Thursday, May 15, 2014

Week 1 | Lombok

This is how my trip started...
      Woke up at 4am on Wed, got to the airport and flew out of Brisbane by 6am. After a 2.5 hr flight I had a 7 hr layover in Adelaide south Australia which I spent skyping the family then grabbed a bus to the beach nearby for some lunch. I got back to the airport and boarded my 4pm flight, 5 hrs later I landed in Bali, Indonesia 7:30pm local time. After an hour of waiting in airport to get through customs and get my visa finally got outta there, grabbed my board bag and hired a taxi, heading
lombok indonesia
Traffic on the road
straight for the ferry terminal in Padang Bai. 2 hours later now 10:30pm I walked onto the ferry with about 150 Indonesians, during the passage a couple people came up to me just wanting to talk. One guy approached me and after a bit of chatting the best we could in English we went through a lil language book I have and we taught each other some words. A bit later another man sat next to me and asked about my bracelets after I told him where I got them from he left and returned with a bag of some he had made. He picked out two and tied one to my wrist, before I could give him a couple rupiahs he said "for you my friend I want no money..." Where this kindness came from idk but this is Indonesia, a beautiful country everywhere from the people that inhabit it, the land, and of course the waves. Arriving on the island of Lombok at 3:30am I met a very nice and pretty Argentinian girl traveling alone, we decided to split a taxi since where she was going was on the way to my destination. Arriving at a hotel in the middle of Indonesia at 4:30 in the morning, let's just say the reception guy sleeping was very surprised to be woken up and asked in what room are my friends staying. My friends Eric and Zac from back home in California have been here in Indonesia for over a month. They were even more surprised to get a knock on the door and see me standing there after I txted them a few days prior saying "see you soon". We all were so excited to see each other we stayed up and talked about each others travels until the sun rose and it was time to surf. Now this picture comes into the story, after 24 of traveling including 2 flights, a bus, 2 taxis, a ferry, and quite a bit of walking with a large surfboard bag I am about to paddle out to a surf a perfect 6-8 ft right hand point with 2 good friends on the complete other side of the world.

     I stayed on the island of Lombok for 5 days and we scored waves everyday, and it even got so big that almost every spot was maxed out! My last time to Indonesia last year I had wanted to explore other places than Bali, I got out to the island of Sumbawa which was a amazing with semi uncrowded waves. This time to back to Indo I wanted to go somewhere new and Lombok was definitely high on the list, I was stoked to find out my mates were there. Once your off Bali, you see a whole different side of the Indonesian culture, it's beautiful and something I highly recommend if your ever in Bali. 
lombok indonesia
Lombok, Indonesia
     During the 5 days on Lombok I stayed at an awesome hotel that I have recommend in my Travel Surf Live Surf Guide to Lombok. The village we were living in is mostly made for surfers, all you see is lil warungs, couple surf shops, small surf hotels, and advertisements for boat trips and transport to other islands. My friends Zac and Eric had been there for a week before I arrived so they already knew the surf spots and everything so that was nice. We surfed 4 different waves in the 5 days, all rights over reef/rock bottoms. The food was alright, I ate mostly local food which is fried rice or fried noodle, but we did try a few burger places and also a pizza place which was actually pretty good! It's awfully rare to head to these countries and not have an upset stomach, some how I have yet to have food poisoning in a foreign country. What I found from traveling in foreign country it is easy to change most comforts except food, if you aren't feeling comfortable with what your eating it makes your trip very hard. 
     Some friend's I had made in Byron, a few swedish girls Elin, Jasmine, and Amanda had happened to be in Indonesia the same time I was there. They were on the Gili Islands just a short boat and an hour taxi from where I was at the time, so they decided to come by for a couple days to hang out. It was awesome seeing them again, my friends and the girls all hung out for a few days. Lounging by the pool after a surf, going for lunch, riding the scooters around, and hanging at the beach. After a few days they headed to Bali where we would soon meet up again!
     The first couple days on Lombok we surfed an epic right hander that is a 15 minute scooter ride outside the village. The setup up is beautiful with cliffs all around you and a couple small islands off the coast. The paddle is about 10 minutes at least so definitely gets you warmed up for the epic surf session your about to have. The next few days we switched off between a big bay about 30 minutes away where you can grab a small boat to 4 different waves in the bay. Its always fun getting on and off a boat to go surf, its basically the epic surf session to jump of a boat into the lineup. And for only 5 bucks round trip out to the waves, you can't complain at all!
     Lombok was much better than I had imagined it, so many opportunities to get out in the water to semi uncrowded line ups. The scenery is lush, jagged, extreme, and just plain beautiful. There is so much to explore with little to no people around, I can't wait to venture further and further next time. But for now 6 days was a perfect intro to the potentional of this 1 of the 10,000 Indonesian islands, back to Bali.....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finding work on the Gold Coast!

