Without Knowing The Destination, Would You Sign NDA If Martin Daly Was Steering The Ship?

by stab April 20, 2020 7 min read

While we’ve all been in lockdown, Captain Martin Daly has been social distancing in a remote corner of the Pacific trying to find the next great surf zone.

And according to some leaked materials from the Indies Trader and the good captain, he’s done just that.

“The largest collection of user friendly surf I have seen in 30 years,” says Daly in the NDA files, a circulated memo to his fans and customers. “There is more surfable coastline in these areas than all of the Mentawai Islands combined.”

Intrigued? Well, he’s offering some limited expeditions for the coming season. You’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but go ahead, dare to dream a little dream…it’s out there and you can thank Martin Daly for it…again.

But be warned, based on the last dispatch we got from him, the seas aren’t always smooth sailing:

“I had been looking at the maps pretty intently and was hoping to get out of town and go surfing and I had noticed there was a bit of a depression south of us. The forecast was for up to 25 knots of wind for the day. It was getting a bit bumpy and it didn’t look like anything much was happening. We had been on the hook (anchor) for awhile, negotiating our quarantine and we had finally got some progress and I was headed into town for some supplies—vital stuff like rum and playing cards.

“So, I was heading to my friend’s office who helps with our clearances and stuff, and as I am driving down the road in the rental car I kind of noticed that there was a bit of swell coming in at the beaches and the boat (Indies Trader III) looked like it was dragging anchor towards the rocks. So, I was a bit uneasy. Anyway, I got the supplies and was headed to the office to have a meeting about getting fuel and a few bits and pieces when the phone rings. It’s Kris Puwanto my captain. I was just getting fragments of the conversation and he was saying, ‘Anchor broke … boat drifting … I need you come now.’

“I was kinda yelling into the phone, ‘You okay Kris? Are you OK?’ and I couldn’t get a response. I tried to call him back and there was no response and it wouldn’t connect. I had visions of the boat already on the reef. I stood up in the meeting and said, ‘I gotta go.’ I jumped in the rental car and bolted back to where the boat was—it’s about 4 miles. As I am driving through the village I am getting glimpses of the ocean through the buildings and the trees and it’s whitewash. It came out of nowhere and I’m really stressed. By the time I get back to the small boat harbor and the yacht club there is surf breaking right across and I am going, “Oh crikey! How are they gonna pick me up in the tin boat?”

“I get hold of Kris on the VHF handheld when I get in range and he tells me the boat is safe and just cruising along out back, which is a huge relief. Now I’m trying to figure how to get out to the boat. I found a little boat harbor that is a little bit sheltered, but when I got to the gates they wouldn’t let me in. I have to call up a whole bunch of people to get permission, but I finally do.

“Now I have to direct my Indonesian crew in the tin boat to come in through the surf behind this breakwater to come get me. They are terrified, but they had faith in the directions I gave them and we did it. I got on the boat and then we have to get from the tin boat to the Trader 3 with all the supplies. We have to get onto the back of the boat and it’s leaping up and down about 6 feet and the duck board is going underwater and surging back up 6 feet. It’s getting quite sporty. Anyway, we timed it and got everything off the tin boat, including the rum.

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A gorgeous vessel, the IT3. Photo: Indies Trader

“We headed out to this group of islands that I had seen that looked like it had a good cyclone anchorage. I actually was not even thinking about cyclones at this stage. There was no cyclone alerts or warnings. I just wanted to get somewhere out of the wind and get the anchor down. By this time there were a few boats, probably 30, heading the same way.

“I get over there and the country is really, really deep. We had already lost our main anchor earlier in the day and the chain on the spare anchor is not quite as long, so I can’t really anchor safely in more than 60 feet of water if I want to keep a 3:1 ratio. So, I managed to find some shallow country that is gonna work and is nice and calm. I anchor and think all is good.

“There we are anchored up and I think we have dodged a bullet. I have gone down to try and have some dinner and am just about to eat and start thinking about going to bed. I didn’t think much of it and a gust of wind comes through that just does not let up. Suddenly we are dragging anchor and heading toward the beach at a pretty decent rate of about 2.5 knots.

“We are trying to get the engines started but the engineer is down there doing something, so Kris gets down there and pushes him out of the way and finally gets the engines started when we are about 100 meters off the reef. I go ahead on the mains and we pull the anchor and decide to head deeper up this natural fiord that we are in. I head right up deep in this thing. Never been in there before, charts are not accurate, so I have pick my way in really carefully. I find a nice place where we have wind shelter from the mountains that surround us and I get the pick down in about 50 feet of water and it looks good. There is not much wind in there and it seems I have solved the problem.

“I go back down and try to have something to eat again and it’s about probably midnight now. Then the wind starts to really pickup and I am going, ‘No! What’s going on? This can’t be happening.’

“I go up and have a look and we are starting to drag again, but at least the bottom is flat this time, but we are in a tight anchorage. Behind me is reef. Beside me is reef. And on the other side is reef. It’s really only about 20 boat lengths I have to play with. I can’t put the other anchor down because it’s not there. So now I have to drive the boat into the wind with the anchor down to hold in one position. What I can’t do is get sideways because if I get sideways we will drag anchor and go flying across the anchorage, so I am just trying to keep the boat pointing into the wind by jockeying the throttles.

“By now it’s after midnight and as the night went one it got stronger and stronger. The next thing you know I have birds hitting the boat. Fully out of the forest and the wind is starting to get loud. I have been in a cyclone before and it’s the noise of a cyclone that really gives you an idea of what’s going on. The wind was roaring, then it started shrieking, and at that point, I have gone, “Holy hell, I am in a cyclone.” 

“Up until this point I am thinking it’s going to be a squall or something, then I realize, ‘Oh dear, I am now in the middle of a cyclone. How did this happen, when I woke up this morning this is not what I thought was gonna happen, this was not on my menu at all.’

“So now here I am, I have 120-percent attention on keeping the boat into the wind, I have 1200-1400 revs on, about 60 -70% power to stay in one place. This goes on until around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning before it starts to back off. There was debris flying through the air, the boat was not really moving because it was a really good spot, but I was just begging for daylight. I’m tired. I have not been to sleep for 24 hours. I am concentrating 120-percent on the throttles and the auto-pilot and hand steering.

“Finally, the sun starts to come up and it’s a savior. Daylight! Suddenly I can start to see where I am. I had just done it on radar and plotter to get an idea where I am, so I start to see what’s going on and I look out to sea and I can see surf breaking in places I could never have imagined and the whole ocean is white. There is all these little point breaks that are pretty well surfable.

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Not this surfable, but you get the gist. Photo: Indies Trader

“The surfer brain kicked in for a moment, but I finally got to bed. Dog tired, it was down to about 30 to 40 knots and we were holding fine. I woke up at about 2:30 and walked out to the back deck. There was a whole bunch of local people demanding money and now I have to negotiate this cause they want 5,000 local dollars for the anchoring fee. We ended up settling at a can of Coke, packet of cigarettes and 250 dollars and that was my day. 

“It didn’t start off looking like it was gonna happen that way, but there it was. We survived it, no major damage to the boat. My next mission is to find the missing anchor, but that’s another story.”

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