Day 1- Bali
We were all amped to the max as we touched down at Denpasar looking forward to a couple of weeks of good waves and a welcome rest from the madness back in Oz. I had my two sons Dane and Ben M and their schoolmate Trent with me and they were on their first mission to Indo. I had been before a few times but never had done the boat trip. We had a couple of days to kill before we left for Lombok and Sumbawa so we decided to hit it around Bali/Lembongan. The trades had not kicked in yet and so on Day 1 we gave Turtle Island a try despite being warned about the mad crowd factor. Half of Japan was there. Despite the potential speed bumps in the water the surf was offshore and cranking at 4-5 foot. The pick of the breaks – a left straight out from the warungs. After two sessions and getting more than our share we spent the night in Kuta just to acquaint the boys with the strip’s unique qualities. The boys soon found out what Jiggy Jiggy and poverty meant.
Days 2 & 3 – Lembongan
The boat was delayed by two days so we were out of Kuta ASAP and over to Lembongan. After settling in to our nest overlooking Shipwrecks we were out there. I sensed that Hui was getting us prepared for better things to come so a bit of training on some glassy 3-4 footers was the go. The late afternoon session was absolute crystal oil and only 5 out. This place does a great sunset. Lembongan was still as cruisy as ever from what I’d remembered from 2 years ago with a few more buildings going up but the same laid back vibes and good people to meet. Captain Wayan L got us settled in for a night on the boat and we met Aussies Matt and Ben who had been on the same trip two weeks ago and Yariv from Israel – yes there is surf in Israel!!!
Day 4 – Deserts and further around to the swell magnet in Lombok
Left Lembongan to a classic scarlet and orange panorama at sunrise and arrived at Deserts around 9.00. No other boats around. On first observation it looked non operational except for the odd 2 footer coming through. Matt and Ben opted to stay on the boat while the rest of us couldn’t resist a dip and a play. Just like a lot of Indo spots it can turn on and off like a switch and no sooner were we out there and a couple of good 4 footers came winding thru all the way. Goofy footers Ben M and Yariv were stalling in the barrel and ripping on their forehand. Dane was hanging right down the end and getting barrel after barrel just before the closeout section at the end. Before you knew it Matt and Ben arrived with Made in the dingy. The current here was very quick pulling you out to the beginning of the break so it was a bit of a paddle-a-thon if you did not get a wave for a while. After about 1.5 hours it went flat again so it was time to move on. You could sure see the potential of the place but it needed another 2 foot to crack and stop the middle section shutting down most of the time. The crew had been spear fishing and had a few small fish and a turtle. I know it’s their world but we all felt pretty puky watching the turtle squirming on a couple of spears. To top it off they began to cut its shell off while it was still alive – we headed for the other end of the boat while Dane arranged for its quick death. We upped anchor and headed south to the swell magnet. On the way we caught a nice fish around 4 foot long similar to a barracuda without all of the teeth. We anchored off the western end of a nice beach and checked the situation. Despite being slightly onshore it was cracking. It was a real shock paddling from the boat and thinking it was 3 foot -Not – more like 5-6 foot. – a nice walling right-hander and occasional left-hander with a shifting peak that could catch you inside if you we not careful. After being out about 30 minutes Matt made the passing comment that the place was better known for its shark than waves that immediately produced a legs up by the crew. This place was heavily polluted with plastic in the water – a real shame considering how clear the water was and the beautiful setting.
Day 5 – The bay
After another surf in the morning with similar conditions it was off to the next break about 3 hours away. This was a big bay with outside rights and lefts and an inside right up the end that was supposed to really fire on a big swell outside the heads. The swell was still small so we headed for outside rights. I hung out the back taking big drops and the mush out while the rest tried their hand on the inside section. This place had a couple of big cliffs right next to the break that changed colours as the late afternoon light bounced off them. We still had been the only boat around trip up till now. There were a couple of locals and Japs out here that were staying in the village close by.
Day 6 – Sumbawa
There was another boat at Yo Yos when we arrived with about 8 surfing the main break. The wind was swirling around a bit and the odd shower was making the surface a bit bumpy. Every now and then it looked like there was a reasonable wave coming through but it was hard to tell from the boat. As no one was out on the break next to the cliff we decided to give it a go. For the first 45 mins it was the odd set coming through around 4 foot and a bit bumpy. The rides were nice and long though and we were having fun. In the space of 10 minutes the place had glassed off and then they started coming. Looking out to the take off zone there were these big pyramid wedge ups as the swell bounced off the cliff, broke and then peeled off down the line. The colour of the water was a perfect aqua blue and clear as any I had seen. These were solid 6-foot sets rolling in now and giving long big walls to carve on. Yariv got hit by the lip on one wave that pushed his leg sideways – snap goes the medial ligament and the end of his surfing for the rest of the trip. He was really pissed off as the swell was just turning on but to his credit he took it pretty philosophically.
