Tripping the SA Coast: Cape Town to Mozambique

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.

Our wheels for the trip: Ian’s Trusty Land Rover Defender with snow covered Mountains in the Back Ground

VIC BAY

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.

Vic Bay:Freezing but fun.

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.

Peets rowing boat he used to cross the Atlantic

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.

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.

Mdumbe line up with loads of potential

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.

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.

Indo? No South Broom

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…

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

Mozambique Autobaan…

Ponta Main road

Ponta Da Oura is a amazing spot offering a wide range of opportunities to all visitors.

Jacques Cousteau and his appi

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.

The beginning of the end.

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.

Moz glassy sunrise conditions

Moz Culinary local

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.

20 km Kite downwinder Malangaan to Ponta da Oura

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.

Sadwana Bay

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.

South Coast

 

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.

Charlie’s arm after being clapped by a powerfull wave

South coast casualties

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.

Coffee Bay.

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.

The tar road has more holes than the gravel road!

Transkei quick spar

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.

Hiking to Cofee Bay

East Coast surf Genie

Just loved this place

Morgan Bay

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.

East London
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.

Plett

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.

The super bank doing it’s thing.

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.

Stumbling out after marathon Session

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

 

 

 

 

Da Boys road surf trip/adventure to Mozambique: Part 2

This is the story of three friends who made the most of the 2010 World Cup, so much so that we did not surf enough during it. A decision was made to get back to our surfing roots and to go on a five week road trip from Cape Town to Mozambique. So the day after the World Cup final, we packed the Landy and headed North.

We had loads of very good times ….

and very few lows ….

or bad times …..

but we did get rid of our blues in all sorts of interesting ways …

and all in all we had an absolutely fantastic trip ! We saw many amazing places in the wonderful country of ours, surfed fantastic waves and loved every minute of our trip.

A more detailed article to follow soon in our next newsletter and on the website

Da Boys road surf trip/adventure to Mozambique

I haven’t been on a surf holiday for quite some time and have really needed it to make the blood flow through my veins again. We have done the soccer World Cup thing and it was a great party and a fantastic experience, but we needed to get back to our roots again so Ian Freemantle, Charles Standing and I got together over a beer or 3 and decided to do a road trip to Mozambique. The planning was light and the packing was heavy. We needed to pack some clothes and camping stuff but a lot of toys including our surfboards, kiting and 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 and went for a lekka warm up surf. The waves were a fun 3ft and hardly anybody out.  Needless to say we had a joll. The temperature dropped to close to freezing after sunset, and we really froze our buts of during the night. We went for a surf in the morning again to thaw out.

Next stop J-Bay.  Arriving there Ian and Charley went for a fun surf at Boneyards. 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 and now the attention of the worlds surfing fraternity is back on us. We were amped up at that evening’s braai by some of the locals about some Epic surf at Umdumbe (Transkei). 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 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 comes around.  That evening we stayed in East London where we had a braai wit 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 Umsumbe but also warned us of the sharks in the Transkei since we are going to be smack bang in the middle of the annual sardine run.

Peru – by Stephanus Rabie

I believe a true adventure writes its own book and the only way to discover what the word means is to get out there and experience it for yourself. I have an absolute passion for travelling and spend most of my hard earned cash to fund my trips around the world. The globe hosts so many different cultures, food, music, people and natural beauty just waiting to be discovered.

Then there is that one thing that brings it all together and gives a greater reason for choosing the next trip. This is something that can only be understood by a handful of people walking on this planet. You think about all the hours of reading about how to get there, following your plan to the “T” while dealing with all the hiccups along the way, then, after driving through the desert for hours, it all comes together in that one moment of supreme joy when you walk over that dune, greeted with the most perfect barrelling empty lefthander you have ever seen in your life. That is when you know being a surfer brings reason to it all.

Igazu Falls

My latest adventure took me to the amazing country of Peru. It has so much to offer everybody, from the package deal tourist to the small budget backpacker.

From Inca Ruins to some of the longest and most perfect waves on the planet. I organised my whole trip within 5 days shortly after I finished a three month filming contract that paid pretty well. One of my best mates from University (a non surfer, important for later) was in South America, so,I could not resist the temptation to join him for an adventure.

The cheapest flights to Lima would be through Buenos Aires. Air Malaysia flies to Buenos Aires pretty cheap. Once there you have many different options to get to Lima. The best South American Airlines are Taca or Lan. These flights are a bit more expensive than you might think and the total cost from Cape Town to Lima return would work out to around R 12 000.

 

I ran into a bit of trouble in Buenos Aires airport with my board. They charged me $95 handling fee to get the board to Lima. This is something that cuts quite deep into a budget traveller’s pocket. But hey, I was not going to leave my board with the grease ball mullet behind the check-in counter, so with a lot of pain I handed over the $100 note.

Buenos Aires

After 20 hours of travelling I arrived in Lima and met up with my friend Christoff Krige. He informed me that he had met the love of his live a week earlier in Chili and that they were planning to get on a bus that same evening to Arriquipa (Peru’s second biggest city) far in the south and very far away from the ocean.

Since we were planning to go inland anyway, to do the touristy things and see the world renowned Machu Pitchu, I figured that we might as well do this at the beginning of our trip rather than at the end. Murphy had a little plan up his sleeve, that would come to haunt me a few days later.

So there we were on a bus traveling for 18 hours South to Arequipa, Christoff was smiling, I was just tired, very, very tired. Just before we left I checked the internet and saw that a big swell was hitting Peru in two days and I knew I was going to miss some epic waves, but I would just have to deal with it.

Tourist busses in Peru, as in most of South America are of excellent quality. Your whole seat turns into a bed and they serve meals and show pirated movies the whole night long. Very unlike an Elwierda tour bus in South Africa. We figured that if you travel overnight on these busses, you get your accommodation and food for free and when you wake up you are in a new place. What a bonus! The only drawback comes in the fact that they are not the safest way of travelling.

In the 3 weeks that I spent in Peru there were 5 bus accidents. Even some of the most larney and expensive ones tend to crash. Within one night we passed three accidents! Chilling thought….

Cruz del Sur is the best bus option

As I woke the next morning I got the first glimpse of pure Peruvian glass! The bus was driving through the ongoing Peruvian coastal desert, overlooking wave after wave breaking like a perfect autumn day at Derdesteen. I don’t even want to know how many empty perfect waves roll by, day by day along this coast, but we were heading inland and I had to put the thought of surfing out of my head for a week and become a regular tourist.

Ariquipa

We spent one night in Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city. We ate alpaca meat, quite tasty and cheap and had our first cervesa (beer) of the trip. It came out in 1 litre jugs so the rest of the afternoon I floated through town. We saw a 500 hundred-year-old frozen Inca mummy called Juanita; I’m still convinced she gave me a little stare. It was interesting, but very creepy.

Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca

The next morning we were on a bus to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, one of the highest lakes in the world sitting at 3858 meters above sea level. It takes your breath away!

Since we took a bus here we acclimatized on the way up, but flying in can give you some problems with altitude sickness. The locals chew cocoa leaves and believe that it helps prevent the sickness. It has become quite a touristy thing to do and you see hoards of travelers walking around with green leaves sticking out of their mouths.

I went to bed early since I hadn’t had a proper rest after my flight. I dreamt of carving up empty walls the whole evening. And rightfully so, 2000 Km north people could not sleep as a result of the noise of the waves running endlessly along the point in Chicama.

I was missing the swell of the year…

I woke up feeling much better after mind surfing the whole night. We said goodbye to the girls who were heading into Bolivia. It’s really easy getting to Bolivia from here.

But with the ‘groen mamba’ (our legendary RSA passport) you have to pay $100 for a visa. Something neither Christoff or my budget allowed.

So we hopped on a boat and explored Lake Titicaca. One of the most impressive sights of my whole trip (except for the photo’s of the waves I missed), were the floating Islands.

These islands constructed out of reeds, houses over a thousand permanent residents. It was originally build when the local tribe was driven from their land and they decided to find refuge on the water.

There are many floating islands each housing around 5 families, with their dogs. They fish from the lake and sell souvenirs to tourists to make money to buy fresh food from town.

