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Ments Charter Boat Crashes and Burns!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Classic Indonesian surf charter boat hits reef and burns to the waterline…

I doubt if there is a surf experience quite like that served by the flotilla of charter boats in the Mentawai Islands. Choose your boat well and life’s choices become as easy as Negroni or gin-and-tonic for sundowner and whether to select the five-nine or six-o for the easy-as-anything tubes.

You know how it works: sling a few thousand US into some distant bank, get a plane to Padang, peel off your shirt and marvel as the oyster opens.

Life is easy. Until it isn’t.

A couple of night ago, the surf charter boat Star Koat, an eighty-foot trad Indonesian wooden boat built in Sibolga for twelve passengers, ran aground while taking a short cut in the Mentawai’s deep south a little before eight pm.

The twelve Brazilian guests, the Australian and Brazilian guide and the six-man crew slept on the beach, and the reef, as it rained through the night.

Assistance was called the following morning.

The wonderful Ratu Motu, skippered by Captain John Shawcross and owned by Quiksilver founder Al Green, salvaged what they could (Mentawai locals had already inspected and taken what they needed), and the guests were brought aboard.

Shortly afterwards, the Star Koat caught fire and burnt to the waterline.

What happened?

Skipper error.

“Missed the gap between two islands and drove straight up on the reef,” said Captain Shawcross.

Which ain’t as hard as it sounds.

If you’ve ever driven a boat at night, you’ll know it’s a haunted world full of mirages and false flags. Where figures appear and dance before your eyes and where reef passes suddenly appear where they shouldn’t be.

Do you want to heed the call and captain a Mentawai boat charter?

Click here to find out how!