Monday, 13 August 2007

Sporadic Scribbles. The Surf-ari!

This is going to read quite strange for I wrote this about 10 days ago while still on the boat. Unfortunately I never finished it then we had the little problem with the Mr Stealth, read below after that it was off to Thailand, where I had originally thought I would find those few minutes I needed to finish crafting this story for you only to find those in-between time taken up with flat laptop batteries, meetings about run orders, doing a friends bathroom floorplan adjustments and simply relaxing.

But I am going through my laptop and rather than let the words go to waste and another day slip by without filling the ether that is my Blog I thought I would whack this into shape and get it up there.

It will also give me an opportunity to put some surf photos up there. Hehe! So here is the story of my first SURFari…

Here is a shot of me slotted at the place I am not allowed to talk about.

Again sporadic scribbles from yours truly. I know, I know there is no need to chastise me for I am a slack bugger. I seem to only write in the off times. The down times between sets one could say. Did I? Here is something that I wrote the other day while I had some downtime but alas no Internet connection…

I am on deck, it’s warm, a breeze is blowing in onto my back and the music from my laptop breaks the otherwise stillness of the lagoon in which we are moored. the other guys are either on the left out at the point, the inside left or in their cabins. The right-hander in this aptly named Bay of Plenty is alas too shallow but I will grace its shoulders for one last surf this afternoon. For I am writing this in-between the morning surf session and the afternoon one. The off time.

We are on a surf safari, a 110’ boat called the Indo Jiwa. Unfortunately our time here is nearly at an end and the six of us will drift back to our own little worlds. The list is Simon Leary, Paul Anderson, Greg, These guys are all from Sydney then there is Channas mate Mill-Dog he is a 55 Californian that was living in Hawai and now seems to call Uluwatu home, and Channa, the owner of the boat oh and finally yours trully. There are 7 crew, Indonesians, who are the men in the background. They make this whole ship work and cook the amazing meals which are placed in front of us at least 4 times a day.

Ten days ago we set out from Gunung Sitoli, which is the airport on Nias. A little island off the coast of Sumartra. Overland for 2 hours in a bump ride that left Soimon high and dry for the next two days down to a spot called Teluk Delam which is a little harbour in the south of the Island. It was here we boarded the boat and overnight sailed around the southern tip past the famous Lagundri Beach (which had a reported 50-70 guys in the water!) up to another even smaller group of islands off the West Coast .
We moored at about 2am near a break called Bawa that is intimidating at the best of times let alone the first day of our surf tour. It rumbled through in the morning and I wondered what I had let myself into.

Good thing was I was not the only one who had second thoughts about this huge bone-snapping wave and we sailed on to the tiny island of Asu. It is here that Channa, our skipper, his wife Ruby and their 3 kids live. It is early and we are on a surf safari so after the crew, has the boat moored out the front of Ruby and Channa’s place, we all bundle into the tender for an hour drive up the coast to this amazing right hander. It doesn’t have a name and we have all been threatened with black magic curses if we ever divulge it’s where about. Suffice to say that we spent the next 4 days going back to the same spot honing our skills and then dragging ourselves spent from the water after 3 hour sessions and eating second breakfasts prepared earlier by the amazing cook on board the Indo Jiwa, Yanko. Guys a genius! I must go sideways a tad here to say that I originally thought I might lose some weight in the 10 days aboard the boat, but I think I have put on about 2 kilos even though I am surfing a minimum of 3 hours a day! We ate so well. BBQ fish in banana leaves, Pasta’s even pizzas one night. Fantastic food and though I hadn’t thought so before, a very important aspect to any trip like this.

So where were we, ah yes the trip to the spot we ended up calling “The left hander” was great for all but Simon who was a goofy footer, a left hander. The fifth morning we set out for a place also north of Asu called Afulu. We rounded the headland and there were already 4 guys in the water. It was the left Simon had been holding out for.

