Day 12 – An epic trip comes to a close!

Day 12 – An epic trip comes to a close!

We rise to the sound of the anchor going up in the dark on our way to the Kandui playgrounds area.  Up in the northern end of the chain our last day and of course its raining.  This trip has had bad weather everyday.  Not the best for a photographer.   My job depends on getting good images for these guys and that had been a very hard task this trip with the conditions mother nature has given out.  Of course it was a challenge to get images when I had my small window most days but that is what draws me to photography.

We reached playgrounds just after sunrise and scoped out A-frames where it was sideshore from the storms.  Instead we opted to get a quick little tour of Kandui from Scott, who had stayed there in years past.  A nice little surf retreat surrounded by islands with world class waves out front.  After our morning excursion in the tin where we all somehow stayed dry getting in and out of the boat in the shorebreak we pulled anchor and headed to Meat Pussy.  Yes, that is its official name, wtf!  I will refer to it as MP.  We ate breakfast on our way weaving between islands on the Indies.   MP breaks very close to the shore which prevented me from shooting from the tin boat for the guys.  Since conditions were cloudy and not barreling at first the keeper count of photos is much higher if I shoot from the boat.  I had to shoot from the water or go to the beach.  I opted to shoot water with my 50mm.  I shot near the end of the wave which provided entertainment as well as a good vantage point.  If you didn’t kick out at the end of the wave you ended up on 1.5ft of water on the reef.  Within 20 mins I saw the first victim get his reef credentials.  After getting caught inside the unknown surfer eventually paddled back out with his entire back bleeding.  Poor guy.  None of our guys got torn up although Dave claimed to have ended up in the shallows once.  I swam for about 3 hours before exhaustion set in.  The sun came out for an hour and I finally could get a couple decent images.  Just as Dave and I paddled toward the tin moored in the channel we noticed the Indies Trader leaving us, going in the opposite direction out to sea.  There were still 6 of us out at the break and we were all beat.  Scott had invited friends from Florida on the boat and without a proper tribal council had taken the big boat back to Kandui.  We all were not sure why they left us right when we were all done.  There were some heated words on the tin ride back to Kandui.  We were over it soon enough as we beat the Indies back to camp by atleast 30 min.  While we waited we paddled out at perfect 3-4ft A-frames by ourselves.  I was exhausted but since doug wasn’t going to paddle out, I grabbed his board and got in another 2 hour session.  I had a blast surfing the fun little lefts on the crystal clear shallow reef.  It was back to cloudy and raining so I couldn’t shoot.  Eventually we all were too tired to continue.  Just before the session ended Noel lost his action cam.  He had a bite mount on.  On a set wave he got thrown over the falls and lost grip of the cam.  We searched the whole point/tiny island and came up empty handed.  What a bummer for Noel!

I went back to eat lunch and then came right back out this time with my own board and surfed with Scott, Frank and Skylar.  We were out a couple more hours before I had was again to tired to even paddle.  Put in a solid 7+ hours in the water today!  Great way to end the trip!  By the time we got in most of the guys were already finished packing.  The journey began back to Padang, a 10 hour trip across the channel to Sumatra most of the night.  Tim served up Filet for our last meal and it tasted great although I hardly ever eat meat.  Being that tired all day, I needed that!  We would depart the next morning at 6am from the boat, take a 1.5 hour van ride to the airport and start the 45 hour trip back.  The visual cultural experience driving back to the airport through indue madness keeps you on your feet inside the van.  5 people on scooters, crazy lane changes, huge piles of garbage, stray dogs and chickens all over.  Its something that everyone that lives in the first world should experience.  Our youth need to see how the rest of the world works and the defining of what carries on in a typical indo day.  These experiences I learn so much about how I wake up everyday and realize how lucky I am.  The trick is though these people are happy and most likely happier than most of us.  There is something to be learned and everyone can take from it.  I can’t thank all of those people out there that got me to where I am today.  Thanks to all the guys on the trip for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to document this amazing experience.    All my readers continue to inspire me to write about my experiences and share the images I enjoy capturing!  Thank you!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
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Day 10 – Maca’s!

