We woke before noon on Saturday within the Sunda Strait to see Panaitan Island, about 30km south west of Indonesia’s main island Java, rising to meet us through ocean-mist.
After rounding its southern tip post-lunch we entered what – if you Google Map it – looks like a Baseball catcher’s-mitt receiving swells beamed in from the Indian Ocean’s depths.
I went back below to read and sleep off more of the hangover before the yacht presently weighed anchor.
We’d arrived at Napalms – a medium-length and heavy left-hander.
We all paddled out into an instantly crowded lineup for some fun three-foot waves unleashing out of nowhere on the reef from deep water.
In fact the only way of knowing when a set wave was approaching was to look further up and to the left of the reef to see unrideable swells pounding on unforgiving shores.
Sunday saw us looking on lacklustre swells breaking on Croc ‘n’ Rolls: a long left breaking toward a short, peaky right-hander on Panaitan’s outside western shore.
We snorkled and spear-fished along the reef and among almost perfectly spherical volcanic rocks the size of small cars.
Hangovers dissipated the instant we all descended on the two breaks Monday morning.
The day was spent riding waves that for someone who had never surfed reef before were almost a religious revelation.
Wednesday – I’ll come back to One Palm Tuesday – we said goodbye to Olly, left the less bloodthirsty Palm and returned to Napalms which was offering four-foot barrels with a challenging and swift pinch at the end no-one could seem to master.
With our guide’s departure we were left in the capable hands of the native crew consisting of Manto – the small but imposing captain – Civvy – the diligent deckhand – and last but certainly not least Dana – the possibly former gang member cook who can’t hold his Captain Morgan OP rum.
Finally and with some of Dana’s finest (his every meal was) lunches in our guts it was time for some rights, if you don’t count Crocs.
Indicators breaks true to its name long and large from the island’s south-west tip to let those at Illusions – which further north into the bay reels quick as you like along a reef so shallow it’s almost One Palm’s antipode – know what to expect.
I’ll testify how simultaneously wondrous and dangerous Illusions was through the freight-train walling rights I received and the first of two reef cuts I suffered in the form of miraculously only a nick on my left-hand after I was caught on the inside of a barrel fail.
One Palm was hunting us; we checked it again on Thursday morning but found the beast was sleeping.
I rode Illusions again with a mate who assisted with this article I’ll identify only as The Beard.
It was shameful; not the quality of the waves, you understand, but the amount of mostly plastic rubbish and a disturbing white substance floating around in the break zone.
The zodiac launch used to ferry us to waves our surfed-out shoulders could not reach zoomed past toward “Indies” with Manto at the motor and one passenger.
The Beard and I hailed him down and clambered aboard in order to escape the trash, and surf what I would classify as the best and longest right I’ve ridden, especially when you take into account the lack of crowd.
As skilfully-scribed by The Beard, Indicators was on this day “oily, wally, dreamy blue water perfection”.