This is something to see for sure. We visited some more islands and had a fantastic meal with an extraordinary view of the lake, before heading back to Puno, with the full moon rising over the lake, sheer magic!

Cusco

Later that evening we hopped on a bus to Cusco. Cusco is tourist central and perfect base to visit Peru’s biggest tourist attraction, the famous Inca town Machu Pitchu.

Cusco used to be the Inca capital and the amount of ruins and original structures in this town is truly amazing. Mixed with all the Churches the Spanish build it is one of the prettiest towns in South America. From Inca capital to party capital. If you are into having a few dops this is the place to be.

Take it easy on your first night though, as you are still very high above sea level and it is quite a shock to the system.

Christoff and I ended up in the Mandela lounge, a very random South African restaurant/bar owned by an Argentine living in Peru, strange… It happened to be on Madiba`s 90th and we got some serious discount after flaunting the `groen mamba`.

We sang Nkosi Sikele with the local band and left the place like heroes!


Machu Pitchu

If you didn’t reserve 3 months in advance to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you will have to make your way to Agus Caliente to visit the spectacular site.

Leaving from Cusco you have two possibilities to get to Agus Caliente, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. You can either get on a train straight from Cusco, it takes about 3hours or you can take a taxi to Ollantaytambo and get on the train from there. This will save you about 2 hours and $20.

We opted for the latter and had a tour of the Incas sacred valley before getting on the train to Agus Caliente. The train is quite fancy and offers a very enjoyable ride through the forest surrounded by massive cliff faces on both sides.

Agus Caliente itself is very plastic and has a bit of an American theme park feel to it. From there you can hike up to Machu Picchu, which takes about an hour, or buy a ticket for a bus. Make sure you buy this ticket the night before and get up at 5 so you can see the sunrise from the top. This place is loaded with tourists, but the magic of the sight makes you forget about the hoards of people around you. There is a second mountain to climb called Wanu Picchu, giving incredible 360 degree views of the area.

They only let 400 people on this path per day, so make sure you are first in line, to avoid disappointment. We spent the whole day at Machu Picchu before running down the mountain in record time, for a reason not yet all that clear to me, but it was loads of fun!

The next day I woke up with a missive smile on my face.

We had finished all the touristy stuff and were heading up the coast!

We took a flight back to Lima from Cusco, and went straight to the bus station to get on a bus north to a place called Trujillo.

Huachuca

After a 10-hour bus ride, we got a taxi to Huachuca, the first place I would get in the water. The town is supposed to be one of Peru’s best beach towns but this is quite an insult to any beach town around the globe. Like the rest of the coast everything is very grey and if I wasn’t a surfer, I would be pretty bummed ending up anywhere along the coast. The waves, on the other hand are definitely something to get excited about!

Huachuca is not the best wave in Peru, but it picks up a lot of swell and offers a very decent left hand point break that runs along the beach. It gives you quite a number of solid sections to hit and runs for a good 300m. I was just so stoked to get in the water. My first wave was a bomb. Solid 4ft and it just kept on running and I knew this was going to a great two weeks of surfing! This was also the first place I got to meet the Peruvian current. The current down the point at most of the spots north of Lima is so strong that paddling back is not really an option. Run arounds are the order of the day, and ends up taking way less time and saving loads of energy. I ended up surfing for about 3 hours before I started feeling alone surfing all by myself for so long and went out to take some pics. Session one, great success!

That night we met a fellow SA traveler named Giorgio on his way to Equador, who joined up with us.

The next morning we were in a chartered surf van on our way to the famous Chicama!

Chicama

Chicama is about 45min north of Huachuca. The first glimpse of the point is something I will never forget. The point is about 1 and half times the length from Bone Yards to the end of Surfers Point at Jbay. The difference being that once the swell starts pouring in it runs all the way through on every wave.

There are no un-makeable sections, it just keeps running like a machine. It’s unbelievable, the current is ridiculously strong though and paddling back after a wave is not an option. You have to make the 15minute walk around. It takes quite a big swell to work properly and does not happen that frequently. We got it at about 2ft with a few 3ft waves on the outside sets.

I walked all the way up the point to the top section called the Cave and surfed wave after wave down the point for over 2km. After a wave you simply paddle into the next one and keep surfing down the point.

After about a 3hour session I went for lunch and it was there that I saw the pictures of the 6ft Chicama I missed the previous week. A feeling of nausea overcame me, but I will go back to get it when its’ on. During my second session I got a few more and came out in the dark.

We stayed in a place called El Hombre and I’d recommend it to anybody who travels here. It is very reasonable and has a perfect view of the point.

Pacasmayo

I got up with first light the next morning, but the swell was completely gone. We caught a bus to the next town on the map called Paccasmayo. Driving with your own transport, Pacasmayo is probably about 25min from Chicama, but traveling with local transport it takes about 1 and a half hours changing busses and grabbing taxis.

We ended up in a place called El Faro surf camp. This is a little piece of paradise in the middle of a town that reminds me a bit of a documentary I saw about Liberia.

The actual wave is about 20minutes walk or 10 minutes taxi ride from the town. It is truly world class. It picks up way more swell than Chicama and on the right day it ends up being longer than Chicama. I had a few waves that with out a doubt were the longest waves of my life. It can get quite windy, but for some reason it does not affect the wave face.

The wave’s shape is very similar to the inside section at Elands, just much, much longer. We stayed there for 5 days. I started feeling a little lonely, surfing by myself all the time again. Since the waves are bit heavy, my two mates never made it to the backline and I was surfing by myself the whole time. When there was somebody else in the water they only spoke Spanish, which made a conversation quite difficult. I ended up spending hours with only my own thoughts. I realized that I am definitely no Tom Curren, since I really missed somebody in the water hooting on one or two of my backhand hooks. Surfing alone is like dinking a beer by yourself. It is not about the beer, it’s about the company. Never the less, it just highlights the perfection of the place, if the only thing I can complain about is the fact that I had to surf alone.

Travelling here on a surf trip with a bunch of surf buddies is highly, highly recommended! It is a great place to get world-class waves everyday and when it gets too big, you head to Chicama 30 min away. Pacasmayo is also a world-class kite-surfing spot. There is a second reef down the point where the wind hits more cross-shore. It offers a seriously good wave riding setup. So if you are a surfer/kiter type, this will be heaven.

Labitos Northern Peru

After having 5 days of the best waves of my life, Christoff and I were on our way back, 12hours south to Lima. We said cheers to Giorgio, who got on a bus north to Mancora. It was the end of a public holiday and all the busses back to Lima were full. We decided to follow Giorgio and got on a 10hour bus north to Mancora, 20 hours form where we actually wanted to go. It’s all part of the adventure. We ended up getting a faster connection in Chiclayo and arrived in Mancora before Giorgio. When he arrived there the next day he almost fell down laughing when we bumped into him on the street.

Mancora is the premiere beach party town of Peru. It’s way different to anywhere else on the coast. It has one main street with pubs and clubs, crowded by backpackers and locals having fun. The actual beach is packed with sunbathers and little gazebo restaurants. From October to May the north swells hit Peru and the north coast starts firing. Mancora has a pretty decent wave during this season, but it gets chronically over crowded! Cabo Blanco is probably the best spot during the north swell season. It’s very powerful and “gooi’s” ! About 45 minutes south of Mancora you’ll find Labitos. We did not go there, but I saw some pics and it is another world-class wave that offers some serious barrels during the south swell season.

Lima

After having fun for 2 days in Macora, we got on a 20-hour bus back to Lima. We met a random guy in the street in Pacasmayo who said we could come and stay at his house when we got back to the capital. He offered to take me surfing south of Lima, so we took him up on his invitation. There we were in a mansion in Lima, Alexander who invited us left a message that he would be working till late and we should just make ourselves at home. It was quite an eye opener to be back in civilization. It was almost like spending a week in a township and then going back to your own little bubble. Travelling is a real eye opener.