Sleep really didn’t happen for me last night, as I am sure you all wanted to know.  The boat was a rocking and I was struggling to stay asleep.  Woke up in the morning to find everyone else feeling the same.  We continued to make our way north along the coast and pulled up to Macaronis at sunrise.  No boats were there!  A rarity.  There is a camp inside the bay that rolled up to the lineup just when were arrived.  It was pouring rain, on shore wind and small.  Not the Maca’s I remembered and wrote about 2 years ago.  The camp left within 20 mins as conditions worsened.  We moored up and waited until the storm passed.  Our mooring was perfect spot to watch the break so we knew when it would turn back on immediately.  We stayed there all day and I shot long lens for the first time of the trip from the comfort of the back deck in a nice comfy chair.  Surrounded by whomever wasn’t surfing was the peanut gallery.  Whooting and joking about the lineup.  As the lineup nearly cleared from the choppy conditions Pat and I headed into the Macas resort to check it out where he knew a couple working on their marketing.  They gave us a little mini tour of the oasis.  Neat spot that was built recently since the previous resort had a lot of destruction from the Tsunami a few years back.  It was now built to sustain a possible hit.  We headed back to the Indies in the Tin and I continued to shoot from the deck.  As the day went on more and more guys from the resort joined the lineup.  The guys all rotated throughout the waves, that continued to get better and better.  The peanut gallery lit up and a girl joined the lineup.  We all hadn’t seen a female for over a week.  The dirty old men in them all came out.  Poor Cara (was her name), probably get gauked at all the time this far from civilization with heaps of male surfers on boats and resorts.  She could surf as well.

Earlier in the day our Captain Kris went out for a spearfish and scored with a few snapper and a pompano.  Later that night Tim would grill them up on his new grill.  Fresh fish dinner followed by ice cream cones and oreos rounds out another epic day in the Mentawais.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
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Day 9 – Flatness starts to dissipate

The morning begins everyday with the, clunk, clunk clunk clunk of the anchor being pulled up.  Sometimes as early as 4am.  This distinct sound is an integral part of everyday wherever we go.  Doug has even recorded it on on his iPhone!

We headed to Martin’s right (as in the Martin Daly) at dawn to get the first session of the day in.  It was head high and off shore but the peak was shifty and it went soft quickly.  The guys still had a go at it and snagged a few for a couple hours.  We were joined by a second boat and then a third an hour later.  We got out of there and headed to back to an unknown spot I will refer to as Crocs.  It was still small but very rippable.  It was still very cloudy and not very shootable so I decided to surf.  The guys didn’t need photos on waves smaller than Florida.   We surfed it throughout the afternoon until we were discovered by another boat full of 13 Aussies.  We had just finished but still it wasn’t a good feeling to give the location away to another boat.  Another spot bites the dust.  We headed back to Martin’s Right for the afternoon session with half of us napping the the other half getting a few waves in.  The clouds were thick and it frequently rained, thus reducing my possibility of getting any photos.  The swell starts to increase little by little and we hope the trend continues in the following days to come.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

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Day 7 and 8 – Angry Seas and the Devils wind

Day 7 Lay Day 2 in the angry seas and the devils wind

The mentawais works on almost all wind directions, when there is any.  A West Northwest wind is known as the devils wind when nearly all breaks don’t work with.  There are a couple that do but of course the swell direction needs to be on par.  Without much swell and the devils winds blowing we headed for the southern most Sandy Island to find the choppy conditions had taken over.  A few of the guys ventured out to surf Meat Locker in the Florida conditions to get their appetite wet.  Because of the high seas they had to jump off the back transom and swim to the tin which would take them to the break.  Normally the tin (18′ Aluminum tender boat) docks on the back transom but today conditions were too dangerous.  After we dropped the 4 surfers off the Trader headed to the leeward side of the island for the Lagoon, where we would spend the afternoon waiting out the passing rain storms.  I decided to finally get another nap in!  Two days in a row and felt amazing!  During my nap the guys had to decide on what to do the next few days.  Stay down south or head north.  With a vote it was decided that we move north.  I would have also casted a vote to head north and see some new scenery.  A new swell is on the way and we were ready for some new breaks.  The day consisted of a lot of eating, movies, wise cracks, etc.  Its a good thing this boat is so nice to relax in!

