Recon: DC 3-8

The DC Shoe Co./TransWorld SURF Indo/Bali TourBy Chris “Press Release” Cote

A Simple PlanIt was supposed to be a simple boat trip. I was just tagging along to “write the story.” It’s in quotes like that because when a writer asks to go on a trip to “write the story,” it’s just a business-like way of saying, “I want to go on a free trip.” So let’s start at the beginning.My friend Blair Marlin is the DC Shoe Co. surf-team manager. He’d left me an excited message spouting something about a boat trip and something unrelated about an e-mail he’d just gotten with a movie of these two Japanese girls throwing up on each other. It sounded interesting, so I called him back to find out more about this amazing e-mail.After hearing the details about the Asian vomit party, Blair started to unfold his idea for a DC/TransWorld boat trip to Indonesia with Bruce and Andy Irons, and two then-unnamed other surfers. We would fly to Bali, meet up with the guys, and then hop onboard another flight to a less than friendly region of southern Indonesia. Everything sounded like a go. Now Blair just had to convince me to come along and write the story because he’d no doubt have his hands full chaperoning the Irons brothers.Of course I wanted to go on a boat trip, but a few things were holding me back: the fact that I get scared in waves over three feet, my homesickness curse, my fear of insects, and my lack of motivation to leave the comforts of my lady friend. All these were thrown out the window with kind and motivating words from Blair: “You f-king puss,” and “If you don’t come, I’ll hate you.”How could I argue? It was easy to talk my boss Joel into it. As soon as he heard the Irons bros were going it was all expenses paid. It’s not often that the two Irons are on the same trip, let alone on the same boat, so it looked like a golden opportunity to get a few cover shots, some spreads, and a twenty-page story. That’s of course what we hoped for, but as surf trips go, you can never plan for anything. The forces of the universe can just as easily be with you as against you.Now that the Irons had finalized and Blair and I were set up, it was time to fill the final two slots. Benji Weatherly was initially supposed to come along as comic relief and backside-layback tube maestro, but a last-minute change to his Pickled schedule left him at home in Encinitas to do some voice-over work. This was one day before we left, so in a split-second decision Billabong handed us another great travel companion, Jason Shibata. The other surfer to join the crew was Australian Dean Morrison, who Blair hooked up through Troy Eckert at Volcom (networking at its finest). Dean was already in Bali, so all he had to do was wait for us to show up. Our choice for photographer was Brian Bielmann, a legendary lensman and a great storyteller. He was also supposed to meet us in Bali with Poor Specimen film-jockey Dave “Separate Check” Emge. With the crew set and the wheels of travel in motion, all we could do was cross our fingers and hope everyone would show.

3 … 2 … 1 … ContactUpon arrival at LAX, Blair and I were greeted by fellow travelers Mark Healy, Danny Fuller, and Tommy Rulon, who were on their way down to Puerto Escondido. We all had some time to spare before our flights, so we relaxed at the airport bar and swapped stories. Mark had been to our destination before, so he enlightened us with a nice story about how he and Keith Malloy were boating by some island in the middle of nowhere and heard a burst of machine-gun fire. Mark said he and Keith jumped over the side of the boat and clung to the ropes for survival. That was a great thing to hear, because every person I talked to in the previous week threw comments like “Watch out for pirates,” and “Isn’t there some kind of war going on over there?” We thanked Mark for reinforcing our worries and wondered what the hell we were getting ourselves into. As our flight time drew near, we said adios to Tommy, nny, and Mark and made our way to the gate-still no sign of Allotta Shibata. Blair and I set up camp near the gate and popped a DVD into the G3 PowerBook and relaxed. This was the first of about a thousand movies we watched on this trip, which could actually be dubbed, “The Trip Of A Thousand Movies.” Midway through Mercury Rising Shibata showed up dazed from his five-hour Hawai’i flight but smiling as usual. Although only told about this trip the day before, this was to be his first stop on a three-month journey that would take Jason to the Maldives, South Africa, and then back to L.A. None of this even fazed him-he was psyching. Boarding began, and soon we were cruising over the Pacific ocean on Singapore Airlines. This is the best airline ever. Every seat comes complete with your own personal television set up with dozens of movies, American TV shows, and about twenty Nintendo games ranging from the classic Super Mario Bros. to the newest Super Ghouls And Ghosts. These airline treats made the fourteen-hour flight cake. I was happy to beat Blair in our Super Mario Bros. competition midway through our journey.

