No, I’m not going to tell you where it is, or, how a surf photo can wreck a place

A confession, as I hang my head in shame and tears fill my eyes.

I was the one who ruined Desert Point.

The photo below (scanner broken, so it’s a photo of a photo) was a snapshot taken some time in 1988 or so, during a big Desert Point swell, sets ten foot plus. Heavy–I straightened out on my first wave, and that was it for me, no mas. A few friends and me had been surfing there since early 80s, in the days before surf forecasts, when you went on a trip with hopes and prayers of swell and no disasters. We sailed there on the Hati Murnih, a fishing boat we’d converted, and this was the biggest swell we’d gotten. If you know Desert Point, you can tell this is the tail end of the wave, the section dredging at about 8 foot on the dropping tide. The shot was taken as we were rounding the corner where we anchored up. We weren’t there for the photography, mind you, so I really only have this one photo of that day.

Anyway, back in Bali, I showed this photo to a friend who’d been there himself on his boat. In his living room lurked a guy I didn’t know. He came over, asked for a look, and I said sure. Oh, how innocent we were back in those days!

A gleam rose in his eyes. “Thanks for showing me,” he said.

It turned out he was one of the top surf photographers of the era. Next year, professional quality photos of Desert Point from this guy began to appear.

And that was the beginning of the end of Desert Point.

Of course, the word was already getting out. It wasn’t really my fault. Was it?

Anyway, I’ve gotten several emails asking where the photo in this blog header was taken. And look, the power of a surf spot photo is such that it doesn’t even matter if I say I can’t tell you. History’s proven that. Remember that classic Erik Aeder shot of reeling empty Nias, and in the foreground a lone fisherman in his canoe? You know how many guys that photograph inspired, to seek and to find? Poor Kevin Lovett and the fellows who’d stumbled across Lagrundi Bay long before Erik…

But as this the photo in the header blog, I’ll tell you frankly: I chose it for the header because it’s forever gone. It was fickle, but even so, the Sumbawa mine wiped it out. Nothing but cement piers and pipes and all that.

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