At 70 feet deep, the groupers were packed like sardines, barely swimming side by side, waiting for their turn to spawn. We lay with them breathing on SCUBA. Calmly, the fish moved around and above us, like we were at a music concert with just standing room. But the real show was fish themselves.
We were there for a once-a-year phenomenon: the spawning of the camouflage grouper. They gather in the passes of the Tuamotus in humongous numbers, timing with the full moon closest to the winter solstice (June 21 in the southern hemisphere).
The mind-blowing part wasn’t just the sheer numbers of fish all around us — it was how intimate the experience felt. All the fish were incredibly relaxed, they swam up to us like they wanted to be petted. Then as a females made their move to release eggs, the males suddenly exploded in a flurry, trying get into the action, spiraling upwards in the water column at warp speed, followed soon by other fish and reef sharks hoping to eat eggs or hapless fish not paying attention.
Mind you, this is occurring during an outgoing current in really rough seas, so if we do it wrong, we drift out to sea in a flash.. There is a lot at stake as we then have to surface in the radical turbulence of 2 foot standing waves and currents, and hope our dinghy driver is there to pick us up.
The day before the spawning… the camouflage groupers are congregating in huge numbers.
Everything starts with motivation… Here was my initial motivation for a breath work practice.
I thought that after years of living on a boat, I would naturally improve my ability to free dive deeper, longer. However, it seemed like I plateau’d. I could dive at basic levels, but I wasn’t improving. In particular, I was a little disappointed with my ability to catch fish for dinner reliably. I was pretty hit-or-miss.. It was kind of embarrassing!
Unlike the locals in Tuamotus who eat fish daily, for every single meal, we’re happy eating fish once or twice a week. We’re not avid hunters either. Yet, living on a boat, if all else fails, fish is what’s available to our family. So I decided to make a concerted effort to improve my free diving and spearfishing.
I watched excellent spear fishermen like Josh in Ahe, and Bruno in Faaite, and saw they spent way more time underwater, holding their breath perfectly still, than I ever could. I read books on professional free diving and techniques, and that’s when I had the exciting realization: “Wow, it’s just an extension of of my yoga training.”
In particular, the training for free diving is essentially the same as the 8 limbs of yoga: moving from the disciplines of the body, stretching, breath control, withdrawal, concentration, and ultimately states of meditation. As such, the benefit and application for general well-being is widespread, not just diving deeper for longer.
My interest was piqued. I thought, “OK, so I can improve my free-diving and also my general well-being? Two-for-one, sweet!”
I’ve found that breath work practice helps:
– my respiratory and circulatory systems;
– my ability to manage energy, by calming myself to reduce stress, or energizing myself when needed;
– my mindset, by enhancing mental and emotional stability, improving day-to-day performance
– and… it helps me catch more fish quickly, which makes my wife happy!
This was just a personal practice, until last year, when we had a charter trip that caught us off-guard. There were four seniors aboard, two of whom weren’t comfortable swimming off the back of the boat, and had mobility limitations. We couldn’t do our normal activities of snorkeling and beach landings. It was getting quite challenging, so I improvised. “Tomorrow we start breath-work at 7:30am,” I announced, with a little uncertainty. Nevermind my doubts… we needed something to do as a group.
For those seniors, beside the beautiful cruise around Moorea, the breath work ended up being a highlight of their trip. They appreciated the feeling of “aliveness” that comes from active, focused breathing. Since then, I’ve shared our breath work practice with many other Green Coco visitors, from young kids to retirees. Everyone lights up with it, and it’s a joy to see their rapid improvements in free-diving too. “Follow the stoke” I say!
Our visitors have asked me for materials so they can continue to practice at home. That’s how our Ocean Yoga Breathwork was born.
Occasionally we see Mantas in less predictable places: roaming around Reef Passes, or feeding on plankton… sometimes right under our boat! Such as this unforgettable day, video originally posted to our Patreon page.
It was really lucky to see them. I once told a friend, admiring her ability to attract great things to her life, “You are so lucky.” She responded, “Nah, I just go outside the house with positive vibes. Good things are bound to happen!”
This was the case here. Effort is needed for luck. From the surface we saw nothing. Thanks to Sabrina and our crewmate Erika going swimming to the beach (instead of taking the easy option, the dinghy), they saw the Mantas feeding right in front of the boat! Lucky are those who make the effort.
Some interesting information about Manta Rays. There are actually two types: the Oceanic Manta Ray and Reef Manta Ray. All the Mantas we show here are Reef Mantas. Note that the main differences are:
Size. Oceanic Mantas are much bigger with wingspans up to 29feet, while Reef Mantas are plenty big with wingspans up to 15feet.
Habitat. Oceanic Mantas roam the open ocean, Reef Mantas stay close to coasts
Coloration. Oceanic Mantas have more dark areas but fewer spots on their underbelly, compared to Reef Mantas.
Mantas have the biggest brains of any fish studied so far (in terms of brain mass to body mass ratio). One manta asked a freediver for help to remove hooks from her under-belly: watch it in this video!
Manta Rays are phenomenal creatures and we feel so blessed to spend time with them.