The anticipation was building heavily during this atmospheric travel. I imagined what it would feel like to jump off a boat into absolutely perfect waves. I wondered how it’d be to paddle into an Indo bomb. I also worried about the pain of bouncing off the reef or getting your ass bit by a sea snake. It dawned on me that we we’re flying in a plane that probably cost more to build than the entire gross national product of Indonesia. The only thing that kept me from going mad with preconceptions of Indo was sending King Koopa into the hot lava, ending his hellish reign over Super Mario world.Strangers In A Strange LandUpon landing in Singapore we were greeted by Bruce and Andy, who had arrived a few hours earlier from Kaua’i. The Singapore airport is amazing. It’s like its own city complete with movie theaters, hundreds of shops, and the best arcade. There were full-sized cars and crazy shoot-’em-up games that cost about a nickel to play. We spent our layover saving the world from dinosaurs and racing rally cars through Europe. This was around the same time the comedy began. Bruce is a relentless comic, and his sarcasm is world-famous. There wasn’t a minute that passed without a hilarious observation or well-aimed abusive comment. Phrases like “I rule you” and “I own you” were thrown in every direction. One flight later we arrived in Denpasar, Bali, a crazy city that’s always moving. When the plane door opened you could feel the tropical breeze waft in, followed immediately by the lazy feeling that tropical heat gives you. We were greeted with warm Balinese smiles that added to the comfort of the weather. The streets are about as wide as an average residential road but filled to maximum capacity with two-way traffic that includes buses, cars, bicycles, and scooters loaded with three-person families wearing flimsy baseball-style helmets. We planned to stay only for one night and then depart for our south-Indo boat dock. That night we met up with Bali’s unofficial mayor, Rizal Tanjung, his lady Chandra, and young Balinese shredsters Betet and Pen-Pen. They took us out to a cool little restaurant that had an all-you-can-eat buffet. The catch was that you had to pick out raw meat and veggies, put it all on a plate, bring it back to your table, and cook it yourself on your very own little barbecue that’s built into the middle of the table.* During dinner, Balinese girls danced on the stage, their eyes rolling around in their heads like those of chameleons and their heads tweaking and pausing in a robotic style. The music kind of sounded like guitars being broken over violins. It was sketching me out, but it was beautiful. Out Of The Pot And Into The FireThe next day our crew gathered at the airport, now complete with Bruce, Andy, Deano, Shibata, Bielmann, Emge, Blair, and me. It was adventure time, and we were off to our exotic location. Our plane was a small, dirty 70s twin-engine jet that didn’t look too safe, and it wasn’t, which we’d find out later. An hour after takeoff the landing strip appeared. Black smoke billowed into the sky, and bright red flames covered the ground on both sides of the runway. Athough clear that this was a controlled fire, when landing a shitty airplane in the middle of two rows of burning brush, the mind starts to explore the possibilities of disaster, and your thoughts begin to recall the rumors and stories of heavily armed terrorist militias running rampant.We touched down safely and walked off the plane directly into a blast of dry heat that felt like it came from Las Vegas or Palm Springs. The airport was about halfway built, and there were no lights in the terminal. Our group’s every move was monitored by the beady-eyed police who hassled our guides for information and money. After a brief explanation, our guides quickly shuffled us into a van and we were off to who knows where. The well-traveled surfers showed no sign of nervousness and even joked about being strip-searched and molested by the soldiers.The sweat and anticipation built up as we crossed the countryside in a steamy van with no air-conditioning. The streets were lined with half-built houses, busted-up old boats, little shops, and derelict buildings that looked as if they were once abandoned and looted. The people smiled at us and didn’t seem to have much of a problem with the video cameras and minidisc players we flaunted in true American-tourist fashion. Twenty-five minutes later, a small beach doubled as launching zone for the beautiful ship, the Mahalo 2.

This warrior of a boat-stainless steel with twin hulls and two turbo engines capable of high speeds and maximum comfort-was spacious and luxurious enough for even the yellowest of travelers. As we stepped aboard the back deck, the living room appeared to be the size of a double-wide trailer. Huge silver refrigerators and a gourmet stove outfitted the kitchen. Toward the front of the boat, bedrooms contained four bunks each.

