Surfing the Indian Ocean of the west coast of Sumatra - The Telos Islands - August 2015
We all set off on Saturday morning for the flight to KL which was at best uneventful. Then found a bar and had a few of our first Bintangs. The flight to Medan was next and we were greeted by an airport that was larger and newer than Brisbane, not the shanty that Pugs was expecting. So it was into the vans for an unbelievable ride to the hotel for the night. Just over an hour of dodging through traffic that left you shaken but not stirred. The next Morning we went back to the airport (another 1 hour trip) and set off in a small plane to Sibolga.
Here we cooled our heels, had a few Bintangs and waited for the boat. So after 50 hours of traveling by plane and boat we finally had our first surf at Pinnacles. Nice right hand break. Surf with about 3 to 4 feet faces. Overnight we anchored the boat off the resort island and by the end of the night came the rain
Tuesday Work to an overcast sky and back to Pinnacles. The routine of ship life is starting to settle. They sure put some chilli in the food, you always need to watch your step and don’t clog the dunny up. Getting to the top bunk was also an acquire skill. I perfected a western roll
Wednesday We surfed Missions - at least some did. I got some good footage of the wave which was in my opinion 4 to 6 feet faces with the occasional bomb. Later we found a nice right on the back of an island called Le Bar. The place is magical and I guess my disappointment over my surfing or lack of it is not diminishing the special time I am having and also to see the others getting great surf. We had a great sunset.
Thursday The group surfed in shifts today, so some went out while others also took it easy. Paul D rode my board at Le Bar and I have never seen it ridden that good. If my board had soul, it would be very happy tonight. On the subject of boards, Dan has broken his mal so too has Ando. Callum has also broken his mal and now only has his short board. So tally so far is 4 mals out of action. One villager who paddled out had Dan’s other half of his board and wanted to sell it back. He was a bit disappointed. The villagers always come out when we are near to sell shells etc.
Friday We motored south and across the equator. We came down past Latitude Zero through some very still water. Found a nice left off an island named Bojo. Indo Ando found his mojo in Bojo. I on the other hand caught a nice left and got flattened by the lip. Found myself over the reef and after being hit by a few more waves finally got back out. I tried to catch a few more but with no success. Ando and Dan got some great waves. We were then hit by a summer storm that have been all around us over the past few days. It was a great lightning display and rumbling. We have now parked at a break that is one of Pugs favourites. After a short while the surfers that were on the break headed back to base and our guys has a memorable session on classic longboarding reminiscent of early Tee Tree at Noosa. This went for a couple of hours until dark. It was special and called Skate Park.
Saturday Woke early to move the boat closer to Skate Park and the group allowed Norm and I to go out with Mike and Callum. Norm managed a couple of bombs and just managed to cut his foot on the reef. I managed 4 waves and went over the reef a couple of times but finished on a really nice wave that went for the longest wave I have had for a long while. It was about waist high. We then went around the island to a smoking beach break. A couple of us swam in or paddled in and went for a walk on the beach. We finished the day with a few going for a fish. No luck there though.
Sunday We woke to heavy rain and thunder. But reliable Skate Park was on again. The lads all had at least 2 two hour sessions as the rain cleared and the offshore wind picked up to about 10 knots. Low tide is around 1pm. It is now 3pm and Iron Mike has been out since 11am after a one hour massage and an earlier surf. He has finally come in. I did not surf today which is my 2nd day without a wave or in my case a wipe-out over the reef. I had a massage as well. Update Iron Mike only came back to change his board. Here he is having a rest after a 7 hours surf. He was so tired we even got this shot of him. I guess that if there is one thing that is missing, it is a couple of 10 foot days. With only 3 to go that is looking unlikely.
