Volume is your friend. Say "NO" to skinny sticks. An average surf session is probably 95% paddling and 5% surfing, so it makes sense to make the 95% part a bit easier. Specially in the bay, where most of our waves have a high grovel factor. Having a bit of extra buoyancy under your belly goes a long way to up’ing your wave count.
“…foam is your friend…don’t be scared of it. A little bit of extra foam here and there is good for the soul… and your surfing.” Rob Machado
When buying a new board we’ve always deliberated over the standard dimensions - length, width and thickness of the board. But volume was never really a consideration. In recent years, some of the international shapers have started including volume as part of their board specs. And it makes a whole bunch of sense....
Two surfers with the same weight, but differing experience levels, will paddle for a wave differently, so it makes sense that the flotation comes in to consideration.
The intermediate/advanced surfer on a shortboard will require between 33-35% of his body weight in board volume. So for example, if you’re clocking the scales at 70 kilograms, you should be looking for a 24-liter surfboard.
If you’re a beginner you’ll be looking to up that ratio a fair bit – cos extra buoyancy means easier paddling and get-ups thanks to the additional flotation. Jordy ain't no beginner, but he's not afraid of volume...
Science says one litre floats one kilogram of weight. So using this knowledge a dude called Whitney Guild has created a volumetric table system aptly named the "Guild Factor." Put simply, the Guild Factor brings together your fitness level, ability, body weight, and surfboard volumes to find the right one for you. It's the Ratio of Surfboard Volume to Body Weight.
This surfing scale allows surfers to pick the right surfboard for their skill levels; and accounts for wave conditions.
The formula looks like this:
Surfer's Weight in Kilograms (Kg) X Guild Factor (GF) for Skill Level = Litres of Surfboard Volume
Here are some of the common "Guild Factor" ratios
*If you’re surfing in warm water and good waves, the lower end of your ratio range is recommended. If you’re surfing in poor conditions, looking for paddle power in crowded situations, or wearing thick wetsuits, lean towards the higher end of the range that you fall into
FIND YOUR VOLUME:
On the Guild Factor graph below, slide the left hand bar to your body weight.
Decide what ratio best describes you and your abilities on the GF Shortboard Ratios above. Slide the right hand bar so that the Dot is on your preferred / estimated GF Ratio on the line running vertically down the middle of the graph.
Inside the box on the lower right hand corner of the graph is your estimated volume. Ideal volume has a range of +/- 0.5 Liters, so it is not an exact number but it is the best place to start when accounting for your ability, fitness, age and wave type.
The guys at Compare Surfboards (http://www.comparesurfboards.com/) have also come up with a cool lil graph which also gives you an idea of where you should be at in terms of volume based on what type of board you're looking to ride.
K, so no more excuses as to why you're out in the line-up on a stick that's too skinny for you!! Luckily both our local shapers have foam friendly models, so ask Dennis Ellis at the Boardroom for a Vetkoek or Tokoloshe; or Greg Smith for a Gobbler. Both guaranteed up make surfing the average PE slop so much more fun!
The sunrises were better than the surf. Not that much again wave-wise for the bay. Coupla bits & pieces of wind swell that cleaned up when the west came through, but that was about it.
Is it just me or are the winds pretty hectic for this time of year? My memories of February are that we usually get some fun small clean swells and loads of windless days or light SW. Dunno where all these howling easts and wests come from? Weather is bedonnerd.
Still, at least it's been warm enough to make getting in the water pleasant enough. Fernando took his GoPro out for a swim and hooked a classic shot of the bay's Wildman waterman Richard von Wildemann deciding to take an unconventional approach to riding his surf malibu. Thought they were made for kneeling on?
Even if our weather's all over the place what doesn't change is the daily visit of the local dolphin pod. Cruise past the beach every morning. Our guys are a bit more docile than the ou's at Byron Bay though! Check out this amazing sequence by Sean O'Shea of a drop-in dolphin style. Probably better termed a "jump-in"?
Local tourism guru Jonker Fourie was on a mission inland during the week and spotted a road sign that I reckon the JBU guys would love to stick up at the end of Pepper Street. Just swap out the pedestrian and cyclist bit for "surfers". Classic.
Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior visited our shores this week. First stop was at Seals, where the locals held a paddle out in protest against the Thyspunt nuke plant being planned just down the road from Seals. If we can't even manage coal-fired plants not too sure how good we'll be with nukes. Maybe the Seals surfers will be glowing in the dark soon?
The Warrior then made it's way to PE for the weekend, making it's way into the bay on Saturday morning during the Bell Buoy Challenge. Greenpeace uses the boat to highlight environmental related causes, and it's in SA to support the anti-nuke plant campaign and encourage renewable energy.
One of the competitors in the Bell Buoy swim, Andrew Stewart, organised a peaceful protest against the proposed Algoa Bay fish farm development just off Pipe. Everyone was encouraged to wear bright green to the beach to help raise awareness and to express their support of the fact that it's a kak idea. Well, not a kak idea overall, just a kak location.
Loadshedding doing your head in? No problem - just take all those bucks you've saved during the month cos Eishkom keep switching your power off and don't drop em on some new T's and boardies at the Billabong Loadshedding sale at their JBay factory shop. Gotto love being a Saffa, we always make a plan!
Speaking of stuff to drop your coin on, if you're serious about protecting your ears then hook past Surf Centre Humewood and pick up some Surf Ears, just arrived. Super high tech ear plugs that keep the water out and let the sound in. Ask anyone that has/has had surfers ear and they'll tell you it's not something you wanna get! Barry Heasley bought a pair and reckons they epic.
The frequent east mean lotsa these lil critters washing up. No fun getting stung, so keep your eyes peeled. If you do run into a coupla tentacles, then best treatment is to poor hot water over the area. Hot as you can bear without adding burns to your problems. Didn't use to be a practical treatment option, but thanks to Warwick's Coffee's Up caravan at Pipe you can get hold of hot water easily. The theory is that hot water helps to break down the protein component of the sting and thus take some bite outta it.
Cool to see that ML gets read all over the world. Art Peterson from California dropped me a note to say I didn't have all my facts straight in the article I did on leashes a while ago. Art wrote:
"I saw your article "Legacy of the leash" and I need to correct you on who made the first urethane leash, It was not Cadillac Surf co. it was MNP Co. in Monterey Park Ca, they had been making bungee leashes and I was there in 1977 when the "First urethane leash" was made. The owners name was Michael Nathan Powell, hence calling the company MNP. Mike died a short few years later from a blood disorder and has remained forgotten in the surf industry."
Great to get a heads up on some surf history as it happened. Thanks Art!
Cyclone swell klapping the east coast of Aus at the moment. Playing havoc with the cricket, but the surfers ain;t complaining. Provided you don't mind surfing with you and about 50 of your best mates. Surf looked amazing, but must be hard to get a wave to yourself out there.
Another pretty quite week as far as surf goes. You had to scratch about for surf in the bay, but if you had some petrol in the tank you coulda found a few fun lil waves here and there.
Wind was seri-ass over the weekend, and the guys in the Billabong Interclub Challenge out at Kitchen's probably wished they had straps on their boards just so they could stay attached to them in the chop.
Local East Cape teams dominated, with Seal Point Boardriders taking out the win over PE club CYOH. JBay Boardriders were 3rd and JBU 4th. That can only mean good things ahead for EP surfing this year. Lekker.
When the wind died down there was an impressive display of syncronised surfing from Frankie and Dave at Supers - caught on camera by Robbie Irlam. Dave apparently owe's a few ou's waves after that sesh. Maybe he was playing the sympathy card after looking a bit like the walking wounded out there - bandages on his foot and elbow.
Speaking of big guys in the surf....how this ou spotted on the beach in Moz recently. Don't think anyone would drop in on him? Turns out hippo's like a wave or two. Hippopotamus is derived from the Greek word meaning "river horse". The Afrikaans name for the hippo, "Seekoei" (Sea Cow) is probably spot on. It makes even more sense why they're such water babies once you realise that despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoise, etc.).
Whilst most of the world's top surfers are crowd dodging on the Gold Coast, Kelly was playing in the Pro-am at Pebble Beach....and got a 4th possie overall. Not too shabby. Is there another career beckoning on the golf course after he finally retires from pro surfing? He's now brand ambassador for Puma's golf range.
Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior will be on our shores this week, so make a plan to get down to a beach or harbour near you to check it out. It'll be at Seals on Thursday at 17h30, and at the PE harbour on Saturday from 10 am to 3pm. The Rainbow Warrior is in the country to promote awareness of renewable energy as an option for the country.
Ever walked across something so hot you've gone "Wonder if I could fry an egg on that?" Pretty much what happened on our recent trip to Indo. The heli-deck was blistering one day and decided to find out if indeed I could fry an egg on it. Turned out it actually worked (after a while).
Just a heads up on the availability of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Draft Coastal Management Program (CMP) which is now open for review, and the upcoming Public Open Day to discuss the findings of the plan.
The coastal zone covered in this Coastal Management Program extends from the Van Stadens River in the west to the Sundays River in the east. The seaward extent of the study area is 500 m seawards of the high water mark of the sea. The landward extent of the study area varies between 100 m inland of the high water mark of the sea in highly developed areas (e.g. between Kings Beach and Something Good), and 1 km inland of the high water mark of the sea in less developed areas (e.g. between Cape Recife and Kini Bay).
The 3 broad priority areas are discussed in this plan are:
I did a quick scan through the Southern beaches aspect of the draft plan and here's some points of interest I picked up:
(remember this is a draft plan, so points raised can all be subject to public input and debate)
Good news is the plans to establish the ‘sand budget’ of the coastal zone so there is a better understanding of how to protect landward structures and infrastructure from coastal erosion and/or sand inundation, and measures to encourage beach nourishment and dune stabilisation.
Bit concerning to see a section about "The public and authorities at the NMBM must prepare themselves to participate in EIAs for gas and oil harvesting in the coastal zone." Might mean the ou's that surveyed Algoa Bay a while ago mighta found something?
Also a high priority is to review the seaside sewer lines and pump stations, as well as check out the stormwater drains - which we all know can pour out some pretty filthy smelly stuff onto the beach on occasion. Worst offender being the Pipe at Avo's. Be great to have a study to check it all out.
Nodes along the Southern Beaches which have been identified for redevelopment/upgrading/rehabilitation include Flat Rocks, Pipe/Pollock and Bird Rock. Various plans to improve parking availability in peak season have been proposed, including creating an informal car park behind the existing car park at the Beach Office at Humewood Beach or even creating a multiple-level car park at the existing parking area there.
Interesting to note that it's been suggested that the existing parking area in front of Something Good should demolished and setback to the area west of the restaurant - from a coastal erosion/sand movement perspective. There are also plans to reconsider the current parking area at Pipe, with thoughts to move this further back out of the active dune area as well.
Upgrading of existing camping grounds and braai areas between Cape Recife and Schoenmakerskop has been proposed. Planning for the decommissioning of the car park at Sardinia Bay and relocation to a more suitable alternative site is a high priority. The new site would include a picnic/shade area and adequate ablution facilities. Their is mention made of planning for demolition of the car park at Maitlands Beach and then ensuring pedestrian connectivity with the day camp facility to the beach.
The NMBM has identified the beach at Avo's as a potential area for a future launch site. This would be subject to an environmental authorisation process. Based on the identification of the area as a ‘hotspot’ for humpback dolphin activity, this is possibly not a suitable area – specialist advice would have to be sought prior to planning commencing. Gonna have to keep a sharp eye on this one given that it's also a popular surf spot, so conflict with existing water users would be an issue. Plus any surfer knows that trying to get a boat outta that lil bay when a swell's running could be quite a challenge! So if you surf Avo's you might want to email them your thoughts on the proposed boat launch site there.
The Summerstrand lifesavers club is subject to sand inundation and coastal erosion. It is inappropriately located and needs to be demolished and setback. A new facility may require environmental authorisation depending on its location and footprint.
The above is just a quick synopsis of my brief read-through of the draft plan. If you're a beachfront resident or regular beach user who would like to be actively involved in commenting on the proposed management plan, then please take the time to read through it yourselves - as I have not highlighted all the area's that may be of particular interest to you!
The Draft CMP for the NMBM coastal zone is available for public review and comment here:
If you have any comments to make on the draft report, they are to be submitted within 30 days of this notice (i.e. by 5 March 2015) to:
Mike Cohen / Belinda Clark – CEN IEM Unit
So take the time to go through the draft plan and then send in your comments. No good waking up at the last minute when change is already underway in the future and then moan. Public participation from the outset makes things work that much better!
