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8/23/04

Woke to stormy seas, rain, and wind. Seems like the typical morning around here. We motor an hour or so south. Terry is seasick, poor guy. I think the hard partying he's doing every night might have something to do with it. We end up in front of a big island -- low, flat, and wide, kind of like Coronado. Tony says we're so far south we're no longer in the Mentawai chain. Andrew asks him, "Is this on any navigation charts?" Tony answers, "Maybe."

Paddled out at a shallow right-hander -- never did get the name. Got a few long barrels, but when one tube closed out, and I dove off, I took a shot to the ribs from my board as I tumbled. It hit me so hard that the skin split.

After lunch we surf a right-hander across the bay. Tony calls it Meat Lockers. It's way overhead -- 10- to 15-foot faces -- with big drops, but it's rideable and it's not shallow. The waves are big enough for a guy to stand straight up inside the tube. I got out my 7´2´´ -- been surfing one of the two 6´6´´s I brought up till now -- and paddled out. Lots of fun, but I got pounded a couple of times. We all got pounded. Sutherland got the barrel of the day but broke his favorite longboard. We surf three hours, then motor to a mangrove for a dinner of steak with peppercorn sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

8/24/04

Day four, I think. Losing track of the days. Woke to rain and wind and motored among the islands looking for surf. Hit a spot called McFright's Rights -- three to five feet and deep. The reef shouldn't be a factor. Mike and I were on it first, but the rest of the crew paddled out and the Indies Trader III showed up to spoil the fun. On one wave, I got held under a long time, started to panic a bit, couldn't find the surface. Got dragged down the reef. Then I lost my $25 hat.

Some guys are a little surfed out and are fishing today. Caught a bunch of "coral trout" and had fish tacos for lunch. Talked a bit with Mick and Tony -- total Aussie watermen and protective of these islands. Tony says it's supposed to get huge in a few days.

8/27/04

Been away from the journal and missed a few days. Toured around some mangrove swamps in the tinny one day. Doing lots of fishing. Got some fun surf, but we had to share breaks with one, sometimes two other boats. I think I'd be seasick if I didn't have the patch. (You put it on behind your ear and change it every two days.) Even with it, I get a little sick. The Indian Ocean is rough.

Patrick's been sulking and some days does not leave the boat. He can tell everybody's unhappy with him, but I don't think he's smart enough to figure out why. We watch DVDs in between surfs, play cards, backgammon, and eat.

8/28/04

We're still in the south end of the islands, but we're no longer alone. Other boats at every break. Tony knows what we want and we motor three hours or so north to "Thunders." It's stomping big -- 20- to 25-foot faces at times. I say, "Hell with it, I don't want to die," and I sit on my board in the channel out of danger. I saw Tim, who will paddle into anything, drop into a wave -- must have had a 30-foot face -- and make it to the bottom when the whole wave closed out on him. I thought, "I'm going to have to go save him. And I don't want to because I'll get hurt myself." But Tim made it up okay. His leash broke and his board washed up on the beach. A couple of crew members got in the tinny and raced to retrieve it.

A native guy in a canoe paddles out with a bag of shells to exchange. We give him some candy, soda, and a pair of shorts.

We end the day surfing a spot called Rags. When I saw how shallow the reef was, I understood the name. As we pulled up, Tony quipped, "Get out the suture kit," but somehow nobody got cut up. We decided it was like Ralph's [a break on Point Loma] on steroids.

8/29/04

Woke up to the sound of gigantic Thunders. We took a look at Rags, but it's not working. Tony hears over the radio that Macaronis, one of the most famous waves in all of the Mentawais -- it's in all the surf movies -- is off the Richter scale and there are only three boats there. It's a two-hour cruise north and, by the time we arrive, the place is packed -- 15 or 20 guys in the lineup, four or five boats bobbing offshore. Andrew, Terry, Mike, James, and I head to the right-hand break across the bay called KFCs. It's big -- 15- to 20-foot faces -- and sketchy. I got cleaned up while waiting for a set wave, and it was one of the worst hold downs I've ever had. I was bear-hugging my 7´2´´ and still going down. I decide to hang in the channel and watch Terry, Andrew, and James risk death. I saw Andrew catch the wave of the trip -- a barrel you could have driven a car through.

Across the bay, Macaronis is maxing out. Tony says it's the biggest he's seen in seven years. Most everyone is spooked and won't paddle out. But Mick comes in from Macaronis and says it's really fun, that we should give it a go. So we paddle out -- it's dropped size from the 20s into the teens. Got three or four good ones. At least I can say I surfed Macaronis.

8/30/04

Two more days. Nobody wants to admit it, but I think we're all ready to go home. Two weeks is a long time on a boat. In the morning, we spent three hours on a perfect right-hander breaking off a tiny island in the middle of the bay, with rides a mile long or longer. Lots of fun, but the day is crawling by.

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