Phil Leadley, Heidi Oates, Eden Scallen, Ludo, Franki, Adul, Rudi
I was looking for Elvis. Not the singer but the local driver who normally handles the transfers for the Barrenjoey Punters.
However Elvis had sent his offsider. I was following "The Honest Cheetah" and his "Squeeze" as he cut a path through the Padang Airport's car park, elbowing a few enthusiastic baggage handlers and "grandma's" out of the way, like he was trying to get to the bar in a crowded pub. I just followed in the wake and ignored the "Hello Mistars" from the local lads.
Boards and bags were hastily thrown into the truck. We squeezed into a separate van and sped through downtown Padang to meet up with the "Bucket" and family .The "Buckets" were waiting at a small hotel which was an old Dutch Bank located on the bank of a river which looks like they have forgotten to put the chlorine tablets in, for about one hundred years !"The Buckets" informed us we would be departing soon. We were just waiting on four other guests.
"Frenchman" to be exact. Ooh -la -la . Arriving from another boat which had broken down and Captain Bucket had offered to take the four stranded fellas on the Barrenjoey.
The Four Musketeers arrived , introductions over, names exchanged and already forgotten . Flat tyre fixed. We were out of there and on the way to the Barrenjoey.
On the way to the Barrenjoey a little bit of "Karaoke" went down on the bus .It had a hi tech stereo/ plasma screen with the latest crazy Asian tunes, which would make Abba look cool !
As we enjoyed our ride down to the bay on dusk it was ruined by "Cheetah's " singing " New York New York" .Thankfully we could see the ocean and the Barrenjoey was ready to sail! Everybody bailed off the bus real quick leaving the Cheetah to finish the last chorus.
Bucket does not muck around; bag, boards and punters loaded, the anchor was pulled, auto pilot set and the next morning we wake up at out first surf spot, "The Office".
The surf is small but , hey, it's day one and the French guys have a surf around the corner in chest high waves and enjoy being in the tropics, head-butting the shallow reef a couple of times, and snapping a leg-rope and losing there board into the shallows. The local kids are all over it and rescue the board and return it to "Punki" the French fella. Bucket throws a couple of Cokes their way, and the kids are wrapped.
Coming back Selemat suggests we trawl and within a minute we have hooked a "HUGE" fish. Chaos rules the boat·.
The Doctor grabs the rod , its his fish. In the back of his head he remembers the Captain saying. "Fridges are full, no more fish ". Selemat yells, "It's a Sailfish mate, big one !".
"Squeeze" (Honest Cheetahs FiancŽe) is snapping photos of big toes, peoples laps, boat floors as she tries to balance and possibly get the ultimate shot of the huge fish breaching !
The Frenchman are yelling enthusiastically, as European men do ! I am not sure if they are yelling about the fish or Squeeze stepping on the Frenchies new Al Merrick 6'1 round tail ,as she tries to not fall overboard !
But this is serious. Light is fading fast and this fish is big and fighting for its life. The "Doctor" digs deep and finally in the darkness Selamat is able to "gaff" the exhausted fish an drag it onboard. A 60 kg sailfish. Everybody is stoked , especially the Doctor. Because he is "buggered" and its his first ever game fish, let alone a fish of that size.
Day one in the Mentawais over, pretty good . We will be eating well this charter.
Day two and the swell had picked up. Everybody surfed all morning . "The Office" was showing true form as the swell kept building all day. By mid afternoon 4ft to 6ft bombs were pouring through and sometimes a couple of bigger ones. Ten waves to a set were common, as the "Cheetah" took the first wave of the set of the afternoon session ,didn't make the section, and proceeded to get nine more on the head!
Luckily the zodiac raced in and saved him , and he was back in the line-up just as the wind swung offshore and a few other ferals joined us for a magical session. One of the Ferals from the beach commented that he has been waiting for an offshore for weeks and day two were score it !
Day three and the office was onshore , so we sailed round to Lances Left.
Perfect 3 to 6ft offshore waves greeted us . Everybody surfed all day until the Captain started to get "itchy" and said he was missing his "office" ( we had only left it for 4hrs). Back round for the late session was the call.
And sure as the setting sun burns you eyeballs in Indo, the Captain was on the money as again we scored the Jewel in the Crown "perfect office". A tad smaller then the day before but super "wackable" and tubing very nicely indeed.
Le Machine , who was putting in mammoth sessions in the water ,charged hard and went down in style on one wave , snapping his board but still came up grinning like a "Cheshire cat".
Day Four . The Barrenjoey motored all nite to deliver us to Macaronis. Early morning saw a 3 to 4ft with grey skies and fun waves. By midday the wind had swung offshore and the classic Macca's barrel was doing its thing. All the passengers were stoked at the empty perfect line up.
Abdel the butcher received a nasty gash but Bucket gloved up and mended the wound like he was boiling water ! Abdel was straight back out there amongst the perfect waves.
Cheetah also came unstuck after an aerial pull out , about 10ft above the wave , when his board flung back and hit him in the arm. Doctor told him to "ice" it straight away. In the scheme of things it was minor but Cheetah was carrying on . Geez , you would have thought he had just played eighty minutes of "State of Origin" footy.
On dusk Selamat took the Doctor to his secret trawling spot off the island and we caught two good Spanish Mackerel . As the Barrenjoey anchored in the bay at Macaronis, and the boys and girls gave the "lizard lounge" a working out.