A public open day is planned to discuss the findings of the report:
Date: 28 February 2015
Venue: Walmer Town Hall
Format of the meeting:
The NMBM coastal zone has been divided into 3 areas for discussion: northern beaches (from Sundays River to Port Elizabeth Harbour), southern beaches (Kings Beach to Cape Recife), and the ‘Wildside’ beaches (Cape Recife to Van Stadens River). Three presentations will be given on each of these areas which describe the status of the coastal zone, and suggested management recommendations. Each presentation will be followed by an open discussion:
• Northern beaches: 10:00 to 11:00
• Southern beaches: 11:30 to 12:30
• The ‘Wildside’ beaches: 13:00 to 14:00
It would be highly beneficial to read the report, or at least the section that interests you, in preparation for the public open day discussion.
BE PRO-ACTIVE AND GET INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS FROM THE START.
Back to earth with a bump. Got home after 2 months in Indo to a pretty flat and cold PE. Hard to adjust to wetties and pap waves after being so spoilt. Nothing beats being able to surf in boardies, that's for sure.
Not much in the way of waves other than a lil squirt at the end of the week, with the charts seeming to be a bit wonky at the moment. Midweek had been forecast to show some decent 14-15 second swell, but it didn't arrive. Heard that happened a coupla times over the holidays - charts looking good but then not delivering. I'd rather have them under-call and over-deliver than the other way around!
Water temps had dropped appreciably compared to previous weeks, and Grant Beck found the best way to cope with the chilly surf was just to stay out the water completely. Nice shot by Clive Wright.
Not many waves, but plenty of sea-life. Apparently there were quite a few lil finned friends lurking about Fence later in the week. Just baby hammerheads, but still a good idea to keep your toes up nonetheless. They couldn't do much more than nibble your toe if you went and stuck it in their mouths, but it would still be a kak idea to try.
Later in the week saw a horde of bluebottles invade the city beaches and plenty peeps got a sting or two. Bit of red tide also wandered round the corner from the wildside, which has had some pretty thick patches lately.
Luckily nothing seems to affect our resident pod of dolphins who were cruising close to shore all week. Had them swim all around us the one day, with even a few going right under my board. Could reached down and given em a head scratch! Wes Wiehahn got a great shot with his GoPro at Pipe.
Dave Lippie had an altercation with a nail on the steps at the Pipe boardwalk and ended up with a few stitches for his troubles. It happened whilst he was walking down the stairs to the beach for his surf. Being a tough 'ol ballie he just got Luqmaam to bandage it up, went for his surf, and then just went to the doc afterwards.
Heard it from a reliable source that there is money in the budget this year to replace the Pipe deck area with a proper timber structure. Too much bitching and moaning about how dangerous it is at the moment might just get it removed immediately and then we stuck with niks til the new one gets done. So just be patient and watch your step til it gets it's revamp. Better something than nothing?
The Pipe crew have had lotsa time on their hands thanks to not much surf, and have come up with some lekker stickers. Andre Clarke came up with some kiff designs. It's to raise funds for the EP Masters going to Richards Bay in August. There are 5 sets of 40 stickers available. Merv needs 5 companies or people to sponsor each logo @R340 /40. Stickers will be sold at 20 bucks each and you can hook from Coffee's Up or Surf Centre. Tune Mervyn Goddard if you'd like to help sponsor production.
The SA Junior Surf team was announced and it's great to see that 3 of the JBay lighties are in it - Matt McGillivray, Joshe Faulkner and Sebastian Williams will be representing the province in the national team. SF's Crystal Hullet and JBay's Zoe Smith are non-travelling reserves. Well done to all of you!
When Sandy Coffey took over as President of EP Longboarding, one of her objectives was to get more ladies into the water. So on Sunday EP Longboarding the first "Ladies Learn to Longboard" series took place at Denvils. Cool to see all the brave ladies in the sea and on boards - many of them, for their first time. Marelize Dalton started off the session by teaching some stretching and core exercises, then Dave Lippie demonstrated the basics of how to get up and then everyone hit the water.
