Neil Croft, Philip Doyle, Gareth Grant, Martyn Grant, Bryce Warburton, Michael Fawcett
The Westerlies and weather were upon us as we headed into the wild sea for our first charter of the 2004 season. I was glistening with fresh paint and clean decks; even had a prototype beanbag plonked amongst the old 'had their day' deck mats. The crew was back to their usual smiling, welcome aboard selves, the Captain's organizational stress seeping away, B was bouncing and chirpy as ever, and the passengers stoked to be escaping to a slice of paradise.
Straight into the end of a fairly lengthy low swell period. Small muddled up waves to wet the appetite. The water was warm, the reef cuts minimal, and life as we all knew it was grand.
Day 2 dawned as my anchor hit the sand in an empty keyhole. The swell had hit and the waves were quite literally - doing it! Perfection, Indo style. I witnessed some amazing barrels as the waves encompassed the surfers. A good morning with reef cuts all round. I don't mind blood on my decks, just don't bring sand aboard.
Gareth, the only natural footer amidst the passengers was in heaven and kept babbling something about the best surf of his life. Come to think of it, so did the goofy footers. Most of them were smashed (normal at this break). Phil broke a board. But they kept going back for more. The captain surfed for 5 hours in answer to one of the most asked questions of all time; 'do you get to surf with us?' He too was babbling something about cleaning out the cobwebs. The radio was firmly in the OFF position.
It was a long, tiresome, lovely, lonely day.
The next few days cemented the surfed out feeling at a little left that just kept peeling. More waves than you could poke the bow of your board into. Minimal friendly crowd of blokes off the Mangalui joined us. The Westerlies clearing as the cyclones, Fay and Oscar, smashed the sea to pieces further South.
Phil came unstuck in the pre dawn patrol and 3 stitches were inserted into his noggin. Mike, the pom found his feet and began to enjoy surfing over coral. Neil, the old bastard of the troupe, stayed out for 6 hours showing the younger guys what stamina is all about. Was it the surf-starved existence in Darwin that caused his high wave count? Na, the bloke just loves it. Bryce began tapping into the power of the waves and by the end of day 4 he sat there sipping a Bintang supremely stoked to be away from the Sydney beach breaks. Marty just kept laughing with his expletive, 'its all bloody good'. Phil, also from Darwin, was surfing the same day as the stitching incident. Is there something in the beer up there?
The weather turned magnificent and we cruised here there and everywhere. Blue skies and starry nights. My new 4-blade prop pushed me through calm seas. Apparently there were other boats around, but when we surfed, we were alone. Relaxation at its finest. Unfortunately, there was one shitty moment on the trip·.big bad Bryce broke the back out of the dunny. A crack in the porcelain that had all and sundry in some precarious morning balancing acts for the last couple of days!