Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Life on the free dock

We're keeping busy. Brian goes surfing in the morning before I'm out of bed. He usually goes to "Big Pass" a couple miles north of Teahupoo, the big daddy surf break. While he's gone, I read or write or bake. When he gets back we do chores. Yesterday I foot-washed some laundry in buckets out on the dock. It's easier on my hands. I just stomp on the clothes barefoot then rotate them, stomp some more then let them soak for a while. Stomp and scrub a bit, then do a rinsing procedure. Brian wrings them all out because my wrists and thumbs hurt with that kind of motion. (Too much typing in the past). Then I hang clothes all over the life lines and the boom and anywhere else I can find. Usually it's a quick dry in the tropical places but yesterday afternoon the clouds rolled in and kept it humid and cool. Today's sunny so the rest of the laundry should be quick.
Brian's been doing some wood projects. He made a small fishing gear storage box on the back of the boat yesterday and today he's working on repairing a drawer that broke during a violent lurch we got out in the ocean a couple months back.
We have to wait around here a little longer than we wanted because Brian's surfboard broke yesterday and he's trying to track down the local man who repairs boards. He has a great reputation but doesn't keep "office hours". As soon as we can, though, we're off to Papeete to get our "zarpe" (official paper saying we left a country) and then off to explore Huahine and Raeitea. They sound much less touristy.

Yesterday, Brian and I went down in the dinghy to watch Teahupoo breaking. It was only a medium day but WOW. It's a very large beautiful barrel of turquoise water that rolls up onto the fringing reef. The sounds of those waves were as loud as a construction site. I'm grateful that Brian only surfs it on small days.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Try not to be jealous

Brian caught a barrel this morning at the Teahupoo surf break. Along with the 9 or so other great waves he caught also, he's pretty stoked. So now we're working on projects again. We're running a leech line through the leech of our genoa sail. It's never had one and it will help us control the shape more minutely. Brian is sewing up the sun covers for the fuel jugs that Abe and Jeff cut out and designed for them.
The rain has stopped and skies are blue again. But it's not too hot at all.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

That's Tahiti

On Thursday Brian and I drove up the windward (that's the eastern edge) side of Tahiti in the rental car. We needed to return it and Brian thought it would be nice to to see the other side of the island. WE stopped next to a waterfall for a picnic then stopped later and walked a few minutes to see three waterfalls clustered near each other. Then, on to Tahiti, we bought a few groceries, did a couple other errands and dropped the car off at the airport. We waited at the correct bus stop (we'd asked a few different people) and kept our heads craned to the left so as not to miss the approach of the bus back to Teahupoo. "Brian, what does that say?" I said quickly as I jumped to my feet. "Teahupoo,' he said as we started waving down the bus driver. The driver slowed briefly, made eye contact with Brian, and then kept on driving by. "What!"
So we started hitch hiking.
The French gal who picked us up laughed when we told her the story, "That's the way it is in Tahiti." When she dropped us off a few miles later, she gave us her cell phone to call in case we couldn't get a ride the hour and a half down to Teahupoo before the sun set in half an hour. We could sleep at her place if necessary. I started silently asking God for a non-creepy person willing to take us all the way. Less than five minutes later, Pamela, a Tahitian woman who spoke almost no English picked us up. She was on her way home to Vairao, only a few minutes from Teahupoo. It was a quiet, comfortable drive and I was grateful the whole way as it was rainy and dark. That also is how it is in Tahiti.
Yesterday, we talked with Bonn, another sailor who'd had his teenage sons visiting him for two weeks. He said they had been handing out surf stickers to some of the local kids one day. They went back the next day to give out more stickers and the kids had brought them two pearls as a gift. That also is how it is in Tahiti.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

back in Tahiti

I made it late Tuesday night into Papeete airport with Brian waiting in a rental car to pick me up and head the hour drive down to the boat, anchored near Teahopoo on the southwest end of the island. Brian and Eddie surfed the next morning and then Brian and I explored the small town on foot through trim non-symmetrical lawns, banana trees, and lazy small lavendar-lillied streams. The green on the hills here is so much more vibrant than the forested mountains of California and Oregon. I'd forgotten how lush and moist it is. I rejoined the local culture yesterday by eating a pre-made 8-inch baguette sandwich from the Chinese owned local grocery.
Baguettes are everywhere in Polynesia. They're as prevalent here as Burger Kings along the edges of American Highways. People take baguettes seriously, and for granted. One bakery on the island of Oa Pou, Marquesas was sold out and CLOSED by 6 am most mornings. The small island hopping airplanes deliver baguettes to the communities on the Tuomotu atolls that have no bakeries. These 3 foot long clubs of white bread aren't even all that fantastic. Granted, when fresh and hot and layered with the New Zealand butter they sell here in cans, it's a great treat. But no whole grains, just white easily compressed stuff is what you find inside their lightly crusty exteriors. Nevertheless, they are an island staple, subsidized by the French government for the dubious nourishment of its citizens. At 50 to 60 cents each they are much more affordable than the other breads available at the same artisan bread prices I see at home.

Today has been heavily overcast and drizzly off and on. It's downright cool (upper 60s or so) and the silvery water is very still. It was the perfect day to re-read a whole Madeleine L'Engle book (Ring of Endless Light) all alone while Brian takes Eddie to Papeete for his flight out tonight. Her books always make me feel contemplative and stirred up inside at the same time. She's not afraid of the evil in the world and when she writes about it, it's with sorrow and understanding mixed with hope. Her hope comes from a belief that not only in the end of time, but in the here and now, Light conquers Darkness. I hope to be like her when I grow up.

In that hope, Brian and I are looking forward to our time in Fiji. We should arrive there around the beginning of September and will be volunteering with a local YWAM organization that has children's groups for lower income kids and teenagers. To work with kids again sounds delightful to me! We also are bringing almost the last of the school supplies donated by the Burlingame High School volleyball team and many friends and family before we left California. The director of the Fiji program says that anything to help with the creativity of the kids will be great. I think the colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, markers, and more will be just the thing! We plan to be there, on the island of Vitu Levu for over a month and I'm looking forward to getting to know a group of people and a city. In between now and then, we'll explore some more of the Society Islands (Huahine, Bora Bora, and Raeitae) before heading to Fiji via American Samoa which en route.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Tahiti

Brian and Eddie and Troy went back to Teahopoo (pronounced Cho-Poo) yesterday. They watched giant barrels and tow-ins and surfed somewhere else. So I leave tomorrow for the world of surf and snorkeling and French-speakers from the tidy Oregon stripmalls, forests and wi-fi cafes, and waterfalls.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"the Kingdom of God is at hand"

When Jesus talked and talked on top of that Mountain in long ago Israel it was a real life open air revival. No crooning worship band singing during the altar call. No slide projection for the announcement portion of the service. No commitment cards or taking of offerings. Just 12 blue collar workers scratching their heads, some irritated members of the current Establishment, and a crowd of everyday people. But why were they there?
Let's think about it like this. You're living in San Francisco, CA year 2009. International flights every hour, coffee shops on every corner, "cutting edge" liberalism and problems like homelessness raise controversy and advocacy groups that argue their points daily in a city significant in history and in the present. You hear opinions on every hand about how to solve the world's problems: legislate it, revolt, convert to my religion, just serve yourself. Yet, one day, a man appears and starts talking down town. People stop and listen. He leaves town. People track him down. His words are different, his ideas startlingly applicable. The powers that be hate him. He's different, threatens the status quo but ... but...why then do his words stir inside you as if you were remembering the rightness and safety of your mother's womb? Or maybe it feels like that jump inside you the first moment your lover's finger brushed your cheek?

This is the weird setting of the "Sermon on the Mount" recorded in the book of Matthew. He was as dynamic as Hitler, as hope-giving as Mother Theresa. What he offered was, "the Kingdom of God". God, whom these people had heard about since birth. The idea of God was inescapable. But the presence of God was unattainable. Until Jesus arrived. No wonder the priests were furious. Their status was built on their appearance of closeness to Heaven. But the to do list they offered the people had nothing to do with heaven, it had only to do with image. Jesus talked about real life: crushes on your neighbor's wife, the homeless person you walk past at the Farmer's Market, your grudge against that jerk in the cubicle next to you at work, that budget you can't seem to stick to. People's emotions were stirred with relief and hope that maybe just maybe the heavens had descended to touch the earth. Maybe just maybe The Eternal was relevant Here and Now.

I've been reading the book, "Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard. His explanation of the Sermon on the Mount has been filling my thoughts, tantalizing my hopes that a Divine Being is truly at hand, at my hand, pressing in around me like oxygen. The ramifications of this in my life are endless. I've only just begun trying to understand. I'm excited.

Monday, July 13, 2009

pictures from French Polynesia

1. Copra: drying coconut meat that is exported to make coconut cream and coconut oil.
2. view of the pier at Kaeuhi, Tuomotus. Look at the color of that water! The red barrels are the ubiquitous red diesel barrels used to run the electricity generators for each village
3.Brian repairing boards in preparation for 3 weeks of SURF with his Santa Cruz surf buddies
4. "pae-pae" a rock house platform
5.anchorage at Fatu Hiva

Sunday, July 12, 2009


For months and months I've been looking forward to HOME. Familiar houses, faces of people I love, hugs from Mom, Daphne, Matt, friends. Now, two weeks into my visit, I feel overwhelmed and longing for quiet, stillness, time to ruminate, time to read. The pace is urgent from 2-year old Naomi wanting me to play right now to the rental car agency with deadlines and plane tickets needing to be bought and other people's schedules to be worked around.

Life on the boat is not like this. There is always something needing to be done- cleaning, repairing, tending to the autopilot. But rarely must things be done immediately. There are fewer people, there's more time to read, think, wonder, and write. Thinking about our return to the U.S. in December, I'm already anxious. How will I find time for reading and studying and thinking?

I am definitely appreciating more the quiet life that Nomad affords me. Who knows whether I will ever have such an opportunity again in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I’ve been in California already for 1/3 of my visit home. It’s been a whirlwind. I hope the rest of my two weeks don’t fly this quickly. On the other hand, a lot of visiting, playing and yummy eating (as always with my family) has been fitted in around the occasion of Eben Samuel Huffman’s birth on Monday June 29th.
My quick trip from Papeete Tahiti put me to sleep over French Polynesia and woke me in the skies above Los Angeles. (By the way, Air Tahiti Nui is a great airline: good food, good service). When I called Mom from L.A. she told me Daphne was already starting in labor and as soon as I arrived, at San Jose Airport she’d be whisking me to Grass Valley in hopes of arriving before the baby. It worked. We got to the hospital four hours before he was born.
It still doesn’t quite seem right that there are now four in my sister’s family when before there were three. Naomi also isn’t so sure about this new thing and is requiring lots of hugs and kisses. It’s been nine months since I saw her last. WOW. She talks! She runs! She climbs! She asks questions, kisses “owies”, learns new words, says ‘no’ convincingly and gives the snuggliest hugs ever. And when she smiles and laughs, all is well.
Eben, at 6 days old is not as dynamic, of course but equally miraculous with hands an inch long and sleepy eyes that aren’t sure what to make of his aunt’s polka-dotted dress. I will get to help this family move to Portland, Oregon next week where David (daddy) is starting his masters in Occupational Therapy this fall.
All the while, the Nomad adventure continues on Moorea, the island next to Tahiti. Jeff and Abe are surfing twice a day with Brian, they’re eating well and sleeping early so as to get early a.m. sessions.