Dave was joined by Kia Fenton, Mia Baard, Gregg Clarke, Roland Bekker, Johnny Bakker - who formed a team of instructors who made things less scary and provided ample encouragement! Thanks to David Lipschitz and Surf Centre Humewood for the loan of the boards and suits, to Marilize, and to Red Bull for giving us wings. (pics by Sandy Coffey)
The Greenpeace ship – the Rainbow Warrior – will be on South African shores in February to highlight solutions to South Africa’s current electricity crisis. Greenpeace is keen to raise awareness that nuclear energy is dead and the government should embrace renewable energy. It'll be docking in PE on Sunday 22 February 2015 (10am - 3pm) and entrance is free. Hopefully she'll also go anchor out at the Bell Bouy for a while as a protest against the proposed fish farm nearby!
The renovations to the boardwalk's retaining wall between Denvil and Humewood has finally been completed. Looking lekker - well done Emile and Donovan. And good to know that the sewerage pipes that lie right behind these are no longer in danger of busting through. Just before the work took place there was a good chance that we could have ended up with some seriously smelly water in the surf. Wouldn't have done Humewood's Blue Flag status any good.
Ever wondered how Clark Little, the legend shorepound photag, gets his shots. By the looks of this it entails getting plenty of sand in plenty of places. Respect!
If you think Indo is all about Indian Ocean swells, think again. There's waves on the other side too! The far north-eastern region of the country has a few hidden gems of it's own. Without the rent-a-crowd Mentawaii mayhem. It's unlikely to be on the mass-market surf charter radar anytime soon thanks to being in the ass-end of nowhere, and needing just the right combination of swell direction and winds to light up like an explosion in a firecracker factory.
When all the stars align the mission is worthwhile...and mission we did. I hadn't realised how big Indo was, until we had to fly from one side of it to the other, which includes changing your watch by an hour. After a month and a half in the Telo's we up'd anchor and made the trek eastwards for our surf charter on the Ratu Motu around the Spice Islands.
Yowzer, what an epic boat. Even has a heli-deck. Which didn't have any choppers parked on it this trip, but was a great place to hang out for sun-downers, star-gazing, morning yoga....and sit-ups.....and frying eggs on hot days (took about 15 minutes, but it worked! Sunny-side up. Shoulda tried doing some bacon too.)
The Spice Islands, despite their relatively small size, were the largest producers of mace, nutmeg, cloves and pepper in the world back in the day. Food in Europe was as bland as eating cardboard back then - all they had was salt. So when word got out that there were these things called spice's that could make your chow yummier, the Portuguese, Dutch and English were there in a flash in about the 1600's to try to gain a monopoly over the highly lucrative trade.
At one stage the value of cloves by weight were worth more than gold. The fighting for control over these small islands became so hectic in the 17th and 18th centuries that the Dutch actually gave the island of Manhattan to the British in exchange for one of the tiny islands in NE Indo which gave them full control over the archipelago's nutmeg production. Guess that turned out to be a kak trade in retrospect!!
The small town we landed in was at one stage one of the most wealthy sultanates in all of Asia, yet all the evidence left today to show it's one-time wealth are a few beautiful mosques. The value of the spice trade finally dropped off once ou's worked out they could grow the tree's in their own countries.
The area is one of the most geologically complex and active regions in the world, thanks to its position at the meeting point of four geological plates and two continental blocks. This means lotsa islands. Which in a surfer's mind translates to lotsa wave potential.
Swells arrive from spin-offs of the big storm systems that rock the Pacific between November and March, or typhoons in the Phillipines; but mostly there's a constant supply of windswell from the easterly trades. Charts that don't look that exciting on your laptop screen can still throw up some really decent surf. Throw in the proliferation of slabby set-ups and it turns a 3ft @ 8 second swell into this....
I have a natural aversion to slabs (and lefts), but luckily there were a few fun points and reef passes that didn't entail checking whether your travel insurance policy included medivac. One of my favourites was a super fun right tucked inside a bay. It started off being sucky and shallow, but after racing the first section you hooked a 90 degree turn on the reef and it peeled off for another 100m. One of the longest waves I've ever surfed.
This part of Indo is all about volcano's, mountainous islands, jungle and only a few token palm tree's dotted about. Throw in some spectacular waterfalls that empty straight off the cliffs and into the sea and weird sea stacks all over the place and you have your very own National Geographic program.
