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posted by / News / March 31, 2005

SURFING Photographer Nate Lawrence and his boat charter saves a village after the North Sumatra quake

As soon as we heard the horrific news on Monday, our hearts sunk. Not only did we know the 8.7 quake off the coast of Northern Sumatra would wreak more havoc, death and destruction in the battered region, but SURFING photographer Nate Lawrence, along with surfers Nate Tyler, Jesse Columbo, Jesse Evans, Micah Byrne, Shaun Peterson, Ryan Augenstein, Marlon Gerber and Dede Suriyana were on surf/humanitarian mission in the middle of the red zone abourd The mv Nauli. With no communication from the crew for at least eight hours, we had no idea of their fate. Then, late that night, we finally broke through on Captain Mark Flindt’s SAT phone, and learned of the details. Not only did they survive a violent thrashing, they rescued a whole village in the process. The following is transcript from a phone conversation with Lawrence, who arrived safely in Medan yesterday. Stayed tuned to surfinthemag.com and SURFING Magazine for more details and photos as they arrive.

SURFING MAGAZINE: Tell us what happened. NATE LAWRENCE: We were anchored just off of Asu. We all went to bed, and right after that, everything just started shaking, I thought it was a dream. The boat was just shaking. I didn’t know it was an earthquake, I thought the boat had just dry-docked or something. And then they started the engines up, and Micah came in and was all “Dude, there was an earthquake and they’re loading people on the boat!” And we went up on deck and they loaded about {{{100}}} people from Asu.

You were right at Asu?Yeah, and one of the camps fell over – a two-story camp just toppled.

Anyone hurt there?No – luckily there weren’t any surfers staying there at the time. We were the only surfers around. But then we loaded all the villagers on and the captain took his little powerboat onto the shore. As people were hopping in, the water sucked out, like, 50 feet and the boat dry-docked. They had to get the people out and they had to push it to the water.

So, did you think there was a tidal wave coming?Yeah, it was gnarly.

Was your boat in vulnerable position to get nailed?Yeah, we were just about 30 yards away from the shore.

Wow. So if a tidal wave came, you guys would’ve gotten cleaned. You must have been freaking out.A couple of guys were freaking out bad. We had to calm ‘em down.

Like a couple of the surfers?Yeah, like Shaun Peterson was like, “Oh my God, we gotta get out of here.” It took like five minutes for them to pull up the anchor.

Because of the earthquake?Yeah, it took so long.

If you weren’t anchored, you probably wouldn’t have felt it, right?Yeah we probably wouldn’t have. The anchor was in the ground and just shook. It was crazy.

The villagers must have been rattled.Oh yeah. We had been on land with them that day, just hanging out. And after the quake happened, a bunch of ‘em were on the beach screaming Marlon and Dede’s names, asking for help. We pretty much just got the people on board and they were freaking out because of the last one that happened. You know? And then we were up all night tending to their wounds and giving them water and everything, like everyone helped out a lot. It was cool. Then, the next day we were going to drop some people off at this one place, but the islands rose, like, 3 to 5 feet.

The islands did?Yeah, so there’s like 3 or four feet of dry reef, up out of the water.

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