“Signing on a mere two weeks before Mikumba was scheduled to depart, Danny Siudara (a.k.a. Slayer) walked me through the process and made me believe that this was going to happen. I have seen the images in surf mags of the Indo barrels for decades after leaving my “life as a surfer” in 1986 to make a move from Del Mar to Northern California. Surfing for me was now a once or twice a year event in So Cal during the holidays. Questioning Danny if this was right for a “48 year old knee-boarder in semi-retirement” he assured me that I could still pull-in with the best of them.
Fast forward to the end of 2 days of air travel and we arrive at the airport in Padang at sunset. Adam and his crew were there to meet us and the adventure was on. With our boards and gear loaded up, we were off to the Hotel Batang Arau. Through the darkness we endured a flat tire and finally made it to the Hotel where we were greeted by Scuzz and Christina, the gracious hosts. Christina made sure we were comfortable and ready for the journey that was ahead of us. After a quick bite and finishing up with the details, we left the Hotel for the drive to Mikumba. Once aboard Mikumba, we met the crew and settled our belongings into our cabin as we slipped anchor and motored into the black void of night – destination unknown. As a last minute member of the Cali posse, I was happy to be on this adventure with my brother-in-law Dan and his surfing bro’s Chris Dartland, Chris Murphy and Dax Billings. We got acquainted during the flights to Padang after first meeting at LAX, solidified by a 3 plus hour adventure at the wine bar in Singapore at 1:30 in the morning during a layover. Also aboard were two amazing surf dogs- Pete, currently teaching English in Japan and originally from Nova Scotia (surf nut) and an amazing athlete, and Joe, an immediately returning guest who was on the previous Mikumba trip and wanted more (having already endured some 100 plus reef reminders, cuts and gashes). I knew this was going to be good.
The Bintangs went down easily that night as we settled in for the adventure of a lifetime. We woke up the next morning to amazing waves, just as AK promised. The names of the many breaks we surfed mattered little to me. The reality that I was in Indo, and not only witnessing “perfect” waves but having the opportunity to surf them, was overwhelming. AK wanted to test our abilities, and when he called me into my second wave of the day, the joy of it all made me feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in the Mentawais. Having caught more waves that first session than I did all of the previous year, and they were killer waves, brought back more than just a stoke. Be it a Left or a Right, it didn’t matter to me because they were always scary fun. Over the next several days, I would briefly just sit on my trusty old Fish on the shoulder and be in awe of the beauty of place and time. Just being with a group of “surfers’, that surf lifestyle exemplified returned me to my younger days. One day in the tinny, I told AK that just being here, watching a perfect barrel- a combination of the right tide, wind and swell direction, this deep water focused energy meeting a reef was all I needed at that moment. I needed an adventure and I was certainly getting more than I had expected. Day after day- amazing waves, tolerable or minimal crowds in paradise, amazing snorkeling, nearly ideal weather, consistent fishing and great friendships. What more could you ask for?
Since I didn’t surf ever session, it took the formidable crew a while to understand who I was and why I was there if I wasn’t “surf crazy” like the rest of the boys. For me, surfing the unbelievable waves was a bonus. I was there to be with my Bro’ Dan, and to be on a boat, Mikumba. I am at my best aboard a racing sailboat, but this “pirate ship” was going to be just fine! The craftsmanship was of a time honored tradition, built in the Sulawesian style. The crew could see the serenity that Mikumba gave me: Warm Tropical waters with unbelievable clarity, sunrises and sunsets that just kept on giving, rain or star filled night skies and an appreciation of the little things that make the big picture more valuable. Some of my best memories were the times I had the crew to myself, while all of the rest of the boys were in the water.
These men of the Sea were amazing- Eddie kept the lights on, the beer cold and the engine and A/C purring; Sargent kept us in shape by dropping us close to the break from the “tinny”, but far enough that we still had a paddle to the line-up or back to the tinny which gave him such pleasure. He cleaned up behind us and made us feel at home; Tulong is such an amazing cook- always with a smile, he fed us three or four beautiful meals a day of the freshest food, spiced up just right. On the last night during the transit back to Padang, he served up the Wahoo I had caught earlier in the day three ways- sashimi, deep-fried and satay style, an absolutely killer send off. Why the hell are we going home again??? Ovi was a key crew member- always one step ahead of us, skills beyond belief and a great person to be around. I will always think of him driving the tinny, backing up in the corner so I could takes some amazing photos of the boys; Captain always carried a smile too- he would get us from point A to point B in style, with Mikumba swaying and rocking to the beat of an iPod jacked into the stereo system. On the final transit, he asked me if I wanted to drive, and I jumped at the opportunity to point Mikumba in the right direction. For us, the right direction included the spectacle of several pods of whales, swimming so calmly that AK, Dan and Joe dove in for a swim with these magnificent creatures. To say that the passage was surreal would be an understatement, for sure.
Then there was AK, Adam Kobayashi- his experience far beyond his years on this planet. He asked for our trust and he rewarded us daily with waves that memories are created from. He was always “straight-up” with us, even though’ sometimes this was confusing. I spent many hours with AK and the crew in the wheelhouse, after deck, salon or in the tinny. I can’t imagine the trip without AK as our guide, and I hope he will be the guide when we return. I’m sure of it- he gave us an amazing trip of a lifetime, until we do it again. AK, you better start planning now…
Returning to the real world was a non-cultural shock that I never expected. The transition from peace and serenity to reality is just not fair, in fact it fucking sucks. I want to thank everyone who had a part in this EPIC voyage, a trip of discovery, peace, serenity and life. The scenery, people and the children of Indonesia will always have a place in my heart, alongside the crew of Mikumba. Scuzz and Christina have fostered an incredible organization, and with Danny on this side of the equator making it smooth as glass, I can’t wait to go again. Maybe next time the Cockroaches will stay ashore!