Mission Outer Island – Chapter 2
5:53am: As my crusted eye lids separate.. I’m almost thrown from my bunk. Below deck.. the boat thrashes about like a cork in a washing machine. A shaft of light shines through the doorway… someone’s dry reaching.. a sinister shadow drifts into frame.. there’s a deep ominous growl.. a voice sneers from beyond the darkness –“harden the fuck up”. Crawling out of bed I brace myself.. everything hurts… it’s the hangover from goddam hell… a punishment of my own making. Stumbling above deck.. I arrive to a room of bodies. Nyoman’s at the wheel… his weary eyes trained hard upon the GPS… I see we’re close.
He turns to me with a strained grin – “ombak besar Pak”. I notice he’s spinning the wheel.. fast & hard – I question his action – he speaks in a trembling tone – “steering no good boss”. Looking to starboard… I see dawn’s first light as it illuminates the horizon… swell lines fold up the coast – limitless – powerful – immense. The day reveals its first colors… taking its first breath. Tim slips by with that one-eyed grin – the Raja’s top wing man. The clouds continue to glow.. a soft pinkish hue merging into turquoise. Making my way to the boat’s rear… the trade wind releases me… the brisk salt air like medicine to my head. Max approaches with that strained expression – “seems like we’re going in circles mate”… looking at the raja’s wake… I concur… but am too shattered to speculate further. Back at the wheel I quiz Nyoman… its his first jungle mission… our anchorage unknown… no one’s gonna wake Captain.. least of all myself. Passengers begin to emerge… the smell of Bali coffee wafts. Without hardly any sleep… I can’t make conversation… need to disappear.. retreat to my cot… the universe must carry on without me.
7:28am: There’s stillness… our anchorage provides calm. Those extra hours saved my life. Up on deck the sun beats down.. sparkling abstraction upon the Indian ocean. The boat’s quiet… just the Captain and crew. We’re moored close to shore.. sounds of the jungle echo… this is Indonesia.. the real one… the one of a million years. Looking up the point.. there’s a playground of chalk lines… I see distant figures… the posse’s already hard at it. Strolling the empty vessel.. my humanity returns – the mind’s still ragged… but there’s a light. I pop some Panadol.. rustle a coffee and ascend to the flight deck. Upstairs Max is shooting off a few shots. As we chit-chat the reprisal of last night’s insanity begins pulsing back up my neck… I gotta get wet… not later.. but sooner.
8:12am: As I dive into an emerald ocean.. there’s that overwhelming sense of joy… the water’s purifies and purges all past discretions. Floating on my back.. I drift… meditating deeply.. gazing beyond the clear blue skies. If heaven actually exists… I hope it’s like this. Looking toward the beach… I see a familiar craft – it’s the Ironman’s vessel… moored just down wind from the Raja. Squinting to the immediate reef… I see a broad-shouldered outline threading its way across an immaculately polished wave. This is where I need to be… smaller than up top – overhead – easy. As I begin paddling – not more than 100 meters – something’s wrong. The tonsils begin sweating… I know this sensation.. it’s all too familiar. As I lean across my board… the first of 3 gut-wrenching motions commence… discharging litres of nastiness in every direction. I finally collect myself.. as the thought bubble reads – “never again…. NEVER!!”. Finally at the line up… I see Ironman chatting with his crew – Wade the oil rigger & Dave. I know how it is… these fellas like space… anyhow.. I’m bearly half mast… so sitting wide is perfect. Eventually nods become conversation.. and the man starts discussing the reef. As I listen.. I remain overwhelmed by the raw beauty of the shoreline… there’s just no evidence of humanity. This is the Indonesia so many yearn… the pure essence of that utopian island dream. This is the reason… the mythology… and it’s real.
12:25pm: Onboard the conversation’s thick with surf talk. The boys took on some solid slabs this morning – but it looked kind of rough & ready for my money. Tim got nicked by a sneaker bomb… leggie snapped… lost his board… got swept – survived the bone yard – made it back out – a solid effort for a bloke of 62. Gazing up the reef… the blond salt-crusted Rodney was still outside… hard at it. It’s impressive that a guy in his mid 50’s could spend 6 hrs straight surfing anything and everything that came his way. As the younger fellas threw down a few Bintangs with lunch – I stuck to the water. Laying up deck – two jaffles under my belt.. I was more than stoked with my renewed state – for the rest of the voyage – this was my new diet. Suddenly I felt the need to be horizontal – only 4 hrs sleep since the mission started – it was time for another retreat to the sanctuary.
5:48pm: Tim’s in the galley earning his keep… prepping tonight’s feast. The Captain’s announced its ‘Steak-ala-Pearl Harbour’. I never figured the dish – until I understood it was a surprise. Passing the stern… I spy a few still surfing the end section… Bol and the deckies prep some fishing tackle… others lay about fondling smart gear and gazing surf-porn. I grab the nylon string and shoot up to the bridge. Up top there’s a band of gangsters letting the sunset blaze into oblivion – I steal a corner and start cranking some fusion delta. The sultry blues underscores the scene.. a full psychotropic wonderland… an afternoon glow.. radiating it’s light upon the prehistoric shoreline…the warm offshore tickles my neck. Like an old shoe… this comfort fits forever – a rattan dream state… of absolute freedom… unlimited. As the sun slips beyond and the light fades away – my eyes finally believe… what I always knew was true…
To be continued…