A couple double rainbows graced us throughout the day of clouds rain and sun.  About 3 p.m. we started the trek north in the high seas.  This boat is very sea worthy but the tin boat we were dragging had a rough outing.  At one point it caught air over a set wave!  No one got sick on the 3 hour+ crossing into the hi seas but we were all ready for calm waters.  We settled back into a calm mooring spot for dinner and enjoyed a fresh fish dinner.

 

Day 8 – The flatness continues

We awake to day 8 with a similar story, small and windy.  The non surfing activity list was getting smaller and smaller.  We were having a mid trip crisis of wave starvation.  With cloudy and rainy conditions I couldn’t even shoot the poor conditions thus is why I combined these two days together in the blog.  Tim the chef said 4 days of flatness is the record for the Indies Trader.  That would not be a good record to break!  Our checking of Moots revealed that it was time to head north.  Way north!  We would head toward Thunders about 5 hours away.  The movie marathon began as I myself got caught up on work.  The joke on the boat is, there are so many meals that you never go below 75% full.  At this point we were all over 100% and needing to get out of the cabin.  I hadn’t been in the water for over 2 days.  We arrived in the early afternoon at Thunders backside where there was an Aframe right and a point.  The waves “looked” like they were firing.  The group headed out to the point where the wave had a bit of mush to the shoulder between walled up sections.  Noel decided to paddle to the break up the point where the main swell would be hitting.  He grabbed a couple bombs and even got his “bootie” ripped off.  Well actually it was an aqua sock.  Andy and Dave gave the Aframe a try and found it to not be breaking as good as it looks.  It looked really good from the photos!  After an hour or two we all headed back to have Tim’s fish and chips and head further north about 2 hours to Croc’s (not gonna name the real spot since its still pretty secret).  We had checked Green Bush first where the swell wasn’t hitting correctly.  Once at crocs I had my 50mm in the housing but with the small conditions and brown water from the nearby river mouth I opted to surf.  Not to mention it was super cloudy and drizzly.  What a good choice I made.  Couped up on that boat can make you go crazy.  Felt great to get a surf in, even though it was small and there were a lot of branches and debris from the outgoing river mouth to contend with.  Scott and Noel towed in to a inconsistent barreling left and Andy headed up the point from us to surf the larger right.  Everyone had a smile on their face when the session was over just as it got dark.  Finally a fun little surf.  Now we all hopped this luck would continue.  As this is my third trip on the Indies Trader we hadn’t had more than 3 full cloudy flat days combined.  I felt bad as these guys were yearning for some real waves.  Don’t get me wrong there were fun little waves we surfed the past few days and for Florida it would of been epic.  But…. We were in Indo and the best spot in Indo at that!  The swell charts look good along with the winds.  Let hope it lives up to the potential!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
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Day 6 – Layday exploring the underwater world and being graced by Doris!.

Day 6 – Layday exploring the underwater world.

Day 6 began with the wind howling and the chop building  surrounded by dark clouds in the darkness at 5 am.  We checked Moots and then headed south 18 miles to the southern most island with our fingers crossed.  Meat Lockers was choppy from the angry ocean and it was decided that today would be a lay day as conditions would prevent us from finding a decent wave in our area.

During our cruise we all relaxed in the galley and were amused by Dave, Andy and Noel all comparing their action cams and who’s was best (GoPro, Ion and Drift).  It was a classic pissing match.  Good laughs!

We headed for one of my favorite lagoons about 3 miles across bordered by a small island and reefs.  Nearly everyone geared up to explore the reefs.  Noel headed out with the spear gun hoping to catch dinner.  Skylar and I headed towards the channel of Debuts, the break nearby.  The reef was alive and well but still not 100% like it should be.  Over fishing in Indonesia has been a problem.  Fishing is a way of survival, either for ones family or for the local village.  The awareness and damage being done isn’t completely understood here.  They kill the fish with explosives which also kills a lot of the reef.  This area hasn’t gotten that abuse but its sad to think that it could.  The island is the southern most island and is not easily acceptable.  There were groves of coral in the clear blue waters to glide over and watch the fish dart in and out of them.  Slowly I made my way under the break Debuts and was surprised to see a large Jack Trevali cruising past me.  Noel was able to snatch a grouper and the rest of us snatched memories of mother nature in the Ments.  We gathered everyone in the boat scattered around the area.  Frank had swam across the channel to the island which had us on our toes for a few tense moments when we couldn’t find him.  Back to the boat for another killer lunch from Tim.