Since we’re in Fakarava’s World Heritage Site, the south pass is a defacto reserve. The fish have lost their fear, and grown used to swimming with humans. This was the case with this beautiful Napoleon wrasse underneath Selavi, chomping on our food scraps.
It is remarkable to see this big fish so close, its facial markings are distinctly beautiful, its wandering eyes quizzical and captivating, not to mention its sheer bulk.
In other atolls, the Napoleon (or Humphead) wrasse is often seen from a distance, wary about swimmers, because many locals consider the fish a delicacy. They are a target, and they know it. This is despite the fact that ciguatera risk (a neuro-toxin present in tropical coral reefs) is actually quite high if eating this fish.
In fact, we once went to a BBQ with locals that were adamant the fish was safe to eat, and everyone got sick! Turns out it was a Napoleon. Never again!
If only this neuro-toxin risk were consistent enough to prevent people from eating it. The Napoleon is actually endangered, according to National Geographic because of over-fishing for seafood restaurants in Asia.
They are really important for the reef ecosystem, as they eat crown-of-thorns starfish (which if left unchecked, fiercely attacks coral reefs).
The Napoleon grows to nearly 6 feet long, weighing a massive 400lbs at its largest size… truly a magnificent fish.
We celebrated my 41st birthday by going to a new island (for us). Toau. Ah I love the fresh excitement of exploration.
My wonderful wife Sabrina made our crew a dinner of delicious tuna sushi rolls and chocolate mousse; and hid 41 strips of paper around the boat reminding me why I’m awesome. She’s the one who’s awesome!
My gift to myself? Fulfilling the dream of kite-foiling.
When our girls were born, we told friends: we would raise our twins on a boat while hosting people on trips through deserted islands. Many eyebrows were raised. Indeed, we can admit to being squeezed to the max.
It’s worth it. Guests say the babies are a highlight for them. And seeing the girls running like wild turkeys on the rocking boat, I know it’s amazing for them, too.
What about myself ? One of the unspoken challenges of parenting is that we lose ourselves, replaced by being the servant of our babies, of our family unit. We lose our time to recharge, we lose ready access to our passions, we are spread thin like the last dregs of a peanut butter jar. Which you know I love in abundance.
Sabrina and I always said, “Let’s have kids but not stop what we’re doing. They’ll go on our backs, we’ll take them with.” Ok we didn’t stop. But with twins, we had to sloooow down, stop playing as much, sadly neglect some friendships. Work-feed-clean, work-feed-clean. Repeat.
After one year of slaving, we said, we can do better. We hired nannies to help. We enrolled in Kite boarding classes. We’d kite while the girls napped.
So I’m really proud of this. It’s a dream that started in mid-2019, when we first found our new catamaran Selavi in the Fakarava lagoon, just a month before we discovered Sabrina was pregnant.
That’s when I saw Adrien, the instructor at Tuamotu Kite Camp, kite-foil easily between the sailboats, while everyone else was kiting 1/2 mile away (because they needed better wind on regular boards). He was floating on air like a genie on a magic carpet. I thought: “That’s it! I want to do that.”
So my dream became to kite-foil off the boat and back. In light wind. At a sheltered anchorage.
I could already kite board at a basic level. But kite-foiling is a different animal. We committed, and did a boat time – exchange for all the equipment with Murrays Marine in Carpenteria (thank you guys!)
We learned behind the dinghy, practiced, did kite-foil lessons, all while juggling the babies and guests on trips, which made it very sporadic.
The effort slowly paid off. Finally I could return to the boat on my own, which let me practice more regularly. Then nearly everyday.
For my birthday, we were anchored next to shore in 8 feet of turquoise water. Very light wind. I had a gorgeous session, finally dialing in the “kite loops” needed to power up, and sailed my way back to the swim step of Selavi. Two-and-a-half years in the making, I realized my dream!!
Sometimes you just see the end result, and think geez, I wish I could do that. The reality is that it’s a journey full of ups and downs, a journey of perseverance and dedication. I’m proud that as I parent of twin babies I was able to actually do something new & fun! It gives me hope that’ll I’ll also be able to fulfill my other aspirations, with patience. Writing a book, staying in touch with friends, expanding our business.
Huge gratitude for Sabrina’s support. (Meanwhile her kite-boarding is also improving leaps and bounds which brings me lots of joy)
Kite-foiling isn’t going to solve the world’s problems. But it gets me fired up, I harvest stoke big time. I shine with enthusiasm the rest of the day.
Question for you is, what can you dream of doing, if you gave yourself two-and-a-half years? Let’s get after it 🙂
Much love to you all-
The video here has a description of the trip to Toau. Thank you Patrons for your support of our video production!
For those interested in details about kite-foiling.
Some reasons why kite-foiling is awesome:
– Like snowboarding on the silkiest powder. Float like a butterfly above the water, no bumps to hurt knees.
– Go upwind like a banshee. The foil’s ability to go upwind is revolutionary. I’m so excited for sailboats to get this technology (outside of America’s Cup boats)
– Fluky light wind is fine. 8-10 knots is great. This means I can kite-foil at many of our anchorages, which are typically not possible to kite-board.
– Unlike surfing, it’s a nearly limitless resource. Plus there’s the potential cross over of wind-foiling in waves.
