Kite Surfing

Dave had found a new way to (a) spend money and (b) hurt himself. Kite Surfing. That is a slightly mean comment as I too may have a go in the future but I want to fully understand and see the number of face plants, drags and splats during a beginners session before committing. Financially and physically! 

He’s been wanting to learn for a while. There 4 boats here on Amanu who are out everyday from the back of their boats once the wind is above about 12 knots. More importantly when you’re a complete beginner, there is a kite instructor. Adrian is french, thin and accomplished. He singlehandedly sailed his 28’ monohull from Marseille. Crossing both the Atlantic and the Pacific he left his boat to sail itself while he went kite surfing in the middle of the ocean. Confident that he could kite surf back to his boat and get back on. 

His aspiration was to see another sail boat on the horizon, get his kit sorted, kite surf over, maybe jumping over their cockpit for a bit of fun and a full on shock factor. I have to say, if we’d seen a bloke kite surfing in the middle of the pacific, 1000 odd miles from land, I’d have been slightly aghast.

Adrian runs his kite school from his boat. He’s a cool dude, rips about on his foil board occasionally leaping 20 feet in the air then landing like a noisy feather. I’m expecting Dave to need a couple more lessons before he’s a member of the Kiting Red Arrows. Maybe three!?

We have met Henri from the island. His wife runs the school here. She has a sexy bobble hat.  It might be 29 or 30C out there in the midday sun but a blue woolly with brown pom-pom works well for her. I had worked out the french in my head to ask about it but then thought again and it was best to say nothing. We also met the mayor who at 18 was the youngest mayor in the whole of France and its overseas territories. He’s now in his third term at the grand old age of 28. He’s a sweet guy, smiles lots and patiently tolerates my improving french. 

The boat came in. The last time we bought freshies was before Christmas. The selection was not vast but we got potatoes, apples, oranges, aubergines and carrots. Plus eggs. The boat had no beer. Some ripples of disappointment from the captain! 

This morning, we snorkelled the pass into the atoll. We were maybe 10 minutes too late as the tide had just started to come in. Still, we followed the edge of the reef into the body of the atoll and saw two lovely two spotted eagle rays and several chunky white tipped sharks plus loads of fishies. We’ve done a fair bit of snorkelling recently, at Horseshoe Reef where we are currently anchored and at Star Reef in the middle of the atoll. 

We’ve heard Star Reef being described as the navel of the atoll. Each atoll has it own naval and holds special associations among the locals. There’s no land, just coral and on the south side an area just about big enough for two boats to anchor carefully in sand. You learn to carefully drop your anchor to avoid the ‘coral bommies’ and then float the chain with fenders to keep it off the coral. Stuff you don’t need to know in Hull.


The excitement of spotting two small red eyes on the reef at night should not be understated. We were on a lobster hunt. The party numbered three. Armed with torches, walking poles for balance and a bucket for booty, the expedition crossed the moto and headed to the outer reef in the dark.

We’d gleaned that no moon was important and ideally calm conditions would help with the hunt. 7pm on the beach was start time. We crossed from the lagoon side to the outer reef, maybe 300 meters. Then the fun and games started. Wading parallel to the shore in knee deep ocean, we shone our head torches into the water looking for two small red eyes reflecting back.  Such evidence necessitated carefully plunging a gloved hand into the water to grab the critter before it swam off. 

We’d been splodging about for maybe 10 minutes when a shriek went up “I’ve got one!”.  Carla, a brit with a true hunter gatherer spirit made the score 1-0 to the humans. After that we knew what we were looking for and over the course of the next 1.5 hours, we purloined another two and three got away. The final score was 3-3. Dave picked up one and  I spied two but didn’t manage to perfectly grab either so they both got away. Grrr. Next time …. we’ll be off to the reef again. Fingers crossed for a cricket score this time!

As we were at sea for Christmas, we engineered Christmas Dinner for 29th December in Amanu which we shared with Holly and Jarne. We exchanged a few gifts, enjoyed a champagne toast then indulged in a fine feast. Dave and I both agreed it was a lovely celebration with good friends in a remarkable place. 

On New Years Eve, six boat crews gathered on a remote beach at the north of atoll, 12 miles from the village.  Amanu with a population of 100 ish people, currently has no Covid. All the boats had been isolated in different places so coming together was not a worry.  Six kids and ten adults pitched in with wood collecting for the fire, games of boules and then a BBQ. The consensus was to celebrate Vancouver New Year. Most folks on boats are up with the daylight and in bed early. It starts getting light about 4.30am here and is dark by 6.30pm. Vancouver New Year was 10pm local time. That felt like staying up late.

The Hunter Gatherer buzz has extended to octopus, groupers, a type of fish, coconuts, top shells and crabs. (To offer perspective however I am sat here with a cup of Earl Grey and a slice of chocolate cake). We’ve been off grid for a well over a couple of weeks now. It’s likely we’ll be here for at least a couple more too until we get a weather window to head towards the Gambiers, 450 miles SE from here.  

In the meantime, it’s an extraordinary place here. There’s currently no reason rush and the delivery boat apparently comes in next week. That’ll cause excitement .

Loads of photos here. We have only had sporadic 2G comms for three weeks but today we got up at 4am to use the WiFi at the Marie which is open to all before 7am. Enjoy!