There’s a fella I know who loves a beer.
Really loves a beer.
Works hard , knocks off before midday , checks the surf and then he grabs a beer. He doesn’t actually hit the lineup much anymore. Between crowds , dismal waves , family commitments and plain lack of interest , it seems that his best days of surfing aren’t just behind him but they’ve been put on a pedestal and are secure behind a velvet rope of his mind’s creation.
I’m not Judging him on this. His life and his prerogatives. He seems happy enough in the chapter he’s writing after leaving the commitment of regular surfing behind.
But he was a surfer. Oh , yes. He surfed more than most. It was his life and his identity. He’d work in the bush over summer and then cash up each autumn. It was then that he’d really come into his own.
Straight to the travel agent and then it was all swagger , tan , lean muscle , Bintangs , exotic foreign babes and warm water pits fanned by the sweet scented trade winds of dry season Indonesia for months on end.
Those days are gone for him now , but get a few beers in him and there’s no doubt as to the direction the conversation will take sooner or later. It became a bit of a trademark. A signature move. A chat with a mutual friend and the shared smile when it was related that a talk with him over a beer would lead to The Indo Talk.
It was getting to be parody . But over the years , the further from the event the stories got the more impactful they became. It went beyond nostalgic and became the embodiment of an era. His stories no longer seem to be indulgent remenberance and have taken on the quality of living record of a time never to be repeated.
His stories of dialling in the various breaks of Bali before spreading his wings throughout the archipelago. Learning the maps. Finding the cheat codes which would seperate him from the pack. How he deduced it was time to Zig whilst others zagged. Leaving his mates behind as they each got bogged down in the nightclubs , the Hollywood waves and the various scenes. Paring it back to the minimum effort for the maximum return through the accumulation of experience. All delivered with the humility and the obvious gratitude of someone who’s been a smart operator during the most beneficial period one could possibly hope for as a competent , thrill seeking surfer astride the Earth.
So when we are a few beers in and he gets that feeling, when the conversation is turning to the golden days of being a sun drenched adventurer with 17000 islands at his feet , don’t think I’m rolling my eyes . I want to give him his head . Turn the clock for a little while to a time when the everyday still had an edge. Retell the stories and don’t let the light go dim. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to write your own story.
Nicely written Blowin
Yep, nice effort.
Nice one Blowin. I've met a few blokes like that over the years. I think for every surfer there comes a time around 25 to make a decision: Keep surfing and to hell with everything else, or surf a bit less and get a proper job, mortgage, family etc. With the second option you can go through some tough times in your thirties and forties where the people you used to hang out with who went the other way are swanning off to Indo for six months a year. Meanwhile you're working 44hrs a week trying to make ends meet while scratching into the odd surf in town.
Now we're in our late forties, early fifties and the worm has turned. The mortgage is paid off and the kids grown up and it's the latter group's turn to be swanning off round the globe surfing. The 6 month in Indo guys are renting some shit-hole unit miles from the surf because they didn't buy a house near the beach while the prices were low enough for someone to reasonably afford to live there. They have no career and are working for some asshole painting contractor for $20/hr cash in hand. No family. Most of their friends have either died from drug overdoses or went the other rout and live somewhere else.
Of course it can all go the other way as well. The 6 month in Indo guy made some smart investments somewhere and is still happily surfing their brains out. The other guy got too fat and didn't do enough surfing in their 40's to keep the stoke going. They're probably living 50 miles from the coast in a farken awful suburb somewhere with a job they hate, ungrateful kids, a nagging wife and a beer gut. The longboard sits gathering dust in the back of the garage.
So that's the choice we all have to make, or at least some version of it. Choose wisely.
Spuddups, good summary. Other issue with Option 2 is whether the body is still up to it at the post kids/mortgage point!
you got me in part A spuddups, i read these forums mostly to hear from the guys that chose (and have survived) the full-on surfing option. choose wisely? who can tell.
Good efforts, Blowin and Spud.
Whatever choices we make, I reckon there’s real power in actually choosing, not have lots of choice.
What I love the most about his stories is the fact they make him rich in ways that no money can ever buy.
Bali has to be the most perfect surf destination on Earth. Incredible waves of a variety, consistency, number and quality which is not rivalled anywhere on Earth. The people, food , natural beauty and culture is unsurpassed.
The only thing knocking Bali off the throne as Greatest Single surf destination on Earth is the sheer volume of crowds these days.
The Archivist - like many others -had this paradise at its best and those days are gone , never to return.
The Erik Logan WSL muppet , Dirk Ziff’s missus and the neophyte uber rich of their ilk can never buy this peak moment in the surfing experience no matter how many billions they have to throw at the attempt.
Life was very, very good. If you were lucky enough to be there and had a taste then your memories are priceless artefacts.