Downsides must be mentioned:
– Very expensive. The foil and boards are all super pricey.
– Fairly dangerous. I always wear a helmet. But kite-foiling in smooth water is safer than on waves. Going slow is ironically more dangerous, it’s easies to get knocked by the foil.
– Gear intensive. A simpler option is a new sport called wing-foiling, which has no bars, lines, or harness.
– Difficult to launch kites on monohulls. Much easier on a boat with swim steps, like a catamaran.
– Hugely addictive. Easy to get sucked in to a new sport!
How to learn kite-foiling:
– Learn to kite board first. Go somewhere (ideally) with warm water and consistent wind. French Polynesia is great 🙂 Baja California is the closest spot to California with those conditions.
– After you’re confident on the twin tip, ride a strapless surfboard, and practice in light wind. Learn to do loops.
– Learn to foil behind a dinghy; like wake-boarding but on a foil. Then you’re ready to kite-foil!
– Regardless of your skill level, take a few classes, it helps your progress a ton. I made big advances after taking two classes with Adrien (see Kite Tuamotus). Green Coco can take you there during our Fakarava trips. Another good learning option is in Tahiti.
Want to learn more information about our trips in French Polynesia?
It’s been an eventful last few months… from traveling to California with the twins, hosting Mermaids and Seniors stoked on this ocean wilderness, to searching for a Nanny to help us. We even forgot to share our newsletter here!
So just in case you missed it… click here to see our wintertime newsletter.
Click here if you’d like to Subscribe or see the Newsletter Archive
Raising kids is the greatest of joys, and frankly, also a big challenge for mental sanity! Here are thoughts on maintaining sanity with twins on a boat.
When the girls lost their cribs & pacifiers, on their second birthday, they had a big cry for an hour. It’s understandable. So it was easy to stay supportive. But oftentimes they cry desperately and it’s NOT understandable. All that’s in my mind is, what is going on, how do I fix this, and make the chaos stop??
Personally, I have found that a crying baby can completely short-circuit my brain. The wailing noise at high pitch is like crashing thunder: a force of nature. I can’t think, I can’t do anything! My default response is to immediately try to “fix” the situation. Hungry? Thirsty? Poopy diaper? Tired? What do you want??
If they are upset enough, even if you give them what they want, it doesn’t resolve anything. They are simply upset about being upset! Unfortunately, this just makes me more frustrated and mad because I feel out of control, and I can’t make the situation better. Try holding an over-tired baby at 2am wailing their head off, when sleep deprivation is devastating your brain, and you’ll understand what I mean by this being “kryptonite for calmness” (!)
The RIE parenting philosophy has been the guiding light to help me navigate these tough moments.
The RIE approach is to constantly describe to the babies what is happening, which is referred as ‘broadcasting’. In simple situations, describe out loud what is happening (the facts). Don’t just put on the baby’s shoe while mindlessly talking about breakfast. Instead, broadcast the facts by saying, “I’m putting on your shoe on your left foot, now your right foot. After this, we will have breakfast.” This helps the babies understand what is happening right now, and what to expect soon. This helps them stay calm and empowered. If they don’t know what’s going on, they will feel insecure.
When a difficult situation comes up, RIE recommends doing the exact same thing. Don’t try to resolve the problem right away. Just keep describing, out loud, what is happening (broadcasting the facts); and ask them about their action/emotions with genuine curiosity. If they suddenly start crying, the tendency as parents is to say “Oh it’s OK, you’re OK! You need some food? Here’s some food,” In the baby’s mind, though, it’s not OK! So why are you saying that?! Instead, RIE encourages us to say it how it is: “Wow, sounds like you are upset. You must be really bothered, I wonder if you are hungry. Is that it?” This is more in alignment with the baby’s actual experience.
By broadcasting the facts (and asking non-judgmental questions) this paints a picture of shared reality between parent and baby. You clearly see each other. This is compassionate connection: the babies feel like they are being heard, which is actually the first step to resolving any issue they have. It also helps the babies understand, because they don’t actually know why they feel terrible.
Importantly, this RIE approach helps me as a parent stay calm. When my brain is short-circuiting with crying babies when I’m tired, logic doesn’t work, and I just get frustrated & upset that I can’t resolve the situation.
But awareness always works. By broadcasting the facts, speaking calmly about what is happening, there is no charge, I can remain calm. I just describe what I see and what I’m doing. Of course I want to help ease their pain, and I try things like checking diapers or offering milk/water. My logic has shifted to the background. My awareness is now in the foreground. The peculiar side-effect of this is my brain doesn’t short-circuit. It is busy expressing what is happening.
I am no longer in default “fix it” mode. I am in “observation” mode. I don’t take the situation personally any longer, it is what it is. The wonderful benefit is that I’m more effective at resolving the situation. By being unattached to the outcome, ironically, the outcome can become more favorable. Most importantly, I don’t get angry and upset, which I really try to avoid as it’s completely counter-productive.
