And Then Some
Gerry Lopez on G-Land in an excerpt from the Big Issue
The first time Mikey Boyum and I went to G-Land was by boat, on a Radon he had built in Singapore. It took us about two and a half hours from Jimbaran Bay. We anchored down by the end of the wave and paddled from the boat into the lineup. Petey McCabe, Terry Fitzgerald, and some other guys came on an Indo fishing boat they’d chartered out of Benoa. It was a long, slow ride. Not one of us could figure out where the heck the lineup was. While we sat waiting for a set, we could see all kinds of perfect-looking waves breaking up the line. Naturally we paddled up there. The farther we went, the more waves we saw, so we just kept paddling. The jungle on shore all looked the same so we had no point of reference. Higher up the point, the current starts to run and even while sitting, we were getting dragged deeper. We didn’t even notice until someone would wonder where the boats were. We had come so far, we couldn’t even see them anymore. Talk about being lost in a vast lineup.
Mikey decided we needed to have a base camp on shore so he hired some locals from the fishing village to build us a tree house and a covered, open-sided structure we could use for cooking and eating. From the elevated view, we saw what looked like a nice start to the endless left. Keep in mind that the wave peeled off from as far to the left as we could see, even when we walked around several of the rocky points along the beach. Eventually we used an orange tarp to improve the tree house’s palm frond roof, so we had something to line up on out in the water. It was a nice starting point to this magnificent wave, and seemed to always break in more or less the same spot. There was a bush growing right in front of the mess hall. Its shiny, colorful leaves looked like Indonesian money, so we called that part of the wave Moneytrees. When the swell was bigger, there was another peak farther inside that we named the Launching Pad. From this take-off, it was one turn and a flat-out run through what came to be known as Speed Reef.
At low tide, we lazed around, read books, fixed boards, and didn’t even think about surfing. But when the tide began to move in, it was game on. Six hours was the maximum time we could surf before the tide began to rush out again. Often we overstayed our window, paddling in over the reef with our boards upside down, the fins up, until we found a slim corridor with enough sand where we could limp in the rest of the way without cutting our feet. We heard stories of deadly stonefish. We were from Hawaii and clueless about these dangers. Luckily no one stepped on one.
As far as I know, Mikey was the first to come up with the idea of a surf camp. In the remoteness of the Blambangan Jungle Reserve, it was a logistical nightmare to feed and house ourselves. Bobby Radiasa, who came on that first boat ride in, put together our supplies back in Bali. Our trips were limited to 10 days. Then the ice would all be melted and the food gone. So we would return to Bali to resupply for the next time. Bobby would go on to keep the camp going, rebuilding many times over, dealing with all the bureaucratic headaches. Now it’s a comfortable resort thanks to all of his efforts. The wave seems to be the only part that never changes. I think about it all the time.