     After Bryce and I had been in Aus for over a month we started to look for work, we had a bit of luck as I have wrote about in previous updates. But not as much as we thought, it turns out you need to be qualified for almost every kind of work here, that's a decent pay at least. So as we both didn't have working visas anyways we couldn't apply for some things necessary to get qualified for proper work. But none the less we still searched for work in between going to the beach and adventures. Once I got back from the sailing/Melbourne road trip I stayed in Byron for one week and ended up finding a job. The job is working for a guy that has bought a few houses that he wants fixed up so he can rent them out. The houses are in Gold Coast about an hour north of Byron, so I decided to hit the road to find some work. Bryce wanted to chill in Byron for a bit longer because he had some plans later that week.
My ride to work for a day, thanks to my mate Dillon!
     I headed up to Gold Coast on a Friday evening to stay with some good friends I met a month earlier, and they had found jobs up here as well. My friend Dillon and I went for a surf at Burleigh Heads just a few km's down the road from there house. The waves were ok head high and a bit walled but fun to get in the water at a new spot none the less. After a lil surf sesh we headed up into Surfer's Paradise where his girlfriend Roxanne was working in the mall. We hit an Australian classic food spot called Nando's, basically really good bbq/smoked chicken, beef, ribs, etc accompanied by a handful of chips (french fries). Later that night I went up to Brisbane to go to a friends birthday party, it was nice meeting some new people, a majority of them being french! I always try to learn a bit of french so that when I get home I can speak some to my grandparents who speak it fluently.
D-Bah in Coolangatta!

     Sunday was a fun day I spent roaming the city of Brisbane with my friends Emilie, Roxanne, and Dillon. A pretty clean city with lots of good lil food joints, a beautiful botanical garden, and great beaches along the river the city is built on. On the other side of the river is an awesome lagoon style beach themed watering hole that hundred of kids and families gather around on the weekends. I've never seen anything like it, all man made but gives the feeling of being in paradise with a sky scrapper backdrop in the distance. Had a great time in the city but it was time to go back to the Gold Coast to have my first day of work in the morning.
     The house this guy had bought is beyond a fixer upper, termite damage everywhere, and nothing was put together right the first time. But it is work that I know how to do and all I can find at the moment so I'm giving it a shot. For the first few days me and another guy working Luke, just tore out existing kitchen/drywall and reinforced some of the rotten walls the best we could. Put up all new drywall, installed a kitchen he bought at a salvage yard, put in a new toilet, and did lots of painting! I worked for 8 days and saved enough money along with some money from another gig to go to Bali. Between working for a week and a half I got a couple fun sessions in at Burleigh Heads and D-Bah, both waves I have heard about and always wanted to surf. After finishing work on Tuesday I headed up to Brisbane and started packing my bags for my flight to Bali then next day!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sailing Gold Coast to Melbourne!

One week ago I replied to an ad on the internet looking for people to help deliver a boat from gold coast to Melbourne, I replied with my experienced and prayed I would get a call back. Today I am sitting on a 43ft catamaran and leave in a couple hours for a 6-10 day sailing voyage down the coast of Australia. How I have been so lucky on this trip I don't know but let the adventure start again. 

