The Captain’s Tour – Chapter 3
The afternoon sun blazes through the rear saloon. Light sparkles on the water as jungle sounds echo across the bay. The swell never arrived but no one seems to mind – least of all me. This sanctuary is sufficient therapy. I lay my head upon a cushion and drift into a dream. A dream where nothing else matters… a dream that is real.
The chain grinds as we pull up anchor. People scuttle about as the crew standby on the bow. Our time in this bay has reached its end. The Captain’s plan was to head north while conditions remained favourable. It was still a long way before we’d reach the ultimate prize; and every day spent somewhere else… was a day not surfing the best waves in the world.
As we pull out, I look back for one last glimpse. The sky was exploding… a blaze of sunset colours. I felt this familiar tickle up the back of my neck, the anticipation of something new – that sense of adventure.
In the rear lounge the surf film ‘Tubular Swells’ is playing. I’m joined by Tim and Lance. We’re all transfixed by these nostalgic images of Bali back in the 1970’s. The Captain appears as the ‘Get it on’ sequence begins. He looks at the screen with a smirk – “Who’s that young guy ripping”? There’s a few wise cracks as we watch a more youthful Captain tear up Ulu’s with McCabe. I ask about the board he’s riding – “Aww… that’s was a 6’8 ‘Stinger’… shaped by Ricky Neilsen”. The Captain tokes on his cigarette and grins – “…reckon I still surf the same”. He looks out the window and then disappears.
Next up the Gland sequence fades in. We all marvel at Lopez as he glides across a glassy backlit wave. I turn to Tim – “When did you first go Gland”? – “In 1982… with Bobby Radiasa.” – I then ask – “…and you didn’t want to visit before that”? Tim measures his response – “Well… it was pretty expensive in the 70’s… when Boyum was running it … before it got burned down”.
As the film continues, the smell of garlic wafts out of the galley. I turn away and look at the night sky, stars are everywhere. The boat heels into the swell as we push further out to sea. I can’t stop smiling… this is the life… the one worth living. I bow my head and give thanks.
As the festival rolls on, the Captain returns and grabs a seat. There’s a kite flying above a beach. “I remember that kite… it was my first day in Hawaii”. I ask the Captain if he competed during that Hawaii trip in 75′. He shrugs his shoulders -“nah mate… just went there to surf”. I ask how he made it over -“I washed a lot of dishes… and swept a lot of floors”. Suddenly Jackie D pulls into a massive barrel at Pipe. The Captain leans back – “Whoa… that’s heavy”. As the sequence continues the Captain stands up. He pauses before exiting and says softly while grinning. “…And now poor old’ Jackie’s back in Hawaii – waiting on tables”.
Most of the dinner plates are empty at our plastic table. Tonight’s menu was chicken hot-pot with Donnie’s interpretation of pumpkin soup. Lance gets up from his chair and begins clearing the plates, while Chris polishes off the rest of the chicken. Riley and Chrissie exit as the Captain asks for another beer. I gaze silently out to sea. Tim grabs the last slice of garlic bread. There wasn’t a lot of conversation at the table tonight – just that debate between Chrissie and Lance about parenting techniques.
Back in the screening room, ‘Five Summer Stories’ is playing to a full house. Suddenly a huge set breaks at Sunset. The Captain gives out a loud hoot. He turns to Tim – “You ever surf Sunset Timmy”? – Tim responds slowly – “Yeah” – The Captain asks – “How big? 15ft – 20ft?” – Tim thinks about it for a moment - “Aww… pretty big… I took a heavy wipe out on one wave… Peterson burned me”. The Captain’s eyes shrink – “Faarken Peterson”.
Eventually the Malibu sequence from 40’s 50’s begins, the Captain grumbles – “Ahh… this is the bloody boring part”. Timmy interjects – “But there’s some pretty good footage of Dora.” The Captain gets up off the sofa and disappears while we continue watching. I listen to the film’s stock narration as it drones on. I think how much I preferred the impromptu version.
As the marathon winds down, I enter the wheelhouse and find the Captain fiddling with the GPS. He moves to the electrical box and starts pulling out cables. I refrain from asking questions since it’s obvious something’s wrong. Bayo appears with a toolbox. The Captain gets up and walks towards me. He looks into my eyes and explains that the GPS plotter is busted. He walks towards the door with a strained expression – “I just spent a f@%rkin fortune fixing all this shit… f@%rkin joke mate”. He exists the wheelhouse and leans on the railing outside. I see the ember of his cigarette glowing – the mood is dark. Tim passes by on his way to bed. My eyes feel heavy, I need to sleep, but decide its better to hang about. I’m not a qualified electrician, but moral support wouldn’t hurt right now. Out at sea when shit happens, it effects everyone – destinies are shared.
I continue musing on the situation while the night sky sparkles, my eyelids need help. I get up and stumble towards the galley and search for some coffee. As I peek out the window, a dark silhouette lurks against the moonlight – I can’t see the expression but I know the mind.
Its gonna be a long night…