Cruising the Mentawais with Alex and Xan

Finally the time was here. The boys had been counting the days until our friends, Alex and his 12-year old son Xan, would join us on the boat. They arrived in Tua Pejat on the fast ferry, after a nightmare trip surrounded by violently seasick passengers. The “tourism police” were quick to spot the surfboards they brought, and demanded the Rp1m “surfing tax” that the Mentawais have creatively instituted. It was then off to the yacht to introduce them to their new lodgings, and where Noah and Josh were spoilt with some South African (ProNutro, Bar Ones, Iced Zoo biscuits, the latest ZigZag) and RYD surfing goodies!

Here they come!
Spoilt with pressies from South Africa!

From Tua Pejat we headed to Telescopes, a 15 minute motor around the north-western corner of Sipora. Telescopes is one of the A-Grade Indonesian waves, but still great for everyone on board – it has a smaller inside section that the boys enjoy when gets too heavy, and a bigger outside section that barrels and draws the crowds. It can get pretty crowded if a couple of charter boats pull in, but fortunately there weren’t many people that afternoon and they all had a great time. We anchored just off Awera Island for the night, and enjoyed an Indonesian feast bought previously from the warungs in Tua Pejat. Xan did his best to avoid chilli, but that pretty much left rice.

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Xan and Josh waiting for waves at Telescopes (drone footage: Alex)
Josh riding inches away from the reef
Indo-chow, yeah!

We spent the next 4 days or so enjoying the area around Tua Pejat. There are so many waves around, lots of great day anchorages, sheltered night anchorages and access to supplies and food in the town. Alex had brought a drone along, and got some amazing footage of the area and surf sessions. It gives such a different perspective – and the footage of our boat at anchor amongst the islands looks like an advert for a fancy yacht charter! I expected to see us sitting on the deck in beautiful clothes with cocktails in our hands, “living the dream”!

Our favourite anchorages and waves
Xan “living the dream” (drone footage: Alex)

I can’t really elaborate fully on the surf sessions – and have left it up to the boys to describe in more detail in their own blog (hopefully coming soon). They surfed at least once a day, at the best place based on the wind and swell.

Backyards was a firm favourite. It has a perfect form and handles pretty sizeable waves, but can get quite shallow on low tide. The kids had such fun out there, and pretty much just came in for food before heading out again. The one day we were there on a fairly big swell, and Marco and Alex caught some sizeable waves. To Josh’s dismay he wasn’t allowed out that day due to the huge volume of water moving, but Noah and Xan caught some small inside sections. Good to get the adrenalin pumping a bit.

Backyards (drone footage: Alex)
Backyards with Telescopes in the far distance (drone footage: Alex)
Marco cheering Alex on
Our day anchorage right next to Backyards

Tikus is a lesser known, slightly more mellow wave, off the north-western corner of Silabok Island. Whilst the boys surfed, I walked along the beautiful beach and came to Aloita Resort owned by Fabrizio, a very welcoming Italian. He invited me to explore or relax in the lounge area, and I treated myself to their buffet lunch (complete with homemade ciabatta and an amazing mango panna cotta for dessert). Marco joined me later on, and we enjoyed sitting on the charming deck sipping what could be the best smoothies we’ve ever tasted!

My happy place

When the boys eventually wandered up to the resort after a 4-5 hour surf, they were exhausted and starving. I think Fabrizio could see the starved look, as he brought out 3 plates heaped with the buffet leftovers – on the house! Feeling rejuvenated, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing table tennis and pool, and drinking copious volumes of Chunky Monkey (banana, peanut butter, date and coconut cream) and Dragonfruit smoothies.

Starving boys enjoying the feast!
Beautiful swimming off Aloita resort (drone footage: Xan)
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Silabok Island – with our anchorage circled in the distance (drone footage: Alex)

Noah and Josh were keen to share Playgrounds with Alex and Xan. When the weather seemed good we headed off on the 3-hour trip, and anchored alone in our usual spot, next to Snake Island. The boys immediately jumped in the water to surf Four Bobs, their favourite wave in the area. Alex got some amazing drone footage of their numerous surf sessions there, and they pretty much dominated the wave for the next couple of days. Xan pulled off a stylish floater, Josh zig-zagged across the wave and worked on his “layback turns”, and Noah pulled some off-the-lips.

Josh (drone footage: Alex)
noah pic 3
Noah (drone footage: Alex)

Unfortunately a strong south-easterly arrived and blew relentlessly for over a day, making the anchorage unpleasant and the waves blown out. We spent an afternoon on the lee side of Snake Island, playing beach bats and skim ball. Time was running out, so we decided to head back to Tua Pejat where there are more options. The sail back was not that pleasant as we were heading into a 20-25 knot wind, and had to tack many times to avoid rain squalls and threatening clouds up ahead. I think Alex and Xan got a real taste of sailing!

Our time with Alex and Xan was filled with lots of surfing (no kidding), laughing and joking (3 boys – no kidding), eating (no kidding) and … “Pirates of the Caribbean”. It became a kind of tradition to watch “POC 1/2/3” each evening, and then repeat the lines ad nauseum the next day. We had some hilarious discussions around the table at night – particularly about girlfriends and the like (although Noah just pulled up his nose). “Cheat” was the favourite card game, although Xan’s iPad was a bit of a magnet for my Apple-deprived boys. A lot of ProNutro, Marie Biscuits and pancakes were consumed, as well as Magnums, Cornettos and Snickers when we had access to town.

Boys in charge of breadmaking
Marco bought some tuna from the neighbouring fishermen

The boys were so thrilled to be able to share this adventure with a good buddy from Cape Town / Elands, and I’m sure they’ll have many stories to reminisce over in years to come. Alex and I even caught up on work issues whilst he was here – not a bad backdrop for more serious discussions. Thanks for joining us guys – it was so special and totally made our trip!



2 thoughts on “Cruising the Mentawais with Alex and Xan

  1. Caleb

    So enjoy reading your blogs. So it’s pretty much surfing, more surfing and than some more surfing. What an adventure!! Super amazing…


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