The Soccer world cup was a great experience and a fantastic party, and we just like most South Africans, really enjoyed it and made the most of it when it was here. It was during this time that I realized that I haven’t been on a surf trip for quite some time and really needed it to make the surfing blood flow through my veins again.It was during this time that Ian Freemantle, Charles Standing and myself got together over a beer or 3 and decided that we needed to get back to our roots again so we decided to do a road trip to Mozambique. The planning was light and the packing was heavy. We packed clothes, camping stuff a lot of toys including our surfboards, kiting, diving and fishing equipment.
We left Monday morning after the World Cup final with Vic bay being our first stop. There was heavy snow on all the mountain tops which should have been a tell tale sign for what was waiting for us. We pitched our tent waxed our boards and went for a lekka warm up surf. Ian was using his brand new 6’ Gerathy board while Charlie used Ian’s 6’4 while I used my brand new epoxy long Board. The waves were a fun 3ft and hardly anybody out. Needless to say we had a joll. The temperature dropped close to freezing after sunset, and we really froze our butts off during the night.
The next morning we had to go for a surf to thaw out. We were in a rush to get out of the cold Cape Town winter and cold water, and was really looking forward to the warmer temperatures and warmer water of Natal and Mozambique.
Next stop J-Bay. Arriving there Ian and Charley went for a fun surf at Boneyards. I ended up watching Jordy surfing at Supers. I was really impressed at what I saw, because he was surfing so fast and were so controlled, I thought that he was going to be tough to beat during the up and coming Billabong Pro. My prediction was right because he went on to win the contest and headed the pack in the championship rankings. The preparations for the Billabong were in its final stages and it looked really impressive. I thought to myself. What a great country we are living in. The world’s attentions were on SA for the soccer world cup and now the attention of the worlds surfing fraternity is back on us for the 2010 Billabong Pro.
That evening some of the locals gave us some suggestions and tips of spots on the coast. We really got amped up when we heard about the epic surf at Mdumbi (Transkei). This spot was supposed to be better than J-Bay, but it came with a warning. Johnny long fin country, but after quite a few beers everybody was brave enough to surf, even if there was a whole pack of sharks in a sardine run in the line up.
The picturesque Port Alfred was our next stop, were we had a fun 3 foot surf with 2 or three very welcoming locals. I understand now why all the locals are so friendly. Having some other people in the water just make your odds a bit better when Johnny come around. That evening we stayed in East London where we had a braai with a very interesting couple. Peter and Kim Van Kets. Peter is an adventurer who has just finished a race across the Atlantic Ocean.
No not in a sailboat, but in a rowing boat. Yes he rowed across the Atlantic. The boat he used looked like a very small sailing boat, with oars on it. His stories were just incredible and awe inspiring. He also told us about Mdumbi but also warned us of the possibility of sharks in the Transkei especially since we were going to be smack bang in the middle of the annual sardine run. We left East London in high spirit in search of the fantastic and uncrowded waves of the Transkei.
Driving through the Transkei is an adventure on its own with the tar roads being bumpier and holey than the gravel roads and you have to dodge everything from goats, sheep, cows and people, but we were on a mission to get to these amazing waves of Mdumbi so we weren’t going to let these things slow us down. We finally arrived at Mdumbi with a howling offshore and a fair size swell only to hear. “You should have been here two years ago mate, it was going off its face”. We found out that the wave hasn’t really worked for the past two years. The river has washed away the sand at the point so the waves weren’t really breaking properly. We were really bummed because this place had so much potential. So we had to go back to the drawing board.
We checked the point out again in the morning but with no luck, so we decided to leave and to look for some other waves in the Transkei. The road was even worse than the previous day but the scenery was absolutely amazing. We stopped at Port St John’s hoping to get a surf to wash the dust off, but we were warned by the locals not to risk it, and if we did we were guaranteed to loose a limb or two, if we were lucky. Someone was bitten by a shark just a few days before we got there. Sanity prevailed and we decided not to risk it, and moved on. It took us 10 eventful but interesting hours to cover the 300km from Mdumbi to the South Coast.
The Natal South Coast is blessed with loads of great waves, with a number of points, reefs and some beach breaks to choose from.
We stayed on the South Coast for a few days were we had some good sessions at South Broom and St Mike’s.
