Ben Day, Darcy Day, Scott Langman, William Cox, Johnathan Day, Timothy Day, Andrew Bazell, Peter James, Daniel Armstrong, Matthew Armstrong.
Dear John and Belinda,
I thought I'd drop you a note to let you know we had a wonderful time on the BJ once again. The boat remains in terrific condition and while there may be the odd charter vessel out there that boasts more sumptuous facilities, I think I speak for all the guests when I say that ours was extremely comfortable and capable and had an authenticity to it that made us feel that we were on a 'real' surf charter, not a floating hotel. It captures, in my humble opinion, the true spirit of a surf adventure.
This is obviously a credit to you both as it has stood the test of time. Judging by the feedback in the guest log book, we're not alone in our appreciation of the virtues of the Barrenjoey.
Of course, this time, we had the benefit of a high-speed tender and a jetski. The jetski was fun, but the Bynda Laut added a new dimension to the charter that significantly increased our 'reach' in terms of surf access and optimising our time. It truly enhanced the value of our investment and I can't imagine how we ever did without it. I'm sure you feel the same.
When explaining our Charter 4 map in the galley with some of the guys that weren't there the first time, it made me feel a bit sad that we didn't get to see you both. Was looking forward to a nice big hug (not from you John, from your beautiful wife). I hope your friend in Bali is OK. Anyway, there's always next time (my 50th birthday is looming in 2012!)
Initially, I was a little worried how we'd get on with the other captain. Would we be able to needle him as much as you, John? Would he respond favourably to niggle? How would he cope with sly comments on the new map we'd brought with us? Would he rise to the challenge of Table Tennis on board? Well I'm happy to report that from the first moment we met Ben Hillier, my fears were allayed. His infectious enthusiasm and genuine nature shone through from the start. Within the first few minutes, I'd outlined a mad plan to build a table tennis table. I anticipated a half-hearted response (so many guys must get on board with mad plans). But no. Hillsy was totally into it and wanted to know the thickness of the timber required, how big it needed to be, what paint I needed etc etc. Then he made the fatal mistake of telling me that he had a great double-handed backhand. And so the banter began!
Over the course of the next ten days, Hillsy made it his mission to get us to more surf spots than any charter in BJ history. In the end, he ticked off 21 spots – a BJ record. One of the guys in our trip – Baz from Apollo Bay (you would like him John – you're two peas in a pod) – managed to surf all 21. I might send you a small, framed shot of Baz to put up in the galley with a little plaque noting his achievement!
But it wasn't just Hillsy's ability to gauge shifting wind, tide and swell to deliver the best surf outcome that made our trip. As you well know, it's a difficult job to be the boss, the friend, the safety officer, the surf guide, the first aid department, the host, the engineer… the Jack-of-all-trades on such a trip. The fact that you have to do this 24/7 with a smile makes it, in my view, one extremely difficult job. Sure, from the outside, it appears to us guests like a simple occupation and a dream one at that! But there were many, many moments when Hillsy displayed considerable depth in all the required capacities, and in this regard, he was seriously impressive.
I should also mention the Indo crew on board. Rico, Yudi, Chiraul? and Henrik cared for us like brothers, and apart from being there to cater for our every whim, were great company. Pim was also a breath of fresh air to have around and made sure all our food moments were sublime. It's really nice to have a female on board to 'ground' the guys (I'm sure Belinda would agree eh?). Pim's pretty handy on the table tennis too!
In terms of the chemistry of the guests on board? The best trip I've done and I think I'm not alone in saying this.
We had four members of the Day clan. Ben and his 13 year old son, Darcy (a cracking surfer), and Tim and his twenty five year old son, Johnny. It was memorable alone for this connection between cousins, nephews, uncles, fathers and sons.
Here's perhaps the shot that captures it all – taken at Roxies by yours truly on sunset. Darcy in the barrel and Uncle Tim high-fiving on the shoulder, the BJ in the distance. Wow.
Matt and his 16 year old son Dan (an extremely talented young surfer himself) also enjoyed the father/son time together and I managed to forge new friendships with Baz, Scott and 'Coxy' that will last a long time, I'm sure.
No fewer than four of us had 'our best wave ever'. You'll be pleased to know one of them was the lone kneeboarder! In the half-light of dawn I got a tube ride at Macaronis that went forever and came out clean. No photos, but witnessed by Tim Day! Best barrel in 35 years of kneeboarding. I also managed to rip a heap of skin off my back, pop my knee and bust two kneeboards… but you gotta have a crack, don't you?
Quite apart from the trip defining shot of Darcy and Tim above, I have some tremendous photographs from the trip. We intend to put together a bound book with notes from the trip. If you're interested, I'll let you know how to order it online when it's finished (it's through a fantastic photo book company called Blurb in America).
This shot, taken by Yudi with my fisheye off the top of the mast at the island behind Scarecrows is likely to be the cover:
Anyway, I hope you both are well and your young family thriving. I look forward to getting back up there in the near future for more Sumatran magic. I hope the table tennis table survives (we donated net, bats and balls so you better start practising) and look forward to the opportunity of sharing a Bintang with you at some point.