After lunch we headed back north as there weren’t any wave options down south.  I took advantage of the two hour trip to get some rest and take a nap.  Naps are priceless!  Once my sweet dreams ended to the sound of the idling engine, I knew we had arrived somewhere.  Checking Lighthouse for probably the 5th time with no luck!  The guys went to check the nearby spots and radioed back with no luck.  We crossed the channel and anchored back to our morning spot the day before.  A handful of us jumped in for an evening snorkel while I gave the shallow reef a shot with my camera into the sun dipping into the horizon.  I had to abandon the flash housing before paddling out, since it had sprung a leak from the night before and hadn’t been able to fix it during the day.  The first day without surfing a wave came as a surprise to the guys but this is mother nature and even in one of the best places to surf on earth, it still gets small at times.

After dinner and shortly after everyone except Doug, Scott, Tim the Chef and myself went to sleep we were graced with the presence of Tony “Doris” Eltherington.  A legend in the surf industry in this part of the world.  He was the first to surf Padang Padang in Bali in 1972.  He was also an early mate to Martin Daly running charters in the Ments when it all began on the Indies boats.  He was named Waterman of the year last year for rescuing the Australian surfer from falling overboard in the Ments and being lost at sea putting himself into the Australian Surfing hall of fame.  A raw pirate of the sea, telling us stories and wise cracks into the evening.  It was a good change of pace!  Classic character.  Was annoyed that I was on the computer typing this blog.  “What’s ya writing mate!”  Me, “About you!”  Doris, “Ah, get off that thing.”  I continued to work.
This continued into the evening and ended with me being too tired to continue and him notifying us of his 25 year old Indo pornstar girlfriend coming on his next trip.  This was just icing on the cake in his illustrious character.  Meanwhile he is 58 and has been doing charters for nearly 30 years.  Didn’t seem like he was a fan of sunblock.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

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Day 5 – Sharks and small waves all to ourselves.

Day 5 began with the decision to stay north on the south end of the Mentawai Island chain near the breaks, shipwrecks, moots, Lighthouse, etc.  a handful of us hopped in the tin boat to check the breaks in the area before the big boat would head to the spot we found best handled the conditions.  The usual spots were ruled out and we ended up at a no name break, finding offshore winds and clean glassy conditions.  When I say small waves, it is relative to the area (not comparing to Florida).  The start of the day was a great one for me as I finally filled my stomach without worrying about my issue of getting aches immediately.  When your on a trip with 5 star food at every moment, its hard not to eat it!

After the morning session ended with the swell deciding to no longer find the spot we moved the circus back to Moots.  A few of us swam over to the tiny island off Moots, making our way through the shallow reef onto the coral beach.  Immediately the biting flys were on us along with the midday sun beating down on our skin.  We were all covered up with long sleeve rash guards, hats and SunBum sunblock.  I had set my camera down to walk around the island and of course on the other side we spotted a tiny baby black tip shark cruising the shallows.  Rule number 1 always have your camera on you!  As the others returned back to the boat to surf I continued to explore the reef around the island and the break.  Right in the impact zone I spotted a couple Nurse sharks in the reef.  With waves constantly pounding I struggled to get a shot.  Eventually making my way back to the boat for lunch the time came when everyone was either surfed out, burned out from the sun or napping.  I headed out by myself and surfed a couple hours of fun long lefts peeling over the reef with coral heads punching through the surface of the flats that I negotiated on every wave.