After running a sailboat across 9 countries with countless visitors, I thought I had refined the “art of staying cool” when things are going wrong. Parenting has taught me I still have much to learn. Babies are so vulnerable, with fast emotional spikes of energy. The effort of managing daily life is constantly de-railed. Not to mention with twins, it’s more than double the fun! Usually in normal life, uncomfortable situations happen every so often, where you need to work at “staying cool”. With babies, it’s quite frequent, so it makes for excellent practice 😉
The RIE philosophy is based on the principle of Mindfulness: observation without judgment. Just as this approach is effective between parent and baby, it is effective elsewhere in life. It allows me to stay grounded in what is happening, instead of trying to logically change things and make “the pain stop”. After all, the tragedy of trying to stop the pain, is that the pain just keeps morphing; it is then fed by power struggles and damaging emotions.
The only thing that stops that cycle of pain is awareness. RIE uses “broadcasting”. We are also big fans of Non-violent Communication, which is basically the same thing, but for more complex adult interactions. For example, NVC teaches us to express and understand the facts and the others’ perspective before trying to change the situation. Both these excellent tools are gateways to mindfulness and harmony in relationships.
For the opportunity to practice this, I’m grateful for my babies and the RIE philosophy for showing me this new approach to awareness.
Want to learn more information about our trips in French Polynesia?
We left Tahiti and sailed to Tikehau, one of our favorite little atolls. At the end of January, our twins Kaiana and Naiyah were turning two years old. They started the day eating Elmo banana cakes (I didn’t know Sabrina was such an artist!) and then we threw a beach party with Erika, who was aboard with us, and other sailors from the anchorage. We played at the heavenly hoa (the channel between the motus), same place as we celebrated their 1st birthday. It’s a tradition !
Big changes were afoot. Both their cribs and pacifiers got put away for good on their second birthday. Momma Sabrina unveiled the “big girl room” to the girls’ astounded eyes. For the first nap, there was a painful hour of crying, but then they clutched their new stuffed animals and never looked back. Their resilience is inspiring. It is delightful to see them become strong little human beings.
I am reminded of the importance of milestones in life…. they define who we are, and allow us to embrace a new, better version of ourselves. This felt like their first conscious milestone.
Can you imagine helping a family take care of twin babies, on a big catamaran exploring dreamy places in French Polynesia? You might be in luck 🙂
We have 2 year old identical twin babies who are completely amazing and would love a new friend to guide them in their daily journeys. Their mom and dad (Sabrina & Kristian) would love the help so they can work on their boat & business and you know, just general sanity !
There is a 2 month minimum commitment. As compensation, once onboard all your costs will be taken care of. Qualified applicants may get their transportation and stipend too, see below for more details. We also accept couples.
in 2015 we left our jobs in California and over the next 4 years, sailed south with our Green Coconut Run cooperative to Galapagos, and across the Pacific ocean to French Polynesia. We fell in love with the island-nation and decided to stay, start a family and a business.
In 2020 our twin girls were born and we upgraded to a 46 foot catamaran, Selaví (pronounced C’est la vie). We continue to run trips sharing the magic of the islands, so we usually have guests onboard the boat.
We live aboard the boat 24/7 and are never at a marina, always at anchor. We are really active with swimming, snorkeling, free diving, surfing, kitesurfing, and SUPing. We have a yoga & meditation practice with breathwork. We try to bring the babies along with us in activities whenever possible.
We cruise between Tahiti, Leeward Society Islands, and Tuamotus (a wild place with atolls where we will spend most of our time in 2022, see our schedule). These places are all postcard paradises. See our latest newsletter for a sampling.
our parenting philosophy:
We feel that children are special beings that choose their parents to guide them in this life. As their guides, we do our best to lovingly & securely offer them choices so they can fulfill their highest potential.
We follow the RIE parenting model which focuses on treating infants with respect (ie. the golden rule… act like you would like to be treated yourself by a friend) and honoring their ability to make choices (based on their current level). This post offers a good summary of RIE.
Whereas some parents focus on “raising good kids” and “keeping their kids safe and comfortable”, our focus is to empower our kids. Perhaps it can be understood by what we try to avoid:
We avoid saying No. Instead we say: “we can’t let you do this, because it is unsafe for these reasons…”
We avoid being overprotective. We inform babies of what is dangerous, and up to a point, allow them to decide what is comfortable for them.
We avoid serious injury or trauma.
We avoid being over-comforting. Rather, we prefer to connect with their emotions (e.g. “you look scared, what happened?”) rather than dismissing their experience (e.g. “you’re ok baby, don’t worry”)
We avoid doing things mindlessly, without their consent. For example, when we put on their cloths, we give them choices, and tell them what is happening; just as you’d want if somebody was clothing you.
We avoid sugar (white & brown), with the goal to promote wholesome nutrition
We avoid screen time, with the goal to promote creative imagination (the exception is video chats)
In a parallel way, RIE is for infants as Non-Violent Communication (NVC) is for adults. Both are methods for overcoming our judgments and instead focusing on observation, presence, and empathy. Learn more about NVC here.
As a nanny and crewmember onboard, we would ask you try to apply RIE principles to your interactions with the babies and NVC principles with adults in the boat. It’s ok if you’re not familiar with these concepts. The most important thing is intention and interest in these principles. We will offer you further training in the form of basic materials to read beforehand, and more in-depth while onboard.
What can you expect from working as a nanny/child carer with us?