Dane, Ben and myself decided to paddle up to the main break as the crowd seemed to be thinning out and the swell was pumping. When we got to the line-up the Japs had got out of the water and there we only a couple of Californians out who were doing a pretty good Cheech and Chong act. They told us their buddy had been checking the maps on the Net and a good swell was just arriving. A couple of real hooters were coming in and Dane and Ben were having the waves of their lives despite being a little under gunned on 6’3s. What a wall. On the take off it looked as though here was no way you would make it as you took the elevator drop and drove off the bottom. Somehow it just held up making for the hell speed run down the line. Back to the boat and down to Scar for the afternoon. We anchored right next to the break with a couple of other boats. The sets were 4 foot and building with every pulse. What a great looking wave – just like all the videos I had seen. I was a bit knackered from the morning session so I pulled out the 7’6 gun much to the amusement of the crew. When you get to 45 you need a bit of help out there. The first couple I caught I thought I had made a serious mistake of over clubbing. The board was stiff and felt like I was on a lump of wood. I was chatting with an Aussie who was a plumber at a nearby gold mine (what a location!) when the serious sets started rolling in. This was not a wave to be caught inside on. After being washed right down to the end of the reef and being held under for a while I realised this was a serious wave. The plumber ate it halfway down the second wave of a mega set so I stroked as hard as I could – I hung up the top for an while and could see the boys looking from the inside waiting for me to suffer the same fate as the plumber. At the last moment the extra drive of the 7’6 launched me down the face of what I could only describe as the wave from hell – easily triple overhead. I made the drop, carved off the bottom up into a quick snap and then it was down the line racing the lip all the way. In an instant the whole section in front of me folded over engulfing me into the pit of darkness – then there was light – out again then the only exit at the end of the reef was back into the barrel – only this time there was no exit – go to jail and take a deep breath. I popped up out of the foam in time to cop the next one on the head but then it was OK and I found safe water. Another three of these and I kissed the gun for giving me the rides of my life.
Day 7 Scar and the Bay
Another memorable session was had at Scars in the morning with the swell backing off for a while to around 5′. The only thing that spoiled it was the other Aussie crew in the boat next to us were greedy bastards and wanted every wave – even dropping in on their own mates in critical circumstances. Admitadly they were hot surfers but in my book it means jack shit if you’ve no manners. That afternoon we surfed outside rights that was maxing outside and producing some very weird wave combinations. Every now and then the reforms on the inside would line up producing good barrels. Dane, now on a 6’8 Gunther Rohn pintail, was just slotting in a making some unbelievable sections.
Day 8 The Bay and Deserts.
The swell was roaring all through the night and as the morning light fell Inside Rights was cracking. 4-5 foot of peeling perfection. Nice deep, steep takeoff, race around the section then a high speed wall to carve with the occasional barrel. The 6 or so Japs out were getting some good ones but didn’t understand it was impolite to keep paddling to the inside and sitting right on your hammer. Ben was getting the shits after he kept paddling out the back only to have this guy camp half a metre inside right next to him every time. I think he got the message after a couple of hell drop ins by Ben and us doing the sandwich on him. I stayed out for close to 4 hours getting too many waves to count. Everyone agreed this was a quality break while still being inside everyone’s comfort zone.
Around the end of Lombok on the way to Deserts the swells were higher than the boat and had us all speculating how big it was going to be. On arrival a boat was just pulling out and heading south. The wind was light/medium onshore and the current just as strong as ever. As we anchored and checked the scene there was a bit of apprehension in the air. It was easy 8-10 foot with killer sets coming every 8 minutes. Even captain Wayan had a concerned look on his face. At the end of the break was this double suck vortex dredge out that looked like death if you ever ventured into it. In a short space the wave seemed to double in size and then warp into the reincarnation of evil before smashing into the face of the adjacent cliff. Matt got the board down off the top of the boat in half an attempt of going out but there we no takers elsewhere. This was serious drownsville if caught in the wrong position. My excuse was I had just paddled for 4 hours in the morning so didn’t want another surf that day (sounded good at the time anyway). In a unanimous decision we headed for Lembongan knowing that it would be cracking at all breaks the next day. We heard later that Padang was 8-10′ that day with only 5 out. Sanur was 6-8 and the wind offshore.
Double suck vortex at Deserts – looks small but this was from the boat about a kilometre away
Day 9 – Lembongan
Shipwrecks was going off. The wind had switched and was offshore there producing some triple overhead hell drops – no bullshit it was maxing out and the crew were just taking anything so there were plenty of injuries to attend to after sessions. I went out at Lacerations at 4-5′ to see if I could do a better job to conquer the vertical drop than a couple of years ago when I left half of my back on the reef – managed to do the big swan dive a couple more times and bounced off the reef again. Playgrounds – normally a soft wave was producing some excellent lefts with tube sections.
Shipwrecks pumped for the next couple of days making it a fitting end to a great trip. The crew of the boat were legends – always having food for us at the right moment and making life easy for us. Watch out for those greasy chip lunches though they are deadly! We all got on well and I would definitely go again. I had been warned off boat trips due to some horror stories I’d heard but this was a great introduction to surfing uncrowded quality waves in Indo. My sons and Trent had got the waves of their lives and had much to reflect on with regard to how lucky we are to live in OZ, particularly in the Lennox/Byron area. We got back to Kuta and the swell had dropped so we had a couple of days to rest – catch up with Jim at Sonny’s and buy the obligatory gifts for all back home. We caught up with Matt and Ben on the last night for a few beers and pool and wished them well for their coming trip to England. Prognosis – do it!! You only live once and you may not get another chance.