Written By: Joanie Ogg CTC, MCC
Fifteen years ago in September 2000 I was cruising the South Pacific with our son Andy on what was then the R-4, a lovely smaller ship owned and operated at that time by Renaissance Cruises. Being the son of two wanderlusts like Tom and I, At 14 years of age, Andy had already become a well-seasoned traveler. Little did we know that the adventure that we were about to experience, would forever be one of the best memories we share as Mother and Son.
I was escorting a small group of travel professionals on the 10-day sailing. The group was very self-sufficient so Andy and I had plenty of free time to explore and experience all that the islands have to offer. Number one on our list of adventures was to enable Andy to surf some of the best breaks in the world in the South Pacific. Andy was and is still a great surfer, so armed with his new board he was more then ready to, as they say, dive in.
We sailed round-trip from Papeete and the breathtaking beauty of the South Pacific was like nothing we had ever experienced. The spectacular imagery is almost impossible to put into words. I think for me the word “mesmerizing” describes it best. I was simply taken back by all that lay before me in its natural state of beauty. The water is so pristine and the beaches beyond beautiful. We were pretty much in heaven.
Since surfing was top of the To-Do list for Andy, I had that parental pressure on me to be sure it happened. Add to that the parental pressure of making sure it happened and that it happened safely. Andy learned to surf in Hawaii at the age of 5, but of course his teacher Tom (Dad) was always right there. However, this time Dad was more then 4000 miles away and I did not surf! This meant we had to rely on the locals to help us find the spot so he could live his dream of surfing off some of the most beautiful islands on the planet.
We were successful and found the perfect place to surf off the island of Raiatea. We had heard that the break was a very territorial one, as it very popular with the locals who live and surf there all the time. Having lived the last 34 years with surfers, I well know what this can mean and I did have some concerns that he might get bullied or be intimidated. Just to give you an idea of why Mom was so concerned, read this paragraph from a website called www.seaweed.com about Raitea.
“Because these islands are so remote, with a long history of resistance against the official government, a strong feeling of ownership of the spots, namely localism, has developed. The Black Shorts on Huahine and Raiatea will only let outsiders surf with them once they have proved themselves to be their friends and loyal to the surf. This involves a long process of copious drinking at the local bars with them and much banter, handshaking, chest pounding and talking surf. Not everyone can do this so a cool attitude, a very low profile and a willingness to leave the surf if harassed are all essential ingredients.”
In order to surf the break, one has to get to it. That meant we had to rent a small engine boat for the two of us and weave our way through the coral reefs to get to the perfect spot. We threw out our anchor and with the warm sun beating down on me in our little dingy, I watched Andy live one of his dreams.
The adventure increased with intensity about 30 minutes after he paddled out when a sudden storm blew in and the waves got very large and scary to say the least. Andy paddled back to our dingy with two other guys who needed a lift to the shore and the four of us made our way back in our small boat that was taking on copious amounts of water. Our fellow boaters bailed water out of the boat with a plastic cup and my job was to lie down on the boards so they did not fly off the boat due to the intense wind and rain.
Once we found our way safely to the shore and returned the leaky boat to the rental company, we simply basked in the glow of having just had one of the most exciting adventures together as a Mother and Son. That night at dinner as we shared our story with the agents in our group, Andy gave me one of the highest compliments a Mom can have…
“Mom, you were so cool…cannot believe you did that with me. I won’t ever forget today!”
I share this story with you because it epitomizes the need to travel and adventure out of our comfort zone. It allows us to fulfill dreams we may have never known we had. It allows us to share our stories and encourage others with our tales of life experiences. Adventures give us a sense of accomplishment having taken on a personal challenge and achieved the goal we set out for ourselves.
As travel professionals we are responsible for helping others achieve the self-awareness they are looking for through their travel experiences. We have to walk the walk to be able to talk the talk. That special adventure with my Son will forever be in my heart and mind as one of the best days we ever shared together. Memories created from our travel experiences are priceless and a gift we cannot get any other way.
Mark Twain may have said it best: “
It’s worth taking note of the wise Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”