, where the oceans are pacific and the Southern
Cross visible amongst funnily shaped constellations. We sailed away in every
possible way. From our urban Parisian society to the Society Islands. We
traded the roll of our daily routine for another kind of roll, and the
fishing for jobs for the job of the fish, which basically means swimming
nonchalantly and colorfully warm waters. We owe the discovery of French
Polynesia to the conjunction of a dream, a promise and an opportunity. The
dream has come true. It is our dear friends, Cindy & Scott, who made it a
lifetime project and an adventure for two to sail around the world onboard
their 51-foot catamaran named “Beach House”. The promise was ours to them,
made exactly 6 years ago during the maiden voyage of “Beach House” on May
20, 2004 in Sete, that we would meet them someday, somehow, somewhere and
share their dream. The opportunity was this year. Clark & I found our selves
stranded away, unanchored in the troubled waters of unemployment, but clung
to the buoyant feeling that those times of change are actually likely to
open new perspectives and rise new suns. The contemplation of the sun\’s
course, from golden rise to golden set, was actually spectacular; and
although we have certainly missed some great TV shows, as Calvin and Hobbes
would certainly agree, we have bathed in this very appreciation of slowness,
wordlessness and natural harmony every single day of our week on the boat
from April 26 to May 4.
Today, we feel lucky and so thankful to our Hosts for the dream vacation
they offered us. And, from time to time, our bodies bequeath us the gentle
memory of the swell. Living on a boat is about inhabiting space in both
literal and figurative senses: making it a perfectly arranged habitat, where
everything has its designated, practical and to-be-remembered place for the
sake of comfort and, in the same time, making it a Home. We moved in to
Cindy and Scott\’s boat for a week. We shared their home and intimate space,
floating between two infinites. And we very rapidly felt like home, in the
most natural way. It is an understatement to say that we felt warmly
welcomed, as we were allocated the left floater, The Guest Room (now rated 5
sea stars) with queen size bed and both natural and artificial breezing.
Cindy and Scott simply put us at ease.
An evidence quickly strokes our minds. We were on vacation for a week
(although officially doing research for job opportunities abroad as stated
to the French administration). But Scott and Cindy were not. Living on a
boat is their daily way of life since 2007 with no scheduled ending. That is
quite a bold decision to make. And as we have observed during our stay, it
is all about fixing things and it is a lot of work. Whether at anchor or
sailing in full sail between islands, maneuvering and maintaining a
high-tech boat like Beach House represents considerable and constant
efforts. I must shamefully concede that my contribution was mostly
observation and very little participation, whereas Clark did contribute with
a lot of winching and hoisting (ya! I know my sailing vocabulary!) and he
enjoyed it. Well, it was not quite an ordinary week for Cindy & Scott since
our presence on the catamaran carried its own distraction and conveyed more
occasions for visiting the islands, drinking cocktails and chitchatting.
Last time we had seen C&S was at our California wedding at the Del Coronado
Hotel in July 2008, almost 2 years ago. What a great time! So many things to
catch up on!
Don\’t count on me to give you any technical details on the boat. I know she
(how weird is the English language to designate a ship like a girl!) is a
catamaran and 51-foot long. I know she is both motor and wind propelled and
so very high tech that she can calculate the sea depth automatically and GPS
position herself on the inner and outer screens. I also know she pitches in
the most exquisite way when another boat passes by. But most important, I
know you can enjoy the deep sea wind when standing aft during a crossing
between islands or gaze at the south hemisphere stars and a bright milky way
when laying on her roof. These are actually parts of the boat where you can
find intimacy and solitude, as surprising as it sounds. We never felt
confined or restricted. On the contrary, the immensities of the sky and the
sea surrounded us all the time and allowed our minds to wander and evade.
And especially when anchored, we could dive any time we wanted into the 28
C° (84 Fahrenheit) waters. I spent hours contemplating the silver surface of
the ocean, the celestial moods, the solar dance and read four spellbinding
books during our stay on the boat: (Sad Tropics by Claude de levi-Strauss;
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Clear Room, an essay on photography
by Roland Barthes and The Desert by Pierre Loti).
