TAVARUA SURF JOURNAL
-by SurfJunkie and ShShSh
October 16 and 17, 2007:
ShShSh: Tuesday, October 16, the day before the flight. Surf-Junkie and I are flying out of LAX on Air New Zealand tomorrow. As I can just eek four boards into the coffin, the quiver will be four boards:
1. 6’3” x 18-3/4” x 2-3/8” Cole HPS rounded squash tail
2. 6’3” x 18-3/4” x 2-3/8” CI MBM-II rounded pin tail
3. 6’8” x 18-1/2” x 2-1/2” Cole Pistol rounded pin semi-gun
4. 7’0” x 18-3/8” x 2-1/2” Jim Banks HTR gun
Surf-Junkie: 10/17 Packed all day, couldn’t believe how many things you have to remember but managed to get it all in a coffin (4 boards, clothes, fins, swim fins, wax , clothes, etc) and a back pack. ShShSh has been calling and e-mailing non-stop for 2 days, I told my wife he was like a kid at Christmas. I didn’t think anyone could be as excited as him but we just met our new friend Collin and he’s more excited than ShShSh, and he’s already traveled all day to get to LAX from Puerto Rico! There’s a whole load of surf stoked (I mean stocked) guys ready to board this plane. Gotta go!
1. 6’ 1” x 18 ¾” x 2 3/8” Chilli Squash
2. 6’ 1” x 18 5/8” x 2 5/16th Mayhem Whiplash
3. 6’3” x 18-3/4” x 2-3/8” CI MBM-II rounded pin tail
4. 6’ 6” x 18 5/8” x 2 ½” Mayhem Mini Gun
ShShSh, again: Couldn’t sleep Tuesday night. Woke up on Wednesday, October 17, at 4 a.m., took the dog for a walk, then drove down to Ventura to see about a dawn patrol. Flat. Got a coffee for the wife and home before 7 a.m. Spent the day packing and planning. At 5 p.m., hit the high road to LAX to meet up with the crew. SJ & I met there at 8 p.m., we smiled at the baggage check woman from Air New Zealand and got through with 8 boards, 150 pounds of gear, and no excess charges. We meet up with the crew and recognize that there are a whole lot of guys, and almost no women. Translation: It’s going to be a lot of competing for waves. Plane leaves at 11:15 p.m. As I type this, I’m sitting at LAX, tired but stoked.
Lots & lots of boardbags:
October 18, 2007… no wait, make that October 19, 2007:
ShShSh: Took the all nighter from LAX to Nadi on Viti Levu in Fiji. Slept a little, fidgeted a lot, and eventually arrived at 5 a.m. Friday. Thursday, October 18, 2007, disappeared for SJ & I on this trip. The jaunt across the international date line will do that to you. Watched the sun rise in the airplane, and eventually flew in over Tavarua & Namotu. Waves were breaking; just how big remains to be seen.
A van picked us up from the airport and transferred us to the Hotel Sofitel. The way over was interesting for packing 20-30 guys in, taking all of our boards and luggage in another truck, and then getting a flat tire! Out we went, into another van, and off to the hotel. For now, we’re briefly encamped at the Hotel Sofitel until 9:45 a.m., then off to the harbor to get on the boat for Tavarua.
Loading up the van: Yeah, those are board coffins going from floor to ceiling. 4 to 5 boards in each one.
Driving to the Village… attempt #1:
Driving to the Village… attempt #2:
Waiting in the Village for Boats to Tavarua:
Boat Ride to Tavarua:
Arrival at Tavarua. It was waist high and windy at Tavi Rights, but the water was warm, the crowd was stoked, and the feeling of washing off the travel was amazing. Broke in the new Cole 6’3” HPS and got two dings already. After 2+ hours, our boat was going in when we saw the next boat to Cloudbreak. SJ & I were only 2 of 3 guys on our boat to jump ship and head with the other 4 out to OH to DOH Cloudbreak! 7 guys total, 4 at the top, the other 3 spaced out evenly down to Shishkebabs. Great waves, great fun, great guys. Had one screamer from the top down through Shishkebabs, easily DOH on my 6’3” squash tail Cole. The board flew! I’m toast now at just 7:45. Four-five hours of nonstop surfing.