We try to make everyday a great experience, whether we have guests aboard or not. Usually we are anchored in beautiful locations. We are rarely moored in harbors (except maybe about 2 weeks every 2 months, or if something is broken and needs repair). We are never stuck in marinas or yucky ports – they don’t exist in Tahiti!
We work really hard and play really hard. This isn’t a relaxing, sit back and watch babies experience. This is best suited for those super eager to learn about parenting, sailing, and the ocean environment. You’ll be inspired by some of the world’s most beautiful places, but you’re also expected to work hard.
The work commitment is 8 hours per day, 6 days per week, with 1 day off per week; plus an extra free day per month. You can cluster multiple days off for a trip off the boat.
You’ll care for girls 8-11am and 3-5pm, more or less. We take turns cooking meals & cleaning, so you can expect to make one meal a day for the crew aboard the boat, about 1-1.5 hrs total. You’ll also do 1-1.5 hrs per day of boat maintenance (you can group this time into fewer days per week).
Time with the girls is more than just child care. To the extent possible, we allow them independent play time, during which time we also fold laundry, prep food, clean dishes, etc. We also try to include the girls in these daily activities of life. Like a parent, you’ll be juggling multiple things to get life tasks done.
As we usually have other guests on board, you’ll be helping when possible as a crew member.
You’re only on call during the day, not nighttime, except on occasional evening for date nights 🙂
We have 4 following time slots available this year. There is a minimum commitment of 2 months, but ideally you’ll stay closer to 3 months at a time during these periods.
January to March
April to June
July to September
October to December
Note: the automatic Visa for non-Europeans is three months in French Polynesia.
When there is space, you can sleep in your own cabin with private bathroom (labelled Aft Cabin below).
When there are guests aboard, you’ll take the single berth and share bathroom with the babies (labelled Owner’s Family below)
All tourists entering French Polynesia must be fully vaccinated.
Everyone entering the country is required to take a PCR test up to 3 days before travel, and a rapid test upon arrival. Note that these conditions may change, check Tahiti Tourisme for latest information.
On a daily basis, we only wear masks when going to stores and public places.
If spending one or more nights onshore, we require rapid tests upon return to the boat. Otherwise, life is as normal.
We didn’t expect it would become a race against time, as the coronavirus Delta surge approached!
Going the wrong way.. at the right time
For sailors, the steady, refreshing tradewinds from the east are a godsend. But when you want to sail east, that means going upwind — which in open ocean conditions is really rough.
We spent a quick three days in Bora-Bora because we had a brief weather window of northerly winds. Then it was time to go.
The Start: Bora-Bora
This island is pure eye candy. The stunning rocky peak. Turquoise sandbars. Manta Rays. Frollicking with stingrays… it is touristy, yes, but our co-op crew (Jessica, Bret, Al, and Alexandra) had a great few days here, even meeting up with our traveling friends (Marie & Gautier). See more👇
After the overnight trip from Bora-Bora, we dropped off our crew in Moorea. We were following the news closely: a surge of Delta cases was rocking Tahiti. Increasingly strict measures came into place. By chance, another northerly wind was forecast that week. We thought: “you know what? let’s go remote while we can.”
Thanks to Alexandra for taking care of the babies, we were able to do a whirlwind 4 days of provisioning. Think multiple shopping carts of groceries being pushed 1/4 mile, loaded into a dinghy, transported onto Selaví, labeled and stored into the boat’s 1001 compartments.
Our first anchorage in Tahanea. We saw nobody else for 3 weeks.
Two nights sailing, a stopover in Faaite, and an upwind 7 hour bash: finally we arrived in Tahanea, a gorgeous uninhabited atoll with no cell service. Soon, we heard via satellite messenger that Tahiti had entered lockdown. We felt fortunate to be isolating in paradise!
What did we do? This place is heaven for our new favorite sport, kitesurfing! The three weeks were delightful, making bread, playing with the babies, and exploring Tahanea’s surreal underwater world and her beaches, without a soul in sight… Check out the videos of highlights 👇
Thanks to our friends at Murray’s Marine in Carpenteria, we now have quality kitesurfing equipment on board (along with a trainer kite for learning). Kiting from the sailboat is perfect! It takes technical skills, from launching off a boat, to dinghy rescues. We were really happy to take classes with Adrian at Fakarava Kite Tuamotus. When you come visit, you should take classes too — it’s so fun! Watch the video of Sabby’s class👇
We’re so grateful for our time with Alexandra, she is truly a nanny-extraordinaire! She has such a calm and loving presence with the babies, and they love the “spa time” with Auntie, combing hair and getting massages :)Being a naturalist guide in Galapagos, Alexandra is passionate about the underwater world. Alexandra is always eager to jump in the water, and stoked about finding cool little creatures.
We will miss Alexandra’s ever-present smile, wonderful presence, and delicious stir-frys!
Hi friends, it’s Naiyah and Kaiana here. We’re a year and half old, and can’t speak many words besides “moon” and “more” and “please”, but we babble pretty good. And we just learned to walk. Sea gypsies say that us mermaids must learn by ‘walking the planks above shark infested waters’… Et voilà. This is just what happened. I’ll tell you what, that’s one way to learn FAST. Come play with us when you can! Big hugs, N & K
As sailors we have the follow the weather, and whenever a north wind shows up (which is fairly rare during May-October in French Polynesia) it is beneficial to head east, against the prevailing easterly tradewinds, and “gain ground”.