The next day Alexander took us surfing. There are so many spots around Lima it’s mad. Comparing waves around Lima to waves up north is like comparing Cape Town to the East Coast. Lima is very consistent and there is always a wave to surf, but it is much more wild and not as clean and perfect as the waves up north. 20 Minutes south of Lima is a town called Punta Hermosa. This is a great place to base your self. There are about 5 very good waves all in walking distance from one another. All the waves are quite meaty and this is actually a good place to come and get used to the vibe in the water before heading up north and enjoying sheer perfection. You are almost guaranteed waves everyday. Whereas almost all the waves up north are lefts, around and south of Lima most of the waves are rights. We had a really good session at a place called Punta Rocas. The wave reminded me alot of Yo-Yo’s at Lamberts bay.

Girls

Our time in Peru had run out and it was time to face reality again. I ended up selling my board for $200, because I was not going to pay the $95 to fly it back to SA. It ended up being quite a good deal.

So here I’m sitting on the plane, thinking back on three weeks of adventure. The people you meet, the places you stay, the music you hear, the transportation you use, the decisions you make and the waves you ride. All these things are the ingredients to adventure. My mission is not to make my adventure yours but rather to get you out there defining the word adventure for yourself.

The Mentawai Island Adventure – By Anton Fourie

The Moslems go to Mecca, the Christians go to Jerusalem and surfers go to Indonesia. After my last surf trip to Nias I just knew that I needed to organise another trip to Indo, so there was no hesitation to accept when I got the call from Anton Hannekom inviting me on a boat charter to the Mentawai Islands.
The Mentawai Islands are located approximately 100 miles west of the Sumatran port city of Padang, the launching point for Mentawai Charters. There are four main islands in the chain, with numerous smaller islands surrounding them.

Our trip started off in Cape Town and took us to Johannesburg, Singapore and finally to Padang where 13 of us got onto the Indies Explorer, a 115ft Ketch (Type of Boat). After unpacking our boards and equipment we started our crossing to the Mentawai Islands.


The crossing can be anything from 12 to 24 hours depending on the weather. We were a rocking and a rolling non stop for 16 hours before we finally got into the smoother waters of the Mentawai Islands. On the crossing the Philippi brothers, who were very vocal at first, became very quiet. I thought they were turning into incredible Hulks, because after a while out at sea they became quiet and started turning various shades of green, then disappeared for the rest of the crossing.
The long flights, change overs and the crossing really takes it out of you, but luckily our first surf was a playful 2-3 ft at
Telescopes.This was a good session to find our feet, and to get all cob webs and jet lag out of our systems with nice waves and warm water. “Johnny Duck Dive” was a bit unlucky and was caught behind the section on quite a few of his waves and spend most of this session working on his duck dive techniques.
That evening we enjoyed some Bintangs (Indo Beer) while appreciating the amazing sunset and sailing to our safe anchorage spot. I soon found out that most sunsets and sunrises are spectacular in this part of the world.
The next 2 days we hung out at <strong>Seven Palms</strong> with fun 3-4ft wave. We had some really fun waves here and when the tide got too high we just relaxed with some beers and excellent food, telling surf stories. Just another tough day at the office … 
I also enjoyed snorkelling in between all the surfers. I saw some amazing fish on the reef but I could also watch the surfers from the bottom. This was quite spectacular because it felt like I was in a Jack McCoy surfing film. The water was crystal clear and I was watching in awe as surfboards were drawing interesting lines through the water with white clouds of the breaking waves chasing the surfer. Every now and then the wave would catch up with the guy and I could see how his body was washed in the white clouds. It would have been great to have an underwater housing for the video and still camera because the view from under the water was spectacular.

The next morning we surfed at Seven Palm again, the waves jacked and had picked up to 5-6ft. The waves also got bigger and heavier with every new set, and as the waves picked up the guys eyes got bigger and bigger. Eben’s leash snapped after a horrendous wipe out and he became the first guy to do the reef dance to collect his board on the island. We finally left Seven Palms after our captain got a big set on the head. He promptly decided to pull up anchor and sailed South to Lance’s Lefts

Lance’s Left’s is a classic point break next to a tropical palm filled island with a classic left which demands respect from all surfers. Sailing around the point and seeing the classic setup with 4-6 ft waves rolling down the point we knew we felt like we had found the treasure at the end of the rainbow. The waves were classic but it demanded respect and you paid your dues here as we soon found out…

After a wipe out I got a really good hold down which woke me up.  The wave washed me and spun me around like a rag in a tumble drier and just as I thought the wave had released me and the washing cycle was finished I got pulled into another spin and wash cycle. I finally surfaced gasping for air, very clean but with a huge respect for this amazing spot. Most of the wipe outs felt a bit like this, and if you were unlucky you would surface with some red stains somewhere on your body. Johnny Duck dive and Robby both grated their backs on the reef and Rory was unceremoniously washed over the reef where he picked up a gash on his knee which got infected later and forced him to take a few days off. He had to treat it with anti-biotics.

Wearing booties saved my skin quite a few times because it became my last defence against the reef.

During the session Eben decided to go back to the boat and felt it necessary to pull out his brand new gun to handle the challenging waves better.  He waxed up the board, and promptly paddled past everybody up to the point, grinning from ear to ear. A nice set came through which he paddled for. He took off but he did not make the drop and surfaced with his board in 2 pieces. Needless to say the smile had disappeared by this time.We had fun waves here until three other boats started arrived. Most of the boats were fine but one of the boats had a Brazilian family onboard with the dad and his two sons of aged 14 and 16.They were fantastic surfers, but they were really busy in the water and had no etiquette. They would paddle up the inside and take off on the first wave that came their way. The guys started to get a fed up with this and things got a bit heated at times. This was a problem because the Brazilians seemed to follow us around for days.

I realised on this trip that Brazilians are loved and respected all over the world for their skills in soccer and their good looking girls, but absolutely hated by surfers everywhere for their bad manners in the surf. Say “Brazilian” to surfers and everybody would react as if a bird flu patient had just walked through the door.

The visiting charter boats are a big part of the local economy because as soon as a boat stops, it would get surrounded by locals in their dugout canoe’s trying to sell all sorts of carvings and souvenirs to the visiting surfers. The boat men at Lance’s and HT’s definitely had the best and most colourful souvenirs from all the spots we visited.

During the night the swell dropped and our captain decided to sail further South to Thunders.  This is the wave magnet of the Mentawais. I don’t think Thunders ever gets under 6ft. It is a fairly heavy Outer Kom type of spot. We got it at 6-8ft but the line up was quite busy, with some other boats including our Brazilian friends. Not everybody on our boat was to keen to surf here but everybody that got into the action got some great waves.

By now Eben’s board had been fixed by one of the boat’s crew. He was super stoked and paddled out but snapped it again on his first wave. That was officially the end of this board. I would have enjoyed this spot a lot more if it weren’t so crowded. We stayed there for two days until the swell jacked again.

We sailed across the bay to a small island with Rags Lefts on the one side and Rags Rights on the other side of the island. We decided to stay at the Lefts because the wind was favourable on this side of the island. Rags Lefts is quite a heavy left. Needless to say, not everybody surfed here. I went out, paddled for a wave and got pitched with the lip.  I did not think it was such a heavy wipe out, but after I started spitting up some thick blood, and imagining that I was getting dizzy and feeling paralyzed, I took the rubber duck back to the boat.

(Doc) Gary had the wave of the trip and his life here. They surfed the peak further up the point where he took off on an 8ft+ wave. He pulled into a stand up barrel with his arms raised into the air, the lip not even close to him. He was screaming his head off and after coming out of the first barrel he went straight into the next barrel further down the line after which the wave slowed down a bit and opened up, and after doing a few carves he kicked out 800meters down the line with an almighty howl. He was actually shivering with adrenaline after this wave. When he finally got onto the boat we could not wipe the smile off his face.

By now the food was becoming fairly ordinary. We were keen for some fresh fish, so Harny, Willie, Marty and myself took the speedboat and went on a desperate fishing trip. The conditions were pretty rough for this little boat, but we were desperate and trawled for almost three hours with no luck. The only thing we caught was a terrible sunburn. That night we had to wash our deep fried food down with a couple of Bintangs.Some evenings got pretty festive on the boat. The more Jack Daniels Ewan had, the more it oiled his vocal cords, the louder his Karaoke singing got, and the more Vodka Willie had the more he smiled and the wilder the music got. One evening Willie was grooving on Marilyn Manson. Willie must have had a whole case of Vodka. The indo crew must have thought that  this bunch of guys were from Mars.  Some evenings we got into some serious poker games with Mario and Carlos taking everybody’s money.

