The Captain’s Tour – Chapter 2
The Universe begins...
The conditions are supreme as I recline upon the upper decks. The sea is velvet, the winds light – it’s the ‘Morning of the Earth’. I watch in awe as the moon sets beside some ghost-like volcanoes – there’s faint purples, pinks and soft yellows. We’re almost halfway to our first anchorage, an isolated bay far from the civilized world. Tim appears like a phantom through the hatch, he looks at me and smiles. Silently we enjoy the tranquility of our surrounds; that limitlessness sense that anything is possible. As the Raja sways into the swell, the engines hum their signature tune – it’s a gentle meditation. The sun slowly appears, the volcanoes begin radiating; it’s the first day of our adventure and it holds much promise.
Downstairs the saloon is busy with morning action. Chris makes coffee while Riley waits for Dad to conjure her favorite breakfast. Our Sumatran skipper ‘Arif’ is asleep on the rear lounge. He drove the entire night and is suitably bushed. Riley gets up and opens the freezer. She pulls out a bottle of water, it’s a block of ice. Lance tries to get the stereo going, I monitor the galley, waiting for my shot at some breakfast. Suddenly ‘Open up your heart’ comes through the speakers as the Captain appears from below deck. He’s looks around for his Marlboro reds. His morning program was pretty consistent – coffee and cigarettes.
I smell toast browning in the galley, I visualize butter and Vegemite. There’s only one small jar onboard – the one Lance got crucified for putting in the shopping cart – it’s not gonna last. I prepare to make my move.
Swell smashes against coral boulders as we approach land. The coast is a blend of dense jungle punctuated by pristine white beaches. Passing the first point there’s a small wave folding into the bay. It’s not my first visit here but it’s still exciting to return. Out back, the Captain casts his favorite lure while Tim sits shirtless in a chair gazing out to sea. Bayo the engineer and Donnie silently observe as the rod bends from the boat’s wake.
Back in the wheelhouse Lance is at the helm with one hand on his hip. He proudly steers us into the bay while occasionally fondling the instruments. You can see the aspiration in his eyes, perhaps one day he’ll have his own vessel. But with such power comes a certain kind of responsibility – its not for everyone; and it’s certainly not for me.
We’re anchored in the arch of the bay directly in front of a small right-hander. We’re completely alone… no sign of humanity… it’s wonderful to enjoy such peace. The winds aren’t favorable for surfing but the potential is obvious. I head towards the duck board and dive straight into the water. It’s liberating to wash away the grit and stink from that toxic town we left behind. As I float about, Lance swims over smiling through his shadow-edged teeth. “Just what we needed… a dose of paradise mate”. I chuckle in agreement.
Before long, the Captain fires up the ‘Kinder Laut’, his new 15 foot alloy runabout. The 60 hp outboard begins purring as he calls out, “who wants to go fishing?!” Lance and Tim decide to join, while the family and myself remain with the mothership. As I climb back onboard, I find Donnie preparing lunch, the Stones ‘Satisfaction’ is coming out of the speakers. I watch the Kinder disappear up the bay and decide to take a nap.
There’s the sound of board wax scraping out back. The Captain waits in the Kinder, the engine’s humming while Bliwit (the deckie) sits behind. Chris calls out – “Do I need to wear boots?!” – The Captain looks sideways – “only if you fall mate”. I jump in the boat with my Mitchell Rae custom, followed by Chris with his yellow 6’10. The rope is tossed, we push-off. Chris looks about – “What about Lance?” – the Captain doesn’t respond and takes off. As we speed away I see Lance appear with his board looking confused. I suspect this was a soft jab for Lance’s behavior earlier with the crew. The chain of command was clear onboard – the crew took orders from just one person. Any interference with protocol wouldn’t be tolerated.
As we arrive to the spot – half a click away – the winds were cross-shore and the sets shoulder-high. The tide remained low with a few exposed rocks. We dived in while Bliwit remained onboard.
Paddling towards the line up, nobody was in a hurry. When you surf with older crew it’s often a more leisurely pace. Besides, there was plenty to appreciate here, the bay was magnificent; a raw, untamed, virginal part of Indonesia – a land before time.
As the tide began pushing, the waves picked up. I was lucky to burgle a couple off the bat. This break had a full point break feel – like ‘Currumbin’ with a pinch of ‘Kirra’. The wave roped perfectly down the reef and was pure gold for us natural footers.
Eventually Chris asked about Lance. The Captain looked at him – “he can always use the rubber dingy”. No one mentioned it again.
Lance finally arrived looking a tad sour. He jumped in and paddled straight into a set wave. This was my first surf with Lance and he did fine on his Captain custom shape. It was also my first waves with Chris. This guy from South Carolina enjoyed drawn out turns and soft glides into the bowl. It served him well until he snapped a fin on the reef. The Captain followed his standard routine – paddling only for the biggest and the best, which were pretty rare.
After an hour, Chris and the Captain paddled back to the Raja for “exercise” they said. Then it was just Lance and myself. Almost immediately the waves spiked with the rising tide. A few overhead sets marched through, Lance took the first and I took the third. My wave allowed for a casual take off, followed by a leisurely fade into the pocket. I finished with a speedy section, racing it to end and kicking out doing my best Lopez impersonation. This set made my entire session.
The trades picked up on dark, so we moved to the other end of the bay for a more restful anchorage. Tonight’s meal was chicken potato curry, long beans and rice. Donnie was a star in the galley. He was efficient, organized and way better than the last fella. If he could sustain, he had a solid career ahead of him.
After dinner there were some beers on the front deck. I enjoyed listening to the Captain’s stories about ‘early days’ Indo. His alternate versions of those well-worn surf pioneer myths were always entertaining.
As the night’s conversation wound down, I took one last look at the stars above the bay – it was spectacular. This was the universe, nothing else existed. The boat… this bay… the night… the stars. It was my world – uncomplicated – simple.
I was at peace.
I was home.