Sailing to Escape Winter:
Stories of Boat & Turquoise SUP Adventures

by Mariepier Bastien

When winter arrives, the routine is the same: we stow away our paddleboard, bundle up indoors, and dream of travel. For Jess and P-O, things are different: it's work time. Between the repairs needed on their boat in French Polynesia, charters in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas, and boat deliveries all around the world, they spend the months from October to April literally going with the flow.

Interview with Jessica Laliberté ( and Pierre-Olivier Hivon (@fuirmontreal), our two TAIGA ambassadors, between strokes of paint on the compartments of their 39 feet sailboat.

Where are you right now? What does the next month look like? 

Currently, we're working on refurbishing the interior of our boat, following the fire that occurred at sea last year. We've settled in a small marina in Taravao, Polynesia, and we dedicate our time to making the boat habitable and navigable again. In the coming year, frequent back-and-forths here are expected. We typically spend 2-3 weeks working day and night on the boat, then head out for charters.

How do the charters work?

Basically, a charter is a cruise on a private boat. It's our chance to share our passion for sailing and introduce people to our playground. P-O knows the Bahamas like no one else: he has spent a good part of his life sailing here. He knows all the secret locations, and his ideas for activities are endless. Daily life is simple: we do yoga on a deserted beach in the early morning, take out the SUP to explore around our anchorage, walk at low tide on white sandy waves, snorkel with fish, turtles, and sharks, and every evening, the sun gives us a show before setting over the ocean.

How is life at sea during boat deliveries?

I'll always remember my first transatlantic. 23 days at sea. For the first time, I realized the vastness of the ocean: blue as far as the eye can see. I remember feeling so small, so vulnerable. Life on the boat is calm, or not. Our daily routine and activities are dictated by the sea. It chooses. When it's rough, we read, listen to podcasts, play Monopoly Deal. When it's calmer, we try to stay fit with yoga sessions or elastic band exercises: it's the only fitness accessory that fits in my nomad luggage.

"As cliché as it may sound, we never get tired. Never. We continue to be amazed all day long by the beauty of the ocean." - Jess

Why did you choose this lifestyle?

I think we enjoy the contrasts; that's what makes life more interesting and gives it texture, more flavors. Boat life is like that; it's full of contrasts. It's gentle, but intense at the same time. It's scary, but there's something comforting about it. It's alive, it moves, it changes. It tests your limits, opens your eyes, makes you better every day. Traveling by boat allows you to experience the magic of the moment in every place you visit.

What is the most beautiful spot where you have done SUP? 

In Tetiaroa, Polynesia, an atoll 30 nautical miles north of Tahiti. There, the coral barrier has broken into immense blocks, and the power of the current at the exit of the pass creates whirlpools of all shades of blue. It's as beautiful for the eyes as it is exhilarating in terms of paddle technique in such lively water. At the mouth of the pass, it's a real buffet for sharks and the biggest fish.

"One evening, I paddled with about twenty Blacktip and a 12-foot gray shark. They were doing their thing and letting me do mine." - Jess

What do your long-term plans look like? 

If all goes well, the work on the sailboat will be completed next fall. We might go back to exploring the beauty of the Pacific archipelagos before considering, perhaps, a plan to bring the boat back home to Quebec. But between you and me, all options are on the table, even the idea of going around the world, since we're already here, at the other end of the world. We would be crazy not to do it.