43 ft Catamaran in Gold Coast, Australia

Day 1 update: Leaving the harbor was a bit hairy, 12ft swells chop and wind for the first couple hours. Had a seagull hope on the boat and hung out till the morning for a free ride. I got some sleep before I had night watch from 8-11pm and then 2-5am wasn't to bad. Woke up to a delicious omelet breakfast and the sun rising on the horizon. Pod of dolphins followed us for 10 minutes a bit ago it was beautiful. Were cruising about 15-20 miles off shore, motor sailing at about 6 knots, the sea is a lot calmer today and the sun's out! Should pull into Sydney harbor by Sunday morning, get some fuel an some more supplies.

Day 3 update: the last 24 hours have been quite interesting, other than making good timing from gold coast to Sydney. Had watch this am from 5-8 and witnessed by far the most beautiful sunrise I have very seen in my life, photos wouldn't do it justice. After a quick nap some fighter planes flew over head doing some training maneuvers, followed by a pod of 100 pilot whales! Later on after playing a couple cards games we noticed a storm with a waterspout following us from behind, so we prepared for the worst. There are a couple in cyclones in the area that we have somehow have been barely dodging, just before sunset our port engine went out. For dinner I prepared a huge pot of spaghetti Bolognase, then we worked on the engine while still motoring towards Sydney about 50 miles away at the time. After an hour of helping work on the engine I bunked down for a nap before my watch later that night. Woke up to lightning storms all around us, the port engine running again, and the wind howling. Had to immediately attach lifelines to myself to stay on the boat and reef the sails to make them smaller so the wind wouldn't toss the boat around as much. We rode out the wind for awhile, it's now 3am and were about 5 miles away from entering Sydney harbor finishing our first leg, going to anchor for the night, get some sleep, gas up in the morning, and head out again! An amazing experience so far and it's not even half over yet, the craziest leg is yet to come, the bass strait....known as one of the worst seas in the world, but luck has been on our side so far!
Off the coast of New South Wales, most beautiful sunsets ever!

Day 5 update: Yesterday we got into Sydney harbor at 5 am, tied up to a mooring and all got some good sleep, since we had been non stop sailing for 3 days. After waking up and getting some breakfast, the captain and I bleed the fuel system of the port engine which was the problem why it was acting up and cutting out on us the day before. When finished we headed to shore to get some food from the store, a weather update, refueled, filled up the water tank, and lastly cruised by the Sydney opera house for a quick photo session! We departed the harbor around 5pm yesterday and headed south into some moderately choppy conditions, was a pretty low key night but made some good miles. All day today was quite bumpy and not to eventful, except we tried to get close to an island that had said in the book there are little penguin species and fur seals that live there. We didn't see any which was disappointing, but at least we tried, about 24 hrs after leaving Sydney we had sailed about 200 miles which is much better than we expected. It is now a Lil after 1am on Saturday morning and the wind is howling, but we are cruising at about 10 knots, hopefully making it into the bass strait by sunrise! Some crazy conditions out here, couple good knock arounds, some how have yet to be sea sick, and been dodging some storms passing by us as if were in a lil bubble. At the moment we are on course to make it to Melbourne Sunday evening or early Monday morning which would be a great accomplishment! Wish us luck 

The Tasman Sea is relentless

Day 6 update: About 2 hours after the last update I had posted shit went haywire, our so called safe bubble we have had all trip pop'd. We got around the southeast corner of Australia where New South Wales and Victoria border is, heading towards the bass strait right into a storm.... 8-12 ft swell and whitecaps smashing over the bow. The boat was rocking all over the place, water washing through the cockpit, and pots flying off the stove. Haven't had much of an appetite in the last couple days and it finally caught up to me this morning during my 5-8am watch had to throw up twice, then finally got to bed when my shift ended. Took about 30 minutes to get to sleep since waves hitting the side of the boat makes the inside of my cabin sound like a warzone. Trying to fall asleep in the seas were in is equivalent to trying to sleep in the back of a trophy truck doing an offroad race, but sleep is the only way to feel better and get rid of the stomach ache and nausea feeling. After waking up and being on watch again around 11am the sea had gotten worse, we had to bring the sails in(reef them) and slow down. Were not making much head way since the wind and swell is not in our favor, making it so we have to zig zag(tack) back and forth taking 3 times as long to go towards our destination. We've decided to head towards land and hug the coast a bit more in case we need to go for shelter (even tho the closest sheltered inlet is 80 miles away). Waking up after another small nap around 6pm the Tasman sea has calmed to a bare-able chop, wind has changed south (to our favor) and were finally making headway again. Got a bit of pasta and garlic bread for dinner in me and couple waters, crew and myself are hoping it stays like this throughout the night so we don't have to head for refuge and can just get to Melbourne on schedule! As crazy as this has been and even during the times of feeling like shit these couple days I wouldn't change this voyage at all, it has showed me mother nature and the sea in its most raw form, which not to many people get to experience. It has also got me thinking about my career path I have been working towards (becoming a captain), not that I don't want to anymore but that I need more experience just like these voyages. Being on a boat miles off the coast not being able to see land and at the mercy of the sea's raw power is the most adrenaline and mixed emotional excitement I've ever had in my life!
Lighthouse island somewhere in the Tasman Sea

