Here’s how a charter surf boat wrecked just in front of Lance’s right


A Thursday afternoon in the last weeks of November, a Brazilian-owned charter surf boat called Praya Mentawai has been suspended from a reef slab off Sipura Island. The reef sits in front of one of the best waves in the world, Hollow Trees, also known as HT or Lance’s Right, and the boat quickly began to break. The occupants, a group of eleven bodyboarders, jumped into the water and swam to the beach. The ship, however, was desperately stranded.

Sipura Island is a small heavenly place with white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and azure blue waters. The configuration for HT is perfect. The wave winds around the southern end of the island and into a sheltered bay before unloading onto a section of reef called The Office. As it continues, it passes through another shallower section known as the surgeon’s table. The surgeon’s table was the final blow for the Praya Mentawai.

“It’s a nightmare,” Teiki Ballian, owner and manager of Hollow Tree’s Resort, told me via WhatsApp. He was standing in the sand looking at the wreckage when we spoke. “But it could have been a lot worse, for sure,” he continued. “No one was hurt – they got off the boat pretty quickly – it’s just that it all happened so fast.”

The line-up was almost empty at the time of the accident, thanks to a crosswind that shredded the wave in insurfable conditions. The captain of the boat decided to pull the anchor, but soon realized that it was stuck. It was then that he made a mistake.

“The captain left the wheel,” said Ballian. “They were weighing anchor and there was a crosswind and a side current too, pushing them towards the waves… but then the anchor was stuck and he left the wheel and went ahead to see what was going on. They did. When he did that, the anchor released and the boat drifted over the reef very quickly. By the time he ran to try to get away, it was too late. He hadn’t calculated that he would drift so fast. That was pretty much it. Literally two minutes and it was done.

Ballian, who was watching from the beach, acted quickly. He jumped into a speedboat, docked at the Praya Mentawai, and attempted to pull the wading vessel out of the reef. “We tried to pull the stern out, but the boat started to crack so quickly,” he said. “I saw the boat completely cracked in the middle, and there was smoke coming out of the sides. I thought ‘it’s full of gasoline’ so I let go of the rope. It was too dangerous.

And so the boat stayed there, broken by the waves and the reef. As of this writing, it’s all almost gone – not because it was swept into the sea in small pieces, but because the crew and a group of locals worked extremely hard to bring it back to shore. , piece by piece. The remnants of it – the small parts that remain – lie halfway between the surgeon’s table and the beach. The owners of the boat are devastated.

“It is with immeasurable sadness that we inform you all that the ship Praya Mentawai has been lost forever,” they wrote on Instagram. “Now is the time to ride the wave that the facts have brought us and accept all that we can no longer change… Our efforts are currently focused on cleaning up the incident scene and cleaning up the debris. “

According to Ballian, they haven’t organized a charter for two years and recently invested some $ 50,000 in the operation. And since wooden boats cannot be insured in Indonesia, the owners are, as Ballian says, “totally screwed up.”

Ballian, however, is not crazy. “Human error happens,” he said with a sigh. “For sure that was stupid, for sure it pisses us off that it happened, and it shouldn’t have happened, but things do happen.”

Fortunately, the wave itself is not affected. Ballian told me that the day before our conversation it was off and pumping. Praya Mentawai’s remains are completely out of the way, and thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, it’s almost as if it never happened. The boat was dismantled and given to the village. Divers clean up the reef, take whatever they can find, and load it onto a boat. A super yacht donated a spill kit, and the diesel that spilled was not a huge amount. The water is clean and the beach is pristine, and a freighter is on its way to remove the heaviest parts, which will be taken to Padang.

As for the shipwrecks, the Hollow Trees one was relatively easy. No huge amount of oil and fuel spilled and the boat quickly broke into mostly manageable pieces. Ballian knows from experience how much worse it could have been, and he’s grateful it hasn’t been worse. “I’ve seen other wrecks, and they tend to stay on the reef forever,” he told me. “This thing is practically gone. At high tide, you can barely see it.

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