The swell picked up again and we sailed back to Lance’s where we scored even better and bigger waves than before. This was definitely my favourite spot on our trip. The surf was 6-8ft  and the wind that pestered us earlier on the trip died down and we had classic glassy conditions.

I had some of my biggest and best waves of the trip here.

I lost my board once after diving off my board on one of the bigger sets. I dived down but the lip hit me so hard it almost folded me backwards. It was a good thing that I’d bailed because the lip would have pushed me right through my board if I tried to duck dive it. I got a lift on the rubber duck to the beach where a friendly local returned my board to me. I was lucky because some of the locals pick up the boards and run into the forest never to be seen again.

Doc also broke his board during this session, and Willie tried to plough through the reef with his board and surfaced with a board without any fins and a squashed tail.

Lances claimed some broken boards and skin, but Anton Hanekom’s faceoff with the reef (literally) was definitely the worse surfing injury I have seen. Ouchhh!

It wasn’t a pretty site, but a case of Bintangs later and he had no more pain. Anton is a great surfer and a hardcore veteran with three tours to the Eastern front under his belt. A bit of a Jack Russell in and out of the water.
The last day we spent at HT’s (Lance’s Right’s). This a beautiful but hardcore, unforgiving right with a reef named “The Surgeons Slab” that doesn’t take any prisoners. Ewan (Knee boarder) was in the zone on this day and scored some great waves with some deep pits. Doc paid his dues for the wave he had earlier that week at Rags. He got the beating of his life and was very gratefull to get out of there breathing and with no permanent damage.

That’s the thing with Indo. She gives lots of pleasure but she makes you pay for it somewhere down the line. If you get away today, you will pay your dues tomorrow.  After our surf we had to prepare ourselves and the boat for the trip back to Padang. We packed our boards, tied the speedboat behind the boat and started our crossing back to Padang. Arriving back in Padang after a night of rocking and rolling across the straight we realised that we’d lost the speedboat we were pulling during the crossing. Just paying another due to mother Indo.

That evening we were all reflecting on the good waves and good times we had together on this amazing adventure. We realised we only scratched the surface of this Mecca of surfing and that there are still so many amazing spots in the Mentawai’s that we did not even get close to and that we had to start planning another pilgrimage as soon as we got back.

We said our goodbyes to the captain and his crew and left for the airport. For most of the guys it was the end of the trip but for me it was the beginning of a whole new adventure as I was heading to Bali.

G-Land by Anton Fourie

We made all the arrangements for our G-land trip in Bali. We had a choice of three surf camps; Bobbie’s Surf camp, Jungle camp and G-spot and we decided to book with Bobbie’s Camp. We also had a choice of a 10-hour overland trip with a bus or a 2-hour one hundred-dollar speedboat trip. Needless to say we chose the bus. After all we are from “Efrica” and we “is mos ruff en tuff and in Efrica the people drive mos in taxis”. Why wouldn’t we go in a bus? What a blunder!!!
We were picked up from our hotel at 11 o’clock at night and the bus turned out to be a glorified South Efrican taxi with hard seats and sagging back rests. We left Bali heading for the port next to the Bali strait. Here we got onto a ferry to Java, and took the “bus” again to Grajagan Village where we arrived at 7am in the morning feeling very miff. We were supposed to get a 45-minute speedboat ride from here to G-land. There was only one problem. The swell was too big to go through the river mouth. Well, tell any surfer travelling to the legendry G-land for the first time that the swell is too big, and he will say “get me out there mate”. I also said a couple of prayers not to stay in this malaria infested fishing village that looked like it was straight out of the Asterix and Obelix comics. We also hoped the fishermen caught enough fish so that we did not need to be on the villager’s menu for that evening.



Some of the fishermen use small canoes with bamboo outriggers as fishing boats. I mean, I would not like to go out 100 meters into the sea with those boats, never mind 20km out to sea like these people do. There were bigger and beautifully decorated Viking-like fishing boats as well.
Eventually our prayers were answered and we boarded the speedboat.  I think our captain did not want to be shown up by the fisherman with their small boats, so he decided it was time for us to leave as well.

We started to go fairly easily over the first waves. It was quite amazing to see the fisherman in the spider boats going through the waves. They are truly amazing seamen with big gonads, if you know what I mean. A set came through and our captain decided it was time to give us value for our money and to take us on a wild Ratanga Junction ride.

We raced to the first of 4 waves and slowed down as we went over it. This however wasn’t good enough. The last and biggest wave of the set he decided to ramp. I saw it coming and stood up to try to absorb the impact a bit better. We hit the wave with so much speed the whole boat was airborne. When we landed again I hit my hand so hard on the side of the boat that I think I cracked my thumb. Everybody behind me was soaked. The rest of the boat trip was pretty uneventful.

Arriving at G-land we got a lift in a tractor-like truck through the jungle to the surf camp.
When we eventually arrived at the camp I felt very rough and as strong as a mouse but I was amped to see the waves.
My first sight of these world famous waves was fantastic, 6-8ft waves reeling down the point with a couple of guys out.

Most of the guys went to sleep to regain some strength but I thought I wanted to get out there and break the ice.
My first surf,  I went out at Speedies because it looked like the easiest spot to paddle out and the waves looked all right for my first surf and to get into the spot. At high tide you paddle about 600m over the reef and then you can basically paddle around from the bottom of the point. Getting out was quite easy but as they say in the classics “looks from the beach can be deceiving”. Speedies is actually the most unforgiving and most hardcore part of G-Land! What I thought was a mellow 6-8ft wave turned out to be grinding 8-10ft waves!

The first thing I noticed was that everyone here was wearing helmets. I knew it wasn’t for mortars or falling rocks. The waves were 8-10ft plus and the guys were getting axed left, right and center. The only other guy without a helmet took off on a wave, got axed and surfaced with a hole in his head. I paddled for a couple but at the end of my short surf all I succeeded in was to put a dent in my ego.

The water temperature was also a big problem. It was about 20C degrees but with the wind chill factor, it got very cold. This was a big problem for the rest of my stay in G-land since I did not pack a wetsuit because I packed for tropical Indo surfing. This limited our time in the water. I never thought I would say this in Indonesia, but I really missed my wetsuit. The wetsuit also protects you somewhat when you get bounced over the reef. From now on I will travel like a businessman and I will always have a suit (wetsuit) in my bag. Lesson learned!


It is a very intimidating spot and to arrive at 8-10ft is a very humbling experience. Respect is the word. Don’t think you are going to arrive and make your mark here. Instead you might find you will be marked for life if you arrive too cocky at this spot.
G-Land is a very long left point break starting at the top at Kongs, which picks up the most swell and is surfed more on smaller swells. Further down the point you will find upper and lower Moneytrees. The waves are “slightly” easier and the reef is a little deeper here than further down the point. This leads into The Ledge where you can get barreled off your head.  This is a section were the lip squares out, but beware; if you don’t make it you can also lose your head !

This is followed by Launch Pads and Speedies,  where you have long walls followed by a dik barrel section of the wave.  This is the most intense part of the wave with quite a shallow reef and is only surfed on high tide. It can get quite busy here since the photo sluts hang out here because there is a photographer on a boat out there for most of the day.

Bobbie’s camp is in the jungle with comfortable huts between these huge amazing trees and is very well kept. There is a fantastic relaxed and friendly vibe in the camp and you can rub shoulders with some of the world’s best surfers here. G-land was hit by a tsunami in 1995. The camp was flattened and although they had to pick the surfers like grapes out of the trees nobody died. The camp was rebuilt into today’s position and is set back about 500 m in the jungle for safety reasons.

The speedboat arrived at about 10 o’clock that morning with a fresh looking Mark Paarman (Johnny’s Brother) and big wave charger. They had a short 2-hour trip from Bali. This is definitely the way to go to G-land. He was placed in the honeymoon suite which he shared with Jack Smith another Kom and Crayfish Factory charger. Mark was one of the few people who did not use booties here. The only people to dare not wear booties at this place either don’t have booties, are really stupid or really hardcore. Mark had booties but just refused to wear them.