SJ: The arrival to the island is VERY exciting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ShShSh about covered it except that he forgot that Restaurants was looking fun & clean as we returned from Cloudbreak with only 4-5 guys out. We were very tempted to give it a go (despite being sundown), not just because it was looking good but because there are few who can claim they surfed all three breaks in a week let alone half a day. Maybe we’ll catch it in the morning and it will be within the same 24 hours. I’m completely toasted and the food was amazing, going to be asleep before 8pm !
Various Island Photos:
S-J’s Girlfriend on Tavarua…:
…And the reason why (1/2 to 2/3 Rum before the Coke goes in):
Sammy Rawaqa, the island comedian:
The last time the right was good… in 2002:
October 20, 2007
ShShSh: Early morning session at Restaurant’s Reef, but not early enough. We planned upon hitting the boat to Cloudbreak at 6 a.m., so after a breakfast of coffee, fruit, and bread went back to the room to goop up with sunscreen. Arrived at the beach at 6:05, to find a boat full of guys had already left. So, after low tide swung around at 7, I grabbed a boat with 6 guys out to Restaurants. Breaking anywhere from knee to head high, it was a blast. Fast, perfect, down the line flyers which were unbelievably hairy but so freaking fun. Got a few beauties on the MBM-II. At 9:30, the Cloudbreak boat passed so I climbed aboard and went out to building winds, swell and tide. Victory at sea conditions, with some DOH bombs and a lot of paddling. Fun times, but I was beat by lunchtime (5 hours surfing). Planned an evening boat go-out, but the rain & winds started in with a vengeance and put the kibosh on that plan. By the time it seemed the wind backed off at 6:00, we only had 30 minutes of light left. The paddle out takes 15-20 minutes, so I took the afternoon/evening off. Not again… at least not by choice!
SJ: Yeah, what ShShSh said about Restaurants , except he forgot to mention how bloody shallow it is. 3rd wave and I did a triple reef bounce followed on wave 4 by a lame backside layback attempt that I bailed on and got washed into the flats on to reef so dry my fins were dragging.
After ShShSh left we were down to 5 guys but the swell died for a bit and then suddenly got good again, 3 hour session left me too burned to surf the rest of the day.
Our Bure on Tavarua:
The Lookout for Cloudbreak:
October 21, 2007
ShShSh: After yesterday’s near miss at an early morning Cloudbreak session, I was on it at 6 a.m. Seven guys in my boat, but only 5 and the boatman/lifeguard were surfing. We spread out and had a killer 3-1/2 hours before the next boat ever arrived. It was an incredible morning session, better than it looked. 8 to 12 foot waves were running from the top all the way through and past Shishkebabs, full race track runners. Saw Dane Ward get an unreal barrel with a lip at least 2 feet thick. Amazing stuff. Caught some bombs, then went in for the spoiler breakfast.
The wind kept picking up through the day, but I jumped the last boat to Cloudbreak at 3:30, with another 12 guys and 2 boats. Ouch. The conditions were much, much worse, with the wind, tide and swell angle tearing the point apart. Not much in the decent department. Then after 1-1/2 hours, the first boatman wanted to leave early. He started rounding guys up against their will. Since I was on boat 2, I hung with Sean (our boatman/lifeguard), but then even we had to leave because of the safety rules. So, on the last wave, I rode as far as I could and kicked out at Shishkebabs. Bad call. Three wave set followed and pummeled me into the reef, feet first. Up until then, no major cuts or scrapes, then I tear up my feet on the last wave of the day going in! Figures, but a Bactine & Neosporin bath and I’m good. Regardless, another killer day in paradise with 5 hours of surfing, great food, incredible people, and amazing waves.
Rumors are running rampant of a new swell coming soon with an end to the winds. Hoping, hoping, hoping.
SJ: ShShSh made the right call, all reports indicate that Cloudbreak was better than Restaurant’s but there was still some nice waves coming through if you were patient.
Friends w/ their kids on Tavarua:
October 22, 2007
ShShSh: Grabbed the 6 a.m. boat to Cloudbreak with SJ and crew to find the surf had dropped to chest high with the winds remaining high. In a rare twist, I was first in the boat after 2 hours (usually I’m last after 3). Swell kept dying throughout the day to essentially flat by 3:00. Restaurant’s was flat; Cloudbreak was waist high at best. So it goes. Got some good reading in. Cam got some great spearfishing in. This evening after the nightly ping-pong tournament and getting my ass kicked by Dane, we decided to explore and saw a ton of sea snakes (most 2-3 feet long), Jon’s House, the Tree House, the Guest House, the Fijian compound, and Wilkes’ Grave.