A couple others joined me and the wind switched and the session at Moots was over.  On the constant chase we hopped in the tin and started hunting for the breaks with the new wind direction.  Ended up going back to our morning spot to end the day where we started.  Dave, Noel and Andy surfed till dark as I swam with my cam.  What a great way to end a long day of hunting for Mother Natures aquatic mobile mountains.

Nothing too exciting to report about today except Noel dressing up like a ballerina for his afternoon session.  Protection from the sun, reef and prior cuts was the goal but with the lower half of a full suit to cover your legs and aqua socks for booties, it was closer looking for an audition to dancing to the Nutcracker!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

See more of my work:
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
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Day 4 – Eat, Surf, Eat, Surf, Eat Sleep, repeat!

Day 4 – Eat, Surf, Eat, Surf, Eat Sleep, repeat!

I began Day 4 early at about 4 am to catch up on editing and work back home along with trying to remember the comedic actions that carried on throughout the day.  Releasing my signature Turtle shirt soon with Loggerhead apparel as well as a lot of other projects going on.  About 5 am Dave joined me and shot the shit with me while the boat pulled anchor and we headed back south to Meat Locker in the dark.  The goal was to be there at sunrise before the other boat got there so we could get the first session in.  It worked and the guys had a good 3 hour session before the tide filled in and it slowed.  It slowed so much I went in and got my board to catch a few.  Still a couple long rights.  Noel was out charging with an action cam in his mouth. As he would catch a wave and then would grab it to self shoot on the wave.  Not easy to do!  I gave him props for trying and not ending up loosing it or getting a bloody lip!  Pat took off on a beast and ended up getting a ding on his and head his board.  He was out of the heat!  It was a small ding and would be fine.  During this session I would shoot with my 500 from the tin boat as the peak was very shifty to try and shoot from the water.  Our “turn” or shift would come to an end about 9am with the aussie crew jumping in after us.  We weren’t exactly stoked to be “sharing” sessions with another boat, but they were a respectful and nice group of guys.  This couldn’t be said with the incoming boat the Doris that also was full of Aussies.  They joined the afternoon session and not one was social or would even say hi.  Not a good addition to the mix.

We all went back for a lunch, told stories, looked at footage and occupied ourselves until about 2 when our turn would come again.  Dave, Andy and I chased a pod of dolphins for a while trying to jump in with them but ended up looking like a bunch of tourists driving in circles with our masks and snorkels on.  No luck.

Session two I swam out with my fisheye and gave it a go and trying to link up a barrel shot with the guys in the extremely shifty conditions.  Tim the chef joined me in the impact zone to body surf.  It was great to have another person in there to watch the carnage go down as the guys would try to pull into waves not letting them in.  There were some quality wipeouts.  The effort of swimming for almost 3 hours paid off as both Noel and Andy linked up for a shot!  Nice work guys!
Eventually my battery died and swam in as the aussies took their turn.  We all headed back to the boat.   Upon returning to the mother ship it was a classic impression as three of the guys were walking around in yuppie striped towels around their waist, looking a little too proper for a surf trip!

Whenever I shoot from the tin boat an Indo boat guy would drive the boat and maneuver it into position constantly.  These boat guys are constantly working hard.  Always something to do on a boat like this to occupy their time.  These guys are on salary, and work the entire year, breaking just small amounts between down times during the year to go back to their village to see their families.  It always makes me think how lucky I am to have been given the draw of the cards of where I ended up.  Too many people in the world don’t see how lucky they are to live the life the live and the opportunities  they are given.  You might ask, what is their salary?  $500 for a year.  It is relative in that many of them live off the land but still, the wages here are a staggering difference from our American life.  And that is above average for many indo’s.  So  take a moment and think where you could have ended up on this planet.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

See more of my work:
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Day 3 – Getting in the groove

 

Day 3 – Getting in the Groove

As we leave our morning anchorage and depart back south to Meat Locker the sun rose as I played my Ukelele on the front deck of the boat.  Not a bad way to start the day!  The swell was small again today but atleast the wind was somewhat calmer.  We all got out for the morning session and I jumped in to shoot with the 50mm.  Really nice light!  Not for long as a morning storm came in.  The Baron Joey, another boat moored with us at Meat Locker and waited for their turn until our crew was done surfing in the morning.  Lots of respect down here from the aussies.  Nearly everyone had booties on today except the veterans Doug and Scott.  The rest are not completely comfortable with the reef yet, justifiably so since it is pretty shallow on the inside!  Conditions were fun but not epic, huge or firing.  Skylar came out, caught a couple and on a paddle back out snapped his brand new stick on a duck dive.  What a bummer!

