JOUR­NEY TO THE REALM

SEB SMART HEADS OUT TO THE MENTAWAIS WITH A BOAT FULL OF RIPPERS.

Carve - - CONTENTS - WORDS BY SEB SMART PHO­TOS BY SI­MON WIL­LIAMS

Seb Smart jumps on a boat with a bunch of the world’s best for a poo­tle around some In­done­sian reefs.

Ihad been to the realm (the Mentawai is­lands) once be­fore. I got a wild­card into a comp at Lance's Right (HTS) some years ago. It was dif­fer­ent then, and to what I thought. Yeah, it was good but busy, and we only surfed HTS. It was crowded there, and there’s a crew of lo­cal groms that pad­dle out way too charged up on Sunny D, M150, Ex­tra Joss and pure stoke, and sud­denly it felt the dream that was sold to me of un­crowded Mentawai per­fec­tion was false. Un­til one hot, bor­ing day Harry Bryant and I found our­selves bored of watch­ing cut­backs to finners from our fel­low com­peti­tors, so we de­cided to make the pil­grim­age over the hill to the other coast, through the for­est, and past a surf camp owned by some eastern Euro nut­case. I know this be­cause I took a co­conut from a tree and he came out and threat­ened me.

He was say­ing how it is a big crime to do that out there, and how peo­ple kill each other for shit like that. I smiled and kept him sweet with my charm, but I thought he was one of those ex­pats that’s too fucked up to live in their own coun­try, so they move some­where else, and try to po­lice other tourists. I wanted to wrap the co­conut round his big bald, tat­tooed head, but I thought that’d prob­a­bly re­sult in a rusty ma­chete in my gut, per­haps while I was asleep, at some point down the line, dur­ing my stay on that tiny lit­tle is­land. Some mo­ments later we stum­bled on a per­fect empty left. It was just like the pics on the posters, and my awe of the Mentawai was re­stored.

Three days later I re­turned to the UK, broke my kneecap, and ev­ery­thing changed. My planned re­turn had been de­layed un­til fur­ther no­tice.

Fast for­ward to a few years, tears and ex­pe­ri­ences later, to 2018, and I was in con­ver­sa­tion with a friend, and an ex­cel­lent pho­tog­ra­pher, from the same place as me (Corn­wall) but who now re­sides in Aus­tralia. Named Swilly.

We were talk­ing about the pos­i­tive growth of the Cor­nish Repub­li­can Army, how cold it had been at home, but also how I had been en­joy­ing time in New Zealand with my lady, when we sud­denly came onto the topic of a surf trip, to the Mentawai.

My eyes glazed over as my me­mory handed a pic­ture to my mind’s eye of the boul­der headed man that threat­ened me about the co­conut, and the per­fect lefts me and Harry surfed to our­selves. I smiled to my­self and begged Swilly for more info.

Later he told me of a crew of surfers from all over the globe, from the U.S, Maui and Aus­tralia. He ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion I was in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for, and I snapped it up. Months later I found my­self on the plane to In­done­sia, des­ti­na­tion Padang.

I ar­rived late at night after a smooth flight in ex­cel­lent spir­its. Usu­ally, I get ner­vous and drink too much and come off the plane feel­ing like three years have been shaved off my life, but this time I be­haved my­self. I watched loads of good films and slept lots. I drank loads of wa­ter too. I went to a health shop called Archie

I RE­ALISED HOW MUCH I MISSED IN­DONE­SIA, SMELLING THAT FAN­TAS­TIC AROMA OF IN­CENSE AND DIF­FER­ENT TYPES OF PLANTS. IT’S AS IF THE EQUA­TOR HAS A SCENT TO IT, ONE THAT I LIKE.

Browns in Pen­zance be­fore I left to buy sup­ple­ments. I used them to keep my­self hy­drated and think­ing straight through all of the trav­el­ling, and it worked well. Virid­ian elec­trolytes, mag­ne­sium and multi-vi­ta­min spray saw me through okay.

I spent the night in a ho­tel in Padang where I had ar­ranged to meet the whole crew the next day. I had the best shower and sleep ever and met ev­ery­one in the lobby some hours later after the sun had risen.

I re­alised how much I missed In­done­sia, smelling that fan­tas­tic aroma of in­cense and dif­fer­ent types of plants. It’s as if the equa­tor has a scent to it, one that I like. It felt so good to be back in In­done­sia, a place I had built such a con­nec­tion with­out even re­al­is­ing it.

I met the crew that was Davey Cathels, Reef Hea­zle­wood, Nolan Rapoza, Matt Me­ola, Shel­don Simkus and Finn Mcgill. Pho­tog­ra­pher Si­mon Wil­liams and filmer Jon Spenser, from Maui who does bits with Matt out there. Luke, the edi­tor of Tracks mag, came along to surf and write a story on the trip to take back to Aus­tralia. The cap­tain of the boat was called Al­bee who we met on the boat. I felt happy that ev­ery­one was so sound and I knew that it was go­ing to be a nice trip, whether we had waves or not.

We were meant to go to north Su­ma­tra, but the swell had changed at the last minute, so we ended up fully com­mit­ting to the Mentawai and just cruis­ing round to as many spots we could get to dur­ing our 12 days at sea aboard the Man­galui char­ter boat.

The rooms on the Man­galui were pretty cool. The bunks were carved into the wooden boat. Our room un­der­neath the boat at the bow had eight bunks in it, each with a lit­tle read­ing light. We left port pretty much as soon as we boarded the ves­sel and in­ter­net con­nec­tion in­stantly dis­ap­peared. There was no Wi-fi or any­thing like that. The first night I felt a bit weird like I had been chucked into jail or some­thing. Iso­lated in the mid­dle of the ocean with peo­ple I didn’t know with no priv­i­leges like phones or TV. What if some of th­ese peo­ple are dan­ger­ous or to­tal weirdos? Plus the suf­fer­ing from phone ad­dic­tion with­drawals were play­ing with my head a bit. Some­times its easy to think like that when you’re jet­lagged and fi­nally ly­ing in bed where it's quiet after all the chaos of trav­el­ling and the stresses and noise. Some­times your mind goes into over­drive and en­tirely out of sync with your body, and things seem strange, you can feel quite lonely.

I bought a good book in the air­port and just knuck­led down into that and kept my­self to my­self for a bit. I was way too tired to try

Me­ola. Be­cause he’s worth it.

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