Day Five . Awoke to another amazing sunrise and empty perfect Macaronis. 3ft almond shape barrel firing down the reef. We shared the waves with some French ferals who had set up camp in the bay at Macaronis. After a surf we went in and checked out there camp.
It was no Club Med ! Basically a tarp with a Mosquito net , set slightly back from a picture postcard beach which suddenly turns into dense jungle that looks uninviting for humans to enter because its a swamp ! The French guys chatted in French to the other French ferals , which I found really boring because i do not speak French.
Hardcore was the the verdict (that word sounds French, no ? ) as were left the swamp for the Lizard Lounge, air con , DVDs and a few cold ones !
Day Six. Awoke to find Cheetah rolling around on the front deck. Seems he has a sore tummy ! The waves have dropped right off as we hang out at Lances Right. Bucket gets the swell forecast and its seems another swell is due to hit. Cheetah groans ,farts but actually shits himself and returns below deck to clean his arse. Missus Bucket give him no sympathy and finds the "peacefulness" of Cheetah staying in his cabin or the toilet for two days, great... In fact everybody enjoys it and we name these couple of day "Golden Time".
Day Seven. Was pretty much like every other day . Surfed a perfect left uncrowded then surfed a perfect right , all afternoon to ourselves. Sailfish for dinner, another great meal from Elvis the cook . Cheetah was still unseen that day , people we starting to worry ! I think ?
Day Eight. Southerly Winds were still blowing strong making the waves look ordinary. At least now Cheetah had stopped shitting himself and was just farting like a race horse.
Cheetah , Squeeze and Doctor decided to venture into the village , for a little bit of interaction with the local people.
Great to see a little bit of prosperity evident among the basic "houses" but still every house looks unfinished and or in a dilapidated state. A couple of large "barn" like building stand out . Which are in fact churches. One is surrounded by children that go into a frenzy when they see three white people approaching.
The Honest Cheetah (that's his full name) cuts a path through the "pews" and heads straight to the blackboard. Chalk in hand, he starts to explain Einstein's theory of physics with detailed diagrams.
The kids are out of control and flip him the bird, toss there lunch at him and basically right him off ! Luckily , 'The Doctor' ,fires out a couple of words in the local lingo and brings the class back into line.
The teacher was stoked , especially when we left !
Meanwhile back at the BJ. Selemat takes the mountain man , "le Machine" fishing and he lands his first fish. A nice Spanish Mackerel. He is wrapped !
Over dinner Bucket talks it up . New spot tomorrow and some tube time . Everybody goes to bed early, except Cheetah who parades round the boat in his new Bonds briefs bought by his Squeeze, mumbling something about Pat Rafter has got nothing on him ! Yer, supermodel wife , heaps of coin and a couple of grand slams , ya donut....go to bed !
Day nine. Travelled up to the most scenic part of the island chain, Playgrounds. Bucket anchored of a great little island with super left . All we need now is a bit swell !
Day ten. Bucket organised a local canoe to take us from the river mouth , up river to visit the mystical Shaman. Along the Muara Siberuit River we travelled by long canoe. Heading deeper and deeper into the dense jungle. Finally after hours of travel our destination was reached . And on queue a tattooed , native ,semi naked steps from the jungle and gestures to follow him.
We alight from the canoe and follow him into the jungle. Soon we arrive at his home ,a wooden traditional type dwelling, and our welcomed inside. Monkey and pigs skulls hang on the walls. As well as other mystical objects. The Honest Cheetah instantly feels a connection as a Rooster dive bombs him and poos on his shoulder, Squeeze is working the Canon camera overtime , as she snaps off photos. she is in her element , and feels like , this is what she came to the Mentawais for . A bit of cultural experience .
However, Bucket's son ,Fynnstar is the star of the show as the Shaman's family find his blond hair magical , and he is much better behaved than Cheetah , who causes trouble wherever he goes, touching relics and generally breaking things !
We chat with the Shaman and thank him for his time . Jump back into the canoe and head back down river.
We reach the river entrance and transfer over into the Binda Laut (Barrenjoeys tender). We soon start the journey back too where the Barrenjoey is moored but the wind has really picked up and a one hour trip punching into a 30 knot head wind in a 20ft tin boat is very bumpy. Missus Bucket does an unbelievable job of hanging onto young Fynnstar all the way as Mister Bucket punches the craft through the rough seas, getting us airborne a few times. Later Missus Bucket realizes she has grazed her back from the seat on the trip home from trying to hold herself and her son ,Fynstar.
Meanwhile back at Treasure island the tide has come in and the swell is pumping . We hit it for the late and get to surf another perfect left to ourselves. 4ft and all time. Wow what a day.
Day Eleven . Surf Treasure island left early before it gets to low. Its about 3ft and breaking very fast over the sharp coral, with a knarly inside section. Then we decide to head round to Pit Stops. We surfed the fun little reef break / beach all morning and everybody enjoys themselves. The swell seems to be getting smaller by late afternoon . Time is against us with no real swell on the charts for the final days.
Day Twelve . Iceland's was the call and it was super glassy for the early morning session. Unfortunately the wind picked up by mid morning and , wiped out the remains of the swell. We sailed to check a few spots nearby but no where was favourable .
Bucket announced it was time to head back to Padang . And with one foul sweep , hoisted the "jib" dropped the "mainsail" , launched the "spinnaker" and before you could polish off your "Beef Rangdan" dinner. You were sitting in the departure lounge of the Padang International Airport reminiscence of the last two weeks and already missing perfect waves , and living the dream !
By Eden Scallen