This is my very definition of a vacation. It is about letting go, changing
minds, breaking habits, moving slowly, enjoying good things, evading &
dreaming, spending time with good friends. Guess what a typical day was?
5:00 a.m. Imagine waking up at before the sun. First dip in the tropical
waters. Opportunities for a photographers eye when the early morning light
dresses up the lazy clouds in dazzling colors.
6:00 a.m. First breakfast of eggs or tropical fruits and flax seeds with
coffee with vanilla flavor (from the vanilla farm on Huahine Island).
8:00 a.m. Busy bees occupations for our hosts, while I read or dive from the
boat. Boat maneuvers to find the perfect anchor in a charming bay.
10:00 a.m. Second breakfast of fruity oatmeal. Then scuba diving including
conversation with lemon sharks for the bold versus snorkeling and close
encounters with angels, butterflies, trumpets, anemones, surgeons, parrots,
triggers and other strangely named sea critters for the beautiful (have you
not noticed my tan?). Or tour of the island onboard an air conditioned
12:20 Lunch on the island including pina colada cocktails and an unplanned
bump into Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn! Several gorgeous points of views
over the bays, the lagoons and the island vegetation and as many photo ops.
2:00 p.m. Siesta. Reading.
4:00 p.m. Swim or snorkel or dive.
5:00 p.m. Cocktail hour. Perfectly cooled white wine (Blanc de Blanc JP
6:00 p.m. Night is here. Creative dinner in bowls by Cindy. The art of
making a master dish with almost nothing. Explosion of taste (like in the
7:00 p.m. Herb tea and dark chocolate.8:00 p.m. Star gazing on the rooftop,
singing \”Some Enchanted Evening\” from South Pacific. How appropriate!
8:30 p.m. Nighty night and sweet dream in constant swell. What a day I had
today? Quoting Barbra Streisand\” Just gorgeous! Dites qu avez-vous vu?
asks the French poet Charles Baudelaire in my favorite poem? \”Le Voyage\”
which translates \”What did you see?\” We saw lush that run on dramatic rocks
of ageless basalt, and the trees of bread, and their tasty fruits fall in
sounder shock. We saw diving birds like the frigate flocks. And a school of
fish with their puffy heads. The infinite sky, the infinite sea Mirror
their faces, vast and versatile, While at aft we stare, or at stern we glee..
Scott is hands on the helm and here comes Cindy, with her perfect mood and
her sunny smile. The divers have talked to the lemon sharks, eighty feet
below, where the light is rare but the coral sparks. I keep myself in
shallow waters, surprising angels, named after a lark. We have seen islands,
their wild side unlaced. We have seen lagoons, turquoise green or blue.
Nothing was too loose or nothing to waste. All quality time with vanilla
taste. To The Boat Boy and his Admiral too, we say, Merci mille fois, that
we translate in sweet Polynesian tongue: Mauruuru!
From the boat, you get the best possible perspective on Huahine, Raiatea,
Tahaa and Bora Bora, the four leeward islands of the Society Archipel we
discovered during our Voyage. These luxuriant islands with terrific volcanic
rocks rising over the magnificent shades of blue are simply spectacular. One
of the most memorable moments was to get to Bora Bora sailing full sail
across the Pacific. From a distance of 50 kilometers we could already
glimpse the fade silhouette of its famous peaks, before they disappeared
under the heavy sky. The closer we got, the more of the island body was
revealed, laid across the horizon after a vastness of dark twinkling waters..
And suddenly we could distinguish a stain of luminescent blue forming a
perfect pool at the feet of the island. It was getting bigger and bigger. It
was iridescent and somehow magical as the colors dont mix, delineating
radical frontiers of intensity and beauty. As if to extend the pleasure, we
circled the island to find the only entrance to the lagoon through the coral
barrier, leaving the red buoy portside. Then the dolphins appeared from
nowhere, answering my secret call and they welcomed us and they let us in.
Nana Bora Bora. Hello Gorgeous. Welcome to paradise. Thank you again, Cindy
& Scott, for this amazing sailing experience that took us to the most
beautiful lagoon in the world. A part of us remains on Beach House. We wish
you a safe trip on your continuous exploration of new seas and new shores.
And we make you another promise: We will meet again in Australia.
Love from Paris, Clark & Vincent