Walking over the reef at low tide was a mission without booties and I would have shredded my feet many times going in and out if I didn’t have any. At low tide the reef is actually higher than the wave. It is therefore quite critical for self-preservation when you paddle in or out. My booties saved the day and my skin on many occasions when I had to put my landing gear down when the white water was pushing me at a rate of knots, and I was on a collision course with the reef.

My wave of the trip was on my second day when I hooked a 6-8ft wave at Moneytrees, it walled up as far as I could see. I had so much speed I didn’t even know I could go that fast on a surfboard.
Luckily I had a highline as I approached The Ledge because as it hit  The Ledge I could drop down with the lip and I could hear and feel the lip exploding just behind me. I got around the section and the wave slowed down for a second and after a cutback I had to put on my after burners again because the wave just walled up down the line again. I raced through Launching Pads and as the wave hit the reef at Speedies the lip just squared off in front of me. I had a split second to decide whether to pull in or straighten out. I straightened out and I still regret it to this day. I got worked, but I wonder everyday if I could have made it if I’d pulled in.

It was great to sit around at night sharing war (surf) stories with everybody. You always meet characters on these trips and you could listen all night to some of them. It seems that some people are permanently traveling around the world.  They normally work for 3-4 months and travel for the rest of the time. Their jobs include carpenters, lifesavers, fishermen, postmen and restaurant manager’s etc. They use these jobs as a ways to a mean, and that is to get enough money to travel around the world. They might not have big important jobs with fancy titles but they certainly have more fulfilled lives and are more alive than many, many people with big houses and high-powered jobs.

I had mixed feelings about leaving G-land because I did not want to leave this amazing place, but I was looking forward to seeing my family since I hadn’t seen them for a month.
The trip back was an absolute nightmare. Yes, even donkeys don’t bump their heads twice on the same thing, but we went and we bumped our heads again by returning over land.

There were 2 busses and 1 bakkie for the boards. I tried to get in with the driver that I thought looked the most responsible. I got into the front seat of this taxi/bus so that I would have a better view. We set off.  About 10km down the road we started slowing down and I thought that we were stopping,  but we just kept on drifting towards the bushes. I looked at the driver and he had glazed eyes and drool was running out of his month and he looked like he had just been sparring 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I jumped over grabbed the steering wheel and got us back onto the road. I had to pull the handbrake to stop the bus. The driver was just sitting there with glassy eyes with the drool running out of his mouth. Turns out he’d had some sort of a seizure.

He recovered after we tried to get him out of the car. Now he was as innocent as Jacob Zuma… “What did I do, I did everything right” After trying for about 20 minutes in vain to get the keys from this punch drunk innocent man we realized that he wasn’t going to budge. He wanted to drive come hell or high water and nobody was going to get the keys off  him. I promised the rest of the guys that I’d keep an eye on him.

The rest of the trip to the ferry was an absolute nightmare for me. I had to try to talk to the driver to try to keep him conscious and every time we slowed down or started turning I tried to grab the steering wheel. At this point we were ready to pay a 1000 dollars for the speedboat never mind 100 dollars. I was relieved to arrive at the ferry but decided to jump ship and to got into the other bus.

The driver had another seizure after we left the ferry. Another Zuma act and another 30 minute argument, but this time nobody was prepared to risk their lives with this guy. Eventually they got another driver and the fleet was on its way again. The rest of the way was reasonably uneventful for Indo with some beautiful landscapes and rice paddies along the way.  We were relieved when we finally arrived back in Kuta.

My trip was epic, but I think I picked up a serious bug on my travels. The diagnoses is: Travel Bug! The only way to cure it is to do lots of traveling. I suppose I’ll have to start planning soon…

Morocco By Maurice Lazarus

I have been quite interested to find out more about this fairly unknown surfing destination, and when I heard that a friend of mine was on his way to Morocco I did not hesitate to ask him to write a little story and to give us some facts and info on this great North African surf destination.
I’ve realized that Morocco could be an excellent way to get some good surf during our summer flat spells. Various consistent world-class point breaks, mild water temperatures, good food, and cheap living are making Morocco more and more popular.


Morocco with its 3500 kilometers of coastline offers a surfer many different options. On its Atlantic side, rocky bottoms alternate with sand ones, reef breaks with beach breaks for surfers to express their art of surfing. In comparison to any point break known in the surfing world, Morocco is right at the top of the list.
I have been there several times and can vouch for that. Leaving France by car heading south  past the spots in Portugal/Spain & France one will find the best points breaks by crossing from Algercerias to Tangiers and heading south along the coast. The water is nice and warm, around 25° during the summer, air temp mid 30’s, requiring only baggies and a rash vest. In winter from Oct to April the water is still fairly warm so you will only need a 3/2 suit. The air temp during winter averages around 21°C but the nights can get chilly.

Most of the breaks found are right-handers, with the occasional beach break, but left-handers are scarce. The best time for the swell to hit is from August to April when the swell moves down from Europe. I surfed mainly the breaks further south of Essaouira, the area where the wind really pumps and makes it a paradise for kite surfers and windsurfers. Do not travel without your kite surfing kit to these spots. You will get plenty of good wind and some great kiting.

Heading south from Essaouira along a super coastal road, one comes across a sign showing Immessouane. The road to the coast was built by the Chinese along the local fishing port to transport the daily catch to the markets in the cities. There is very little else to be found at the spot except great waves, a local surf shop called Momo Surf Shop, a surf school, a bed & breakfast run by one of the local surfers (costing around R200 per day for half board), and few “restos” (restaurants) but don’t forget your fly swatter. Absolutely NOTHING to do when the surf is flat but it can be great for kiting..
The main beach has an excellent right hand break called Cathedral, a few beach breaks and then a long right hander perfect for long boarding, allowing an easy 2 min ride on perfect days.

We ate fish (fresh) at a local “resto” with salad and green tea and the bill came to R250 for 6. Worth a short stay…

Next stop Tamri, a small village about 35kms further south heading to Taghazout. This is the center of the banana plantation, so stock up for the trip further south. Tamri has a real nice beach with some good beach breaks and you can always find swell when the other spots aren’t working, especially if you are staying at Taghazout.

Driving down from Immessounne to Tamri, you will be flagged down by the local goat keepers trying to get you to take pics of their goats in the Argan trees eating the leaves. This is a common sight as the goats love the leaves and by eating them, knock the nuts off the tree which are then collected and crushed to produce the famous Argan oil only found in Morocco. The oil is used both in cooking and on the body and is very healthy.

The next 35kms, you will drive past Boilers, Mysteries, Killers, Hash Point and Anchor Point. These spots are all super right-hand breaks that cook when the swell hits. Finally you’ll reach the famous Taghazout surfing village with restos, surfshops and every Moroccan surfer trying to make a quick buck, by either trying to rent you an apartment or selling you a local T-Shirt.

All point breaks get rather crowded as most surfers stay at Taghazout and walk to the spots. However, as soon as it gets gnarly, 6ft and over, it becomes much less crowded as Moroccans won’t venture out, too worried about their precious boards.

Taghazout is a dirty village, the locals having no respect for cleanliness with garbage everywhere, so make sure you take your immodium tabs, drink no water from taps, only bottled water. Renting an apartment here will cost you around R35 a day without food. Eating out at one of the local restos, a chicken Tagine for 2 costs around R80 without drinks. No alcohol is available. I would strongly suggest that you head on down a further 5kms to the village of Sourer and stay at the Hotel Littoral. A single room with half board will set u back R300.There are regular local busses that will take your board, so don’t be worried about transport back and forth to the spots. Best of course is a car, but this can get expensive, count on Euros25 per day, unlimited kms.

Aourir, the next village after Taghazout has a local outdoor souk(market) once a week on Wednesday that is great to visit and from the hotel you can also walk 2 kms to the local beach which has two spots, Km16 and Km14, a left-hander and right-hander that pick up the swell when most other spots are small. I can also recommend a bus ride to Agadir to visit the main souk there.

