FARTH’S DUSTY BOAT
TOTNES, THE LATE '90S, BEFORE INSTAGRAM, BEFORE SURF REPORTS, BEFORE WEBCAMS, BEFORE FIREWIRES, A RAT-TAILED GROM IS CHEWING ON CELERY STICKS AND HUMMUS, WITH A SUIT AND BOARD AND A THUMB IN THE AIR.
Eugene hosts a stag load of Devon boys as they get loose in the tropics.
Acar goes by. A car goes by. A car pulls in. “You sit down and say feck all!”, barked John ‘The Duke’ Olroy. Nestled between two giants of the Paignton Surf Culture – Kevin Gregory and Joe Olroy – was a shaken, hummus-churning Eugene Tollemache.
Neither did those four members know the relationships they were to form from that day forward.
Grom abuse. Blindfolding was a regular and favourite of Joe. The grom would enter a curtain of darkness at almost any given time to any given spot, even if that spot is one known by every man and his dog. Zipping said grom in a board bag at low and letting him out once the tide had come in for the Pier … the list goes on and on.
But after all the torture, all the abuse, this Grom looked at Joe as a role model, as a legend, as a hero. Joe would ensure Euge went wherever he went and deep down above anyone else, he always had the grom’s back. For years Joe took Euge to the waves. Now, it was Euge taking Joe, and 10 slaves, to the waves.
August 2017. ‘’Brahs. I asked the question… she said yes!’’ said a frothy Farth (Olli Rogers).
This left Farth with the almost impossible job of mustering up ten worthy soldiers to tame the slabs of Northern Sumatra. It didn’t take him long till he found the perfect men.
Empty perfect waves, warm tropical water, you and your best mates for 10 days, a sick boat with a sick crew and a sick guide. The build-up of froth for those 12 months was something I couldn’t put into words. We’re from Paignton. It’s geographically shite for waves. We’re going to surf actual perfect pumping waves.
So with a weekly curry in the Engine Room backed by a ton of beers throughout the year, it was time for FARTH’S DUSTY BOAT.
Sibolga, Northern Sumatra. It’s just gone lunchtime, and 11 jet-lagged, red-eyed Paignton surfers are laid out in a hotel lobby with a Binny in one hand and a Sampoerna in the other.
‘’Is he here yet? Is he here?” He’s here. The celery-eating-grom has walked in and clocked The Enforcer from a mile off. Let’s say it was emotional. Surprise.
The sail that first night was loose. USD 2000 worth of Bintangs, 70 slabs – this was Farth’s Dusty Boat trip, a stag for our best mate Olli after all. That too we wanted to set the Bintang record – so we all had a lot of work to do. And we worked bloody hard that night. Very hard.
We held our first Kangaroo Court that night to award Milky (Shaun Ellis) for ‘Dick of the Day’. ‘’BREAKFAST. VOUCHER.” He rolled the die to find his attire and impractical craft to surf the following morning. He did look good in a dress. Maybe it was the wig. Could also have been the Bintang and the sea breeze.
Morning rose. Aromas of coffee and suncream, Eddie cooking up scrambled eggs, boards being leashed and the sound of wax rubbing across fresh fibreglass. After an 18 hour sail, we came to our first spot. There’s a boat already there. “Maybe we should give it half an hour and let…’’ says Euge. Before he could even finish his sentence, we’ve already jumped off the boat paddling our way frantically towards the 4ft glassy right.
‘We’re from Paignton Euge! THE FROTH IS REAL CUZZY!’
The first three days we spent surfing that area of Northern Sumatra - where exactly … you’ll never know. Surfing a playful right which grew throughout the period and a gnarly draining barrelling left with a good bunch of the boys saying it’s one of the best waves of their lives. Ceej (Clive Price) got the best wave of his life
– an impossible long pig-dog, which he was in for what felt like forever – and Grealm (Gary Wells) counted 10 legit barrels in his first hour. Al (Alex Libby) was charging, sitting deeper than anyone else and Milky was throwing himself into some hollow caverns. Joe (Olroy) found peace on the right. One time surfing with just him and his grom. I took a decent wipeout too almost knocking myself out. Luckily Pedro was able to throw me a cold Binny from the dingy.