Day 8 update: Haven't had any signal for the last couple days here in the Tasman sea about 30-45 miles off shore. After my last update we had a pretty calm morning, then later that day got hit by another decent storm, not as bad as the one I described before, but still a good amount of chop to knock shit around. Yesterday evening I got a pretty good nap in before getting some food in my stomach as well. Watch last night from 11pm - 2am was pretty bumpy, with a bit of action, dodging couple islands, a ferry, and fishing boat while heading around South East Point. As the rest of the crew has been sipping away at hot tea or coffee on night watch, I've been living of the delicious lil cup of noodle packets you dump into a mug then fill the rest with hot water, been keep me alive haha. It's been really fun navigating at night reading the chart and GPS, looking for the lighthouses and there light patterns. Then putting all that together to find out where you are on the chart and what points of references you need to stay between to navigate through safely. I've always loved navigation, maps, and geography for that matter so doing all of that while on the ocean has been a lot of fun! Last night the captain didn't wake us for our 5am watch and I didn't notice till I awoke at 7:30am, but he had it under control as well as getting us sailing at 11 knots for a couple hours. It's now 9am on Monday morning, were 83 miles from the entrance of Port Phillips (Melbourne), if we keep up our current speed should get to the entrance around 9pm tonight. Which would be good timing since the tide rising will help us get through the inlet which acts like a river since it's so narrow. After entering the inlet we would still have roughly 30 miles to the Marina we are delivering to, the bay which Melbourne sits on is huge and might as well be a sea of it's own, but at least we will be sheltered from the swell and be able to make good time once inside. So as of now our ETA to arriving at the docks ending our voyage is 2am tonight if everything goes to plan, that's about 17 hours from now, fingers crossed. Oh and we had a pretty epic rainbow pop up after sunrise this am so hopefully that will give us some good luck for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Byron Bay.....

     It's been a couple weeks since I have got on the blog here and I have good reasons for that. I am currently in Byron Bay about 2 hours south of Brisbane and have been here for a couple weeks. When we arrived we instantly fell in love with the atmosphere, people, and scenery. The town has turned in a backpackers haven in the last decade, almost completely catering to a backpackers every need. The town is full of young people with stories from there travels around the world, I have met so many amazing people that are now friends for life.
     The first night we arrived in Byron we stayed at a hostel called Nomad's which is a well known world wide hostel business chain. It was a pretty cool spot, we grabbed some beer and had a couple drinks with friends before hitting the bars. The bar we went to was hilarious, it was a Wednesday night and it was packed, dancing on tables, pretty decent music, and 5 dollar beers. Basically danced the night away and had a last drink down on the beach before making our way back to the hostel and trying to find our room.
travel surf live
Art work all of over the hostel, its very inspiring.