If you do decide to rent a car beware of the local drivers, they have to be the worst ever, no respect for solid lines for overtaking, also beware, no speeding through the village if you don’t want a fine, all the cops have cameras and they’re everywhere.

In Morocco, you find not only superb waves and wind that you can surf and kite all year long,  but also a magnificent back country that you can explore after your watery exploits and a local population that welcomes visiting surfers.

Quick Facts

Getting there:
You can reach Morocco by air. The air fares to Agadir can be quite reasonable.

Customs:
It is relatively easy to get through customs but it could take a while if other planes landed at the same time.

Your surfboard is not recorded on your passport, so you can easily sell your board at the end of your stay. You can normally get quite good prices for your boards. Secondhand long boards sell for approx Euros600, and you can get about Euros400 for short boards.

Take enough wax to keep you going for your whole trip because wax is expensive and cost, Euros10 for Mrs. Palmers.

Take a repair kit because there are plenty of rocks that can damage your boards, and believe me you don’t want your board to be repaired by the local board shop.

Travel:
Roads are quite good, and mechanics are cheap and fast in case of breakdown. There should be also good rentals and you can find cheap hotels, especially near the medina’s of the towns.

Language:
French, is the official language along with Arab, and in the south Spanish is more common.

Season:
October- April.  Winter is the most popular season with consistent swell, clean surf and warm air and water. Spring and autumn have similar conditions with hotter air and fewer crowds. Summer can have flat spells.

Cost of living:
Morocco is pretty cheap. Alcohol is hard to come by, but you can probably get some beers in the Large supermarket in Agadir. This will make your trip even cheaper because the lack of booze will force you to save some money instead of boozing it up during the flat spells.
Attention:
Always be careful, theft is common like in every other third world country, and doing drugs here is a very risky past time since the Moroccan prisons aren’t that good and they’re full of western people who came there to experience the Moroccan hash.

Positive
*  Powerful Surf
*  Cheap living
*  Uncrowded beaches(but it gets real crowded at the spots close to Taghazout),better to have transport to get away from the crowd)
*  Great Food
*  Superb point breaks
*  Natural Beaches
*  No Localism
*  Plenty of secret spots
*  Surf is Very consistent

Negative:
*  Getting sick from the food, so make sure to take some Immodium and only drink bottled water
*  Hard to get around if you don’t have a car

Surf spots

Taghazoute Area

Taghazoute is a small town about 30 minutes north of Agadir. You arrive at Agadir airport and immediately. Be warned, you will get hassled the moment you get out of the airport. Take good care of your bags, since everybody is very willing to grab them out of your hands, only to return them after you have given them some dollars or euro’s. Other than that experience, the locals are chilled and not too aggressive in their sales approach.

Taxis from the airport will take you to Taghazoute.
Finding a place to sleep is pretty easy. You can find a big apartment overlooking Hash point, it with 4 beds for about R350 per night for the entire place. Nothing fancy…

The surf spots around Taghazoute: Banana beach

South of the village is Banana beach a mediocre beach break that will suit beginner surfers or long boarders.

Panorama’s

This right hand point break can be find just when you drive into the town’s center. It only works well only mid tide, but even then it’s very sectioning. When the swell gets bigger the rip gets quite strong here, so you have to maintain paddling to stay in the right spot. Entry is best north of the break from a little cove just around the break, the current will take you to the line-up very quick.

Hash Point

This right hand point is just north of the town’s center. It can be good on its day. Entry is easy from a little beach.

Anchor Point

This quality spot that can show perfect lines is about 1 km north of Taghazoute town center. It breaks off a pier and can connect all the way into Taghazoute. This break gets seriously crowded, and the level of surfing here is high. The crowds and the fact that the take off area is small make this for intermediate to expert surfers only. Entry is either done by jumping off the rocks, or paddling in from the beach to the right, but then you have to beware of the strong current that can bring you very close to the pier/rocks.

Mysteries

Next to Anchors are several breaks that can be descent. This place works on the high tide and seems to pick up more swell than the other spots, but it will also start closing out over 5′. Entry is from the beach. Beware that it can be shallow at lower tide.

Killer Point

This is one of the best waves in the area. It’s about 3 km out of Taghazoute so it takes about 30 minutes to walk to this place. Once there prepare yourself for a long paddle to the line-up. It will easily take a fit surfer 10-15 minutes to paddle to the take off spot. The wave is a very long right hander, and on the right day it can be almost perfect. It picks up a fair bit of swell, and can hold waves up to 12′. Make sure you have a good leash, because from mid to high tide (when it’s best) there’s nowhere to swim to when you lose your board. The spot is supposedly named after the killer whales that are sometimes seen there.
Draculas

Seems to be the evil twin of Boilers,faster,heavier and handles bigger swells.Lying 500m south of Boilers watch out for the jagged rocks on
entering and even worse when exiting.

Boilers

Getting to Boilers takes about 25 minutes by car from Taghzaoute. Boilers are a right hand break, which breaks off something that looks like the remaining off a shipwreck. It’s a relatively short but fast and barreling type wave. It can be an evil wave and it break, faster and heavier as the swell gets bigger. Look for the vampire-teeth-like rocks 500 m to the south. Getting in the water can be a bit tricky since its best done from behind the big rock that is sticking out of the water, but when you are behind it you cannot see if there are any set waves coming, so assistance from the water or land is helpful. Booties will help getting out of the water since the rocks close to shore are sharp. This spot also picks up a lot of wind. The wind can be quite strong here while there’s hardly a breeze at Taghazoute only 20 minutes away. Definitely not a spot for beginners..

Immesouane

Long mellow rights wrapping into the well protected south facing bay,while several defined peaks grace the right point named “Cathedral”.
Highly consistent and sometimes crowded with longboarders.

The Kms

Several spots names after the number of kms from Agadir,The lefts are Km11,fast and tubular on the low tide,Km12 softer but beware of the boulders
in the shorebreak.

Tamri

20 minutes North from Boilers there are long stretches of beach that pick up most swell when all the other spots are flat. Getting in and out of the water can be tricky here like at boilers, since there are lots of very sharp rocks.

Further north you can probably find more breaks and the road along the coast is pretty good quality. South of Essaouira is some more surf spots but they are often blown out.

South of Agadir are more spots  like Tifnit, Sidi Rabat, Mirleft, Legziraand  Sidi Ifni and many more. It could really be worth the drive down south if you have the time to explore.

For any further info re the surf camp or surf taxis, hotel arrangements etc,<a href=”mailto: maurice.lazarus@gmail.com”> email </a> Maurice(Maisch) Lazarus

They offer a full service:

1 – Collect at airport in 4×4

2 – Hotel and half board ( Room with Sat TV,ensuite bathroom) and half board

3 – Taxis service back and forth everyday to surf spots  that are working

4 – Sightseeing when no surf

Price: Euros319 per surfer per week

Bali by Anton Fourie

What could have been a short 2-hour flight ended up in a whole day’s mission due to some bad travel arrangements. I flew to Singapore with the rest of the boat crew. We landed at 5.15pm and my flight to Bali was at 7pm. Our plane taxied about 10min to get to its spot and it took quite a while for us to disembark. I realized that I had a very good chance of losing my flight to Bali so I had to rush to the baggage area. The only problem with travelling with boards is that you have to wait forever for them to be released. I don’t know if they scan all the boards for drugs, but it always takes a long time to get them. I eventually got my boards at 6.05pm and had less than an hour before our flight left, never mind the check in. I was still in terminal 1 and my flight left from terminal 2. I had to run through the airport with a bag on my back, a bag on my chest and pulling an 8ft long board bag, which looked like it might have a body stashed inside it!

I had to take the Sky Train to terminal 2 and the people in the train were looking very strangely at me. You can imagine what they must’ve been thinking of this European man pulling this body bag behind him, looking very lost and confused. I mean I look lost and confused at the best of times, now just imagine what I must look like when I’m really lost, dazed and confused. As the doors opened I ran through the terminal like the cops were after me. When I got to the check in counter the line zigzagged with about 200 people in it. I realized that I would not make my flight if I just stood in the line.  I saw a lady standing at a closed counter, so I put on my best Bambi face and asked if she could help me. She obliged and I made my flight with about 3 minutes to spare. I was finally on my way to Bali !

