Barrels Before Breakfast
Since landing in Sumatra and acclimatising to the friendly mellow way of life, bath warm water and consistent swell, it has been easy to keep up with a healthy and regular routine that compliments not only my surfing but also my general well being.
It is really enriching to explore the local markets in search of herbs, veggies and fruits that nourish the body. Many tropical plants grow on the doorstep.
The local culture has been so welcoming. We are always greeted with big smiles and open arms. The accommodation is very cheap and we were lucky enough to score a jungle hut right next to one of the best left-hand Reef breaks – Ujung Bocur at Lovina Krui Surf www.lovinakruisurf.com
As a regular traveller, rather than bringing lots of expensive, artificial and plastic wrapped products everywhere I go, it has been a real saviour to get to know and understand the treats that Mother Nature has on offer.
Garlic – an antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial vegetable that also helps keep mosquitos away – This is particularly important to keep the bloodsuckers away as in Sumatra, the malaria is scarier and makes travelling much hairier …
Tumeric – Anti-inflammatory – helps to prevent melanoma and is a mood enhancer.
Ginger – Helps with digestion. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.
Aloe Vera – high in amino acids and is great for the skin after being exposed to the sunshine all day
Lime – detoxifies and alkalises the body. Provides daily intake of vitamin c and staves of the scurvy, which every ocean loving mermaid knows is a must
Jamu – local herbal tea, made from roots, bark, flowers, seeds, leaves and fruits. Healthy substitute for the bin tang
Coconuts – these are the most versatile sources of goodness, each one can contain over a litre of life-giving, electrolyte rich water and can provide oil rich flesh, which can be used to keep skin and hair healthy. Coconut oil is also fantastic for removing toxins from the body and offers general protection from the elements.
Having experienced an initial speed wobble, knocking out one of my fins on a shallow sandbank, I was anxious to get it repaired asap, with no surf shops and very limited resources, it was a genuine worry that this could be a game changer. As luck would have it, just a few hundred metres from where we were staying, a local board repairer, was too happy to help. Not only was he a regular repairer of snapped boards and more serious fixes, but he also created the most skilfully crafted fins, using shells, coconut wood and various local materials. Within minutes, I had myself a beautiful new set of fins and was ready to jump back in the big blue.
Getting around in Sumatra couldn’t be simpler, the roads are mostly smooth tarmac and traffic is pretty easy going. The preferred choice of transport is the moped. Whipping down the coast, scoping the breaks, it is easy to go off-roading and score untouched waves off the beaten track.
Barrels before breakfast were always the desired option on the daily menu. Due to Sumatra’s large land mass and the time of year, as the heat from the land rises, cool ocean air is sucked in to displace it, which always causes the late morning onshore breeze.
Surf Photography Grant Woodhouse – instagram @g.bear42
A lot of mornings have been spent at a break called Mandiri. A huge stretch of beach that creates notoriously fast and hollow barrels.
This has proved quite a challenge, causing me to really speed up my pop up and refine my bottom turn to try and make use of some of the hollow sections. Being that the wave is so fast, it seems that a lot of my technique is compromised and looking back on pictures, it is clear that I still have a lot of improvements to make, such as working on my stance.
Due to occasional high winds and less regular swells, there are so few surfers and tourists here in the off-season, that it is actually quite intimidating turning up to a completely empty surf break with no-one in the water. This could be a dream come true for many surfers, however, without any knowledge of the currents, underwater terrain and wildlife, it is great to be able to share it with my partner in crime due to the simple security of safety in numbers.
Our time in Indonesia has been magical, but with the discovery of a new opportunity which almost seems too good to be true, our visit has been cut short and the next leg of the adventure will continue over in the Indian Ocean.
Wave shot by Grant Woodhouse – Instagram @g.bear42