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Friday 4th June - Moorea
By Claire
Tuesday, 8th June 2004 20:38

Other than the time the rowing boat I was supposed to be steering on the river Avon was rammed by a tourist boat, the last time that Mikey and I had attempted to drive a boat together was a kayak on our homeymoon. We ended up with the pointy bit sticking into the beach and being catapulted, head-first, into the sand. This boat, however, was an outrigger canoe, which is apparently one with stabilisers. No one had ever told me about those, so it was with glee, a daring sense of adventure and a precarious lack of balance on my part, that we set off with a paddle each to discover the ocean.

About a mile off shore there are huge waves breaking, and I had talked Mikey into going to see what was causing it. I had a waterproof camera with me, and we both had borrowed masks and snorkels and we were going to snorkel and visit the island and the waves for a daring nautical adventue. It started well, and after a while I managed to paddle a bit without hitting myself, and we were sometimes even going in the direction we wanted to go in. The sea was so clear, there were hundreds of fish and lumps of coral just under the surface and at times the sea was only a few feet deep. It took a while to get close to the waves, and some dark clouds had formed over the island. One or two spots of rain were falling despite the blazing sun, and the water was dead calm. Closer to the waves there were a few ripples, which we (I) rowed over with little shouts of joy. The water had become much shallower, a sort of rocky shelf, which was the reason the waves were breaking. We went right up into the foamy bits because it was like sailing over the edge of the world, and then a big wave, about five or six feet tall came down and set our boat bobbing up and down quite excitedly. Mikey realised that we were being sucked into the waves and suggested that we turn round and start rowing away quite quickly, and the waves bounced us around a lot. One even got into the boat. I was having so much fun that I didn't see the huge wave that picked us up out of the water and turned the boat over. The out-rigger bit miraculously missed our heads as it came crashing down on the other side of us, so we weren't hurt. I picked up all the floating bits, the face mask, flipflops, hats and camera, and put them on the top of the boat. I was having such fun, it was like a proper disaster film. It would have been better without the sea water in my mouth the whole time, but I was in my element, almost literally - I've always been happier in the water than on it.

There were only a couple of problems with the scenario, as Mikey saw it. We couldn't turn the boat over without it filling with water, and we were about a mile from shore and drifting quite quickly back into the waves. To lighten Mikey's mood I added that I might have cut my foot on some of the coral, which would surely attract the local sharks and make it even more fun, but it didn't seem to make Mikey quite as happy as it made me. We decided to swim with the upturned boat, and head for the shore. I put all our belongings on the top of the boat, climbed underneath to make echoey noises, and then began to swim behind the boat, pushing it.

To be fair, we did manage to get about halfway back when Mikey spotted someone coming to rescue us. It's hard to look embarassed when you're having so much fun, but we somehow managed it. A big, burly Frenchman with a large boat (with stabilisers) and an outboard motor asked us if we were having problems. He indicated that we should get on his boat and he'd deal with ours, but the sides of the boat were more than three feet out of the water and it was like being back at school and told to climb a rope. Absolutely no way. I can't evn get out of a swimming pool without steps. Mikey told me to push myself up as far as I could (which is what I was doing) but only succeeded in getting my head over the edge and then giggling and dropping back down. The Frenchman switched off the engine and suggested I use it as a step, and, as gracefully as a killer whale washed up on the sand, I was hauled into the boat on my tummy.

Our rescuer and Mikey pulled the boat up over the Frenchman's boat, and he drove us back to shore. I jumped in the pool to wash all the salt off and sent Mikey in to apologise to the hotel. It turned out that we'd also lost a face mask and snorkel and the room key. I was still having too much fun to look suitably ashamed. Fortunately, the lady at reception was very nice about it. I promised to stay away from the water in future and she said nonsense, you didn't come all the way to Polynesia to stay away from water, which was just what I wanted to hear. We'll probably have to pay for the missing things, but even with the cost of things here, that's a small price to pay for such a great adventure!

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