     We had to leave our van at one of there other locations a couple minutes down the road at The Arts Factory Lodge, since it would fit in there underground car park. When we went to pick up the van we found out that at that hostel they have a car park where you can pay $15 a night to just camp in your van instead of the $46 a night bed in the dorms. You were still able to use all the amenities of the hostel including there showers, restrooms, laundry, cafe, pool tables, pool, ping pong, volleyball court, they have it all! We payed for a week since we knew we wanted to be here awhile then got some wifi to start looking for a couple lil jobs.
     We spent the first couple days meeting new people around the hostel, going to the beach, then to the library for some free wifi to look for small gigs to get some money. We struggled finding jobs for the first week and a half we were here, but finally the research and emails paid off with two labor jobs for 3 days of work! After a week at the hostel we were able to sign up to work for free accommodation at the hostel which would save us about $100 a week. Plus I was getting a lil bored and definitely wanted to do something, so we started working at the hostel last week. It has been a blast, the way it works is you work 2 days in a row 3 hrs each day, then you get two days off, then it starts over again. The 2 days you work gets you 4 nights accommodation, so it is really a good system plus when your working you get to meet some other great people that are working there as well and have been around for awhile.
    So the 3 days of work we had was going to be a crazy 60 hours but we decided to just push through it to make some good money! It went a lil something like this, woke up Monday morning and worked at the hostel for 4.5 hours since we weren't going to be there the next day. After we got in the van and headed straight to Burleigh Heads about 45 minutes north, we started work at 6pm. The job was renovating a section of a store called Big W (basically a Walmart), redoing the home entertainment section and moving things around. The work the first day was tough since we had to demolish some desks and clothing racks to throw away in a large dumpster, but the guys working were all really cool and easy to get along with. We finished at 4:30 am the next morning, 10 hours of work, when we got off we headed straight back to the Byron area and got a couple hours sleep. Our other job was helping an older lady move some of her things into a storage unit, cleaning her office, doing some yard work, and washing windows. The lady was awesome and had lived a very interesting life being married to an author for 45 years as well as traveling her self being a cook for archeologists on dig sites! We started at her house at 9:30, worked till noon and she made us a delicious lunch, worked a couple more hours and was off by 3:30 with $90 each in our pockets. We headed directly back to Burleigh again to work at the Big W for one more night, this time we started at 5:30pm and finished at 7:00am. After finishing in the early morning we jumped in the van and headed straight to the ocean for a refreshing morning swim! It woke us up a bit and then we cruised back down to the hostel to get some sleep.
travel surf live
Bryce taking the Go Pro out for fun in the water.

     The following days we definitely took it easy and relaxed at the hostel and hit the beach a couple times. The waves were picking up so I got down there for a couple of fun sessions. Thursday I had a feeling this one beach break right out front the hostel was going to be good so we went to check it out and it was so fun! Had a bunch of good waves and got some fun Go Pro shots as well, until I somehow snap my fin box on my board out and ended the session :( . After we grabbed some lunch I stopped by Patagonia where my friend Emilie works here in Byron. We chatted for awhile and I got a number form a good ding repair guy. I went to drop my boards off asap so I could get them back soon before the swell dropped!
     The next couple days we worked at the hostel in the morning and kept improving our tent setup we had going. It an awesome setup we have here at the hostel and couldn’t be more stoked to be in such an awesome environment where everyone is stoked everyday. A couple days earlier as Bryce and I were at the library getting some wifi, Bryce found an ad looking for a couple people interested in delivering a boat from Gold Coast to Melbourne. I instantly jumped on the opportunity since this is the career path I’m working to get into and it would be a great opportunity to get some great experience. We both sent emails and awaited a reply, the reply had come and I was going to be heading to the Gold Coast Sunday night to board the boat Monday morning.
travel surf live
Surfer's Paradise skyline

     Flash forward to Monday morning and I’m standing on the dock looking at a beautiful 43 foot catamaran that I will be sailing with 3 other crew members for the next 7-10 days down the east coast of Australia. The captain Ed Brennan is 28 years old from England, he has been sailing and on boats his whole life, and in the recent years doing deliveries all around Australia. He also heads of to the Mediterranean to work over there during there season as well, lots of experience and a super cool guy none the less. After I got my backpack on board and got a tour, we headed for the store to get food for the next week! The other two guys were flying in from Sydney and their plane was running a bit late so we decided to get some things done in the mean time. After a couple hours and $500 later at the store we made our way back to the boat to start putting everything away and get ready to depart later that evening.