South Broom is a right point break that packs a good punch but there were a killer rip pulling you away from the point, on the days we surfed it. I used my long board here and thought I broke it on a few occasions. It was time to take my short board out again after about one and half years of long boarding. Next morning we went to St Mike’s. It is also a right point break. The sun was shining and the waves were 3-5ft and running down the point, with a added bonus. Warm water… I made the mistake wearing my 4/3 wetsuit for the morning session, and was boiling after half and hour and had to go in to change into my shorty wetsuit. It was great to surf in warm again after so long. It had a bit of an Indo feel to it with the warm and clear water . We had a cool surf until the wind picked up, and normally you will be bummed when this happens, but we were prepared for it and had a ace up our sleeve. Kiting time. Heeeha….Ian and I had a great kite at Scottborough after which we traveled to Durban were we stayed for the night. Next stop Mozambique…
The road to the border is quite good, but it disappears as soon as you go through the border. The road turns into soft sand tracks and there is absolutely no sign boards for directions. Ponta da Oura is about a hour’s drive from the border, and we would have landed up in Timbuktu if it wasn’t for Ian’s GPS on his phone showing us were we had to go to
Ponta Da Oura is a amazing spot offering a wide range of opportunities to all visitors.
There is a world class right hand point break for surfers, great snorkelling and Scuba diving, fishing, excellent beaches for families and a great party vibes for the party animals. We did not score the best Ponta, but we still had fun waves. We made the best of the non favourable surfing conditions by partaking in all the other activities on offer. The snorkelling was a amazing and one of the highlight of the trip for me was swimming with a whale shark for about twenty minutes and while I was with it, a big tiger shark arrived on the scene. I had to wait two or three minutes for the boat to arrive before I could get out of there, but wow what a great experience.
Partying here can be quite dangerous because the local drink is the R&R(Rum and Raspberry) . They serve the R&R in a beer mug and it consists of half rum and half Raspberry. The red colour should have warned us already. RED for danger…needless to say that the next morning we missed three hours of cooking surf because we spend the morning looking for the lost car keys. We looked everywhere and started planning a way to get a extra set of keys send up to Ponta. Charlie and myself realised that we could not do any more and went for a surf. Man the surf was so cooking. The water was warm, crystal clear and glassy with 3-4ft glassy waves running down the point. Happy days… Ian joined us later and told us he found the keys in the fridge. We were so stoked. We screamed and shouted like we just won the world cup.
The waves picked up the next day, but the wind was not great for the surf, so Charlie first had a quick kite lesson. He had good kite control and started body dragging after about 30 minutes. I am sure the men in grey suit were very interested in this lunch dragging through the water like a rapala lure. The wind picked up and a local invited Ian and me to do a kite down winder with him. Charlie and another local were the designated drivers. It took us about an hour to cover the 20km to Malangaan in Ian’s Landy.
We used big kites because the wind was quite light, but the waves were glassy 4-5ft and peeling. The water was a turquoise colour and warm, and the coast line was amazing. Flip, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. Charlie and his local navigator had an adventure of their own. Warrick’s directions was not much of a help to Charlie since he was so stoned and did not know the way himself so Charlie had to try to figure out how to get back by himself. Warrick would just tune. “HEY BRU, JUST KEEP GOING, ALL ROADS COMES OUT AT THE SAME PLACE MAN.” (and eventualy they did). Well they made it back before dark… We had a great time in Ponta da Oura but the time had come for us to say our good bye’s and started heading south again. We realised that we would be going into colder water and temperatures the further South our travels was taking us . Not a nice thought after enjoying the warm water and weather of Mozambique.
We stopped over at Sadwana Bay but it was nothing like I imagined. I thought it was a small spot with only a few people scuba diving, but boy was I in for a surprise. The beach was a hive of activity and was full of diving operators, their clients; fisherman with their 4 x 4’s and loads of other beach goers. We stayed over for the night and went out on one of the scuba boats in the morning. We had a great snorkel seeing all sorts of species of fish in all shapes, sizes and colours, some Morey Eels and turtles to name but a few amazing things we saw. After the dive we had a cool surf at the light house after which we made the call to carry on with our journey.
We stopped off in Durban but the waves we pretty small so we decided to check the South Coast out again. We ended up surfing South Broom again. The waves looked pretty mellow from the beach so I decided to use my Long board again. The waves were 3 – 4 ft and was predicted to pick up.
The three of us had some fun waves, but you could see and feel how the sets started picking up in size and in power. I was caught out of position on one of the wider sets. I had to make a quick decision whether to duck dive or to bale the board. I decided to duck dive the wave. The wave hit me with some power and I could feel the board snapping under water. Bummer… The onshore started blowing again and we decided to head south through Transkei to East London.
