Guest post from Robert Wilson: “K3882, the little boat that could”

[from your blog correspondent: I’m stoked to host this post, which present a solid piece of Bali’s surfing history. This little boat was one of the very first dedicated surf adventure boats in Bali–and if you know how treacherous the Bali and Lombok Straits can be, and note the size of this boat, you can be sure that a number of its adventures had little to do with actual surfing. As they say, “an adventure doesn’t start until something goes wrong.”]

K3882: The little boat that could

In the late 70’s, during the heyday of the “OM Clothing Co”, Steve Palmer and I bought a 6 meter ‘ Cuddy Cab ‘ in Jakarta and sent it to Bali, where we got it registered. We had trailer made and at first kept it at my house in Gang Poppies 1. Yep, used to drive down the lane towing a boat with room to spare. Hard to imagine now …

During one outing with my first wife Doris and my dear old Dad (who had finally come over to Bali to see what his son was on about) we were off Impossibles and I was doing some wakeboarding on this neat little board
I had just brought over from the U.S. Anyway, I came off and Doris somehow managed to whip the throttle from FWD to RVS so fast that the drive shaft broke.

He we were way out the back of Impossibles and the prop wouldn’t spin. OMG ! I had a thought to start the motor while on the tilt and lo & behold somehow the shaft binded and the prop span! I gingerly put the motor down and very very slowly made our way back to Jimbaran where, 100 meters from the beach, the prop stopped. Never mind—I just tied a rope around myself and towed the little boat and its somewhat bewildered occupants to shore.

Lesson learnt? Certainly. Buy a back up motor.

Fast forward about 12 months. The swell is up, and Tim Watts and I are off for a day surfing the Shipwreck at Nusa Lembongan. We left Merta Sari beach (Sanur) early in the morning and had a dream run over. The little boat could haul ass with her 70 HP outboard when conditions allowed, sometimes getting us over there in 40 minutes.

As we entered the Lembongan lagoon, the motor suddenly stalled. I lifted the motor to find we had snagged a piece of rope. No sweat, just unraveled it and we were on our way. Tim and I surfed the right hander (the Wreck) all day, as I recall pretty much by ourselves. Stoked !

Around 3 PM we decided to head back to Bali, the swell had picked up considerably and we wanted to allow plenty of time in case there was chop in the Bali Straight, which could mean pretty slow going for the little boat.

All was well and we were making good enough time although as we expected the chop and current were up. About one third of the way across all of a sudden the prop stopped driving. We tilted the motor up to find the prop missing ! The rubber shock absorber between the prop casing and the centre spline had totally sheared off, obviously due to damage caused when we fouled the prop with the rope earlier that morning.

Wasn’t I glad we had the little back up motor for the little boat !!

So we dropped the 7 HP back up motor and headed for Bali, dodging a couple of whirl pools that we had come a bit close to. Due to swell, current and the chop making headway was a struggle, yet make headway we did .. I think we might have even hit 2 knots at one stage ha ha …

Forget about trying to get up to Merta Sari, we just headed for the Bali Beach Hotel, which was about all we could see after the sun had set.

We came in at big Sanur at around 10.30 PM at low tide. We were traveling so slow that all we could do was gun it and hope for the best, hoping we weren’t going to get cleaned up by a set. Very thankfully we ran aground on the inside and dragged the little boat to the shore.

This is one event that I’ll never forget as just prior to this there were a couple of other incidents in the Bali Straits where surfers / sailors heading for Bali had gone for a ride on small sailboats clear all the way to North East Bali !

The little boat that could had an illustrious life, besides making many Bali Straight crossings Michael & Chris Mc Hugh, Dick Lewis would pack herup and and depart on Surf Discovery voyages to places as far a field as Lombok and the Gilis.

Tragically she ended her days in a fire while at rest in her garage in the Gilis.



Guest post by Robert Wilson

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13 Responses to Guest post from Robert Wilson: “K3882, the little boat that could”

  1. Bukit Bear says:

    Towing a boat down Poppies1 – really frames the era of this classic story – inconceivable today…

    • The outriggers that transported locals and wandering surfers from Sanur to Lembongan weren’t a whole lot safer, often overloaded. A few surfers were on one, including an Aussie ripper named Brock (I forget his last name). Their jukung was overloaded with cement, got caught in mid-channel by standing waves breaking against the current and sank the boat, which still floated upside down after it tipped out all the bags. The Balinese skipper and his mates stayed with the hull and bamboo outriggers, but the surfers paddled. Brock made it after nightfall to Lembongan (around a 4 mile paddle so) but the others headed for Bali’s south coast, closer to the boat. They made it too, staggered into the closest police station to report the boating accident, but the cops thought these guys were on drugs, impossible to paddle that distance etc etc, demanded to see their passports (lost at sea) and locked them up. As I recall the story, they were only believed and released because the Balinese skipper and crew got rescued by another jukung and confirmed their story.

  2. Ompong says:

    i remember going fishing with your “Dad” and you on that little boat.-“Ompong”

  3. Fieldmarshall says:

    Surfed a massive swell in your boat with Chris Mchugh while crossing the channel during the early ’80s,200 meter bottom turns & 500 meter cutbacks , totally blew our minds.

  4. Pingback: Incomplete listing of early Indo surfers’ boats (non-charter) | Bali and Indo Surf Stories

  5. Pingback: First recorded surf at Gili Air, Lombok, 1980 | Bali and Indo Surf Stories

  6. Pingback: Gili Trawangan Surf Camp, 1980 | Bali and Indo Surf Stories

  7. Matt says:

    In about 82′ we had our outrigger sink while on a crossing to Lembongan and swam it to the shore in East Bali coming in on the heaving shorey. Adventures indeed. Love all the stories – I first went to Bali as an 8 year old in 72′ with my hippy trail dad and have returned numerous times ever since – your stories and pics bring back so many deep memories – thank you!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey Matt.. Share more mate ..

  9. Whoever have been in Bali visited RUM JUNGLE Pub, if you have some photo’s in that place, please share some with me. I really miss it. I am Wayan the son of owner. Thank you

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