Bali –  what a great place – never a dull moment,-fantastic people, -interesting -sensory overload.
Bali for the surfer is a place with lots of different waves and lots of different surf spots for all sorts of skill levels, but it can get very crowded.

Tom and Brad picked me up from the airport and they took me to Bingin were we stayed at Stickey’s place for the night. Bingin is a beautiful place but to get down to the bottom is quite a mission and even worse of a mission to get back to the top.

Being on a boat for 2 weeks has a weird effect on you because it feels like you are still rolling even when you are on land. Waking up at night was the worst, since I was rolling so much I had to support myself while walking around during the night. This carried on for about 3 nights. The surf in Bali wasn’t great when we were there, but we were here to meet up with some friends and then to head to G-Land. We made the most of the windy and small swell conditions and kept ourselves busy with some sight seeing and some other amazing experiences, like going to the Uluwato temple to watch the Kecak and Fire dance. If there is one thing that I would recommend a Bali’s first timer to do, then it would be to go and watch this.
Why? Coz it’s a blend of culture and breathtaking scenery.

The dance is a traditional Balinese dance, in which hundreds of men dance and shout in harmony. It has a storyline, and with the help of a leaflet that’s provided, it’s easy to follow.
The costumes were quite amazing and the dancing extremely interesting. All went well until they made a ring of fire around this monkey. Well it looked like this p-off ‘ed the monkey and he went bos. He started kicking these fireballs into the night sky.

He miss-kicked one and the ball of fire went into the crowd not to far from us. We thought that that was pretty radical and we were ready to block the next salvo from this crazy monkey. Luckily he got his kicking boots back on and steered the next flame balls harmlessly past the crowd.  I would recommend people to go and watch this; just take a fire extinguisher for your own safety!

Ubud was another place I really enjoyed. It has a mixture of very interesting curio shops, restaurants, arty shops, rice paddies and temples and all sorts of interesting people all intertwined in one amazing place. Definitely a place you can take your girl friend or your wife. This will earn a lot of brownie points and you can work on the relationship when the swell is flat and you have been surfing way too much.

We picked Gareth up, the fourth member of our party, at the airport and stayed in Kuta for the next two days.
Kuta = Shopping , surfing , maze of roads , party, party, party.
Yes. This is the Sodom and Gomorra of Indo. In the day it has a very nice relaxed vibe, but it’s at night when all the fun starts in this town. One night we hit the town and what an experience! Our final stop was at the Bounty, just one of the hundreds of places to party in Kuta. Things warmed up and we were dancing with everything from wasted Aussie and American surfers, indo prostitutes, Transvestites and techno heads around us. At first we were drinking drinks out of normal glasses but at the end of the evening we were drinking cocktails out of glasses that resembled fish bowls. We had a great time but when the “he/she” started to get a bit too friendly we decided to duck.

On our way back to our hotel Brad wanted to try to get all four of us, plus the indo guy, onto a scooter. Needless to say that this was very silly and wasn’t successful. Only the indo families can pack 5 people onto a scooter. A bit further down the road in one of the lanes a lady on a scooter stopped next to us and tried to grab Tom and get friendly with him. After his cold shoulder treatment she turned her attention to me. We decided to get out of there like quick! The evening took its toll since it took a while to get Tom and Brad up to speed the next morning….
We spent the rest of the day surfing Uluwato.

The waves were clean and 3ft. It’s quite an awesome feeling climbing down the stairs and paddling out of the cave of this mystic place. The only problem is that Uluwato gets very busy. After my surf I had an amazing banana pancake and massage from some ladies at the Uluwato warung.

A good way to get around Bali is to rent a scooter. It’s safe and heaps of fun. We rented bikes after returning from G-land and we were like kids.
We were scooting around the island and had so much fun. We raced around the maze of roads in Kuta and then went surfing at Uluwato. I even got stopped by an Indo cop and refused to pay a bribe. I thought he was going to arrest me and put me in jail but eventually he let me go and I realized that these schmucks were just out to make a quick buck for themselves out of the tourists. I was probably stupid because I could still be on an all expenses paid holiday in an Indo jail, and believe me these jails make Pollsmore look like Sun City.
After hanging out at Ulu’s we went back to our hotel and prepared for the next leg of our trip…G-Land

Mavericks Part II by Chris Bertish

Being part of the opening ceremony is a privilege not given, but one that is earned by dedication, commitment and plenty of sacrifice.

So before the opening ceremony I speed South and rack up add another quick 1000km’s on my good old rental car to visit Shaun Alladio-K38 PWC Rescue guru. The lady is a legend in big surf rescue and training and we spend time updating training and having some good laughs with her five year old Shania, before saying our goodbye’s and driving North to catch the Opening Ceremonies of the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational, which is always a special ceremony and good party.

The ceremony starts off with the best in the world’s big Wave riders invitee’s standing in their suits, with their boards behind each other, while Jeff Clark, friend and contest Director says a couple words in honour of all the past big wave riders & watermen who have lost their lives riding the mountains we come to challenge and try our best to tame.

Jeff runs though each rider in the row of big wave riders and says a couple of words. To be a part of this is such an honour, most people will never quite understand. To be standing there, part of this unique and special group of internationally recognised big wave legends is such an honour and privilege.
Chris and Brock Little

A privilege not given, but one that is earned by dedication, commitment and plenty of sacrifice. To be standing there amongst so many of your childhood hero’s and be part of the elite group, a big wave brotherhood is one of the most amazing feelings in the world, knowing that you’ve finally made it, earned that spot and it makes everything and every hardship you have ever had to face and overcome worth it, like it was nothing.

We all paddle out and join hands in a big circle out in the water and Jeff says a blessing and everyone says a couple of words in respect of being part of this special place, ceremony and being part of this truly unique group that get to charge these incredible waves out at Mavericks every Winter.

The ceremony finishes and by chance a couple waves are breaking so we all paddle out and share a couple together, howling and hooting like little happy school kids at a party.

Everyone meet up afterwards for drinks and dinner at the heat selection party, where the heats get randomly drawn, which is always a good laugh.
Round 1 Heat

My heat gets drawn…Twiggy, myself, Zach Wormhout, Carlos Burle, Grant Washburn and Alex Martins. Holy smoke is that the final? No that’s the first round heat! This just demonstrates the level of competition. Every heat looks like a final, as you run through them. Well, two Saffa’s in the same heat, perfect, that means two Saffa’s that are going to have to be going through to the Semi’s and so the party begins and goes on late into the night.

When this crew gets together, it always gets festive to say the least…

The swell ended up being even later than forecasted and only arrived Friday during the night, but Saturday blessed us with flawlessly glassy 12ft conditions under warm, blue sunny skies. Thirty surfers in the line-up, very possibly more, all sharing waves and having way too much fun in epic, unusual, glassy, warm winter conditions…

I surfed for a couple hours with the boys; mostly going left at Mavz, as going right and being the deepest is not a good thing when you get stuffed, not able to bottom turn, because you have four people on your outside.

Tweaking my knee trying to avoid another rider I knew it was time to go in, so I got a late drop and rode it through the inside bowl, while seeing it learching I pulled up high and got barrelled off my pip and just as it clam-shelled I snuck out getting clipped as I snuck through the front of the lip, laying back and re-gaining my balance, stoked, smiling and feeling the energy & stoke of what being here is all about. I rode it in…Having a special ace up my sleeve. I pack up my board, try to convince a couple of friends that I know a wave that will be 12ft and cranking, but no one believes me, so pack in a burrito and head south at high speed, knowing a wave that I surfed solo a couple of times before, which might be cranking!