We all came in for breakfast and a rest.  The heat between Andy and Noel continues and we all egg on the rivalry between these two great friends.  I egg them on every chance I get, yelling out wave scores.   My stomach was finally able to take normal amounts of food.  What a relief!

After lunch we all headed back out as the aussies headed in.  I swam out with my fisheye but soon after the dark clouds came in, with a rain storm and a lightning strike got me out of the water quick.  Dave and I chose to wait it our rather than fry ourselves.  With the clouds rolling I went back out to shoot long lens in the tin with my 500 hand held.  The boys all got some fun ones into the afternoon and were getting into the groove of things.  Like getting up from a great nights sleep, surfing, eating  a killer brekie (as what the aussies call breakfast), surfing, eating a killer lunch, surfing, napping, and surfing.  Not too bad of days.  Its a wonder why everyone is always in a great mood!

We headed back to our mooring up north into calm waters as a killer sunset painted the sky.  Dave called it mother natures fireworks and I couldn’t agreed more!

Noel wins the day with the best barrel shot of himself with his board mounted camera, the best wipeout shot and the best barrel shot!  Not bad Noel.  Andy, his rival and warrior of the sea got some gems as well!  Scott, was ripping but that is expected!  He looked like a mean pirate out there with his double black eyes and white faced sunblock.  Dave, wins again for most stoke possible and a great guy to have on a surf trip.  He is also my roommate with the bunk above me edjucating me on his collection of whitey tighties he brought!

We ended the evening with a quality thai wahoo dinner mix served up from Tim and Banana cake with ice cream for desert!

Follow me for the next 12 days!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

See more of my work:
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Day 2: Small surf and Clouds make for a semi lay day (Except one heat)

Day 2:  Small surf and Clouds make for a semi lay day (Except one heat)

Day 2 began with the end of our long journey south all night while we slept to the southern end of the Ments.  The swell was dropping and this is the best chance to get what is left of it!  I had gotten a great sleep.  With less than ideal conditions it was a great little lay day to rest.  The crew did head out for a session at Meat Locker while I shot from the tin boat for an hour or two.  Little did I know there was a heat in the water for the winning spot on the Indies Trader Pro that would be held later this week when conditions improve for the waiting period! lol.  This I would find out after dinner while showing the boys (and a couple men) the days images.  Noel and Andy are good friends back home, but today they are warriors battling for the barrel.  In particular was one wave where Noel drops in while down the line Andy arrives at his feet.  Its Noel’s wave and Andy pulls out.  The argument is whether or not Andy caused the wall to chandelier damaging the perfection of the wave and its  potential barrel. The question was…. was there even a barrel about to form or not?  You make the call in the images.  Its the little things that entertain our days out at sea on the small days!  The heat continues tomorrow!

I caught up on editing and posting the first blog and played hooky trying to upload on the worlds slowest internet.  We anchored all day at Meat Lockers switching off sessions with another boat for the evening surf before dark and dinner.  It rained on and off most of the day providing a not so ideal canvas for me to paint with my cameras.  A small day in the Ments is an epic day in Florida!

*Health update:  Mccranels sits out to rest his eye which now looks like he was in a bar fight!  The reef cuts continue but nothing major.  I myself am still dealing with a stomach issue.

