1988 or so. The good ship Hati Murnih was anchored in the Lembongan channel between Lacerations (flat) and Playgrounds (flat). Up the reef, a two-foot swell dribbled in through Shipwrecks, back when Shipwrecks really was a shipwreck, or what was left of it, the nose of a metal boat sticking upwards, like a submarine creature of rust was sniffing the air. Three or so jukung loads of Japanese surfers over for the day from Sanur were out in force. Their Lembongan surf guides couldn’t be bothered so they opted to spearfish. Me, I’d opted to kick back and read a book on my boat’s back deck.
Then a jukung tinny roared up to us. The Balinese driver was in a wild-eyed state of panic, almost hysterical. Krikit, one of the surf guides and a Lembongan island boy, had swum down with his spear gun, chasing a turtle just off Shipwrecks. He never came up. (Krikit was his Sanur-side nickname).
So we get in our dinghy and join the search but after an hour there was no sign of Krikit. We returned to the Hati Murnih. The scene on the beach there in front of Jungut Batu was one I’ll never forget, the whole village out in their hundreds, while Krikit’s family was pretty much in full-blown hysteria, wailing and crying and weeping.
Pak Ngasti, the Balinese salty-sea dog and former turtle hunter who skippered the HM for us, said what probably happened was that Krikit shot the turtle but the spear gun line got wrapped around his arms. A turtle, he said, was a mighty powerful swimmer who would just drag you under. A lot of turtle hunters died that way, he said.
Krikit’s family asked Made Monoh, a waterman legend even back then who was recently honored at a Waterman’s ball, to help find their boy. Four days later or so, as he free-dove the deep coral formations around Shipwrecks and Blue Corner, he did find part of Krikit’s torso, the rest having been ravaged by various sea creatures. But enough for the all-important cremation rites.
Anyway, this morning your blog correspondent crossed paths with Made Ricky at the beach, and we talked some story, including reminiscing about Krikit. Ricky said there’s lately been a number of free-diving and spearfishing deaths around Ceningan and the Nusa Penida Tuna Trench, including that of a foreign water photographer. “It’s an angker place,” he said.