All chances to pull the boat off the reef were completely gone by Friday morning as a solid SW ground swell filled in over night. The combination of the morning high tide of 2.4 meters and the waves getting bigger and bigger by each set caused the boat to move closer to the cliff at Padang Padang, a good 30 meters from where it stood on the reef for more than a week.
Efforts to remove the boat were in action. Mainly from the ex-pat crew who call Bali’s Bukit their home. Jon “Aquaman” was the leader of the operation and quickly went to hire a tug boat close by. 3 days after the boats arrival to Rip Curl’s contest site, the tides look good and the swell looked promising, dead flat. Hopes of getting this toxic crash off the reef were looking good.
There were Indonesian police, Navy, Ocean Police, Military, Taiwanese Interpol, the owner of the boat, the supposedly murdered captains wife and child, and a group of concerned people who live close by. The smell of fish bbq changed in a matter of days to the smell of diesel and engine oil.
So the plan was to tug the boat off with a tug boat. The price, $2,000. Easy. The tide is high at 9am, the boat was to be there at 6 to get things ready. But then plans changed. Head of police says it’s too dangerous to tug the boat off. And it’s a crime scene so police have the authority. Money is brought into the equation, like it is so often in Indonesia. Cops want $3,500 to do the operation. So bribe money is coughed up. One day of bribe negotiations and day one of 2 days in a row with high tides and no swell is lost. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
6am hits the clock and no boats to be found. Phone calls are made. Few officials are on site and even fewer surfers are showing up to lend a hand. Or an idea of how to get around this mess. Except for a few. ROLE (Rivers, Oceans, Land, Environment), a non-profit newly formed organization, has been on site since day one. Aqua-man is losing more hair my the minute, as he is the one leading the talks with Police, Military, and whoever else is trying to get their hand in the cookie jar. Rip Curl is standing behind everyone with their bank account ready to be emptied as months and months of labor and headache could be ruined. See, the cat is out of the bag. Rip Curl’s famed CT event, “The Search” was supposed to be located directly where this boat is sitting. Now fishing nets, shark lines, diesel and oil take over the majority of the contest area. So Rip Curl was keen on doing whatever they could to help. .
Well let’s get back on track. Aqua-man is running all over the place. He shows up to the Police Captains house and knocks on the door. The captain answers the door in his boxers and tells Aqua-man to come in. Coffee? Cigarette? “No, we just want to get this boat off the reef,” exclaims Aqua-man, “the tide is gonna be too low soon.”
And the tide did get too low. Although the captain did come through on his word. He got boats out there tugging it. The only problem is he got about 15 small fishing boats with at most 100hp on each boat. $3,500 down the drain, or into big boss’ pocket.
So now it’s Friday and the swell arrived. Boat got a pounding. Now the boat is located directly below the cliff. No longer a danger to hit when riding the wave, but the hull of the boat cracked pretty bad. Lots of oil and gas. The hot midday heat has got it evaporating into the air. But surfers are still out there.
Rizal, Bol, and Mega get a ride out on the lifegaurd boat. The smell of fumes seems like you sitting at a gas station. They jump off and paddle deep in the lineup. Benji Weatherley opts to walk out and survey the damage of the boat. He walks behind it and then tiptoes to the edge of the reef and jumps in. Rizal catches the first set. Barrel. Bol’s on the next wave, barrel. Benji paddles for the last wave of the set and goes head first towards the reef. He comes up screaming. “My board is like a bar of soap!” He paddles over to the boat. “This is my life right now.Padang looks so fun and I gotta watch it from the channel. Not even catch one wave….ahhhhhhh!”
I feel Benji’s board and it’s true. Wax, tail pad…it’s all slippery as a bar of soap. His body beads up as the water gathers in little pellets and beads down his arms. “I’m just gonna lay on my back and bronze,” Benji tries to use humor to deflect his frustration. “It’s like I just threw some cooking oil on me and paddled out.”
But the waves kept coming and people somehow got barreled. How their skin or brain is feeling today I don’t know. Which bring us to this. Are the top 45 in the world gonna want to paddle out in this? With J-Bay wrapped up and most of the tour on enroute as we speak, where will the contest move to? Swell on Monday, Swell on Friday, and a huge one out the back, stay tuned as things are going to heat up big time. Just remember not to light a match.
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