Follow me for the next 12 days!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!
www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

See more of my work:
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
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Traveling and Day 1

Traveling the Mentawais (AKA the farthest place from Florida)

What is worse than traveling 50 hrs across the world? Being sick doing it! As I came into my last day before leaving on this trip I had gotten a stomach issue, putting me nearly out of commission trying to leave. Going into the trip I was ready and things were going great but the morning I had to say by to Cristina, my wife, was not an enjoyable one for many reasons. Met all the guys at the airport and all I wanted to do was turn around and die from stomach pains. There are hurdles in life and then there are mountains. This was a two day mountain trip! Our flight from Chicago to Hong Kong was 16 hours. Thankfully I found an Eco First class seat ( Economy empty row ) and was able to lay down the whole trip. This saved me! We slept in Hong Kong where after 21 hours I finally ate something, some toast. Thanks to Frank for letting me sleep in his room but not in his bed! This trip was similar to my last two years in the Mentawais on the Indies Trader 3 boat but with a totally different crew of guys. All are from South Florida, and were giddy like girls on the way to the mall. Rightfully so! A couple rookie mistakes were made on the way, like Noel leaving his passport and wallet in the hotel bathroom for two hours and returning to find it in the same place! There is some luck! We finally arrived in Padang, Indonesia where the Indies crew picked us up and drove us out to the docks to board our mother ship for the next 12 days, the Indies Trader 3. The Queen of the Mentawais charter boats below the king the Ratu Motu, previously the Indies 4. I am honored that these guys requested I join them on this trip and document this journey of a lifetime. They welcomed me in on their trip as I hope to fulfill their expectations with memorable imagery (along with comedic commentary).

 

Day 1 After our journey finally ended we were greeted with an awesome Indies crew and another killer dinner from Tim our Chef. I was able to eat a small amount as my stomach slowly improved since three days prior. We picked our bunks and were all off to sleep during the 10+ hour journey out to the Mentawai Island chain off the coast of Sumatra. We would awaken the next morning (day 1) to Lances rights. A smaller day but ripable, (not south Florida ripable). Most of these guys have not surfed the Ments with only Pat and myself having been on the Indies and Scott to Kandui in the Ments. The feeling of going to a whole new spot and world class one at that is all about the stoke factor. It was great to see how 45+ year old men can be just as stoked as a 20 year old grom to go surfing. The first surf of the day lit that fire inside. The action started off quick as Dr. Scott Mccranels came in with a bloody forehead picking up his first souvenir of the trip. Wait…, Scott should be the last one getting a boo boo! He was a pioneer in Florida Surfing being the first guy in South Florida to make the tour back in the 80′s ranking 12th in the world, and still ripping to this day as this trip will be Scott giving us all a clinic on how to shred a wave. Well a board rolling around in the white water can hit anybody and it was his not so lucky day. The rest followed with small little reef cuts from the Surgeons table, yes that is what the inside reef section is called at Lance’s! Scott ended up with a nice shiner to the eye, improving his potential at landing the “meanest barrel shot of the trip.”

 

My condition improved as I shot inside of the peak on the tin boat, (18ft aluminum center console). Taking it easy was the name of the game for me dealing with an annoying stomach pain. I just try to phase it out of my mind focusing on hydration and some nutrition.

 

As the swell was nothing special and the wind had switched we pulled anchor and moved on the Lance’s rights around the other side of the island. It was once again on the smaller side 2-3 ft or chest to an occasional head high take off on the sets with cloudy conditions. I waxed up my trusty Kechele thumbnail and paddled out to get a few. One all the guys were out I traded my board for my camera and fins and shot the virgins popping their cherry on the reef. Respect was given and everyone was reminded that good waves can come with a price if your not careful. That session ended and the boat moved to Bintangs where the mooring was a bit smoother to relax and have some lunch. Siesta time followed with everyone taking a nap. I geared up and headed to land to explore the beach break and talk to a couple locals. Its always interesting and humbling to see these people living off the land so far from our rat race. All smiles and little teeth! The day eventually came to a close and we all had our share of salt and mother nature. Andy decided at dinner to give out some awards. Scott took the best injury, Doug took the highest wave count, Dave took the best wipeout, Andy had the best barrel (that I saw on camera), I took the best bowl movement (and hopefully a photo), Frank came away the cleanest from the reef, Skylar took the award for charging it while living the furthest from an ocean the past year (studying abroad in Swiss), Noel took the most well prepared image taker without being the photographer on the trip and Pat did the best snake of the day!

Follow me for the next 12 days!

 

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear

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www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housing for my iPhone!

Cressi dive gear and Fanatic Paddleboards

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