IT'S A SMALL WORLD: Surf Journalism Expedition Dispatch # 4

Sprawled on my bed, body exhausted, I hear the engine of our boat quiet down. The anchor chain begins its run, the sharp purring noise I've come to recognize as the preceding sound to surf time. Already sunburned, sore and tired from a morning session at "Seven Palms," I roll slowly out of bed to check the waves. We've just anchored at Lances Left.

On my way to the deck, I couldn't help but remember the classes so far. Sam's clear-cut explanations of structure and technique along with Matt's animated inspiration for creativity and imagination, opened our senses to each surf session: observing more, processing more and understanding more. Class has made each session, and thus the trip, more worthwhile. If we weren't having class in between sessions, we would literally be loafing around for hours as we travel from spot to spot. It fills the down time with excitement and adds extra meaning to the otherwise perfect waves.

The winds were variable, throwing some texture onto the normally glassy ocean skin. The waves looked fun, but not all-time. There were two other boats anchored alongside us. Usually more boats can dampen the spirit and hope of a crowdless session, but one of these boats did not dampen our spirits. Not this time.

Just one week ago, David, Nick, Jordan and I were surfing in Bali. We met some great guys at the place we were staying and soon discovered that they were going to be in the Mentawais the same time we were. We talked, jokingly, about how sick it would be to meet up somehow during these two weeks. And now, today, their boat was anchored a mere fifty yards away.

I never imagined I would be so excited to see another boat in the line up. It surprised me, really, how truly amped I was to see these new friends again. I had known them only for a week, but I couldn't wait to head out to Lances Left and share some waves with these guys. Australians, Brenton, Simon and Paul, along with Venezuelans, Javier and Daniel, were so shocked to see David and I climb aboard their boat. Wide-eyed and speeches, all they could manage to say was, "No shit!" None of us thought we would actually cross paths again once we left Bali, but here we were at Lances Left.

We all paddled out and had one of those sessions where it was fun not because of how good the waves were, but because of who was out. Sharing waves, telling stories and cracking jokes, it turned out that a lot had happened during that last week. With all the boats patrolling the Mentawai Islands, it seemed a special occasion that we got to experience a session with friends on another boat with no planning whatsoever. And with eleven days left here, who knows who or what we'll run into next. It's a small world.