The boat’s engineer, Corky, and our captain, Gary Burns, a crusty sea-dog who’d been everywhere in the world, were very professional and super cool. They basically just told us make ourselves at home. We could relax in two levels of chill space that included DVD players, VCRs, TVs, stereos, and an outdoor dining room-a pleasure cruise. After getting settled, our high-speed ten-hour boat drive to our first destination began. We made the crossing at night, so after relaxing upstairs on the patio deck, we retreated to the galley, where we watched our first of a thousand movies on the boat. After a mellow crossing, we all slept well in nice bunk beds with cool air-conditioning. We woke up the next day greeted with smoothies, an insane breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, and three- to four-foot lefts reeling off in the distance. Amazing amounts of comedy soon began. Bruce verbally thrashed all parties involved with friendly fire that kept the crew laughing at all times. He usually started with Andy, calling him a horse-head. Andy would just ignore Bruce and start throwing some insults of his own at Blair, saying something like, “Hey, Blair, are you sure you should eat that bread? You’re looking a little bit fat around the waist.” A constant sitcom.

A Time To KillWhen we finally made our way into the lineup, a warm-up session commenced to work out the cricks and stiffness that follow a twenty-hour journey. The wave was a left point that peeled easily a hundred yards down the reef. It wasn’t a heavy wave in the least, but it was fast and long as shit. The lip wouldn’t really allow for huge turns, so floaters and open-faced slashes were mostly in order. Andy and Bruce played around and mostly just snaked each other and laughed, and it became apparent that these waves were like the bunny slopes for them. They’d take off and kind of just cruise, every once in a whur exotic location. Our plane was a small, dirty 70s twin-engine jet that didn’t look too safe, and it wasn’t, which we’d find out later. An hour after takeoff the landing strip appeared. Black smoke billowed into the sky, and bright red flames covered the ground on both sides of the runway. Athough clear that this was a controlled fire, when landing a shitty airplane in the middle of two rows of burning brush, the mind starts to explore the possibilities of disaster, and your thoughts begin to recall the rumors and stories of heavily armed terrorist militias running rampant.We touched down safely and walked off the plane directly into a blast of dry heat that felt like it came from Las Vegas or Palm Springs. The airport was about halfway built, and there were no lights in the terminal. Our group’s every move was monitored by the beady-eyed police who hassled our guides for information and money. After a brief explanation, our guides quickly shuffled us into a van and we were off to who knows where. The well-traveled surfers showed no sign of nervousness and even joked about being strip-searched and molested by the soldiers.The sweat and anticipation built up as we crossed the countryside in a steamy van with no air-conditioning. The streets were lined with half-built houses, busted-up old boats, little shops, and derelict buildings that looked as if they were once abandoned and looted. The people smiled at us and didn’t seem to have much of a problem with the video cameras and minidisc players we flaunted in true American-tourist fashion. Twenty-five minutes later, a small beach doubled as launching zone for the beautiful ship, the Mahalo 2.

This warrior of a boat-stainless steel with twin hulls and two turbo engines capable of high speeds and maximum comfort-was spacious and luxurious enough for even the yellowest of travelers. As we stepped aboard the back deck, the living room appeared to be the size of a double-wide trailer. Huge silver refrigerators and a gourmet stove outfitted the kitchen. Toward the front of the boat, bedrooms contained four bunks each.

The boat’s engineer, Corky, and our captain, Gary Burns, a crusty sea-dog who’d been everywhere in the world, were very professional and super cool. They basically just told us make ourselves at home. We could relax in two levels of chill space that included DVD players, VCRs, TVs, stereos, and an outdoor dining room-a pleasure cruise. After getting settled, our high-speed ten-hour boat drive to our first destination began. We made the crossing at night, so after relaxing upstairs on the patio deck, we retreated to the galley, where we watched our first of a thousand movies on the boat. After a mellow crossing, we all slept well in nice bunk beds with cool air-conditioning. We woke up the next day greeted with smoothies, an insane breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, and three- to four-foot lefts reeling off in the distance. Amazing amounts of comedy soon began. Bruce verbally thrashed all parties involved with friendly fire that kept the crew laughing at all times. He usually started with Andy, calling him a horse-head. Andy would just ignore Bruce and start throwing some insults of his own at Blair, saying something like, “Hey, Blair, are you sure you should eat that bread? You’re looking a little bit fat around the waist.” A constant sitcom.

