And the first surfers to surf Desert Point were…

Surfermag.com recently posted a article on six waves that will keep you enamored for the rest of your lives. The lead wave is Desert Point. Jim Banks’s commentary provides a good historical perspective on Deserts. He says, “One of the guys on the boat had heard there were supposed to be waves on the tip of Lombok, but we basically rocked up with no idea…and no company. There was no one there, although we discovered later that there were three guys from Northern California who’d bought a turtle boat in Bali and converted it, and they’d already been surfing it for seven years.”

When your blog correspondent and an Aussie wild child named Tim McHugh (who’s now creatively settled in life, and a fellow writer) worked on finishing out the Hati Murnih at Tanjung Benoa, these aforementioned Californians were slipping in and out of the harbor on the aforementioned turtle boat.

(the pic below is of the Hati Murnih at Tanjung Benoa beach-dock to replace the rotten keel–only a boat owner knows the feeling)

I knew two of these early surf pioneers, John-Mike and Nelson, and I reckon that by now it’s okay to at least mention their first names. These were guys who were flying so low under the radar that you had to look twice to see them. Very tight-mouthed, but over time your blog correspondent figured out that they’d been practically everywhere in the eastern islands, not only surfing but also blue water spear fishing. Tim Watts somehow charmed one of their nautical charts (or at least a copy of one), which I got a peek at, with “x marks the spot” here, there and everywhere.

I’m going out a reasonable limb here to say that JM and Nelson were the first to find and surf Desert Point. As Banksy says, years before anybody else.

By the time your blog correspondent and friends got over to Deserts, there were already whispers in quiet corners about some tubular Valhalla where the low tide current doth run. It didn’t take long for Crawford to hang his knee-board in the original Tubes Bar, with a handwritten boast of a 22-second Desert Point tube ride. Every surfer worth his or her wax passed through Tubes in those days before Internet, so this was the equivalent of a Youtube declaration to the world.

Me? I didn’t much care for Deserts on my backhand. I just didn’t have the skills to be comfortable, not to mention that it always seemed to be 8 to 10 feet when we rocked up. The thing about Deserts is that once you take the drop, you’re locked into a wave that gets bigger and bigger on shallower and shallower reef.

If Deserts was breaking on a ground swell, we’d head north to the Gilis to one of the most picturesque waves in this wave paradise of Indonesia .

Tim’s older brother Michael McHugh built a beachfront house at the Gilis, complete with bitchin’ tree house, from which the wave shot was taken. Not a surfer around. We had some epic sessions at “Pertama” (as Tim christened it) and always to ourselves. House got burned down a couple years later by some thug from Lombok after Mike refused to sell the property. Now this wave and others in the area have a steady crew on them, I’m told.

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10 Responses to And the first surfers to surf Desert Point were…

  1. Bukit Bear says:

    Always enjoy these posts… camp fire gold..

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

  3. sil says:

    ‘ Hati Murnih ‘ what fun and comaraderie :] I’ll send a photo of young Lee standing on the bowsprit. He didn’t want to come along at first so missed the boat but then soon came down via B B’z’s sailboat at 10 Y.O. I recall D.L. named a right after him..

  4. robert says:

    Dick, at this juncture surely between yourself, Michael, Chris & Tim you guys could add a few stories & pics ? I know Toast [ Mick ] can’t read or write but surely he can try Ha ha :]
    Robert

  5. Bill Heick says:

    Dick…..my name is Bill Heick, I was the third guy with Nelson and Jon Mike at Deserts early on. I don’t think we were the first, but we certainly had it to ourselves thru most of the eighties. I’m currently working on a book / DVD that chronicles those special times. I did meet you once at Bangko Bangko…..Cheers, Bill Heick

  6. Bill Heick says:

    Dick…..our first turtle boat was Sri Wira Bakti, the second one was Sri Gaya Baru,both we’re built in Benoa and managed for us by Ketut Geram

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