When Boat Trips Go Bad – Part 2

Interviews by Leo Maxam
Photos: Lawrence

Making friends, with Eric Geiselman

We were at Macaronis and the waves were shit. Matt Wilkinson and I had been drinking most of the afternoon and were pretty far gone. We decided it would be fun to paddle out right before dark – butt-naked and on boards with no fins. As soon as we got out, these Brazilian guys were giving us bad looks. We had seen them earlier in the trip. They were all massive and covered in tattoos, but they couldn’t surf and could hardly even swim, and every time one of them would come out they would always paddle around everyone in the lineup.

So Wilko bets me I won’t stuff one of these guys, and sure enough, the only real set of the night comes in right then and this huge Brazilian guy catches the wave. I didn’t even look back, I just dropped in as he’s going down the line, and I’m doing full spinners because I have no fins in my board. I thought I could pull it, but eventually I slipped and my leash wound up tangled in his. The guy came up fuming, screaming at me. I’m not sure if he was more pissed that I knocked him off his board or that I was naked, because I fully remember my ass cheeks bumping into his leg, credit-card swiping his shin.

Wilko tried to calm him down like, “Chill out, it’s shitty out here,” but just then a bunch of the guy’s friends, who were just as big as him, motored out on the dinghy. One of them jumps off the boat like David Hasselhoff and starts paddling straight toward us like he’s gonna kill us. I remember Wilko’s eyes got so big, we both thought we were dead. The guy started splashing us and screaming at us, and we just kept saying, “We’re sorry! We’re sorry!”

When we got back to our boat everyone else was already on a good one and we thought we were safe. Then the captain of the Brazilian boat comes over on the dinghy and tells us that his customers want to have a full-on brawl with our boat. Our captain and the photographer had to get on the walkie talkie to apologize and calm them down. It took almost an hour, but eventually, they straightened it out. Luckily it was the last night of our trip, so we never had to see those guys again.

Mike Losness’ bumpy ride home

When I was 17 I rode for Rip Curl and went on my first Search Trip to Indo. I grew up watching all The Search movies with Curren and those guys, so I was really excited to be a part of it. Our first morning we pulled up to perfect E-bay. It was six-foot, sunny and glassy. I remember listening to Moby on my headphones and feeling like I had found paradise.

The next day we went to Macaronis. Early in the session, I tried to do an air and when I came down I heard a pop underwater. It was so loud I thought I broke my leg. I ended up tweaking the ligaments in my ankle really bad. It was black and blue and so swollen I could barely walk. So I had to sit and watch perfect Macaronis all afternoon from the boat. I was shattered.

That night I was able to get on a boat headed back to Padang. It was filled with a crew of over-amped older guys from Long Beach. It was the last night of their trip and they were raging. They were determined to drink every last drop of Bintang left on the boat. I had nowhere to sleep so I had to hunker down with all my stuff in the corner of the rec room, which just happened to be where these guys were shotgunning beers and screaming like wild animals. They were so loud I moved to the back of the boat and just laid there all night next to the engine room, trying not to roll off the boat. The fumes and the noise from the engine sucked, but it was nothing compared to those guys.

The last supper, with Pat Gudauskas

It was our fourth night on the boat and we were just sitting down to dinner when all hell broke loose. The captain was minutes away from dropping anchor when the boat came to an abrupt stop and everything on board was jolted forward. Then we slammed up onto the reef. Our dinner went flying everywhere and everyone immediately went into panic mode. I ran downstairs to my cabin and grabbed my passport, a pair of shoes and a long sleeve shirt. I figured I might be running on reef, hiking through jungle, I had no idea what to expect.

I thought we were far out in the ocean, but we were actually in the lagoon, right on the inside where the swell was hitting. The boat was getting broadsided by waves and was on its keel rocking back and forth. As if it wasn’t already pandemonium, a huge squall hit right then and the whole scene was straight out of a movie. You couldn’t see anything, sheets of rain were pouring down, stuff was flying everywhere, all the cabin doors blew off, the fridges were open and spilling food, and there was beer all over the floor.

The Captain sent out a mayday call and then went down to work on the leak in the hull. Meanwhile, we’re just crushing the reef with each set wave and the whole boat is shaking. They told us to go back to our rooms while we waited for the rescue boat, but it was way too gnarly to try and sleep. Some time in the middle of the night the rescue boat arrived and we all had to jump ship with just our passports in a plastic bag and swim over to it. We tried to time it in between sets, but it was hard to see in the dark and we all got pretty worked on the reef.

We woke up the next morning to see our boat completely dry docked on the reef. It had washed about 30 yards down from the night before. Now we were able to walk out to it from the beach and salvage our stuff. Some people from the village on the island came out and helped us carry all the luggage and supplies off the boat, which was really cool of them because they easily could have pillaged us. A second rescue boat arrived and the two boats tried all day to tow our boat off the reef, but they couldn’t. The next day the biggest boat in the fleet arrived and it still took them all day to pull our boat off the reef. At one point there was so much tension on the lines tugging the boat that one of the metal cleats snapped and put a huge hole in the boat. It almost took one of the crew’s head clean off.

The charter group gave us the option of a full refund or a new trip on the really big boat. We chose to stay and surf and went from rags to riches. There were only five of us on this huge luxury boat built for 30 people. It was more like being on a floating mansion than a boat, which was good because I think we were all a little tired of boats by that point.