Oh and did I mention, we spent these three days with no one out. Just Euge, the crew and all our best mates. That was certainly living!
We did have one scare. Another charter boat could be seen in the distance. Gary spotted it. On the boat, Euge was raising the alarm, and in the water, Grealm had one simple rule; “EVERYONE! DON’T DO TURNS. JUST GET BARRELLED.’’ The boat sailed on.
A few of us dropped some lines one of these arvos. An esky full of beers, the sun beaming down, a solid eight hours in the water on perfect waves. Life doesn’t get any better. ‘’What’s that! A squid jig in my foot?’’ Farth caught himself. The only thing any of us did catch.
By day four the swell had picked up, and it was time to move. We sailed further into the archipelago making our way to a pinchy right. Al snapped his first board here, and Ol’s took one hell of a beating, “I almost broke my neck”. The next morning we woke to a long, winding, picture-perfect left.
Dr Ceej, or Mr Pig Dog, by now – took protection from the sun’s harmful rays on the end section and Dayno (Dayne English) was charging. His orange-highlighter rashy abseiling down some big faces with Milky hugging the reef, racing some shallow drainers.
Al lost a second weapon this day. Euge was killing it - a man who’s very comfortable either with his fins above the lip or hiding away in a keg and Grealm was releasing those fins like he was back on the UK PRO Tour of 2007. Alas.
That evening there were whispers of a mysterious right breaking at the end of an estuary, far out to sea. We set sail and played a disgusting amount of beer pong. A disgusting amount.
I was down in my scratcher when I heard all this banging and screaming coming from the
kitchen. I ran up in a sea motion zig-zag path to see all the boys gazing at what was the longest, most perfect, tip-to-toe barrel I think we’ve ever seen. Shit went everywhere, and within a blink, we were in there.
And as unforgiving as Indo can be, within that small window of manic the winds came up. Still, what we saw we’ll never forget. Perfection.
We stayed around. Most of us had a good one going rail-to-rail and racing a winding right. I got excited with my board leading to Ceej and Scoops (Adam Searle) stitching my face back together. Grealm and The Enforcer were party-waving, and Farth was going all ‘John John’ throwing grab rails and laybacks.
We set for a big sail that arvo to cover ground and head south. After lunchtime Binnys and a barracuda on the line via Dayno, we turned up to a solid right. The step ups made an appearance. Hobbo (Rob Hobson) wet his Bushman. The boys scaled some raw oceanic mountains, and the boys got the party going on the boat.
Travelling through the night was something on the JIWA. The soothing rock of the passing swells, the warm glow leaving your sun caught skin, the natural ache of a day in the water, and the aggressive deafening sound of a lumberjack taking his chainsaw to a forest every twenty seconds – Hans’ (Cartmell) beautiful snores – is a nostalgic thought we’ll long have.
It was Day seven. We had surfed nine perfect waves with just us out. We had hit the halfway point in our Bintang chest, and the thin skin on our lower ribs had now turned to leather.
We awoke that morning to a well-known, picturesque right, making its way down a tropical backdrop; cliff-hanging palm trees, coconuts bobbing in the line-up, a rumble of thunder in the distance and clean, crystal clear water. All the boys were ripping; the goofys, the regulars, in particular, Scoops was having the time of his life.
A storm passed. We surfed on through until the thought of Eddie’s eggs and bacon, and the 3-in1s couldn’t escape.
We had been circling the far north of Sumatra now and had to make up lost time to reach our port of departure. There was a short sail and a pit-stop on a micro left. The boat split into grovelling and drinking. The latter was more appealing. Milky did a macro stint on his twinny soaking in the rays and having a hell of a time with one other dude.