The crazy landscape offers up some serious novelty waves as well. What's a novelty wave? Spectacular scenery coupled with something that might just be rideable. The definition of rideable being determined by how cool the shot is gonna look!
Like this lil sea cave the boys had a bash on. The take-ff spot was inside the cave, meaning a rogue set could result in you getting your pip smashed on the roof. And then just as you got onto it, it turned into a super shallow ledge, complete with a coupla obligatory boulders dotted about. Surfable? Not really. But definitely some novel shots.
A coupla days of funky winds and not much surf don't turn out to be such downers when there's plenty else to do. We took the opportunity to learn to dive, which was rad. The sea's so clear it's like being in an oversized swimming pool - just one filled with every fish you could ever imagine.
Cruising northwards we motored past a few set-ups that looked loaded with potential had there been surf. At one of the spots a lil island offshore from a local village had a small right and left peeling down either side. You know not too many boats pass this way when all the local lighties pour down to the beach to check you out....and anything that floats is soon out on the water and making it's way towards you.
One of the better known spots in the area is a heaving left which has been compared to a mini-Chopes. The first section just unloads on the reef, throwing out a square barrel - that you won't make it out of. Then it let's you in, opens up for another barrel section, and then reels off down the reef for ages. Heavy; a left; serious coral and rock garden on the inside.... I didn't even bother paddling out!
Coral isn't to be messed with in Indo. It's downright carnivorous. One of the guys fell at the left and managed to get a piece of staghorn coral embedded deep into his inside ankle. Despite being able to pull it out, and treating it with all the usual fixer-uppers (scrubbing, lime, hydrogen peroxide, chinese red, bactroban, you name it) he was man down for the rest of the trip. Swelled up like a balloon and he couldn't even weight-bear on it.
Not many people surf this part of Indo, but it hasn't stopped the local kids from becoming frothing surf groms....on their wooden planks. Crudely shaped boards, some even with a bit of rounding to the rails, and they're out there having an absolute blast in the shorey in front of the village. It's amazing how adept they are on their finless "boards" with some of the lighties being able to cruise down the line no problem.
Some interesting local variations means that clothing is optional (not sure how much fun it is to get splinters in the nether regions?), those that have "leashes" (ie bits of string tied round their ankles) pop em on the front foot, foot placements are super close together, with hip sway being used for direction control, and duckdives are done with the board side-on to the oncoming wave. And of course every wave is a family wave, full of screams, giggles and huge grins. Just how it should be.
Another coast, another island with a perfect left and right peeling off either end. Bunch of Aussie mates have built themselves a lil house there and weren't too chuffed to see a boatload of frothing surfers arrive. But more than enough waves for everyone.
Aussies are the original ferals, and no matter where you pitch up in the world thinking you're the first to discover a new spot there'll be a bloke in the jungle living under a tarp with his board. Respect.
It was then an overnight sail to Raja Ampat. Wow, what a mind-bendingly spectacular area. The Ratu's captain had sailed round the world 3 times and said that without question this was the most beautiful place he'd ever seen. No argument there.
It's said to have the highest marine biodiversity in the world, and the richest coral reef ecosystems, thanks to being located at the junction of the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Hundreds of small limestone islands jut skywards from the sapphire blue sea, and leave you gob-smacked by it's unspoilt beauty. Totally uninhabited, it's well and truly off the beaten path. Only the odd dive boat occasionally. We spent 2 days in paradise, I could have stayed forever. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was, and even photo's don't do it justice.
The climb up the area's highest peak is obligatory in order to fully appreciate the view. It was billed as a "hike" but quickly turned into a full-on climb. Plenty of handholds thanks to how the limestone had weathered into alternating sharp spikes and deep crevasses, and lotsa roots and branches to grab onto. Once things turned almost vertical, there was no turning back, and was happy to finally make it to the top. Although quickly began to contemplate the descent - remembering that going down is always harder than up!
Kakked off on the trip back down and was glued like a limpet to the rock wall. Managed to tear a hole in my boardies cos was sliding on my ass so much! Guess will have to cross Everest off the bucket list!
SUP's and kayaks were the best way to explore the archipelago. Spent many hours paddling through the winding waterways, watching out for turtles and manta rays whilst sussing out all the fish. The limestone cliffs were dotted with wild orchids, and perfect white sand beaches abounded.