Just under two hours later I am pulling into one of the most exclusive golf courses on the planet and home to one of the best big wave spots on the planet! Tow surf waves, wrong! Best paddle waves in the world…I pull into the car park and watch a 12-15fter hammer down the point…

Overwhelmed by stoke, I suit up in and am walking down Pebble golf course and jump into the water in a matter of four and a half minutes. Of course there’s no one out…Only ever heard of one guy out there and that was Don Curry who took me out three years ago to paddle into a couple 15ft bombs, since then it’s been solo missions all the way.
Mavericks: Boardcam

I paddle out and score perfect gassy 12 feet waves, solo for an hour and half of bliss & perfection, before the sun sinks below the horizon. Only in America can you surf the top big wave spot with forty people and then drive an hour and half and surf just as big perfection by yourself. Magic!

The following day, Don Curry and I launch the ski and head 59km’s down the coast to surf some secret spots, while taking in the breathtaking Monterrey Bay scenery.

The next day there are small waves at Mavericks and after wiping off the cobwebs a weary few paddle out to share some waves together Twig, myself, Washburn, Greg Long and Frank Soloman.

The next week is filled with lots of training in the pool, acupuncture and shock treatment on the knee with a forecast for a big swell on the horizon and some super fun Stand up paddle sessions with Jeff and friends..

With the forecast looking good for the 17/18th Jan, everyone starts getting amped and the energy and rumours start circulating about the contest possibly running on the Fri 17th.

As news travels the frenzy begins and the hype escalates to a mad, overwhelming barrage of phone calls and predictions, which have everybody frothing at the prospect of the event running under unusual, warm weather, blue skies and possible perfect conditions.

To not get caught up in all the hype and frenzy, when this what you have been building up to and working towards for the last couple of years is near impossible and so the emotional rollercoaster ride continues.
Mavericks: Explode!

By the 16th, the contest is on, no it’s not, the bouy readings are big enough, no they’re downgrading after a day of sitting with Jeff while hearing him dealing with over fifty calls to media and forecasters as he was making the final call, I thought I would have to head to the nearest psychiatric ward to be admitted, cause I thought I was going over the edge from the anxiety.

At the end of the day, the high pressure persisted off the coast and stopped the storm system from strengthening, so the contest was not called, which was a huge disappointment for many of us, but it was the right call and it meant that there would still be great waves at Mavericks over the weekend, just not 20ft thundering Mavericks (40ft faces).

I come back just in time on Monday the 19th, for a small swell and a free Go Pro camera from the contestants’ pack, to mount it on my board and paddle out and score some sick footage and great, fun waves at Mavericks, while getting the first ever onboard Mavericks surf footage… A good day!

And as the swell dies and trip comes to a close, as the forecast looks weak for the next two weeks, work back home beckons and the responsibilities of life catch up with me. With the rands running low, our currency not our best friend and very little swell on the horizon for the next couple weeks it’s time to look at heading home…and with the contest on 24 hour notice, the journey doesn’t end here.

Every time the phone rings, it could be that call over the next two months…The contest status is green light…get your ass over here, were on! I’ll have to drop everything and run, be on the next flight back over here, to charge another bomb and fly the big wave flag for my homeland…because you don’t miss the chance to live your dreams when you get this close..This is life, live it, love it, embrace it. Live every moment and have no regrets!

Stay tuned…Chris Bertish out!

Seal Island & Whale Rock

Chris Bertish is unsound, a very sick puppy. Unhinged some might say. One of South Africa’s highest profile big wave surfers has made a name for himself by consistently pushing the envelope.

Not content to take off late, backdoor sections as big as suburban homes and pull into huge gaping close-out maws, Chris also likes to be the first oke to do something. Remember he was the first guy to paddle into Jaws / Peahi in Hawaii and the first to paddle big Ghost Trees in California. He pretty much single-handedly re-established modern big wave surfing in the UK when he paddled out at the Cribber to catch some close-outs, and made the front page news. Then he was the first guy to catch a wave on an SUP at Dungeons.
Chris Bertish – the first guy ever to SUP Whale Rock (next to Robben Island)

He tells me he got into the barrel and tried to touch the roof with his paddle but he couldn’t reach. Then it closed down on him. His pioneering big wave pursuits have led him as far as Easter Island and as close as Whale Rock, off Robben Island. Always looking for something new to ride. Well that’s Mr Bertish.
Chris on a fair size wave SUPing Dungeons. Picture credit : Craig Kolesky

On a resent big swell Chris out did himself again and did his most daring (stupid in his own words) and probably the most dangerous surf ever by any surfer in the world by surfing some waves at Seal Island in False Bay. After surfing some dodgy, lumpy Dungeons bombs in the morning Chris and a couple of nervous mates raced across the Peninsula and went to check out a couple of waves on a particularly dangerous triangle of pinnacles just South of Seal Island.

Home to what local shark expert Chris Fallows believes is the most active Great White breeding ground in the world. It is the home of the biggest great white sharks in the world with sightings of 6m plus sharks being very common in this shark ally. It is also one of the few places in the world were great whites have adapted their hunting skills into the very spectacular and scary breaching. This is where the shark patrols the deep waiting for the seals OR SOME SILLY SURFERS to swim past the top. The shark will then speed to the unsuspecting prey and hitting it with so much force and energy that the shark breaches the surface, flying like a Jonty Rhodes through the sky with its pray in its mouth. The seal or surfer will have virtually no chance of survival after being hit so hard.
Breaching Great White

Anyone who got wind of the idea, tried to talk him out of it. Not because the waves were particularly dangerous. The waves were inconsequential really. It was all about Johnny Longfin. While they were doing a recce of the first spot they saw a “fish” with a 3 feet fin chasing two terrified seal pups right in the channel where the one wave would end. This is were most of us would have developed some serious flu, knee injuries, or even Tuberculoses, but not Mr. Bertish. They gave the spot a break for twenty minutes and went to check another reef breaking close by.This second spot was a left aptly named Bertie’s Landing.
Ledgy left… to die for?

This wave slabs up and bends around a gnarly exposed rock slab and breaks very hard with evil intent before it dissipates in the deep water. Chris was the only one to get towed into this heaving beheathen with none of the crew wanting any part of this evil beast.
Chris pulled in. Notice how short the tow rope is.

Chris got 3 or 4 before calling it quits and they headed back to the other reef with a more realistic A-frame peak. They dubbed this wave Sharkbait. In order to minimise their time in the water, Chris put three big loops in the tow rope and basically launched from the back of the ski.
Staying under the lip might just be the safest place in this hostile environment.

Chris got slung into five or six breasts before trying to convine tow partner Dave Smith it wasn’t that sketchy, with a nervous laugh! After four or five waves heaving over that slab, Dave had had enough…Stop, stop, no more..I think I’m going to have a flatline my heart’s beating so fast..Enough..So we called it quits and called it a day…Any surf out here when you come away with your tow partner and all limbs still attached is a good session!

On hearing the news that people had been surfing out there, Chris Fallows was surpised to say the least. According to him, there’s so much shark activity in that triangle between the two waves and Seal Island that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. Basically the water drops off from the pinnacles down to about 30 meters. The big lurkers sit at the bottom until they spot some prey then shoot up the wall and launch vertically into the air with the poor seal in their jaws. No shark shield is going to stop that. That’s why the False Bay is famous for its breaching sharks. No need for medical experts on a trip like this in the future because if one of these top predators get a slice of a surfer he would not have much of a chance of survival. He will definitely lose more than a limb.
Chris checking if all limbs are there and very happy to see all in order.

But why, you may ask, would anyone be silly enough to surf at Seal Island?

“I’ve flown over it a couple of times and seen it break.” Says Chris. When planes come into Cape Town they bank around Seal Island on their final approach, offering the surf obsessed traveller a birds eye view of the wave potential of the lurky island. “I saw these slabs breaking about five years ago, and that got me thinking about surfing it, and now with the help of the PWC’s (jetski’s) we can explore more spots and discover and search for new waves to ride, which was never possible in the past.”

Of course, hindsight is an exact science. And now that it’s been checked off that expanding checklist of Chris Bertish surfing firsts, he’s quite sanguine about it. “It was particularly stupid.” Says Chris of his misadventure. “I don’t think I’ll be doing that again any time soon. I seriously shat myself out there.”” There are some waves out there, but they not fantstic and very exposed to the weather and the wind, but it’s just not worth the risks. You’re toying with your life out there, and it is just not worth the risk.

Watch this space for I am sure we will soon hear of more firsts from this wave warrior.