Local kids were paddling up in their rafts from the neighbouring islands up to the boat, selling us bracelets, shells, wooden ornaments, Pocaris, and whatever else they could scramble on. Farth managed to flog a slab of Bintangs to them for a special price – they were stoked. We also had a backflip competition of the bow. Hard to say who won, so we settled on a joint Hobbo and Al first place.
As we had ground to cover we set for a decent sail, which in other words: “Anyone wants a Bintang?” Kangaroo court was held earlier than, and a certain Mr Olroy found himself drinking in a beautiful dress for some false accusations from a previous surf. Scoops was also honoured with a ‘Dick’ around his neck for trying to protect the Enforcer. He went down as his little bitch. Curry. Beers. Fags. Reggae. Yarning. Bliss. There were rules in place to maintain we stuck to a healthy stag diet; 10 Binny ring-pulls for dinner, 15 for Luke (Palmer)’s show-reel, 20 for bed. Safe to say it was the Farth who held the torch one night … 32.
Most nights we had a few early casualties. However, one night was an exception from the rest. This was Farth’s Dusty Boat after all and those that night who fancied backdoor-ing were deeply punished with bedtime Sambal; Dayno and Hans getting hit hard.
We were in the final days of the trip, and Euge
had some tricks still up his sleeve. At first light, we anchored to a swell magnet of a shifty, hollow left. This thing was unloading on a shallow slab. You had to roll the dice and go to see whether the thing would stay open. The goofys were leading the charge; Euge getting the biggest keg of the trip here.
We sailed on again with a fishing break in the dingy – nothing - and a few of the guys trying themselves on some un-surfed spots. I was in the dingy sipping on a cold one and could see a flurry of local villagers gather on the shore to watch Al, Grealm and Milky surf in their back garden. Maybe this was the first time they’ve ever seen surfers?
By night time we were at our final surf destination. We’d cheer and drink to Luke’s showreel and froth off each other’s waves.
The last left was a steep, peeling, four-foot wall - perfect for turns. Everyone was going ham. Particularly Grealm, Al, Milks and the Enforcer. Us regulars were saving it for the right. The goofys made the most of it. Surfing until the cream dissolved and their arms turned to noodles. We had a big lunch and made our way to a powerful bending right – the final wave, number 21.
The regulars were all over it like a rash Farth, Ceej, Scoops, Olroy, Hobbo and myself, we were all going ballistic – paddling for our lives to get back out there and grab another. Dayno, Grealm and Milks were on a strong backhand attack throwing buckets and punting airs. But one person was going deeper, later, heavier than the rest – Mr Hans Cartmell. This was his time. This is what he came for. He just saved it for the last day. We salute you, Sir.
Trying to get 11 Paignton surfers out of the water was never easy but being our last day on a last perfect, empty wave, that took some doing.
The wave count that day was ridiculous. Everyone was surfing the best I’ve ever seen them. The smiles were so wide you could see them from the boat, and the screaming was so loud you could hear it from the islands. The froth was at an all-time high.
We eventually did get out. One final tropical storm passed through for ‘backys-of-the-bow’, and the beers were flying. We saluted to the last surf and best days of our lives.
That evening and the next day we spent sailing to port. The drinks were flying, the stories were non-stop, and the froth was burning;
We had just surfed 21 perfect waves, with just us and our best mates for 10 days.
If there’s one thing the Grom has taught us all, that’s THE FROTH IS REAL!!! Shoutouts...
Massive thank you to Euge, Luke and the rest of the crew on board the Jiwa, Tradewinds Adventures.
For all those years you spent tracking and hunting down those waves, you have made memories for 11 Paignton boys that we will never forget and given us the best waves of our lives. Thank you.
Big thank you to Derek at Vissla for kitting us out with the latest Vissla gear and Chris at Green Overhead for stocking the boys with boards and hardware.
Thank you to the Farth for dropping his knee and making this all happen.
And finally, congratulations to Gemma and Olli Rogers on their recent wedding! All the love from all the boys.