Andy surfing the Mentawais
I HAVE just returned to Bali after an extraordinary 11-day surfing trip aboard the 70-foot steel hull ketch known as the Barrenjoey. Our Gold Coast crew included surfing solicitor Mal Chalmers (My Attorney), his son Nick, my two sons Blake and Lachlan, their Palm Beach mate big Ben Ingwerson, surfing artiste Dean Cogle, and Rob West who was born and raised in a circus. Eleven straight days of surfing, sometimes three times a day and at as many as eight locations across the Mentawai chain of Islands situated of Sumatra. This place is a surfing wonderland. Mostly reef break waves (Ombak-surf, Kurang-reef). Our best session was on the second day at Lances Left, like a perfect Kirra point in the old days but going left. Being a goofy foot in the land of the righthanders on the Gold Coast, I was in goofy heaven as you can see from the photo taken by the skipper John McGroder, and I managed to find a green room left barrel at Lances. Everyone in our crew bonded big time. We were up at 5am for a quick breakfast, muesli, fruit salad and yoghurt, made by our Sumatran chef known as Elvis who hails from the island of Nias. Elvis was the full legend in the kitchen. After brekky, first mate Selamut would taxi us into the break from the high-powered tinnie, and when we completed our surf session Selamut would pick us up and deliver us back to the boat where Ude (third crew member) would offer a glass of ice-cool water and then it was time for lunch. Elvis would then serve up another killer meal and you had to go surfing in the afternoon to work off all the food. My eldest son Blake caught a trevally which the skipper's wife Belinda, who was six months pregnant, prepared sashimi (raw trevally) with sushi rolls. One day on the way to the famous left-hander called Macaroni's Dean the Picasso showed his fishing skills by landing a huge Spanish mackerel off the trawling line. We surfed our brains and out bodies out at 'Macca's' and were completely 'Mackered' as in knackered. That night back in the deep water passage across from where a new resort is just starting to be built and will be opened next year, Elvis the legend served up mackerel steaks that melted in your mouth. Rob who is allergic to seafood did not miss out with sweet and sour chicken. We all joked that it was cat and so his meal was called 'sweet and sour pussy'. Half way into the trip Belinda informed us of the Jakarta Bomb, and while our families and friends in Australia and my wife Megan in Bali were worried about our safety, in actual fact we were in the safest place in the world, thousands of miles from nowhere. Not a day went by without a surf with 2ft (knee high) Rag's left to 8ft (overhead) Thunders left. The natural foots who were Rob, Ben, Blake, including the Captain and Elvis who had the occasional surf, scored Rifles a right-hand reef break in the Playgrounds area ? like Kirra Point on reef. I was so inspired by this trip, surfing with my sons and friends, that what started off as a diary has now turned into a book within a book of my life surfing adventures. Next week I will be competing in the second annual Kuta Karnival in Bali, both in the long boards and the modern day Legends event.