Monday, 30 January 2012

Rajah Ampat in West Papua - Indies Trader Four

Surf/Coaching trip to West Papua January 2012. This is a marginal surf destination relying on storm cells off Korea and can get the very tail end of some Hawaiian North Shore swell. The reality is you may get skunked for waves however with swell there are plenty of coral reefs with promise. If you are looking for a hard core surf trip try another destination. If you are up for an adventure and want to check out a really cool area with the possibility of scoring surf as a bonus then check it out. 

The Indies Trader Four leaves from Sorong. You can get there via Denpassar or Jakarta. It does take two flights though. Either through Surabaya or Sulawesi (North or South). I took the flight through Makasar in South Sulawesi with a bunch of Russian friends. We stayed overnight and left for Sorong in Papua at 4.30am. Makasar Airport is amazing, super modern; the other end of the scale is Sorong, just a shed on a bitumen runway. Just check the last flight in case the plane is too small to take surfboards.

We were met by Tim, the IT4 Aussie cook and he dropped us in town for breakfast while the boats restocked and refuelled.

We leave in time to score a wind affected 3ft right hander late in the arvo. Everyone is pretty stoked; water temperature is 28-29 degrees. (As it turned out the biggest waves of the trip).

The set up of the Indies Trader four is five star. We all have our own cabins including en suite. Excellent food and service. Eric is our captain, Dorris our surf guide and legend surfer and great bloke along with chef Tim and the Indonesian crew.

We woke up in paradise and surfed a small shallow left breaking down the reef. This was to be the MO for the trip, small inconsistent waves. With swell a lot of potential but...........

The jewel in the crown here is not the surf but a National Park and world heritage site called Rajah Ampat situated just north of the equator.

There is massive ancient lime stone plugs or small islands everywhere. We weave our way through small islands and into smooth water. It is absolutely amazing. No surf through here as the water depth drops to 20 Meters beside these small islands. It’s not until you right inside this cluster that you find small fingers of sand.  

We spend four days just hanging in this area, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, wake boarding and generally soaking up the magnificent scenery. Apparently this area has the most diverse range of coral anywhere in the world. Didn't really want to leave.

On our return to Sorong we surfed in front of a small village and all the locals come out to watch. We paddle ashore and talk to them. They are proud Papuans and whilst they are poor they offer us coconuts. The kids were surfing the tiny one foot waves on anything they could find, bits of wood, old esky lids and having a ball.

The trip was really cool, only marginal waves but awesome scenery. The Trader Four is a fabulous boat at the top end of the charter business and is ideal for you and a partner. The boat has everything you need. Three tenders, two jet skis, diving tanks and all sorts of aquatic equipment.
The crew, Captain Eric, Surf Guide Dorris, Chef Tim and Engineer Hendrick are super friendly and very professional.

Would I recommend the trip to a bunch of hardcore surf frothers – No! 
Would I go again with my wife, family and friends – Yes!
Would I sneak a board or two into the luggage as well – Absolutely!

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