A Time To KillWhen we finally made our way into the lineup, a warm-up session commenced to work out the cricks and stiffness that follow a twenty-hour journey. The wave was a left point that peeled easily a hundred yards down the reef. It wasn’t a heavy wave in the least, but it was fast and long as shit. The lip wouldn’t really allow for huge turns, so floaters and open-faced slashes were mostly in order. Andy and Bruce played around and mostly just snaked each other and laughed, and it became apparent that these waves were like the bunny slopes for them. They’d take off and kind of just cruise, every once in a while doing some crazy snap or hefty gouge. They weren’t challenged whatsoever by this break, but they ruled it just the same. Dean Morrison caught the first ten or so waves. He has this paddle ability that’s just amazing. He’d catch a wave, rip it for a few-hundred yards, then be back outside in seconds. He was a machine. He also has a sense of humor that catches you off guard. In his Aussie accent he’ll straight-faced tell you some crazy lie, and you’ll believe him for a second until he starts laughing at you. He’ll just come up and say, “Man, I saw the biggest shark out there right before you guys went out. It was like ten feet long.” Everyone would just be like, “Really? F-k, that’s gnarly,” and get all scared.

Shibata was amped and showed it by floating every section and doing about a hundred snaps on every wave. Shibi was by far the most organized and prepared traveler of any person I’ve ever seen. He’s got every travel accessory known to man and the best travel toys ever, including a laptop, badass travel speakers, DVDs, and a full-service pharmacy complete with every aspirin, vitamin, and toiletry available, all packed precisely in a travel bag.

After our first session we came in to yet another huge meal prepared expertly by our chef. She would just keep piling the food on the table. Cakes, banana bread, salads-we’d all just devour it. The second Blair took any portion, Andy and Bruce would politely point out to Blair that he was getting fat and maybe he should slow down on the bread.

A lot of people think Bruce and Andy don’t get along, but it’s really the opposite-they get along like brothers in that they can make fun of each other all day long and just laugh at the end of it. It’s steady entertainment, but if you try to throw a comment in, it’s over. They’ll turn on you in a second and serve you some abuse. For instance, when I tried to say some comment like, “Supposedly this movie took three years to film,” Bruce would respond with, “Oh, wait. Everybody be quiet. Here comes a another press release.” That would shut me right up.

The Status QuoAt night we sat around, ate, and watched movies (usually two movies a night-one before dinner, one after dinner). Then everybody would pass out. Sleeping was no problem on the boat. It kind of rocked a tiny bit and put you to sleep like a baby in a cradle.

The next morning we woke up to another amazing breakfast and the same exact waves as the day before. The crew was getting a little restless and wanted some waves with more teeth. The captain said that the next day would be a little bit bigger and we could go surf a right that was pretty heavy. After a long day of surfing the left, we decided the best thing to do would be sit in the boat and play PlayStation 2-golf, NASCAR, and motorcross. That night the backgammon competition got pretty heavy. Dean and Andy seemed to be the champions, or at least they yelled the loudest when they won.

After a twelve-hour sleep we awoke to waves a few feet bigger than the day before, so the crew made its way to the right. The wave looked kind of like Lance’s Right but a little less perfect. It broke over a shallow reef and spun out into a channel. The crew consisted of all regular-footers, and watching those guys pull into wave after wave was a trip. They all just charged it like it was nothing. The offshore winds whipped the face of the wave and made it that much harder to ride, but it didn’t seem to faze any of them. Andy got a bomb and just stood in the barrel with his arm jammed into the wave. It happened in slow motion and looked like a painting you’d see in the back of Surfer’s Journal.* It was clear that these guys could’ve ridden any wave that the Indian Ocean threw at them, none of ’em pulled back on any wave. Blair had the best wipeout on a big one. He started to drop in, and the second he got to his feet the wave pitched and sent him into a spin-flip washing-machine hell ride-it was truly fun to watch.

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