12 Australians Are Stranded On An Indonesian Surf Charter After Sumba Closed Its Ports

by stab March 16, 2020 2 min read

Roughly a week ago, when this whole covid-19 thing was more of a meme than full-blown pandemic, we wrote a story called “Why Right Now Is The Best Time Ever To Take A Surf Trip,” the premise being that flights were outrageously cheap and lineups around the world would likely be less crowded than ever. 

While those points remain true, we might have underestimated the drastic turn that this virus would take. 

Entire countries are on lock down, basic living supplies have been stripped from shelves, esentially all major events around the world are cancelled, and frankly, this probably is just the beginning. 

If you wanted to, you could still score some ridiculously good, ridiculously uncrowded surf around the world for rock-bottom prices, but given the world’s current state of affairs, it mightn’t be worth it. 

Case in point: the 12 Australians currently stuck on a surf charter off the Indonesian coast, who are legally unable to make landfall. 

From 9 News:

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Twelve Australians have been trapped on their boat at an Indonesian port for a second day, blocked from disembarking their surf charter over coronavirus fears.

The surfers have been forced into lockdown in Sumba since Saturday morning, despite clearing screening before their 10-day venture and showing no signs of illness.

The men, most of them from Newcastle, told 9News a doctor visited their vessel at Sumba’s Waingapu port but rather than assess them instead said they wouldn’t be allowed on land.

“Seven days ago while we were out at sea on the boat with no service, no reception, the Bupati – which is the local government for the area – passed a bill which said they would not be accepting foreigners to come on land,” Brydon Roper said.

The boat’s captain had planned to attempt sailing to another port in Sumba but received word disembarking would be banned there as well.

They’ll now use the last of their fuel to travel to the island of Flores on Sunday night, but there are no guarantees they’ll be accepted there either.

“We’ve all missed our flight back to Bali and half of us back to Australia,” Mr Roper said.

“We’ve had one boat come out to speak to us to basically tell us we can’t come to land.

“This is a ten-day surf charter so the guys that run this boat stocked it for ten days only of food and water.”

After 9News revealed the Australians had been left in limbo, food and water was delivered to their boat.

“The Australian Consulate-General in Bali is in close contact with Indonesian authorities to resolve the situation, including by trying to find a port at which the boat can dock and the passengers disembark,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said.

“We have also sought and received assurances that the boat will have adequate fuel and food supplies.”

At this point, unless you’re down for an adventure of truly unknown (and potentially devastating) outcomes, we’d recommend hanging close to home and using self-isolation as an excuse to fix those lingering dings and maybe catch a few waves down at the local. 

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