A LONG WAY FROM KUTA

Far from the crowded waves and dig­i­tal con­nec­tion, Bri­tish surfer Lucy Camp­bell took a spon­ta­neous surf trip to ex­plore the far reaches of In­done­sia.

Surf Girl - - Spot Check - pho­tos SHARPY

Life float­ing around Su­ma­tra on board the OA3 cata­ma­ran was, for me, free­dom in its purest form!

Asense of free­dom is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one: Run­ning along coastal trails, sky­div­ing or get­ting lost in a good book. What­ever it is that helps us to break free from the pres­sures around us, puts a glow in our hearts and a smile on our face, is what we should do more of. I’m guess­ing, if you’re read­ing this, that your es­cape, like mine, is found in and around the ocean. So life float­ing around Su­ma­tra on board the OA3 cata­ma­ran was, for me, free­dom in its purest form! Surf­ing with friends, free to ex­plore which­ever re­mote lit­tle Is­lands and waves we wanted, no time con­straints and just us with the big blue sea for com­pany.

From reel­ing rights and points with peel­ing walls, to shal­low, hol­low lefts, we surfed all types of breaks. It proved im­pos­si­ble to be on the boat watch­ing per­fect waves go by un­rid­den, with­out get­ting over-ex­cited and jump­ing back in! We would pull up at a spot, drop an­chor and spend the day dip­ping in and out of clear blue waves, coming back to nap, eat or wait for the tide to change, then move onto the next spot. No mo­bile sig­nal, no wifi, just surf­ing, read­ing, fish­ing, plenty of card games and belly laughs. It was bliss.

My favourite evenings were spent surf­ing un­til sun­set, awestruck by the in­cred­i­ble colours in the palm-lined sky and the silky tones of the ocean. Re­turn­ing to the boat in the dark, bruised, reef cut, a lit­tle sun­burned and surfed out, but beam­ing. Then we’d lie down on the bow of the cata­ma­ran af­ter din­ner, jok­ing, count­ing shoot­ing stars, gazing

at the night sky above us and the lu­mi­nes­cent plank­ton flick­er­ing be­low us.

It seemed that days on the is­lands are spent pick­ing co­conuts, fish­ing and spend­ing time with fam­ily. Our first in­tro­duc­tion to the lo­cals was some­what alarm­ing, when a cou­ple of us tried to swim to a sandy bay to get a bet­ter view of the wave, and a man came run­ning down the beach wav­ing a large stick around his head, shout­ing and sig­nalling for us to go back where we came from (which we did rather hastily)! How­ever, as it turned out, he pro­tects the beach to keep the nest­ing tur­tles safe. For the rest of our ad­ven­ture, ev­ery­one we met was lovely and ea­ger to talk with us. On the rare oc­ca­sion that we surfed with any­one else out, we all chat­ted, ex­changed ad­vice on waves to try, places to see and took turns catch­ing waves.

Sail­ing back to port, pon­der­ing back over the two weeks, my favourite snip­pets – other than the waves – were the views as we cruised past teeny trop­i­cal is­lands; the fresh sashimi right af­ter we’d catch a fish; sit­ting out back each day watch­ing the un­der­wa­ter par­adise; snorkelling over the coral beds in turquoise wa­ter and night swim­ming in the sea with the sparkly plank­ton. I did catch one fish, but ac­ci­den­tally

It seemed that days on the is­lands are spent farm­ing co­conuts, fish­ing and spend­ing time with fam­ily.

re­leased back into the sea, then dived in to re-catch it with my hands. I also dis­cov­ered that the only way to get sig­nal on the Banyak Is­lands is to stand on a big, dead tree on the beach – which felt a bit silly but was worth it load a surf fore­cast and set sail with a new plan.

I’m sure Leonor (the lovely, Por­tuguese shred­der) will agree, how amaz­ing it was to surf with the guys on board the boat. They were al­ways call­ing us into waves and en­cour­ag­ing us. And watch­ing them get some of the cra­zi­est bar­rels and make in­sane drops was in­spi­ra­tional.

A boat trip has been my dream ad­ven­ture for many years, and I can safely say it was the best trip I’ve had the plea­sure of be­ing a part of – with a group of new friends that now feel like a lit­tle fam­ily! Some­times it takes a lit­tle courage to find free­dom. Board­ing a boat for two weeks with a group of peo­ple I barely knew was for me, a lit­tle scary, but I’ve come away with hundreds of fan­tas­tic mem­o­ries. Thank you to the whole crew for mak­ing me laugh all day long, push my surf­ing (and fish­ing) and for the mem­o­ries of a life­time.

In the lit­tle boat get­ting dropped off at the take-off spot. The best kind of taxi.

Catch of the day!

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