Nicholas Chalmers, Malcolm Chalmers, Robert West, Ben Ingwersen, Blake McKinnon, Stewart McKinnon, Lachlan McKinnon, Dean Cogle
Mentawai's aboard the Barrenjoey by Andrew McKinnon
Our maiden Mentawai's voyage upon the good yacht Barrenjoey in September 4 th- 15th, 2004 was magnificent. The Gold Coast group of 8 was all Mentawai virgins and we surfed our brains and bodies to the max. The surf might not have been 8 - 10ft epic, we still surfed at least 7 different breaks, scored perfect 4ft Lances lefts, 6ft Thunders, 2 -4ft Macca's, plenty of fun 4 to 6ft sessions at HT's and jewel in the crown for the natural-foots was scoring Rifles. Not a day didn't go by without surf, - the first 5 days, we surfed three times a day like there was no tomorrow!
"Stop your whinging!" said the Skipper John McGroder in jest as we were like kids in a lolly shop! The Skipper led by example (the bugger can surf!) was out first, McGroder knew all the breaks like the back of his hand which made us feel prepared. The Skipper's crew from Nias were totally on it - first mate Selamat would escort us out to the various breaks on the run-about, drop us off, after the sess, pick us up and ferry us back to the boat where we would be greeted with a glass of cold aqua from third mate U-de. To ensure we were fully fuelled up, Elvis the Cook who could surf and play the guitar made sure that we feasted like the Royal family. In fact we ate so much we HAD to go surfing as Elvis would serve up a sumptuous feast - three times a day - Elvis- you're a legend! One day my oldest son Blake caught a trevally and Belinda the skipper's wife and 6 months pregnant and Elvis went to town on a sushi spread. "It's all in the preparation," said Belinda as she proudly passed the plates across the saloon bar to the mess table for the hungry surfing wolverines. Unfortunately one of our crew didn't eat seafood but Elvis always whipped up a tasty alternative. Rob and I shared the dreaming (big time) cabin, I was lucky to score the bottom double bunk (Belinda's sister Sharon insisted on it!) while Rob was content to sleep above.
On the first night it was really barmy and Rob decided to let some fresh air in by opening up a porthole right next to his head. He was in a blissful sleep until a wave came crashing through the port hole and drenched him in the middle of the night! He told me about it in the morning and we laughed until we looked closely at the instructions under the port-hole which stated, "Do not open unless with the Captains permission!" Rob West became something of a legend on that trip breaking the record for the number of floggings and one broken board but would always come back for more. Rob grew up in a circus and is a tough fella. He also broke the record for nicknames, prior to boarding Barrenjoey, we had a little warm-up in Bali, to cut a long story short his first nickname was "Tom Cat?!" Rob nearly drowned at HT's after going over the falls, his rash top pulled over his head like an underwater parachute dragging him down and losing a booty that was ripped mercilessly. That made him more determined and he charged on courageously to be given the second nickname, "Captain Carnage" by Mal who had as many nicknames Meninga, melanoma·. Rob survived all the beatings to score his best surf at perfect Rifles and the Captain anointed him the, "Rodeo Clown".
Our crew was divided up fairly evenly; the good ol boys included Rob, Dean "Picasso" Cogle an incredibly talented artist who drew a black and white portrait of a local chief from Thunders in 30 minutes on board and also landing the biggest fish. Mal Chalmers who went to Hawaii with the great Peter Drouyn in the seventies took the big drop out at Thunders and yours truly talked everyone in to the trip (not that I had to try to hard!) The young crew included my two sons Blake (21) and Lachlan (18) it was a dream come true to surf with my sons who were joined by good mate big Ben Ingwersen and Mal's son Nick. Ben got the bomb at HT's, Blake carved everywhere, Lachs was like a wave magnet and Nick ripped like a young version of Rob Machado.
We all had one mad night on the Bintangs cheering everyone and anything and after 11 days; we were like new people - fully charged and sparked. It was one good call after another, playing cat and mouse with the other charters who we're all very nice, the most crowded was about 15 at Thunders - thanks to John we beat the pack earlier to have it to ourselves. It was just such an excellent trip for all of us, thanks again John and Belinda and Selamat, Elvis and U-de for making it happen and oh yes thanks Huey, u beauty!