Sumatra Boat Trip
Oakley surfer Kira Sheppard is always up for an adventure. And last month was no exception. She boarded a boat in Indo with six ripping girls and took off for 11 days of surfing some of the best breaks in the Indian Ocean. To read more about their epic conditions and good times, check out Kira’s trip journal (be prepared to drool):
Travel day…I’m on my way! I’m already dreaming of that crystal blue warm water and perfect waves! But I better get comfortable in this airplane seat, seeing as I’ll be sitting, sleeping and eating here for over the next 24 hours! My route over is LONG! I ended up getting my ticket sort of last minute, so I took what I could get—a 13-hour flight to Taiwan, followed by a 4-hour flight to Malaysia, followed by a 3-hour flight to Jakarta, Indonesia followed by a 2-hour flight to Padang, with 1-2 hour long layovers in between! Can you say JETLAG? But I have to say it is all so so so worth it…
Today is actually our first day on the boat! I’ve spent the last few nights in Padang waiting for the rest of our crew to show up and adjusting to the time change. Once I caught up with the girls, we jumped a sketchy little 10-person plane from Padang to an Island of Sumatra not so well-known, with one landing strip and that’s about all. Our timing couldn’t be better; we have arrived on the first day of a big swell! There are seven of us girls onboard and no other boats around. The crew includes good friend Karley Mackie, 23, from Leonnox Head, Australia (also the current #1 ranked girl on the WCT), 19 year-old Steph Gilmore of Coolangatta, Australia, Irelands’ UK champ, Nicole Morgan, 24, of Bunddran, Ireland, and Japan’s beautiful 24-year-old Kaori Mataguchi from Shikoku Island, Japan. And don’t forget our little groms—current Junior World Champ 16-year-old Sally Fitzgibbons from Gerroa NSW, Australia, and up and coming Tyler Wright,13, from Culburra, Australia. It’s truly an international crew we have on board the “Mangalui”, all ages and cultures sharing the same passion and hope for waves and good days to come. We ended today with that late afternoon surf till dark, the light was Lemon and the sky was pink. The waves were overhead and peeling and exactly what we wanted for our first session. Dinner was ready when we boarded our new home at sundown, a beautiful feast of giant crab legs, curry, rice, salads, chutney, and more. Yum!
Click click click… We wake at the crack of dawn to the sound of the anchor clicking and clacking away. Our cabin is a small room at the bow of the boat, making it oh so easy to hear and feel every move of the boat’s anchor. Our bunks are crammed in like sardines, but it’s cozy and I’ve snagged a good bed. The waves are HUGE today! It’s only our first morning on board and the swell is peaking. Intimidation is creping its way into my head as I watch each set grow bigger. Its one of those days you see in movies or read about in magazines and drool over, only you feel a lot safer when your doing that instead of sitting in the line up! Steph and Sally Charged the hardest—Steph broke several boards in her first session. We girls took turns and were all able to get some good one. It was sunny, hot, hollow, and absolutely pumping. It’s definitely challenging to be thrown into these sort of waves in only the first few days, but no sense in wasting time!
It was actually a little cloudy and rainy first thing this morning. I know it has to rain to be so lush, tropical and beautiful and it’s actually pretty nice to get a rain shower every once in a while. The rain clouds burned off early on this morning and we surfed another day of three mind-blowingly fun sessions. Today we switched things up and surfed awhile at a big playful left. We dole over the rights, but the one goofy footer onboard needs some good lefties.
All I can say, is fish tacos! Yes the waves were amazing—fun, barreling and uncrowded with no wind. Ok, I did have some of the best waves of my life… but the fish tacos we had for lunch today were unforgettable! Fresh caught by one of the girls last night with all the right stuff to along with it. Our personal chef onboard the Mangalui is phenomenal—well done Walley!
Ahhhh! Put some lime on it! Everybody knows what happens when you hit the bottom and the reef kisses you with its sharp piercing lips—you’ve just got to lime it! It burns like hell, but it has got to be done so the bacteria from the reef doesn’t leave you infected. There’s a whole lot of limin’ goin on! So far I’ve been lucky, but poor Nicole (who we like to call “Irish”) was not singin’ that same happy tune. We’ll see if I can make it through the trip with out facing too much of the burning lime…
We have now moseyed on down to the Mentawai Islands. These islands are much more popular, but so very fun. The waves continue to pump, a new swell is showing up today, and we’ve seen a few pulses already. In fact, those pulses are enough to really get my heart rate racing! These aren’t the sort of set waves you’d like to take on the head.
We have surfed almost three sessions everyday for the last week and a half. We are so blessed! The waves, weather, crew, food, and conditions have just been unreal. Today we’ve actually decided on doing something a little different. We girls went into the little town of the Mentawai people and were able to hang out for the day. It was sch an adventure—three hours up a river in a tiny wooden boat. We met with some town elders and they showed us their home. We learned to make loin cloths from tree bark in between learning about their culture and beliefs. We even watched the oldest man perform a tribal tattoo on a young women. We played with the children and exchanged gifts. A truly rewarding and beautiful experience for us all.
Heading back. We surfed the absolute most fun left for hours and hours today. Macaroni’s! It’s our last day and we surfed as much as our bodies could take. After long, clean left after left we started packing up our board bags on deck, getting ready for our last night on board. At this point it’s been 11 days on boat and everything is wet! In fact, we were packing our bags in the rain, which didn’t stop all night The 8-hour trip below deck back to port was a little on the rough side. We sailed through a huge squall all night! I felt like we were catching air launching off the swells and almost rolled out of my bunk a few times. Before I knew it, morning had come and it was time to leave the crew. I’ll see the girls soon. I know we’ll meet in travel at some point, and we’ll sit and reminisce about “that one perfect and magical Indo trip back in ‘07 onboard the good ol’ Mangalui”