In this case, we had just 3 days to visit Bora Bora before the north wind came up, as we had to head east back to Tahiti. Should we even bother or just hang out somewhere else?
On Green Coco our motto is Harvest Stoke. If people are ambivalent about going somewhere, we prefer to just chill and relax. It’s good to rest and rejuvenate. But if people are STOKED to go, excited and willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, then we always GO.
Aboard Selavi, our friends (Al, Alexandra, Jess & Bret) were stoked to go see what Bora Bora was like. By chance we could meet up with other friends visiting on shore (Marie, Gautier, and sister Sophie). These french travelers are bundles of joy. So all the merrier!
Some places are over-rated, but Bora-Bora sure isn’t! The views when arriving by plane may be astounding, but arriving by sea under sail is like gentle unfolding magnificence…
Entering Bora-Bora with Selaví, having left the large island of Raiatea to the east 5 hours before. As seen from the angle of the honey bee. The towering basalt peak commands your attention at all times, while the colors of the lagoon pop like neon signs, advertising the different depths through the shades of turquoise.
The reason it has all these colors is the age of the island. Bora Bora is older than most of the large Society islands, creating a bigger lagoon and vast areas of shallow sand; while it is younger than the atolls of Tuamotus, whose main islands have eroded away, leaving only the coral ring on the periphery. Truly a special place.
We swim with eagle rays and sharks, manta rays, and explore gorgeous sand bars.
We plan to visit Bora Bora next year, check out our 2022 schedule on Green Coco Charters.
If you’ve been following our adventure and would love sail the South Seas — this is your chance!! Our partner boat Expedition Aldebaran is signing up Early Seabirds until September 6th. You’ll get super discounted time aboard, to explore paradise in French Polynesia.
People often wonder how sailors pay for their lifestyle. I’m certainly curious, and often ask other sailors, because sailboats are expensive. The way we did it as Green Coco is a cooperative approach. This was unique & novel when we started, but it made sense: by pooling our resources as a community, investing in the boat at whatever level people feel comfortable, EVERYONE gets to participate. Unlike watching a youtube channel and living vicariously, you are part of the adventure.
The Early Seabird is the main way we kickstarted our voyage, Green Coconut Run. We dreamed up the vision, and people invested to get credit aboard the boat. This gave us reliable funds to make the boat solid, safe, and fun. In exchange, we hosted our co-op members during the voyage. We had to commit to a schedule to enable people to plan their work vacations, and it brought unexpected benefits — lifelong friendships for example.
When Sabrina got pregnant with twins, we financed our new catamaran Selaví through our Green Coco cooperative. We loved our old boat Aldebaran. She is a magical vessel and served us incredibly well. We passed on the torch to another couple in our co-op: Billy & Kimber. They are a globe-trotting, water-loving couple from North Carolina, who always bring positive energy everywhere they go, with tons of experience guiding people around the ocean. They are now the owners & captains of Aldebaran, working hard to bring her back to full glory, after the financial trials and tribulations of the pandemic.
By becoming members and investing as Early Seabirds, you’ll help maintain this magic boat AND come aboard as partners in the adventure — not as second rate crew members or high paying charter guests. This is such a critical distinction to get the authentic experience of sailing overseas, the joy of exploring new islands with quality people.
We realize it’s hard to know when the pandemic will be over, and travel will be easy again. Even this month, Tahiti has suffered a great loss from the Delta variant. Our hearts go out to the community. In the darkest hour, we need to stay inspired.
The beauty of the Early Seabird credit is that you’ll have something to look forward to. You can participate when you’re ready. No imminent need to book a trip. You’ll lock in discounted time for the future, and your credit does not expire. With the community investment, the boat stays in good shape, ready for your visit. It’s a win-win.
If you’re interested in being a part of this, send Billy & Kimber a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop us a line if you have Qs. Deadline is less than a week away – Sep 6th! Have an awesome day and stay safe. Much love and stoke.
This was a really fun interview with Ally from Tiny Home Tours! Ally chatted with us about life on the boat with twin babies, how we sustain our life financially through our cooperative adventures, and some of the most important skills for living in small spaces like Non-violent Communication.
How did we get on this podcast? Sabrina is in a Twins support group on Facebook, and posted a question about our twins sleeping arrangement aboard the boat. Ally the interviewer is a mother of twins, who used to live in a tiny home and responded to Sabrina’s post. It was really fun to connect and share the experience!
It all started when we anchored our catamaran Selaví in Tahiti on a delightful sandbar next to a 42 foot trimaran called Little Wing. That’s right, just like Aldebaran!
We instantly hit it off with the owners, Julie and Andy, who actually come from the town nearby Sabrina’s childhood home. Incredible!
Andy was an editor at Latitude 38. After he heard the story of our catamaran purchase, he said, “You have to share this story with readers of Latitude.”