Work your guts out for a short period and get a deposit on a house. A humble little house or unit. Something you can fix up and sell to climb the ladder a bit if you'd like to. It can be a bit inland but somewhere nice. Then you only have to find your mortgage and food etc. Drive a good cheap car, marry a girl who isn't materialistic, have some kids and surf your brains out. Grow some veg and catch fish. Give thanks to God daily. Everything just works itself out then. Avoid big mortgages like the plague, don't have a credit card and treat debt like the smell of death. Be free and go forth and surf.
I knew a fella who saved a bit of coin whilst he was part of our peer group. He got the deposit for a shitty little house on a beach and rented it out .
Still did everything we did , but when we’d keep throwing money over the bar on nights out he’d hit his limit and kick back whilst we’d chase the diminishing returns of every drink after you’re already pissed.
I think he had to commit $50 a week or something. It was a bit as we were all mostly cash poor young bucks , but he still had the hell time.
Life went on and we forgot about his beach house. It’d be worth at least $2 million now.
It’s possible to have your cake and eat it.
Another good little piece Blowin that paint's pictures in my head and makes you think and reflect.
Does your mate still get back to Indo though?
Scary thing is i can kind of see myself in this story, just not to the same extent, surfing use to be everything to me i surfed everyday no mater the conditions and sometimes a few times a day, now work, family, and just fussiness means i surf way less and my best surfing days feel like they are behind me.
Even when in Indo, im happy to surf less, i dont need to surf everyday if its crowded or average, i don't think its all bad though, it's more a certain type of stage of being content.
Don't drink much though rarely even have a beer these days and rarely get pissed, while in the past would get pissed at least every weekend sometimes a few times a week.
I am lucky though most of my mates can't get back to Indo or true surf trips with family and work, but even if i don't go to Indo for at least a month a year my wife would still go, as soon as we get home, she is planning the next trip and i work for myself so no issues there..
I think a lot of these characters like your mate also end up in Indo though, so many guys that lived to surf are still there but many do seem to drink more than surf.
Not sure why but this story also reminds me of a guy whom i met in the Mentawais one year and become a friend, he was about 60 but still quite fit and muscular, he went on a boat trip there and fell in love with the place, came home and got diagnosed with something in his brain that couldn't be operated on, doctor said they didn't know when he would die from it, but was basically a ticking time bomb.
So he and his partner sold up everything in OZ and moved to Mentawai's, to surf and fish etc they built a house and possible the first to retire there, he was a classic old Aussie battler come sea dog, loved the ocean but always had a ciggie in his mouth and more often than not a Bintang in the hand, his Indonesian was completely useless, but some how he communicated with the locals, always building something or tinkering with his boat or motorbike etc
Anyway he died about two years ago, i only knew him for maybe 7 years or so, but i shared a few waves with him and a few adventures and quite a few beers and he shared quite a few stories too, was obviously sad to hear the brain condition thing finally got him, but was also kind of good to know that he lived the last chapter of his life exactly how he wanted.
Nice writing Blowin and Spud.
Makes ya think.
Spud I think I’m going through option two currently. And to be honest I’m struggling a bit with the realisation of it.
I’ve got this desperate need at the moment to surf really good, solid, exhilarating waves but just not sure when it’s going to happen?
I’m in the option 2 demo. However I’ve never wanted to ‘up it all’ and surf in Indo for 6 months straight. Although I admit I have, over the years, travelled extensively, a lot in the pursuit of surf.
We’ve all been through the ‘surfing is everything’ late teens to twenties. Most grow out of that, realise there is MUCH more to a wholesome life than just surf. For me surfing is definitely something that adds to life though.
I’m a better Dad, better husband, healthier human when I get in the brine and catch a few. The difference is now it’s not everything. If I get 5 to the beach one morning before work, it makes my day infinitely better. There’s often better waves down the coast for sure, but I get to kiss my kids goodbye before work.
It’s all about balance and compromise. I couldn’t live JUST for tropical barrels, there’s more to life.
Yep, that's where I'm at. The longest trip I ever did to Indo was four months and I was losing my mind at the end of it. By the time I hit my mid twenties I was pretty much over the whole surf at all costs thing. This realisation came to me one afternoon while staring out to sea at Other Side of The Moon near Yallingup. I remember that moment clearly.
In the intervening 25 years I built a house, got a career and a wife and family. I'm fortunate in that we live in a reasonably consistent area for waves so I manage around 120 surfs a year. Not Indo, but at least I'm still surfing half decent waves. We tend to do family holidays to places where everyone in the family can have a good time. Northern NSW is a great spot for this, along with a few spots in NZ too. Heading to the North Shore this autumn which will test things a bit ha ha!
In a few years the kids will be old enough so I can head off to Indo by myself for a week or three from time to time. I still have a lot of surfing left in the tank so I'm really looking forward to this.
Life is more than numbers in a bank account.