DOWN SOUTH: Daily Dispatch From The Surf Journalism Expedition

Good Morning

Thirty pound bats. Think about that for a second. People here call them flying foxes. That's all I could think about that morning: that I was in a country where the animal counterpart of Dracula grew to about the size of my dog. I groggily looked out the cabin windows, half expecting to see one of the three-foot tall beasts hanging upside down in front of me. Instead, I saw a postcard. A perfectly circular, one-mile diameter jungle island sat on our port side, fringed with both soft sand and jagged reef. It looked like a heavenly place to snorkel and relax on the beach; I didn't even think of surfing. Just then, Will hooted at the apparently dredging, head-high left peeling off our starboard side. Good morning, Indonesia.

Our Friend

This time, I was too deep. As the crystal water pitched over me and the next section loomed impossibly, I yanked my rail hard and unsuccessfully tried to escape through the back. Just before my head went under, three angelfish and a big, black rock stared at me from below. It didn't hit me hard, in fact, the reef let me hold on to it as the next wave detonated over my head.

Tyson didn't have it so lucky, pulling into a questionable closeout and getting flung back-first into "something kinda hard". Sometimes it helps, other times it hurts, but that nasty reef will always be our friend. Hell, it's why we're here in the first place.

Under the Sea

Mega, one of the Islamic Indonesian women on board (with a sweet name), had lived on the coast of Sumatra for all of her 26 years. She has never, however, seen the world beneath the sea. Awkwardly bobbing off the pristine reef in her jilbab (Islamic gown and headdress), she squeezed a mask on her face and looked down. The brightly colored fish, flowing seaweed, golden sand, spiky coral -just imagine how she felt, an entire new world revealed before her. Her broken English did little to describe her joy, but her eyes that glowed like light bulbs told it all.