Surf guide, boat skipper, explorer, tube-snatcher!
What do you call a good job nowadays? A doctor, who earns his bread by foraging around in the putrid holes of humanity? A lawyer, so well-paid, but tied to a job that is menial and tedious?
For a cat like Eric Soderqvist, who set up shop as a 27-year-old boat skipper and surf guide in the Mentawais back in 2004, the concept of “good job” takes a sharp turn.
Eric, and his twin bro Jason, were scooped up by the surf explorer and entrepreneur Martin Daly when The Crossing came by the Turks and Caicos Islands where Eric lived. Eric ran the Indies Trader II for a time. Now he’s working part-time on what used to be called The Indies Trader IV but is now the Ratu Motu after it was sold to Quiksilver founder Alan Green for around five mill.
Eric ain’t rich but he’s got a bitchin’ 48-foot catamaran called Tank Girl. (Watch the movie below.)
He can fix any damn thing that breaks.
He can spin a laptop on his finger, walk on his hands across the entire helipad of the Ratu Motu (12 metres up) and then front-flip into the drink.
He can skipper a boat, whatever size you please around the world, navigate by the stars, stitch a wound (just ask Matt Biolos who was sliced from eyebrow to ear out there and got 19 stitches, including a few internals) and resuscitate a guest who’s gone overboard after several well-prepared cocktails.
And he can surf, man, can he surf.
On the deck of Tank Girl, as the sun peeled behind the horizon, and as Eric showed me star constellations in the equatorial sky using a green laser pointer, I asked Eric to brief me about his fabulous job.
Why work as a skipper out here?
You get a sense of freedom, it’s the wild blue yonder still. If I was working back in the western world, I’d be running some silly white boat, have all these epaulettes and kissing ass to all these people. One of the things, working on a surf charter, I can tell you, ‘Go you soft cock! Fucking go! Scratch! Bite Get into that thing! It’s It’s more salty out here.
How about change, how about crowds, how about the shifting goalposts in paradise?
Change comes everywhere, nowhere likes to see it change. It’s getting busier and we lose one of our secret waves every year. It’s good in a way, you see infrastructure, you see roads, so I’m not against it. It’s good for the people.
Gimme some advice on how to get a gig out here…
The first thing to do would be to get some sort of a captain’s license. It’s pretty easy to do. You need some type of skill. A lot of people want to come out and get barrelled, and I think that those are the guys that never last out here. If you’re a lifeguard or a medic or a captain or have some boating or engineering skills, there are always places for those people.
Tell me about sewing up the guests…
I’ve seen a lot of shit, basically, I do a lot of the sutures, even for a number of the boats. For my captain’s license I did a three-week course called Medical Person in Charge. I sutured fake arms, pretended to deliver babies. Spent a week riding around in an ambulance. I actually learned to suture, in the real world, from another skipper out here, Albert Taylor. A of the times we’ll have doctors on boardand pick up bits and pieces from those guys.
What about the time you stitched Matt Biolos back together?
Matt cut his head from the rail of his board from eyebrow to ear, 19 stitches, a couple of internal ones. I’d just helped do a really bad one on this boat. Fifty stitches, guy duck driving at Pit stops and he literally, pushed into the reef, broke his nose, half his skull was peeled off. Luckily, we had a doctor on board, and I wrote notes down on what he was doing. Matt was a year or two later. I had more confidence because of that bad one…
How would you describe your life? You work on the Ratu Motu, but you’ve got your dreamy cat just moored hither and yon whenever you want to split.
Yeah, if I don’t have a charter going I just get to play on my boat. Go surfing… try and get girls out…
Do you use the miracle of Tinder to recruit gals?
No Tinder, although I should be on it. Id say that, I’m getting creepier and creepier in all honesty. This year is the first I haven’t spent much time in Bali, lately, so my pool of girls is getting smaller and smaller…
Cruel! Y’ever taking this boat back to the Bahamas to run sunset tours?
If I even think of a sunset sail and drinking rum punch I throw up in my mouth a little. The monotony of it!
Raja Ampat from BeachGrit on Vimeo.
Want to die of travel lust? Eric Soderqvist, his twin bro, Jason, and two gal pals sail through the Raja Ampat islands in West Papua on his 48-foot cat Tank Girl. It’ll make you wanna dance!