All the skills that we learned from the 5 years of cooperative adventuring are now really paying off… and the boat purchase was a big example of this. Due to the pandemic, in August 2020 the seller thought that Tahiti might re-close and had us rush with the babies to come purchase the boat. Moving our whole life with 26 bags was incredibly difficult, thankfully we had our nanny-extraordinaire Alexandra (who’s a naturalist guide in Galapagos) to help us. Upon arriving in Rangiroa, with even more bags being shipped by cargo, feeling completely uprooted and delirious, we had a major falling out with the seller. This is the story of how we salvaged the deal under such delicate and stressful circumstances.
Having a smaller environmental footprint AND lower costs overall? This is the holy grail of “sustainable products”, and the promise of Copper Coat bottom paint, which we are re-applying on Selaví. But it comes with its challenges.
A number of states / countries are requiring a negative Covid Test 72 hours before the flight. Should be simple, right?
Depending on where you live, it may be much harder than you think. Here’s my research, based on the Bay Area, going to Tahiti.
Task #1. Find out what Covid test is required by your destination.
In our case we are going to French Polynesia, which requires a Standard Covid test (aka PCR-RT or swab), and does not allow Rapid/Antigen or Antibody tests. The Tahiti Tourisme bureau spelled out the test needed and also included a comprehensive list of “conforming tests”.
Note that there are dozens of different tests with “PCR-like” names but they do not actually conform to the guidelines (of French Polynesia, at least). It is easy to get confused.
Task #2. Find out which tests guarantees the results of a PCR-RT test within 48hrs.
In our case we were looking for testing in the Bay Area, and finding a guaranteed 48hr turnaround was very hard. We used the SF Chronicle’s map of Covid testing sites, which was very comprehensive, but it does not stipulate A) the exact type of test; and B) the expected turnaround time. So I wasted a lot of time trying to call the testing sites.
Our observation is that many free tests sometimes provide result within 24-48hrs, but if suddenly labs are being swamped with tests, results can get delayed and take 5-14 days.
This was the case with Osita Clinic in Oakland, that provided Free PCR testing with results in 36hrs, but then the following week, their turnaround was backed up to a week+.
I consulted with One Medical, which is a membership health program to facilitate doctor visits & testing; but they could not guarantee a 72hrs result. I also called a number of other testing sites.
We booked an appointment with Color in Marin, which typically gives results in 24-48hrs, and seems to do a free PCR test; but upon closer analysis, they have a “Lamp” test which does not conform to the PCR test guidelines of French Polynesia.
Ultimately, after talking to many doctors and testing sites, to no avail, it was the French Consulate that provided us with the information.
They identified three places that could guarantee tests within 72hrs in the Bay Area (and might have other locations too), of which I verified two:
For Patrons of Green Coco supporting our video productions, we’ll have a zoom chat starting at 6:15pm PST to meet the crew aboard, and Q&A happy hour. Thx for the support y’all !
Ep11 – How we dodged a hurricane & caught a 300lb marlin near Zihuatanejo, central Mexico
Ep12 – Caught by a wild lightning storm, then we host a Ladies Boat Party, southern Mexico
NEWSFLASH. Incidentally did you hear that a large 7.4 earthquake rocked Oaxaca’s coastline and caused a tsunami just yesterday?? My sister Sam was there and said it was turbulent!
Question: What happened to our videos?? A co-op member referred us to a new VIDEO EDITOR and we’re trying 5 episodes as a pilot project to decide whether to continue with the expense & time. If you like the episodes let us know!!
If you love ’em, consider becoming aPatron to help us improve the production quality, and share the Green Coco journey in this fun way. Saludos,
El Director Kristian
ps. while our French Polynesia schedule is still being put together, enjoy some new pics on our instagram:
Congratulations to our friends Billy & Kimber on being the new owners of Aldebaran, and carrying on the torch of co-op expeditions!!!A more perfect couple to continue this dream & lifestyle would be hard to imagine! 🎉💥
With our pregnancy and intention to expand the Green Coco co-op, last year Sabrina and I started searching for a new catamaran— details of that will be forthcoming, stay tuned😁
By keeping Aldebaran in the family, we are now growing our adventure co-op to make the experience of expedition sailing available to more people👯♀️🕺
Our community-supported approach has made this amazing lifestyle affordable for everyone (both boat owners and visitors) and we are excited to spread that opportunity 💕
Watch this space for updates from partner-boats in the Green Coco Co-op: Billy & Kimber on Aldebaran, our new catamaran, and new boat partners of the co-op, as we join forces in the future… ⛵️
So stoked for @sail_ncand @kimber.kinley, and everyone you’ll be sharing this experience with. Keep #harvestingstoke !! 😊
More superstar moves from Adrien, the head instructor from Tuamotus Kiteschool. It is amazing to watch and inspiring for our renewed kite motivation!
These photos were taken by the super gifted photog John Guillote. Remarkably, this was his first time ever shooting kitesurfing; the angles he managed to catch without any previous experience are mind-blowing. Check out his eclectic portfolio here. John is sailing with his wife Becca around the Pacific on Sv Halcyon, a 40 ft monohull Halcyon. She is a travel writer and provides captivating insights into sailboat life on their blog: Halcyon Wanderings.
