Michael Mouritz, Bruce Taper, Philip Grant, Paul Duncan, Peter Cornford, Andrew Myors,
Paul Myors, Stephen Vallance, Ian Blake, Philip Malone.

John McGroder
27th October, 2010 

I have just spent the morning on the Bosua coast, Southern Sipura. (near Bintangs).All 3 villages have been severely damaged, with Gobi (Bintangs) reduced to rubble. The locals reckon two surges up to 6m washed through at about 0930pm on the 24th.

There are 10 dead, 3 missing, over 70 houses destroyed, 3 pregnant women under stress, over 30 people with heavy lacerations and over 50 with lighter cuts.

Most of the villages appeared shaken and had begun the cleanup process which seemed to be sifting through the rubble for belongings.

Barrenjoey dropped off about a hundred packs consisting of gerrycans, blankets, straw mattresses, rope and tarpaulins from Surfaid. We also pitched in with 250kg of beras (rice) and 2 gallons of Aqua, and an assortment of medical supplies.

In this area alone, they are in need of food, shelter, Aqua, clothes, medicine. Rumour has it the villages further south were hit harder.

I also went into Lances Left where Ben, Yuli, Drew, and Will had their fledgling camp all but totalled. Ben was washed through the jungle in his tent and reckons he nearly drowned. We are helping them with Aqua, food, and tools to begin their cleanup. They reckon the surge was nearly 3m, happened very quickly and was the noisiest scariest thing in their lives. They are also very shaken.

Hard to tell if there is any lifting of the reefs as yet. The weather is light Easterlies, but looks set to change in the next couple of days to strong NWesterlies.

For all you boaties. Kaimana was anchored at Dua Mata in 15m of water with 75m of chain out. they twisted around and around on their anchor but were unaffected by the tsunami.

John McGroder 
28th October, 2010 

Barrenjoey anchored at Lances left. I went into Goibik (Bintang village) to take photos.Hopefully the Aid will see that this place has been flattened. There is nothing left. People were sitting on crumpled concrete slabs with their heads in their hands. People from Katiet (Lances Rights) were coming and there were tears, hugs, and wailing. They had lost kids, wives, fathers. The destruction was complete. Barrenjoey has already donated rice and supplies from Surfaid. Can we do more?

Felt guilty surfing. Rounded up the passengers and asked if they would like to help. They were all for it. So we went into the beach at Bintang and helped them lift huge timber bearers out of the jungle that used to be the bridge. We manhandled the beams into place. Then laid the timbers and Mr Long went at it with the chainsaw. They had their bridge. Anything else? One more bridge, no problem.

This one, we had to carry the bearers a lot further.

Anyway, the locals were stoked. We helped them replace 2 bridges in 2 hours.

All villages need tools. Everything has been washed away and is beneath rubble. The 2 tsunamis washed about 200-300m inland and took everything in their path.

Any boats heading out need to take basic tools (hammers, large nails, saws). Tarpaulins, rope, blankets, drinking water, food. Medical supplies.From what I can see, the Bintang coast looks like it has plenty of food. although the stockpile i saw has to be distributed around 4 villages. They need to begin re-building. There are police and navy guys from Tua Pejat helping. Everyone is scared of another tsunami.

Barrenjoey is now in the Thunders/Sikakp area. We are in communication with Tom Plummer (Surfaid) who is on Huey. Our passengers are helping where they can with basic manpower. We have the speedboat at anyone in need's disposal.

Tom mentioned the Australian Government was donating money for some large cargo boats to take aid out to the Sikakap area. We will be using the Bynda to help distribute to the areas in need.

John McGroder 
29th October, 2010 

Today dawned bleak and rainy with the predicted NNW winds upon us. Not a very nice day for volunteers. Spare a thought for all the displaced Mentawai people. Most are on higher ground, too scared to come back to what is left of their villages. Most are awaiting food and shelter.

Barrenjoey decided to head South into the worst affected areas. The sight of Thunders Island in the morning drizzle can only be described as catastrophic. The sheer might of the tsunami wiping clean both sides of the island. What was once thick jungle and undergrowth now a sparse scene of rubble and what looks like giant piles of mulch. All but the hardiest of trees left standing. We hear there are already photos circling. We took our own in the rain.

