The Hati Murnih at anchorage in Rote Island, 1993. Rob Nichols and Dave Radford enjoying the life.
That was twenty years ago. When you get to be of a certain age, something that happened twenty years ago is just like it happened yesterday (but something that happened yesterday, you can’t remember). But twenty years is time enough for a revolution.
Twenty years ago, we glued stamps to envelopes and mailed them. Twenty years ago, to make a phone call, we had first to get to a phone. Twenty years ago, the only surf forecast we got was the evening surf check before the morning dawn patrol.
Twenty years ago, Rote was already certainly well-discovered, but it was an underground spot. No Internet or Youtube to broadcast the news. No villas or resorts on the shoreline in the photo. No surf transport dinghies buzzing by during the day. Come night, the island was completely dark except for kerosene lanterns.
I don’t specifically recall the day of the photo, but I can guarantee that at some time during the day we were surfing all to ourselves.
Rob Nichols (on the left) had such a love affair with a certain moody right-hander that we called it Rob’s Rights (the surf masses now know it by another name, but it would be sacrilege to mention it in the same breath as Rob). For decades Rob was a regular Indo guy, but the ratio of time & effort to uncrowded reward eventually became not worth it.
Dave Radford would drink hot coffee in the middle of the day while lying out on deck in the sun. Dave would tackle anything, including (ten years later) the hundred foot high Mentawai jungle tree that he would fall from–and somehow survived with shattered thigh. Getting him out of the jungle and to a hospital—well, that’s a topic for another post.