Milan Thompson, Michael Ray, Lachlan Barnard, Stephen Kay, Nichol Wylie, Adam Sharp, Gerard D'Avezac de Moran, Andrew Jakubowski, Byron Hitchenson
A nostalgic charter in more ways than one. The BJ steamed out of Teluk Nibung without her stalwart yellow tender, the Toranna. This dinghy had been with them since Australia. She had ferried many a surfer to and from the breaks, had fish flap in finality upon her deck (including one 60kg sailfish), she'd sunk twice, cracked her hull numerous times, outlasted 3 engines. Each time we had rebuilt her, polished her up and kept her working. The Toranna was being temporarily replaced by a new orange inflatable and the delayed new tender which was due to turn up mid trip.
It was a fine night to cross the straight under the glow of a volcanic fires on the Sumatran coast. The whole area was still rumbling. The tectonic plates settling back into their earthly slumber for now. The crew were an excited bunch of industry blokes from the infamous Rip Curl company hell bent on clean waves, cold beer, and the overall break from the grindstone·.
Kman their leader. Still as surf-stoked now as in 1986 when the Capt had leant him his board to tackle the 10' Portuguese Pipe. The North Narra training days paying off that day. But the Capt wondered, did he still have it?
Then there was MRay, brother to one of the true living bigwave legends in Australian surfing (TRay). Milo was back on board, his 2rd trip aboard the BJ. Would this be as good as his first epic? You could probably stick Milo in a bathtub and his mellow nature would see him having the time of his life. Gerrad was the French connection. One of the original French surfers; still amping after many years playing in the ocean waves. Lachy reckoned he was on a 'working holiday' searching for new creativity amongst the tropical aspects of a boat charter on a pure surfing mission. Time would tell whether the sunsets would surmise. Sharpy was living in the USA. The beer taste good, the accents twanged and the thought of some pure surf had him roaming the decks in anticipation. Nichol, the other Vicco was ready to surf. Simple. Mind you, he was not about to let the others in on all the fun. Drew, the lone Seppo, quietly amped. Would he cop shit from all these Aussies? Did he really care?
Rights, lefts, more lefts. Gerrad and Kman laughing at the natural footers, for now, more lefts. Swell building. All these blokes could surf. Byron was doing his first tip with the Capt, who had ventured back to Indo to check on the operation. The guys surfed their hearts out on the 3-6' waves. They broke the "Joey" (4m inflatable) in by landing many fish and deftly avoiding piercing the rubber with hooks. There were barrels, wipeouts and clean 'ol cruising.
Amidst the charter, John went back to Padang to collect the new tender, "Bynda Laut". It took him 3 hours to drive from Padang to the islands and meet up with the lads aboard the Barrenjoey. They had been enjoying perfect lefts by themselves. The new tender was a beauty. Powered by two 140Hp Suzukis and capable of cruising at 25 knots with all aboard.
On one particular day, they all steamed up the coast checking the nooks and crannies and surfing 3 different spots in a day. Thumbs up all the way.
The end of the trip saw the swell hit and a lot of boats surfing the right epic. Kelly Slater put on a show for them all. There were helicopters buzzing the line-up, jetskis and photographers. In a big way it was a crowded end to the trip, but what a show! Surfing had reached another level.
By the time they headed home, all were surfed out, sun burnt, and stoked. The beers never tasted so good.