5:45am. My iPhone dragged me out of slumber with that damn Marimba tune and I could already feel June’s hangover. It was July 1st and as I peeled open my sunburnt, bloodshot eyes, I half expected to find myself fully clothed with a half eaten kebab in my bed and a cleverly crafted permanent marker depiction of male genitalia on my forehead. What I found instead was a broken and worn out lens, a cracked underwater housing and a back-log of editing to do. Man… what a bender June had been.

 

I jumped online to assess the damage. Not the standard bank balance check to see how much remained in your account after the $150 cab ride or the 20 cheeseburgers you so magnanimously bought for all the randoms in Maccas on the way home. This time it was to check how much swell was left on the charts. It was a seriously sobering state of affairs.

 

“Urgh.. I’m never surfing again” I thought to myself. Besides, how could you after a month like that? June had shown us some of the most perfect waves we’d seen this year and now it was flat – as flat as we were feeling. But anyone who’s been out here before know’s that there is no such thing as ‘flat’ in the Mentawais. If the winds are kind, even on the smallest days you can find a shoulder to head high wave somewhere. We must’ve been looking pretty pitiful because luckily, the winds took it very easy on us.

 

No hangover is complete without a fast-food binge and a bit of grease so that is exactly where we went. Turns out that the 200m long ‘oil slick’ walls at Burgerworld did us the world of good. Well, a much better option than hair of the flea-bitten indonesian dog anyway. BankVaults and Nipussi were also surprisingly good fun and despite the charter boats slowly filling into the area and the crowds growing, a well timed morning or lunch-time shift or a bit of pioneering could get you a fun empty session.

By mid-month, the sun was shining, the swell was rising and the options were opening up. 4 Bobs, Candys, Kandui and Hideaways, while not huge, were definitely big enough to have everyone fizzing like a freshly dropped Berocca. We were starting to feel really good again… But then that’s bound to happen when you’re getting thoroughly re-hydrated in some of the clearest water conditions I can remember seeing.

 

Late July saw the swell come up even more and we were back to surfing chunky BankVaults and some personal favourites further afield. Pitstops also lit up and with the big tubes around the corner, ridiculously playful waves right out the front and sunsets turning on the party lights, it was all beginning to feel like a bit of a celebration again. Mind you, it’s pretty easy to feel festive when you can kick out of a wave and be at the bar, Bintang in hand, in 2 minutes flat. Cheers to that.