2011 Definitely cannot say it was our best ever. I guess it began on February 24th as I was waiting for the final call of GA724 bound for Jakarta ...
‘John Mcgroder. You are wanted at the boarding lounge’ . Shit, must have the times mixed up.. a second call as I begin making my way to the boarding gate. No-one is boarding and I begin to get a little nervous.. I make myself known and a stewardess gives me a concerned look and ushers me into the corridor and tells me I must ring home... something is up and I do not have a charged phone. She lends me hers. I get through, Belinda who is crying at the other end. ’What’s happened to my boys’ is my initial thought. As in all deaths, it is something you can never pick, never think about and never expect.
My brother, Paul had hit a tree whilst on his way to work that morning. He died instantly.
I had to lean against the window in that tube that takes you to the aircraft. Staring at all those planes moving around the airport. The irony that Clash had been the boy, as we were, when we began travelling, that had dragged me on all those past adventures. Surfing the planet. I had never really stopped. The fact that we were both on the road that morning, travelling in the early hours was not lost on my wife. That call could have gone either way.
Clash had been my icon. He was also a major player in setting up the Barrenjoey and our surf charter business. He loved his surfing, loved a Bintang, and loved life. Too soon, are the simple words to describe a death. Too soon for his wife and his 4 year old son to get to know the person that was so full of generosity and a cheeky misdemeanour. Valle Clash. You will not be forgotten.
February. On my way to Jakarta to sign papers that would have the Barrenjoey re-flagged into an Indonesian vessel. The government had brought in new rules stating that all passenger vessels, including surf charter boats, had to be Indonesian owned. Fair enough, it is their country and the foreign surf charter vessels had only paved the way into this industry. It was change the flag or move on for most of the western boats. This is our life. We cannot move on. The charters were lined up into another full year. Then Indonesian bureaucracy caught us in its sticky web. Even the Indonesian people joke about their bureaucracy. Jam karet, or rubber time, never rang so true in this case. Things slow down and paperwork gets shuffled back and forth. Confusing? I’ll leave that as my explanation into why Barrenjoey was not re-flagged in time for charters. What to do when everyone is expecting charters aboard the good ship Barrenjoey and you are not allowed to sail ...
We rang and we explained. Most of our guests were understanding and we accept those that were not. Most guys organise a trip like this two years in advance. Holiday leave, family leave, etc. It’s the trip they have been waiting years for. We adopted an attitude of ‘get them on another boat or camp’ just get them out there so they can have fun. That’s exactly what we did.
Thanks in this regard to Latitude Zero, Nomad, Aurellia, Moon Palikir, and Mikumba for helping out. More thanks to our passengers for understanding our situation. Also a big thanks to Brendan Darcy, our Captain/guide who looked after the trips in my absence.
We are now in November and Barrenjoey is 100% reflagged. I have moved the family back aboard while we oversee the maintenance. The conditions are sublime and the waves more than worth getting wet over.
I will let the photos tell their thousand words. At the end of the day, the surf still pumped and all had a ball. We are almost booked out for 2012. Early and late season deals still on offer. See you all soon.