The golden rule for travelling in the Transkei is NEVER DRIVE IN THE TRANSKEI AFTER DARK. So what do we end up doing? We only entered the Transkei at dusk and had to go through Umtata at night. Shu you think the taxi’s are bad here in Cape Town. It is survival of the fittest or the most forceful here. I think the Umtata traffic gives the indo drivers a good run for their money. Charlie had the dubious honour to drive through the Umtata madness, and I think each of us said our own private prayers. We finally made it out of there in one piece.
Going through this cauldron we decided to check out Coffee Bay instead of going to East London. The road down to Coffee bay was terrible but it turned out to be worth our trouble. It turned out to be a fat joll. We booked into Coffee Shack. The Coffee Shack is a backpackers run by Dave Malherbe and his wife. It is a very impressive organization and people from around the world get together and become an instant family overnight. The place was pumping when we got there. We had a few drinks and met people from all over the world. The next day we went on a nice hike with quite a few of the guests and that night the party was even better than the previous night… Beware… You can pick up Pondo Land fever here, and can get stuck here very quickly. I think I would still be there If it wasn’t for Ian and Charlie. Man, I was so bummed when the time came to leave.
Morgan Bay was our next stop. It is a beautiful sleepy coastal town on the border between SA and the Transkei. The swell was still too big and washy, but I must say it also looked pretty sharky to me. No surfing and I was still pretty bummed that we left Coffee bay, but I got over it.
After Morgan bay we drove to East London were we pitched camped at Yellow sands. This is also a very beautiful place with a beautiful campsite right on the beach with a river mouth just next to the camp site. It can have some great waves on the low to pushing tide. Charlie and I went for a surf in the river mouth. The surf was 2-3 foot and crap. I don’t think I have ever been so uncomfortable in the water. EVER. The water was murky and it was in a river mouth with the sun was setting. Just a perfect time for a shark to have a snack time. The waves ware crap and I thought to myself, is it really worth risking life in limb for these waves. Both of us were grateful to make it safely back to the shore. The next day we went to the famous Nahoon Reef were we got great 3-4 ft waves. It was warm and sunny with only a few locals out. Needless to say we had a great time.
The swell and wind forecast for the last week of our trip wasn’t great, but we were hopeful when we pulled into J-Bay. Maybe the phantom swell might hit and we would get 4-6 ft Suppers with just us in the water. Ja right. Supers was 1ft and onshore, so may be, just maybe Seal Point would have a wave…. So we raced there hoping the wind got influenced by the contour of the Bay and be off shore. Ja right again…One foot and onshore. Bummer. We were so keen to get some good waves around here. We weren’t ready to go home yet but by the look of the swell forecast and the mood of everybody I thought we would be sleeping at home that evening.
It was pretty quite in the Landy when we left Seals. We decided to check out Plett on the way down. Plett was always a place to grab a bite or a drink, and never really as a great surf spot, so I wasn’t holding my breath for surf at all. Our first sight off lookout was mind blowing.
3-4 ft glassy waves reeling 200-300 meter down the super bank with a only a few locals in the water. Some of the locals were a bit miff when the out of towners paddled out, but there were enough waves for everybody. We just smiled because we could not believe our luck. We drove 4000km to Mozambique and back and got the best waves of our trip just a few ours out of Cape Town in one of the most unlikely spots. The water was very cold for Plett so most people stayed in the water only for about an hour. I had so much fun I could not get enough. I thought I would go in after 2hours but everybody left the water and there were only 3 of us left in the water. So I decided to take a few more waves while the going was good.
Eventually after about three hours I decided to catch my last wave in. I got a set wave raced down to the end of the wave and sat in the current to pull me back to the side. Then I thought ok just one more wave. Got one another cooker and thought, just one more, after the next wave I thought, Just one more, Just One more…I eventually crawled out the water after a marathon 5 hour session. We finished off a fantastic day by having supper and sundowners on the deck watching wave after wave reeling down the bank. We stayed in the backpackers that night. The next day it was more of the same.
Eventually we had to head back to Cape Town.
It was more an adventure than a surf trip and on the trip we realised again how lucky we were to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. The trip was also extra special for me because my travel buddies, Ian and Charlie. They were so chilled and easy going and we had loads of good times and good laughs. We met some great and interesting people, saw amazing places, and surfed many different spots. We got our best waves at the most unlikely spot, and swimming with the whale shark was definitely one of the many highlights for me.
I suppose all good trips must come to end, but I just booked my tickets for Bali and Sumbawa where I hope to find my next adventure with and some waves for surfing and kite surfing. HEEEHA
THE SEACH CONITUES