Locals only at North Sentinel Island
A surf story, of sorts, for a slow news day.
The Brotherhood of Man struck a hitch last week when an unarmed American was killed on an idyllic Indian Ocean island.
John Allen Chau was trying to "reach out" to the locals of North Sentinel Island, but they were having none of it and shot Chau with arrows.
The ABC is reporting that Chau had a strong desire to to meet the Sentinelese and preach the word of God.
The Sentinelese are believed to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world, they've repeatedly resisted outsiders and attack anyone who comes near their island, missionary man or not.
Whenever an attack like this happens, and there's been a few, it brings more attention to the bolshie Sentinelese. People start reading about them, they become curious, maybe they want to save their souls, or maybe just plunder their waves.
Being a non-believer I fall into the latter group. I logged on and unfurled the treasure map.
Google Earth shows the southern coast of North Sentinel Island is open to the Indian Ocean and gets much the same swell as Banda Aceh and the western Indonesian provinces. At the very southern tip is a reef pass with what appears to be a genuinely good lefthander on one side and a right that may need a bit of swell to tick over just a short paddle away.
Historical searches show enough consistency for it to be considered a good, reliable wave.
Great place for a surf camp! A workable left on one side of the channel, plus a smaller right just a short paddle away.
But let's consider the logistics. Those aforementioned attacks include the deaths of two fishermen whose boat accidentally drifted too close to the island when they were fishing for mud crabs. While in 2004, following the Indian Ocean earthquake, the Indian Governernment flew a helicopter overhead to check the islanders welfare. They were thanked with a volley of arrows.
A list of similarly heavy-handed encounters can be found here.
Sentinelese stand guard on their home beach. Tourists who've paddled out at Lennox Head may appreciate the image.
So despite the quality of the reef pass left, surfing on North Sentinel Island is off limits for a while yet. Truth be told it's good to know that even with the omniscience of Google Earth there are some waves that we can't reach.
And god help any silly bastard that tries.