I was told Jeff Booth once said that Tavarua is the best place in the world to get skunked for surf. We haven’t even been “skunked” so to speak, but I understand this sentiment exactly. We’re spoiled for weather, food, company, and sites.
SJ: Despite the dropping swell and full boat I had a blast at Cloudbreak, waves were fun and we had a great group of guys, all trading waves and hooting & hollering for each other regardless of skill level. People who have been here multiple times will tell you it’s the people in your group more than the waves that will make or break your trip--in that regard we scored!
Namotu (notice the flat ocean):
Waisaki (Wise) preparing a killer night of Sashimi:
One of many many many, here being held by Cam:
October 23, 2007
ShShSh: Rumors referenced 2 days ago turned into reality. Hopped the 9:30 boat to Cloudbreak and surfed there until 3:45. Swell built throughout the day, starting at head high and ending at double overhead plus on the sets. Blood, gore, a broken board, broken leashes, and general mayhem! The wind also died off to near calm conditions by evening. Came in from Cloudbreak, and went straight out to Restaurant’s for another 1-1/2 hours and caught a few great ones. Last was best – smack, smack, smack, carve, smack, smack, floater – that wave is perfect. Dinner with freshly caught Walu sashimi. Lotta surfing, lotta food. I’m beat.
SJ: 6am boat was packed so we ate breakfast and waited around for the 9:30 boat, only 4 guys (Incl. us) YEAH ! Smaller but clean & glassy and picking up throughout the session until it nearly doubled in size. Super fun session trading waves back & forth. Went back to the room for rest while ShShsh jumped on a boat back out (he’s a madman, even the young guys couldn’t believe how much surf he can cram into a day, I may have to forfeit my Surfjunkie alias to him!). Me, I needed to rest after every session (you know you are old when your internet tab exceeded your bar tab). When he returned around 4pm we caught fantastic Restaurant’s which, despite being short, was my favorite session of the trip.
Cloudbreak, morning of 10/23:
Reggie – He got dragged across the reef, screwed up his head (got stitches), back & leg:
Restaurant’s – These photos were taken at various times throughout our trip, not just 10/23:
October 24, 2007 – Take One: Fiji
ShShSh: Windy & way smaller. Made plans to leave early… and did.
SJ: Left 2 days early but it all worked out and made for a quicker return trip. I haven’t heard what we missed yet, it was probably epic since that’s the way it works when you leave early. Either way, we got plenty ! GREAT TRIP ! WORTH EVERY NICKEL !
October 24, 2007 -- Take Two: United States
ShShSh: Crossed the international date line, again. We left Tavi at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, flew out at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, and landed in L.A. at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. I’m writing this the next day, Thursday, October 25, 2007, after I just scored a 2-1/2 hour session at head high plus Rincon. Felt tight and relatively flat in the surf, but still had a good time.
1. Pack less boards. I (ShShSh) only surfed two, even with DOH surf. SJ only surfed three. At most, a semi-gun is all you need. The full gun was unnecessary. So, three boards max next time.
2. Vertra, Shiseido, and Headhunters are well worth the extra money. All worked incredible in the baking Fijian sun. I (ShShSh) used to mock these as make-up for guys. I’m a believer now.
3. Pack minimal amounts of clothing, and try to get them into your board bag. One pair of walking shorts is a must. One long sleeve shirt wouldn’t hurt. Don’t wear jeans in Fiji. They’ll just get wet and smelly.
4. Bring a good waterproof camera that you know how to use before arrival.
5. No wetsuits, no reef shoes, no extra fins. Don’t tinker with stuff; just surf.
6. Bring some energy bars and nuts but not beef jerkey (it isn’t allowed). Don’t bring “Power Bars” as they melt and get nasty in the Fijian heat.
7. I (SJ) think the clothing checklist is simple, 3 boardshorts, 2 T’s, 1 pair flip flops, visor plus what you wear on the plane (I suggest 1 lightweight pair of long pants, a tee, a lightweight long sleeve pull over, your most comfortable shoes.
Gone. Send hate mail to me at: ShShSh