We’re bringing Kitesurfing back into our Green Coco life, after many years of hiatus. Next year we’ll be able to host people wanting to learn with the phenomenal kite instructor Adrien; and we’ll do special kite trips to remote atolls like Tahanea.
Can’t wait. Kitesurfing is bringing me an entirely new appreciation of the wind and discovering new connections with that incredible force!
Got a message from Frank this morning: “Got into Tahiti! Exhaustion levels around a 7.5 out of 10 (all three of us worked through the night 😳), but stoke levels at a solid 13 out of 10!!!!” They are soon grabbing the air tahiti flight to Tuamotus to meet us aboard Aldebaran.
What an honor it is to be hosting our dear friends after so many years of dreaming together. It’s finally happening! We’re heading straight to Hirifa to launch the kites and splash straight into the tropics. Our friends at Tuamotu Kite School will be there to show us the ropes.
This photo was taken at the peak of a strong back-to-back Maraamu winter storm that smashed French Polynesia for two weeks non-stop in June (the rider doing a huge air is Adrian, the head instructor from @kitetuamotu). Everyone was complaining about the weather… except for the kiters. The weather was grey and “cold” (low 70s) with constant drizzle, which brought down the spirits of soggy sailors. But the kiters were loving the steady 20-30 knots from the south-east. All the more reason for us to get back into this amazing sport!
This kite spot is called Hirifa, in the remote south-east corner of Fakarava atoll, about 6 hours by sailboat from the village… it’s a really big atoll! It’s a fantastic setup as the wind blows across sand spits and makes the water on the lee side smooth as a mirror, even when gusts are strong.
There is a notion from Native American philosophy that the hunter should not force the kill, but rather allow the prey to present themselves. Once I embraced this philosophy, spearfishing became a lot more fun.
Shooting a fish poorly can result in a wounded fish that gets away. That’s not a great feeling. Our only obligation is to spend time underwater, at depth, observing; and see if our dinner wants to join us, or not.
On this day at Motu Runa, the eastern edge of Faaite, we were really motivated to make a BBQ bonfire on the beach, ideally with some delicious fish. However I was skeptical we’d find anything for dinner. This area is a vast sand field, without the usual coral bommies that we rely on to hunt our fish. Locals have many other techniques for catching fish — like using nets in the reef shallows, line fishing with specific bait, and other approaches that I haven’t practiced much. So we resorted to our usual technique, spearfishing.
We drove the Lambordinghy 3/4 mile until we found a small coral bommie. It was actually quite lovely, with some uncommonly seen (in Tuamotus) anemones. But the fish were all tiny as expected. There were several red soldier fish hiding in the rock crevices, which despite their small size (6-8inches) the locals love to eat. Paul and Kelly donned the Hawaiian Slings which are good for catching those fish: tight quarters amidst the rocks.
Then I saw the Blue Jack. They are extremely active fish, and although their curiosity can be their Achilles Heel (they will sometimes swim right up to you) it’s usually just a quick visit and they’re gone. This Blue Jack was good size (16 inches) and was hiding deep in the coral bommie. What unusual behavior, I thought.
I had the speargun, which isn’t ideal for shooting fish against the rocks, as the spear needs space to “set”. But I held onto the rock just 7 feet below the surface, staring deep into this rocky crevice, and waited to see if an ideal opportunity presented itself.
After several ups & downs, trying my body as still and calm as possible, the Blue Jack finally came out of its hiding hole. I took a good shot, which went right to the head stunning the fish. But my spear was way inside the rock cave, along with half my body, which was quite unnerving. In the tight quarters, I struggled to push the spear deeper into the fish to ensure he couldn’t escape, somewhere deep in the cave, but the silty sand ballooned into the water from the struggle and blocked visibility. The Blue Jack got away!
I hollered at Paul and told him what happened, who was swimming on the other side of the coral bommie. A few moments later I saw Paul struggling with something. “I had him pinned to the rock wall!” He said. But the Blue Jack had got away again…
We persevered and kept diving down, searching. There he was. Stunned and injured, he had finally given up. With an easy shot I had him secure and back at the surface, out of the water so the black tip reef sharks that began circling wouldn’t bother us.
The great irony was when I gutted the Blue Jack, I discovered why he was exhibiting such odd behavior. He had swallowed a really long needle fish, which didn’t fit in his stomach, and was partly visible next to the Blue Jack’s gills. This must have caused some discomfort, so perhaps the Blue Jack was trying to hide under that coral bommie for several days to digest the needle fish. His energy was sapped; that’s why he was ready to go.
We thanked the Blue Jack, and the needlefish that came before it, by using the words that our friend Four Arrows taught us from the Lakota tradition: “Temakuyasin”. This means, “we are all related”. By thanking the fish and acknowledging how we are all related in this cycle of life, we have a deeper connection to our food source. It wasn’t just dinner that night; the Blue Jack was truly a Gift. Thank you!
Being in a stunningly beautiful place like Motu Runa inspires connection with… well, everything. It’s easy to just sit and watch the coconut trees and turquoise water. With such an “undemanding” activity, it is only natural that stress lowers, breathing evens out, the brain relaxes. As we watch quietly we relax into just being “here”, as opposed to thinking about “there”. We can’t help but feel connected: with ourselves, and with our surroundings.