Boat Trips: bet­ter late than never

It’s not so much the waves or the ves­sel that mat­ters, but the com­pany you keep.

Tracks - - That Was Then, This Is Now - By Phil Jar­ratt.

Hav­ing been part of the pi­o­neer gen­er­a­tion in Bali in the early ‘70s, I don’t know why I was a rel­a­tively late adopter when surf char­ters came on stream 20 years later, but I was. Maybe life and work and ba­bies got in the way. What­ever it was, I had a lot of catch­ing up to do when the op­por­tu­nity fi­nally pre­sented it­self in 1998 to bust my Mentawais vir­gin­ity with a trip on the orig­i­nal Indies Trader. Hadn’t seen The Hole, never heard of Tay­lor Steele, was more ac­quainted with the Pepsi Gen­er­a­tion than the Mo­men­tum Gen­er­a­tion. But I knew enough to be ex­cited as I lugged a board bag con­tain­ing a mal (okay, keep it nice up the back) and a mid-range Dave Par­menter gunny thing up to Kuala Lumpur, where I was work­ing at the Com­mon­wealth Games to cover the cost of the boat trip. After two long weeks of writ­ing scripts for the young and some­what petu­lant Ed­die McGuire, and dodg­ing lady-boys in the ho­tel lifts, I was al­most trem­bling in an­tic­i­pa­tion as I hopped the Silk Air Ex­press to meet the boys in Padang. I’d had decades of surf trips be­fore this, of course, in many parts of the world. I’d trav­elled over­land to G-Land and surfed Su­per­tu­bos in Por­tu­gal be­fore it had a name. But the be­spoke surf char­ter where you and a few mates and a knowl­edge­able skip­per plot­ted the course from one mysto reef pass to the next, that was kind of a new ball game for me. And part of the mys­tique was the skip­per him­self, the al­ready fa­mous Mar­tin Daly, the ebul­lient Aussie who had surfed the is­land reefs alone in a boiler suit for years be­fore shar­ing the se­cret. Jeff Hak­man had or­ga­nized the trip, and it in­cluded some in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters, among them a few of Jeff’s old surf bud­dies from Cal­i­for­nia and Aus­tralia, Keala Ken­nelly’s real es­tate guru dad Brian, and an en­ter­tain­ment lawyer from Mal­ibu who had rep­re­sented Joe Fra­zier and Hulk Ho­gan. But for me the real fas­ci­na­tion was with Cap­tain Daly, who had moved on from boiler suits but still pre­sented as a larg­erthan-life Griz­zly Adams char­ac­ter as he wel­comed us aboard with a cold Bin­tang. I was to be­come friends with Daly and share quite a few ad­ven­tures with him on the Quik­sil­ver Cross­ing, but I don’t think I’ve ever quite got­ten over those awestruck be­gin­nings, when skip­per and boat seemed hewn from the same tough tim­ber and steel. Own­ing the wheel­house with his size and his com­mand­ing pres­ence, he was smart, in­for­ma­tive and funny, but in those days heaven help you if you tried to sneak a look at his marked up nav­i­ga­tion maps. Maybe it’s still the same. It’s been too long since I chat­ted with him at the wheel. I’ve also thought about how two quin­tes­sen­tial surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ences a quar­ter of a cen­tury apart re­ally com­pare – was climb­ing down the rope lad­der and push­ing your board out of the cave back­wash and into the Ulu un­known re­ally that much more ex­cit­ing than round­ing a point and drop­ping an­chor in front of per­fect empty lines? I’m go­ing to say it was, but only just, and mem­ory plays strange tricks. Since that first voy­age on the Trader 1, there have been many more, in­clud­ing be­ing chased back down the Thames from Tower

Bridge by Lon­don wa­ter cops, and ty­ing up around the cor­ner from Mun­daka in time to cel­e­brate Andy Irons’ win at the Bil­l­abong Pro. And then there were the luxe trips on the sub­se­quent Traders, sip­ping good wine in the el­e­gant state­room of what is now the Ratu Motu be­tween ses­sions. But the Su­ma­tran surf char­ter I re­mem­ber most fondly from more re­cent times in­volved nights spent hud­dled in cor­ners of the bunk room of the Man­galui Ndulu and days spent try­ing to keep up with the pre­co­cious tal­ents of child prodi­gies soon to be­come long­board world cham­pi­ons. Si­mon “Swilly” Wil­liams or­ga­nized that trip and a di­verse cast of the old and the new from all over, but the un­doubted star in the wa­ter was the late great Wayne Deane, then in his mid-50s. In surf that ranged from waist-high to dou­ble over­head and a bit, Deaney would prowl the un­known line­ups un­til he found the sweet spot, then give us all a les­son in pre­ci­sion tim­ing and smooth carv­ing. I was pleased to see that after his re­cent pass­ing, sev­eral of the mot­ley crew from the Mango who have gone on to big­ger things, paid trib­ute to lessons learnt from the great man on that won­der­ful voy­age. Never one to beat his own drum, Deaney con­sented to a rare in­ter­view, and we spent sev­eral evenings watch­ing the sun­set from a quiet spot on the bow while we chat­ted. Then my an­cient MP3 recorder blew up and I could never re­trieve the files. Wayne shrugged it off: “It was prob­a­bly mostly bull­shit any­way.” No mate, it wasn’t. It was a rare in­sight into a keen surf­ing mind and a life phi­los­o­phy that took him from strug­gle street to a zen-like ap­pre­ci­a­tion of friends, fam­ily and all of life’s bless­ings. Now that we don’t have him, I wish I had that tape, but I still have the mem­ory of that mag­i­cal trip.

Left: Swash­buck­ling, Mentawais pi­o­neer Mar­tin Daly. Main: The late Wayne Deane, en­joy­ing his time in the tube whilst on an In­done­sian boat trip. Top Right: Wayne was both a revered and much loved mem­ber of the Aus­tralian surf­ing com­mu­nity.

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