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Trip: east african surfari

Written by bowenarrow show bowenarrow profile

Friday November 6 2009 01:28:46 PM

Date: from Jan 1, 1966 to May 30, 1966

Surf trip description:

Was living in Durban when Brownie did the Endless Summer and Ron Perrot had been to Seychelles with Weenie . After working , saving for a year Tony Burgess and I decided to look at the East African Coast. I hadn't been to Cape Town so figuring if I was to see the East Coast I had better go south and work my way up to met Tony somewhere half way up Africa. We chose the Railway Town of Dett in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) as it was the smallest remotest place on the map and we couldn't miss each other in such a place. In fact we did, hitching past each other on the road down to Beira in Mozambique.

But to start with I bludged a home on a Tri-maran moored in Capetown where Arty Taylor a West Aussie was preparing for a follow up trip to the Seychelles. We surfed around Clifton Beach, and then moved north along the coast to Jeffries (Cape St. Francis in the Endless Summer) Had a typical Jeffries Surf for 2 weeks  along with good days at Seal Point before moving on to PE and East London. I put my Board on the Train to Beira as I was to hitch up the centre of South Africa into Rhodesia to meet Tony. After missing Tony who had also put his board on the rail to Beira, I hitched down to the coast at Biera where I caught up with Tony and we hitched up the coast from Beira to a beachbreak with a spanish name that I can no longer remember. We slept on the beach at this place for a week surfing a muddy beachbreak and pigging out on crayfish.

 We came back to Beira thinking we could get on a cargo boat to Madagascar, which we nearly did except our lies caught up with us and the Captain figured out we didn't really have permission from the shipowners.

Back to Beira and onto an East India Line boat to Mombasa. On board we slept on the decks and ate with the Creole crew. Made ourselves known to the ships Captain and were grantd a look at the ships charts of the area where we found what looked like a good point surf in Kenya at a place called Malindi Bay. Malindi Bay was a 3 hour bus ride north which was an experience in itself, as in those days not many Kenyans had ever met white people let alone Australian Surfers. To get an idea of the trouble we had explaining what our boards were for try thinking that you could do the same to a Mongolian herdsman.

Malindi was a great break  and we took many rolls of film and wrote a story for Surfer magazine. Bad luck with that as the camera had half framed most of the film and the story was rendered useless. Nevertheless we had a great time at Malindi meeting some great locals who looked after our boards and bags when we needed to go find a beer.

We had to get back to Mombasa to pick up the next boat which would take us to Seychelles. On the way we could see from some of the higher lands that there were plenty of breaks south of Malindi that needed scutiny.

A few days later we were in Seychelles. Nothing can describe these Islands. Sweet smelling spices in the air, soft sounds from the local radio station (everyone had a radio), water so clear you could see the hair on your toes, hospitality that was embarassing, and sweet waves at Anse eau Poules Bleu.

You have to leave Paradise sometime and so we picked up the next steamer to Bombay. Thinking we would now go back to Oz we looked at ships going back when we met an English bloke who had just hitched from London overland. That was too much for us so we left our boards at the Salvation Army in Bombay and hitched north to New Delhi, where we got jobs starring in a silent movie as the Beatles for 1 pound a day and a curry lunch. For the next 3 months we moved on to Pakistan, through the Kyber Pass to Afganistan, Iran and then to Bagdad. We split up in Bagdad as Tony wantd to see Basra and I wantd to move on towards Europe. Our plans were upset though as we had arrived in Bagdad the day the 6 day war started. I was arrested in a  train marshalling yard and taken to a troop train that was moving the Iraqi Army up to Syria. I was arrested because I was carrying a typewriter,a movie camera and the Australian Passport in those days was a British Passport. As the British were the enemy obviously I was a spy. Tony was picked up and detained in a compound somewhere between Iraq and Lebanon. Bit hazy on just where we actually were. An exchange Iranian student managed to convince the Army that I was just a surfer a long way from the water and let me go putting me on a train to Ankara Turkey. I then got across europe to the English Channel where I took a Ferry to Jersey which Tony and I wanted to get to for some European Surfing experience. Tony arrived a few weeks after me after escaping from the compound and making his way across Lebanon and taking a ferry to somewhere across the Med to Cyprus I think, and then on across to St. Malo in Normandy. We ended up working in Jersey for 2 summers working as Lifeguards. In the winter we went to Canada and then down to California, to get into Rincon, Ventura and Santa Barbara breaks. Because we didn't have and couldn't get visas from Canada to USA we decided to cross into the States illegally. We had a plan- it was foolproof. All we had to do was hike through the bush down to the coast and then swim around the border. We thought the Towers were for looking for bushfires. It was easy getting a lift onto the freeway except the car had no door handles on the inside and it promptly took us back to the border, where we were deported back to Canada. The border guards were good to us and we ended up with visas for 3 months. After that it was back to Jersey for work and surf at St Oens.

So thats what happens when you are young and plan to have a short trip up the coast. For me my Surfari ended in meeting my wife and settling on the Mid North Coast where I still at the age of 70 get in water for that most important thing in life and thats to surf whether its on a board a bodyboard or my new love - bodysurfing.

Modified: Friday November 6 2009 01:28:46 PM
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