Snorkeling was epic, although had to keep my nerves in check when I spotted a black-tipped reef shark cruising past. It's always been my reasoning for avoiding learning to dive - happy in my ignorance of what's swimming under me during my surf!
The guys were frothing to surf so went on a mission to check out some of the spots nearby. Had a bash at a heaving slab but after some proper thrashings and a bust board they decided to move on. Found another novelty wave in a narrow reef pass, as well as a sea-cliff cave they decided to race the tinnies through.
As with most male adventures adrenalin finally overcame common sense and they rolled one of the tinnies whilst making a run through a narrow pass. Luckily everyone escaped unscathed, although the camera equipment didn't survive the dunking. Rule #1 of taking your camera on a boat - always have it in a dry-bag!
As much as we would have loved to stay the trip was drawing to a close and we had to keep moving. We spent the last 2 days of the trip at another set of islands in the area that was home to a super consistent left that was dead-offshore in the prevailing winds. I tried to overcome my aversion to lefts and paddled out for a few.
We'd been on a major mission on the tinny a day before to scope out a really good lil right reef tube set-up "nearby" that one of the guides had found on a previous trip. Unfortunately the winds went wonky and we ended up bashing through the chop for an hour, only to discover it was crap when we got there. Moral of the story - never leave surf to look for surf. But that's how much I don't like lefts!
Many of you will have heard of the famous surf artist Drew Brophy (Merv's board has a copy of one of his designs). I immediately recognised his art on Mike's boards (above) and commented on how cool it was. Turns out he was Mike's cousin, and had just penned the design on his board in their back garden. Pretty flipping cool cuz to have. What I hadn't known was that he's also an accomplished surfer and absolutely charges big waves.
Erik, our surf guide, photographer and all round lekker guy, was doing some water photography so asked him to snap a few of me duck diving just for fun. Not such a good idea in retrospect cos I pull some seriously odd faces! Pretty cool though to see a sequence of yourself duckdiving to try work out how to do it better.
Our dive guide decided to swim around the impact zone to check things out as she's just starting to learn to surf and wanted to get a feel of the line-up. She ended up getting the best shot of the session!
Later she paddled out and hooked a screamer, the first time she'd ever stood up on a green faced wave - backhand nogal - and was so stoked she even managed 3 claims and multiple hoots en route before getting rumbled over the reef. Helps when you're learning to surf if you're a free-dive guru and can hold your breathe for 5 minutes! Not much to fear from hold-downs!!
Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and it was with heavy hearts we returned to port to catch our plane home. In typical Indo style the journey to the airport entailed loading everyone's boardbags on the roof of a small MPV....and then tying them all on with a single piece of ratty looking twine that they'd just found lying on the ground! Ignoring the very tenuous connection of our boards to the roof the driver then proceeded to embrace his Formula 1 aspirations and weaved in and out of traffic on all sides of the road, including pavements, at top speed.
After arriving at the airport in one piece (us and the boards), the final hurdle was to navigate the complexities of remote Indonesian regional airport check-in counters. We'd been warned to rather travel with 2 double boardbags instead of a huge 4 board coffin bag cos of Garuda's baggage restrictions. Boards fly free as long as they fit the specs (size and weight). Err on the wrong size of either of those and you're in for a long debate at the counter.
Check-in chick: Sorry sir, your board is too long, we cannot take it
Matt: No it's not.
Check-in chick: Yes it is
Matt (pointing to a boardbag that had been checked through before his): But it's shorter than that one and you've just checked it in!!
Check-in chick: Sorry Sir we cannot take your bag
Matt: But you flew it here without a problem:
Check-in chick: Sorry Sir we cannot take you bag.
After about 5 minutes of back and forth she finally caved in (thanks to Matt steadfastly refusing to budge).
And so our 2 month stay in Indo finally came to it's end. Great waves, great people, fun adventures, amazing places and broadened horizons. We'll be back for sure!
Thanks to Erik Soderqvist for all the kiff shots. All photo's taken by Erik unless otherwise credited.
If you're keen on an epic Indonesian adventure then drop the guys on the Ratu Motu or Tropicsurf a mail. You won't be disappointed.