Van Dieman Dispatch May 29

He said his name was Freddy, but that I should call him Billabong.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that he was decked out in all of the
latest accessories from the clothing super brand. No simple task seeing
as though Freddy lived on a small island, literally five hundred miles
from the nearest surf shop. I, of course, introduced myself as
Quiksilver, and my friends as O’neill and Roxy.

Billabong turned out to be a very gracious host, who was willing to
help us in any way that he could. If you wanted a tour of the island,
directions to the surf, dinner for less than $2.00, Billabong could
deliver. The narrow, and difficult to follow trail to the left point was
marked every 100 yards or so with the word Billabong scratched into the
surface of rocks along the way. He wasn’t a great surfer, but he sure
loved to claim a good ride. We witnessed a double arm raised salute for a
good thirty seconds after he had connected a wave from the outside section
all the way through the inside. A long wave to be sure, but hardly worth
the elaborate celebration.

Our time spent on Billabong’s island was full of fun waves, and new
adventures. It turned out that a crew sponsored by Billabong had visited
the island a few months earlier, and scored some sick waves, and obviously
left quite an impression on Freddy. Unfortunately, with the change of
seasons, the acclaimed right hander was no longer working when we arrived,
but we did score two pretty sick lefts.

The swell was maxing out the day we dropped anchor in the protected
bay, and a thirty minute dinghy ride brought us to an empty, double
overhead left with no one around for miles. The take off spot was right
on top of a massive boil, and some of the double ups were a little
intimidating. A few other boils down the line had us all surfing just a
bit more conservatively than usual, knowing that medical help would be a
long time coming if needed. We found out later that this wave is normally
a right, but that the swell was just too big to break in the normal spot.

The dinghy ride home revealed a long, although less powerful, left
point with a few locals in the line up. This wave was protected from the
wind that had ripped apart the wave we had already surfed, so we gave it a
go and were able to truly stretch our legs, without constantly thinking of
the consequences of a wipeout. The wave lined up for a good hundred yards, with plenty of opportunities for cutbacks and lips to carve. It
was during this first session that we met Freddy, and got all the
information we could use about the surf on this island.

The right hander we had all hoped to score was within spitting
distance of our anchorage, and each day it sat there dormant as we dreamed
of the flawless barrels that would have been there one month earlier. We
kept ourselves occupied with the other two waves we had come across, and
the breaks between surfs were full of discovery of the island’s native
animals. Sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies were
everywhere I turned. The boobies are a bird that look similar to your
standard seagull, but have feet as blue as sapphires. The pictures I had
seen of these creatures looked as though they had all been doctored up
with Photoshop, and I was shocked to see that their feet really were that
shockingly blue. The most popular item in the souvenir shop was the “I
love Boobies” t-shirt.

Two weeks later, we had had enough of the quaint little island, and
we set about provisioning for our longest leg of our journey. We were
able to buy most things that we needed, but our big concern was that
nowhere on the island did they sell beer to go. So, I stocked up on
“Booby” t-shirts, and set off for a month long crossing without any beer
on board. It was going to be just Trent and myself on board for the trip
across the Pacific, and he gets a bit cranky without a beer now and then.

This will truly be a test of our nerves.