"The term 'feral', actually, is an Aussie translation of the traditional U.S. term 'surf bum'. But whereas 'surf bum' describes a sort of genteel, happy-go-lucky young man thoroughly enthralled with surfing as a pre-career lark, feralism has a darker more obsessive side that sometimes manifests itself in creepy life-threatening situations." - Steve Barilotti, SURFER magazine.
The idea of seeking out perfect, uncrowded surf is not as easy as one would think if you understand how far the concept of "surf travel" has progressed over the last three decades. We've gone from a lone niche adventure limited to the brash and brave to something easily sold as an "all inclusive" plush package booked in a few clicks on the internet. It's almost too easy now and everywhere you go - no matter how remote - it seems as if someone has beaten you to the punch. There are full service surf camps, tour operators offering trips to a gazillion locations, fax reports, yachts with a full time crews, satellite phones, surf forecasts sent to your wireless PDA, even helicopters scouting the surf in order to report back the best conditions...it's just gotten a little too much don't you think?
That is why it is refreshing to see the Huntington Beach, CA trio of friends Timmy Turner, Brett Schwartz, and Travis Potter going to the most obscure and out-of-the-way island location in Indonesia in order to find perfect uncrowded surf and live on the land in basic, almost unsafe conditions. The surf is gangbusters. There are sequences of waves so intense that they are unmakeable; but we don't care - just to see these guys throwing themselves over that steep ledge, and making the commitment is mind-bending enough. This film won several awards within the surf industry for it's unique cinematography, most notably filming of waves from the rider's perspective. Not sure what it is like to be in a dredging barrel with razor sharp reef just a few feet below the surface? You'll quickly find out after watching "2nd Thoughts". The last wave of the entire movie is close to 1 minute long with multiple barrel sections. Needless to say, your local beachbreak doesn't even hold a candle to the quality of waves seen here.
The potential dangers of being in such a remote location, with no electricity, no running water, and the nearest hospital 10hours away, are real. The threat of malaria while living/camping out for 3 weeks in a Sumatran jungle become a part of your every day life. What do you do when you run out of water? How do you ration your food properly? How does your gear stay dry from the nightly thunderstorms? The movie does an excellent job of documenting the daily issues these surfers encountered which makes their adventure even more intense. The majority of surfers I know would NEVER want to endure even 1/2 of what these guys did but I hope you'll be inspired next time you take a surf trip to take the road less traveled. I highly recommend this movie and it is in my Top 10 of surf DVDs.
Sidenote: As a testament to how adventurous Timmy Turner is, in the Winter of 2006 - after a surf trip to Mexico - he was stricken with a bacterial infection in his brain. At death's doorstep he has spent months in a hospital but is on the long road to a full recovery involving lots of medical care and rehab. In addition, it is disappointing to report that the Indonesian government has allowed a land-based "surf camp" to set up shop in front of one of the premiere waves featured in this movie. The camp - which is in a natural preserve - is now claiming "exclusive" rights to the surf spot and some surfers have reportedly been threatened for trying to surf it. Lastly, b/c of this movie I was inspired to live in a local's hut for 2 weeks in the Mentawai Island surfing my brains out during the Fall of 2005. Best surf trip of my life....
Remember, life isn't about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself.