We had been surfing the righthander on the “crack in the reef” on our own, dodging sets and picking off corners. Most waves were overhead with a few larger bombs. Only the end section was makeable, despite being warbly, and the shallow reef inside kept us on our toes. The surprising sections created an “edginess” that was taxing.
Noho and I were satisfied (relieved?) after catching a few waves in our first session, and thought we’d try out the lefthander. It’s such an incongruous setup, two waves peeling into each other! We needed to give it a shot.
Although the left was less steep, it was also shorter before it closed out; adding a critical element about it. On my second ride I took off a little deeper. Mistake.
I suddenly saw two piles of dry coral just inside of where the wave was heading. It was gonna be close… Nope! Hit the eject button! I forcefully straightened out, and once clear of the rockpile, jumped off the board as a ‘starfish’ – landing on my back, arms and legs outstretched, to skim the surface and avoid going underwater too much.
The strategy worked, as it had many times before. Except the spin cycle of the white water did one extra thrust and dumped this little starfish onto yet another coral bommie.
Thankful for adrenalin, I paddled like crazy through the coral heads back into the channel, before my back really started to burn. I saw Noho going for a wave; I started waving at him frantically, “don’t go, too dangerous!!” I hollered. He didn’t catch it, and we went back to Aldebaran.
The rashguard I was wearing protected the skin somewhat. Usually I wear a 1mm neoprene jacket, which would have been better. After I cleaned up with soap and water, Noho applied the local remedy to coral cuts– fresh lime juice, which as you can imagine burns like hell. Then betadine and gauze.
I was lucky the scrape wasn’t too deep. The bruise was extensive and hurt for several days. It would leave its mark on my back, a reminder of this beautiful – but sketchy – spot.
Who said you can’t get a tattoo for free in French Polynesia?? We’ll see what this Tuamotos Tattoo ends up looking like..