Monday Skate Park was really small and Pugs, Wayne and Callum went out for a few waves. Later we went over to Bojos for a bit of wind affected 3 to 5 foot lefts. The day is settling in to a blue sky hot day. I am happy to not surf as I feel that my mojo has completely gone, but what a place to have a break. Went back to Bojos and while some had a surf a few of us swam in to the beach. The swim in was tough, as the currents were going all over the place and you had to clear some of the exposed reef. Dan sprinted to the beach, I was right behind him. Brent was then alerted that Mike was in trouble. He just stopped and swam back and held him up until the boat came to pick him up. We are all finding we are not 20 anymore. Back on the beach we heard and saw some monkeys. We were sitting under their tree. Back to the surf, I looked up and 3 of the guys were on the same wave – a nice left hand wall. It had all the components of an epic afternoon. We had Beef Randan for dinner, a heap of Bintangs and some rum. I believe some may have been sleeping on the deck last night.
Tuesday Back to Skate Park and finally Pugs was able to film one of my rare waves which was pretty special as he was not feeling all that well. I mustered 2 over the falls and a quick run over the reef before I nailed a small one. The champs are surfing the outer reef and the top of the point. After lunch; the wind is soft, the tide is low and the swell has dropped.
Wednesday Final day surfing The swell had backed off but was still pumping over the shallow reef. Several guys had one last dig. Paul did a bit of surf skiing behind the zodiac. But around 11am we hauled anchor and started the motor back to Padang. For reference to Skate Park – Latitude 0.57 Longitude 98.44616. We stopped the boat near a small island. It was all good. A chance remark was how far we were from the beach. This turned into a full bet as figures from 50m to 200 were quoted. The money raised went to the closest crew member. So Skindog (Brent) volunteered to swim in with Eugene’s super surf watch that measured everything. A few then swam in, got a lift half way or just motored to the beach. The villagers all came down for a look. We then headed off as a small problem with the engine was solved. First up was the doldrums, glassy and wind less but a storm was on the horizon which hit around 6pm. Eugene and the crew had done up the awards which was presented after dinner. Dinner was a local beef dish with rice, chilli and tofu . During the night we had a loud cloudburst that pretty much woke everyone up.
The Awards Twinkle Toe Award – Dan Style Award – Paul Most Waves Award – Mike Most Skin on the Reef Award – Norm Sleeping Award – Norm U Pommie C**t Award – Pugs Most spoken “Fucks” Award – Mike Don’t give a fuck; I am on holidays Award – John Mellow Award – Skindog Broken board Award – Dan, Callum and Ando
Boat Life Life on board the Jiwa was pretty good. It was a big boat and there was always something to do.
The Islands There are thousands of islands and in the time we had, we visited a few. Most notable features were a few huts, a church, a fringing reef and plenty of coconut trees and a couple of very nice sandy beaches.
Nose riding One thing that the waves at Skate Park provided was the opportunity to practice the old art of nose riding. Dan gave it the best shots.
Bintang O'Clock One also needs to mention, that with 10 surfers over 10 days and with a budget of 10 bottles per day, equated to 1,000 bottles of Bintang consumed over the trip. This was particularly important due to the heat of the tropics and the ever present threat of dehydration. Fortunately this did not eventuate. Bintang time also was the time for tall stories. It was hard to tell the factual accounts (eg my stories about any number of issues) and the bullshit that was flowing as fast as the beer. But it was a credit to the group that we all kept our sanity.
Our Guides and the Group Eugene and Luke – 2 pommie bastards and Pedro-masseuse and boat man
Water Photography Pugs also was the official photographer for the Narrowneck club and he did not disappoint. Here are a few of his water shots taken at skate Park. (PS a great shot of the reef as well)
Thursday Finally got to Padang around 10am. At 6.30pm and we were still at the airport. But eventually the plane was on its way to Medan and we mostly got to the hotel around 11pm.
Friday We all spent the morning shopping or massages or just having late breakfasts. At 12noon we again got into the vans for the hour ride to the airport. This ride had one fright. The truck in front let out an almighty bang and dust was heavy in the air. Both Pugs and the driver lost at least one of their lives. Got the plane from KL around 11.25pm Meanwhile Norms foot is not looking at all good. So it was off to the hospital as soon as we got back home. What an epic trip. Good waves, great weather, good mates.
The Brick Update, Norm spent 4 days in hospital as his foot still had a few coral bits embedded. But after some TLC and a few stitches, he is almost as good as new. And here is a shot of me thinking what may have went wrong and another of my board in the capable hands of its new owner Ando.