A few of us went ashore to see if there were any survivors. We found a track leading to higher ground with prints in it. We presume anybody who felt the earthquake ran there. Sifting through the rubble here would take weeks and more than a handful of surfers. There are no signs of life on this island. We can only hope that people have already left for the mainland.

The left at thunders is littered with great trees stuck in the reef. Even if there was surf, it just looks and feels too scary a place to ride waves. The rights were cleaner albeit small, but again the points are decimated.

We made contact with Tom Plummer on Huey. Tom is co-ordinating Surfaid's initial assessment teams. Barrenjoey's guests want to help. A few of us went forward on the Bynda Laut to assess 2 bays on the West Coast of Pagai Selatan. This would allow Huey to concentrate on the bays further south. We assessed the town of Asahan where we were told that the village to the North (Purorogat)was wiped out. 52 dead. Half the people had come here for shelter, the other half had gone North.

Surfaid's team was concentrating on the villages that were in dire need of shelter. Deliver in tarpaulins, basic toolkits, and sanitation packs. Budyhadari was ahead with Red Cross. Medical teams were following on the Addiction and Mangalui. A lot of the people had already relocated to Sikakap where the hospital is full. By all reports navy was on the way as well as cargo boats with more supplies.

We moved to Tapak where there was extensive damage, but all people safe and living in the hills. We met with Huey and loaded survival packs aboard and delivered them in the wind and the rain to this village.

By now there are a few boats in the area all helping out.

Thanks to all the Barrenjoey passengers for doing their bit to help. It seems most of the places are covered now. We rest easier knowing that the locals at Bintang are not wading through the river in this rain and at Tapak, they will be able to gain a bit more shelter.

Tom is doing a great job of co-ordinating everybody out here.

We continue on our way, keeping an open eye and heart for any in need.

John McGroder 
3rd November, 2010 

Barrenjoey headed into Sikakap to get out of the weather. It has been relentless this trip.Northwest winds generating an uncomfortable 3-4m sea. We radioed Huey and spoke to Tom. Told him we were heading north and would be happy to drop any stuff off to villages on the way. The forecast was calling for an ease in the wind. Ha ha.

Sikakap was bustling. Many vessels including navy and a large cruise ship. Coma took the boat papers into clear in. And reported it was very busy in the town. A lot of aid piled up waiting to go out. Apparently there are many of aid agencies stationed in Sikakap. The inclement weather has prevented many vessels heading out. The surf charter boats have been having a go. All part of the adventure for our guys. Nothing like bashing into 30 knots to get where you want to go. (note tongue in cheek).

Tom told us to drop some stuff (hygiene buckets, blankets, tools, tarpaulins) off to Betamonga. No-one had been able to get in due to the strong onshore conditions, causing the outside bombies to break, as well as the mouth to the river being closed. We put our hand up. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Tom Plummer has really been the man of the hour out here. He has co-ordinated several of the surf charter boats ( Huey, Indies Trader 3 and 4, Budyhadari, Mangalui, BJ) as well as liaised with local villages, government officials and I guess other aid agencies. He has been the bloke calling the shots for us all under Surfaid's banner. As he explained to me, the first instance is to get them shelter, a basic hygiene kit, and some tools to help them set a house back up.... a lot of the villages that have been wiped out, have relocated to other villages where they are now sharing food etc.

So, we thought we would have a leisurely cruise into Maccas. Betamonga is at the southern end of the bay. The villages from Sabeugunggung (Greenbush) had relocated there. Well blow me down if the wind decided it did not want to ease today. . probably some of the strongest wind all week. We made it to Maccas and anchored in front of where the jetty used to be. The points are all clear and the bay looks like another place. A bunch of charcoaled palm trees mark Midas' final resting place. The remains of the engines lying on the beach to be swallowed up by the sands of time.. I decided to launch the jetski and suss out the river mouth first. We loaded up the Bynda and headed towards Betamonga. A huge following sea made it very tricky and, according to our passengers, very bloody scarey.. the mouth of the river was open and everything up to about 200m inland was flattened.. not sure how far up the village was as I sped around another bend. Eerie seeing all the flattened vegetation.

