Nanny in Paradise

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.

How to apply: please read below, and fill out our application.

about us:

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.

expectations:

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.

accommodation

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)

See a Boat Tour video here.

compensation:

Once you’re aboard the boat, all your costs are covered (food and accommodation, beer & alcohol not included).

The places we visit and take guests are world-renown and absolutely stunning. We try to include you in as many activities as possible so your stay can be super memorable.

As part of your stay, we offer you basic training in sailing, off-grid cruising skills, breathwork, and non-violent communication.

If you have experience as a chef, RIE parenting, or whole child teaching like Waldorf, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia, we may be able to offer you additional stipends to cover transportation costs.

how to apply: please fill out our application.

Thanks so much for your interest!

covid-19 considerations

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.

Newsletter Fall ’21: Kitesurfing Heaven

 

View this newsletter in original format (recommended).

Escape to Kitesurfing Heaven

Our goal was to return to Tuamotus …

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👇

Read more about Bora-Bora (and watch video)

 

Change of Plans: Tahiti

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.

Isolation: Tuamotus

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 👇

Watch: Kitesurfing & Exploring Tahanea

 

Kitesurfing Heaven

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👇

Watch: Sabby’s Lesson in Fakarava

 

Featured Guests: Alexandra

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!

Check out Alexandra’s Instagram: @alexandra_sirenita 📷

Alexandra in Bora-Bora
 

Next Year: Wondering what we’re up to?

After exploring Tuamotus in first months of ’22 we will be based in Fakarava from April to October, sharing this World Heritage atoll with our guests.

From December ’22 to early ’23, we are based in Huahine, with possible cruises to Bora-Bora.

Come visit! Check out the trip availability below.

See our schedule

Selaví in Moorea
Bret & Jessica in Bora-Bora
 

For More Information: see www.GreenCocoCharters.com

“We are walking!”

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

Looking for more information? Check out www.GreenCocoCharters.com.

Bora Bora for three days

Looking for more information? Check out www.GreenCocoCharters.com.

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!

Watch the video with highlights from the 3 days:

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.

Looking for more information? Check out www.GreenCocoCharters.com.

Mantas with Bob & Susie

Now that I’m a dad, I know that our parents have done a LOT for us! We hardly even know.

Well, during our Green Coco trip we’ve been able to give back to them… in the form of Stoke at least. Sharing these magical places with our parents has brought us great joy.

Here are Bob & Susie, 80 and 74 years old, swimming with Mantas in the Tuamotus, during a squall no less: watch the video in our Patreon page, some screenshots below.

Early Seabird 2021 – Aldebaran

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 expeditionaldebaran@gmail.com, 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.

Aldebaran at anchor in Teahupoo, Tahiti

We’re on a Podcast! Tiny Home Tours

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!

Links below to listen, hope you enjoy it:

–> Tiny Home Tours Website: International Boatlifers!

–> Apple Podcasts: Tiny Home Tours

How we saved our catamaran purchase

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.

In San Francisco, boarding the United flight with 26 bags. Each adult and baby were allowed 2 checked bags plus 1 carry on plus 1 personal item… and each baby was allowed another 3 small bags each for the stroller / milk / diapers.

How to get a Negative Covid-19 test for Travel with 72hr guarantee

Hello travel-hungry friends,

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:

—> Arc Point Labs Martinez: guarantees 48 hr PCR test for asymptomatic travelers $275pp

—> My Doctor SF Medical Group: guarantees 24hr PCR test for $365pp

They aren’t cheap tests (cost per person!) but given that the information about testing sites in the US is so haphazard, that is the best we could do.

Conclusion

Be ready to shed $$$ for a test with guaranteed results if going to a destination with demanding testing criteria. Spend some time researching as it is hard to find the critical information.

There are phone apps that list where Covid testing sites are (such as ArcGis or Apple Maps) and they sometimes list the type of test, but rarely do they list the turnaround time for results.

From Hurricane Dodging to a Ladies’ Boat Party

Hola Amigos!
Enjoy these two new Green Coco videos from our time in MEXICO… being premiered publicly this weekend.  Feel free to share with your friends and enjoy.

Sunday June 28th  

CLICK here to see the Ep 11 screening @7pm PST

CLICK here to see the Ep12 screening @7:15pm PST—-> Or watch anytime after with those links.

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:

Aldebaran’s New Owners!

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_nc  and @kimber.kinley, and everyone you’ll be sharing this experience with. Keep #harvestingstoke !! 😊

Big love, Kristian & Sabrina

#dream #sail #explore #harvestSTOKE #southpacific #multihull #sailing #boatlife #cooperative #expedition #adventure #frenchpolynesia #tahiti #moorea #tuamotus

–> follow also on Instagram

 

Podcast about Living the Life You Want

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We were interviewed by a cool Podcast show called Opt Out! It’s about “Living the Life You Want”, and opting out of the traditional way that society expects you need to live.

The host Dana asked us how we started Green Coconut Run, the challenges of working together as a couple in tight quarters, and what we are doing next to evolve our lifestyle into a living.

Download and listen at leisure to Episode 87– Kristian & Sabrina’s Journey with Green Coconut Run: click here to view podcast.

What do YOU think about the idea of re-inventing success and creating a non-traditional life that you love?

Continue reading

Adrien Flies (and rides his board upside down)

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!

New Crew, first stop: Kiteboarding

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.

The Gift of the Blue Jack

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!

Returning to Center in Wild Places

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.

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Coral Shallows

A fortunate fluke of nature is that corals love to grow within 1-2 feet of the water surface, to cultivate as much of the sun’s UV as possible. In the Tuamotu lagoons there are many such “shallows” where we can float just above the coral reef, with schools of fish darting below, and the details of the coral ecosystem at arm’s length.

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Surgeonfish Spawning

Paul & Kelly & I were just finshing up our drift dive in Fakarava, and were almost at the restaurant pier when I noticed a remarkably active school of yellow Convict Surgeon fish at the entrance of the channel. I took a deep breath and free dove down to film them. They were much more frenetic that usual… something was happening. The school moved around erratically and clouds of “dust” seemed to emanate around them, with gray sharks diving in suddenly with wild energy. The fish were spawning their eggs, and the sharks were trying to feast!

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Welcome Paul & Kelly!

One of the best parts of running an adventure cooperative is meeting the awesome people that join our community. An experiential sailing trip, after all, doesn’t attract people just looking to relax in a vacation; everyone is expected to cook, clean, and fully participate. The folks coming aboard Aldebaran are those who want to immerse themselves in a lifestyle, enrich their spirits, and learn new skills.

Paul & Kelly are a great example of this positive attitude— they arrived STOKED for whatever happened. Continue reading

The Supreme Food Sherpa

The winter storm that hit us enroute to Fakarava was so heavy duty that the local cargo ship had to change course and return to Tahiti, cancelling their weekly delivery to the atoll. Aboard Aldebaran, we were already short of food, having experienced some difficulties provisioning in the previous atoll. Even our onions were running out. So I advised Sabrina that we had a “Code Aluminum” on our hands: only canned food left! And worse, during her mom’s upcoming visit! Oh man, was I in trouble.

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The Kamoka Pearl Farm

While we were moored behind “Sasha’s Chateau” in Ahe, we’d see Kamoka’s aluminum powerboat filled with black cages approaching twice a day.

Aboard the boat was Josh and his crew from the Pearl Farm, freediving 20ft to pull up cultivated oysters from their farm’s submerged network of lines. The precious oysters live underwater, filter feeding in the lagoon, and are protected by cages from the sharp teeth of Trigger Fish and other oyster-munching critters like turtles and rays.

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