Turned out Channa knew a couple of them. One is the ex-head of Surf-Aid for Nias. So we surfed this great left that left scars I am still smarting over. After a big hold down during which time I tried to surface using my arms only I kicked out and I kicked the reef.

Nias reefs were raised about a metre in the 2005 earthquake. So the breaks are now in different spots. Where we are surfing the waves wouldn’t have broken before and even at high tide dead coral sticks out of the water. It was some of this shallow inside reef that I kicked. The outer section, though it was fast and hollow, was deep enough so that one didn’t need booties. Gosh, that was a trap for young players!

The next day we revisited the same break and guess what. I didn’t wear booties again, I got caught inside again and I kicked the reef one more. Hhmmm. Thick as two short planks I am.

Suffice to say that although it now hurt when I put them, due to cuts on top of my left foot, I wore booties for the rest of the trip! You never know!

The day before we had finished our Holiday With Purpose. Finished what I hear you say? Let me explain. Ruby & Channa run this Holiday with Purpose out of Asu. In exchange for a few hours a day you get a cheaper trip. The work you do is for the local community. He runs fibreglass boat building, she does community gardens, and they also look at community buildings. A school I hear is in the offing!. So it was a great add on for us. At first I had thought we might build canoes or buildings. You know big butch stuff. Though in the end we put in about 4 vegie patchs for different folk. These were more than equally important. Read here what I wrote about it on their site.

So we had actually sailed to Afulu in the Indo Jiwa. After that second surf there and a spot of lunch we upped anchor saying goodbye to Nias and steaming north for 12 hours to the Banyaks. A couple of islands that sit off the coast of North Sumatra. Actually I am looking at a map in Mappoint and they are off the southern tip of Aceh.
Sometime after midnight we had pulled into a cove and awoke to an aptly named wind blown out Treasure Island. So it was in the light of dawn that we headed east to the larger of the two islands and another Aptly named harbour, the Bay of Plenty.

The Bay of Plenty consists of a Left Point Break, a Right Point Break and a Left that breaks in the bay itself. Add to that a fresh water spring Channa showed me while the boys were netting bait fish for the afternoons fishing expedition, the tribe of monkeys that were making a cacophony of noise as we sheltered waters from a storm and you have exactly that, A Bay of Plenty.

We spent the next 4 days here surfing lefts, rights, some more rights, snorkeling and fishing. I could come to this one place! What a fantastic spot. In the evenings fishermen would come into the bay. There boats are no wider than a canoe, though they are about 40’ long. Not even an outrigger! These guys are in the middle of the ocean! Respect!

We would sit on the deck of our behemoth enjoying BBQ wrapped fish, drinking ice cold Bintangs daily feats or surf-ploits filled the darkness of the night, the rock of the ship on the ocean set the beat, laughter at the incidents were the punctuation. The waves got big and scarier with each telling.

Then it was over. Like that. 6am one morning we are being shuttled off the boat to the mainland. 10 days had left us with sea legs so we swayed like drunks on the dock. It would continue all day and into the next. A lovely reminder of the journey we had shared.

So that was the holiday of a lifetime, though I am seriously thinking about going back next year.

Wonder what my darling wife will have to say about that. “Honey? Can we talk?”

Here are some photos of the events



Here is one of me blasting along at the bay of plenty

Ando in the barrel, if you look closely at his face you will see it split with the biggest grin. Loving life, go son!

Grego Bouncing off the lip. What can I say that this image doesn't? Genius!

Simon looking relaxed in the barrel. Actually Simon's back had pinged as he stood up on this wave and he was in a lot of pain when this was taken. He makes it and the last photo in this sequence he is standing on his board holding his back. Ouch!

Again the place sorted out the players, Grego with a big cutback at the right hander, Bay of Plenty.

Ando looking like he has an afro. He borrowed Mill-dog's surf hat.

Doesn't show the nice re-entry that he pulled off but he's still having fun!

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