I guess the locals were surprised to see some bloke on a red jetski turn up. They all jumped in their long boats to meet the Bynda at the mouth. Two of the guys asked if they could ride on the jetski. I think they had fun, but decided to jump off when we returned to the mouth of the river and they saw the sea state. Brendan was driving the Bynda and did a bloody fine job negotiating the waves and the bombies. The locals were stoked to receive all the stuff. I was happy to see Bapak Betamonga smiling his one tooth grin at me.. he is the little old man in the canoe that hovers around the boats at Maccas and claims that Betamonga owns the point.

The locals are now calling for food, which I told them was on the way as soon as the weather calmed down.

Our job done we headed back to the bay at Maccas. Went in and had a look at the camp. After inspecting the remains, I think there were a lot of surfers very lucky to survive. The beach where Belinda, Fynn and Duke used to play is gone and now resembles a lagoon. I shudder to think if they were here and the tsunami had hit in the day. The whole of Maccas bay has the feeling that nature has wiped it clean. The mangroves in which the camp used as it's opening, now resembles a wide river.. gone is the small break wall. Gone is the jetty. Gone are the guests rooms. The tower remains and I say again, they were very lucky.

As Tom said in one of our radio conversations, it is like this was a warning to all of what can and what many believe, will happen in this area.

The geological activity was not so apparent when I first arrived here in 1996. It has only begun in the last few years. Geological time saunters a lot slower than us, but when she moves, the world moves with her.

That is it from us. Our surf charter is just about up. My guests have been phenomenal in helping out whilst on their holiday. Thanks to all the well wishers. Anyone wanting to donate something, I suggest Surfaid. They are doing a real job out here. my guests will back me on that.

Good on all the boats and people out here pitching in. I know some have done it harder than others.

And, hey Huey, can ya send up some barrels to The Office for our last day please!

John McGroder 
5th November, 2010 

We thought we were done. Time to relax and try and enjoy the remnants of our surf charter.The gods shone on us and gave us a few small waves. The weather cleared for half a day. Bosua, the Bintang Coast, was still busy with cargo boats and long boats ferrying people back and forth. That night we saw the stars for the first time in 2 weeks. I am sure the locals living in the hills were happier for a time. Our last morning dawned and we were at Lances Left when the helicopters began buzzing. They dropped aid into Bosua. One larger copter buzzed us and dropped aid on the beach in front of Ben's now destroyed camp. We scooped up the packets of Indomie as they floated out the channel. The Chopper must have mistaken the camp for a village. The boys did not need that much, and the locals asked if we could help cart it to the Bintang Village (Goibek). We loaded a heap of Aqua, noodle, biscuits and ferried it to Bintang. Most of our guys helped and got to see first hand the devastation of the village. The local helping us told Elvis how he had lost his wife and 3 children. His wife had tried to break through the window as the tsunami hit. The glass slit her stomach and she died the next morning. His 1 and 2 year old have not been found. We were all saddened with this story. Knowing that there are many similar horror tales in this area.

We picked Will up from Lances. He had been doing the electrical work on the camp. He told us how he stared into the night and the noise of the Tsunami was deafening. He knew it was a wave, but did not know how big. He thought this was it. But the noise. Lucky that he had climbed high enough on his dwelling and it only reached his knees. But he had to wade in chest deep water to reach the base of the hill and scramble up it before the next wave hit.

We sailed around to Katiet(Lances Rights) in the hope that we could get a final wave. The local boys came out in their canoes. I have got to know these guys well over the last 14 years. They needed tarpaulins. Most of the village had moved to the hills in fear of another tsunami. The incessant rain was not helping. I said I would let other boats know. The kids are now getting diahorrea and flu like symptons. We gave them our left over veggies, some petrol for their generators and headed to Padang. I radioed the Indies Trader 4 and spoke with Doris. He got on the job and made sure the IT4 would drop some tarpaulins off tomorrow. Good to see our surfer/radio/network being put to good use.

Barrenjoey headed in.

One last story as our passengers head back to Australia. I spoke to Julian, one of the crew of Midas. What was it like? In a nutshell.

Rick woke everybody up yelling tsunami coming. The first wave hit. Midas caught on fire. Julian moved to the front of the boat and grabbed a lifejacket between him and 3 others. They jumped in the water and had some-one throw them a surfboard. They all held on as the second wave hit. He was washed underwater and tumbled and took water in and ended up in the jungle. With the others.

How big was the wave? Bigger than Freedom (5m?). and white water breaking from KFC to Maccas point, basically across the whole bay. For the surfers that have been there before. Enough said!

John McGroder