Finally the winter patterns of the Indian Ocean are starting to light up again after a long break. As I wait for the sky to turn black and the winds to howl brining in the swell I can only reminisce on past adventures to keep me sane. It has been a long time between drinks and the tether of sanity is quickly wearing thin. Finding myself lying on my bed with my feet in the air strapped to my tow board pretending and imagining the feeling of flying across an enormous lump of ocean as everything goes quite, time slows down as you see the water draw off the reef, looking up as the wall of water starts to bend and warp across the shallow shelf. Aaahhh how I need some more heart in mouth moments soon.
June 2015- A few days I’ll never forget. Sitting by the computer staring at the biggest darkest blob on the weather maps. I knew we were in for something special. Hyped up to be the storm event of the decade (I think some even said century)… who knows they may have been right.
Thursday night, the night before the first day. Getting everything ready, boards packed, jet ski fuelled up, spare pair of underpants and a heap of toilet roll. Friday morning finally arrived after a sleepless, restless night high tailing it in the dark to the boat ramp in Gracetown with the worst rap music blaring pumping us up. It’s giant! Coming over the hill as first light hits seeing giant lines rolling through smashing into the coast, it had to be at least 20-30 feet out there.
After a frantic hurry getting the ski in the water Jake (the turtle) Harman and I sped out as fast as we could. We arrive in the channel at Cows being the first ones out we see a few giant lumps unloading and hear the sound like that of a jet taking off. I couldn’t wait another second. The clean, glassy, sunny conditions couldn’t have been more perfect.
Spending the next 8 hours trading waves and getting flogged with a bunch of friends. My last wave of the day was by far the biggest. Sitting waiting calmly on the bubble, arms dead and weak and feeling slightly delirious the horizon turned black as the ocean rose up in front of me. I’m deep and right in the spot just slightly under it, swinging late with a few hard stroked, jumping to my feet. Looking down it looks like I’m standing on top of an apartment building looking down. All I can think is I have to make this! Hitting warp speed with the board chattering under me I make it to the bottom and assume survival stance as the wash hits me. I get blasted a second later, getting rag dolled around I was just happy to make it that far.
Photo: Jamie Scott
Later that night we made the decision to head down the coast for the next few days of the swell, potentially leaving behind 30ft beats at Cows and hoping the gamble was going to be worth it after hearing The Right was going to be huge.
On the drive down we pull off into the bush to sleep the night, finding we had forgotten the tent resulted in another sleepless night, freezing cold and frost covered. Slipping into an icy wetsuit pre-dawn was not the nicest thing either. Frozen fingers, hand, toes and all the rest of it, eyes watering from the pain of the cold we eventually got into the line-up. It was next level ……. bomb after bomb exploding and people getting the biggest barrels I’ve ever seen. It was my turn to grab the rope. With a big set approaching the rope pulls tight and yanks me to my feet. From my view it doesn’t seem like that big of a wave but I could feel the water drawing like I had never felt before. It was sucking off the reef and I was slowly getting sucked up the face, just managing to hold on by the tips of my toes. Pulling off into the channel hearing the cheers I knew that it must have been a pretty good one. That one wave made the day frosty covered night all worth it.
Photo: Tim Bonython
Before I knew it Chris Bryan was convincing us to head down to Cyclops for the last day of the swell. With another long drive ahead we got on the road. Time slowly ticking by as the kms passed, roos jumping in and out of the road dodging death, kind of like what we were doing. The sky turning bright orange as the sun rose we hit the beach not really knowing what to expect. High tide and big swell there was just about no beach to drive on with the waves hitting the dunes. Chris hooning off ahead with no trailer on his car he managed to make it without too much trouble.
Trying to push our luck with the trailer we were starting to get bogged, the waves were just about lapping at the tyres. Usually no big deal but I had borrowed my step dads $80,000 car and I really don’t have that kind of money to pay him back if I lose it. The most stressful 30 minutes of my life so far, getting away with nothing but a minor heart attack we launched the skis and drove out to the islands to see a childhood dream come true.
Approaching this dry rock slab with half the Indian Ocean folding over, it was like nothing I’d ever seen. It was like time stood still every time a wave started to break. It was probably a terrible idea but I had to get one, Turtle had never really towed anyone in before so that made it a little scary. Trying to coach Turtle driving whilst getting towed into the scariest wave ever even seen was not easy. A few unsuccessful ones went by before we finally nailed it. Dropping down I could see the barnacles in the reef staring at me in the face wanting to tear my skin off the bone and hearing the lip slamming into the dry rock only meters behind me sounded like I was inside a jet engine. I wanted nothing more than to be in the safety of the channel sitting on the ski watching rather than being on the wave. That was the one and only wave ridden that day, it was more than enough to get the heart going.
Photo: Chris Bryan
Winding down with a counter meal and a pint at the Esperance pub reflecting on how crazy the last few days had been. Countless hours in the car, boxes on boxes of dirty servo hot chips and defiantly a family or 2 or roos that just escaped the impact of the bull bar. All we can do is wait and pray for another swell as big and adventurous as this one was.