Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by Rustt » Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:09 pm

mentone mansions wrote:
crustt wrote:Was Pete the kneeboarder at J/bay on that trip?
Yes mate Peter kneeboarder was there, we knew him well from cactus, he wasn't travelling with us but we hooked up with him in J-bay…great guy.
Pete was one of the best barrel riders around at the time imo, great to watch.

Spent the winter of 84 and 85 at J/bay and got to surf for a month with Shaun Thomson at Supers, most of the time with more or less a dozen out, learnt a lot about surfing that month.

I can remember Haz telling me you guys disconnected the speedo from the gearbox on the hire car.

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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by swvic » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:41 pm

This is classic

At 1st I was thinking Mick might've been a shaper from the Mornington Penis because I know he went to SA around that time. Also, the 1st time me and a couple of mates rolled up at Cactus in 1981, the local crew were cool with us because we all had Mick's boards - he'd been a few times by then. Different Mick

Now Pete the kneeboarder also has me thinking. Again thinking of a guy from Mornington Penis. Never knew him that well, but he was a pretty good kneeboarder. At one time he had 2 dogs from the same litter - Coke and Caine. Prob wrong again
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:47 pm

Our info told us to stay at the Atlantis Guesthouse, but the owner told us to come back in a week, then he could fit us in as long as we wanted.
O.K. plan B was a rondavel in a kind of caravan park of rondavels.
A rondavel (Afrikaans for round house) is just a small round or oval shaped hut like the Africans live in.
I think the real deal may use shit in it's construction, but the one we had is the Hilton Hotel version.
Freezing bloody cold, but it sufficed.
It mattered not, we were in J-bay, the surf was awesome and we were up it like a Rat up a drain pipe.
If you haven't been there, it's one of those waves that's as good in real life as the pictures look.
It wasn't always epic, but it was always surfable.
It's just such a long point, made up of different sections all with their own names. I can't remember them all, but starting up top, Kitchen Windows, which I don't remember seeing anybody surf.
Then Magnatubes, which became my favourite because not many people surfed it. Not that crowds were ever a problem, the surfable length of the point is so long.
Then Supertubes, then Impossibles, then there's some other sections I think, then right at the end the rocky shoreline ends into a sandy bay, where the last but not least section is known as Albatross.
Sometimes more than one section would link up, more so on bigger days, and it was common to walk back to where you started rather than paddle.
Some days were sort of warm and mild with good surf, but when those howling, freezing cold offshore winds started to blow down off the snow capped Drakensberg Mountains, things got interesting. It pumped.
I had heard all sorts of things about J-bay, some were true, like needing booties. Yes you need booties, mostly for getting in and out over the rocky shoreline, but the water is cold too. Victorian cold, not Arctic cold.
Someone told me it was dangerous, I needn't have worried. We found it to be a great big f**ken playground. It was easy, even on big days.
You know how you gauge new waves by waves you already know, you use something you know as a yardstick to compare by.
I would compare it the left at Cactus, in reverse.
We had some good 8 foot days of grinding perfection, quite a few actually.
My most memorable surf was at Albatross on an 8 foot day, big round barrels you stand straight up in, and the wave seemed a bit thicker and heavier than further back up the point. I remember being in one barrel and seeing one of the boys paddling out hooting at me, and held my arms out wide…big barrel.
We had about 8 weeks at J-bay, and I have to admit that some days I hoped the swell would drop off, or it would blow onshore, I was surfed out, it was pretty relentless.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:51 pm

A few more. The yellow building up the beach is Atlantis, the guesthouse we ended up in. It was closest to magnatubes, supers was a bit more of a walk down the beach. You could walk straight off the beach into a big communal shower block for a nice hot shower to thaw you out while you got the wetty off.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sat Feb 01, 2014 8:19 pm

swvic wrote:This is classic

At 1st I was thinking Mick might've been a shaper from the Mornington Penis because I know he went to SA around that time. Also, the 1st time me and a couple of mates rolled up at Cactus in 1981, the local crew were cool with us because we all had Mick's boards - he'd been a few times by then. Different Mick

Now Pete the kneeboarder also has me thinking. Again thinking of a guy from Mornington Penis. Never knew him that well, but he was a pretty good kneeboarder. At one time he had 2 dogs from the same litter - Coke and Caine. Prob wrong again
Crustt could probably tell you swvic, I'm pretty sure the vic boys were all from the Anglesea area.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:08 pm

Once we got settled into Atlantis, we were set, we could ditch the hire car (after Harry reconnected the speedo cable of course-thanks for reminding me crustt lol).
A big old place right on the edge of the sand, it was like a lot of Buildings in Sth. Africa, austere, cold, severe and uninviting, but this particular austere building was full of travelling surfers and the vibe was friendly.
It was owned and operated by a Pom who's name escapes me, maybe Ian. Really nice bloke with terrible teeth, and an equally nice wife. They were great hosts and loved what they did. There was a big communal kitchen where you just jumped in and did what you had to, it was the source of a lot of fun and shoulder rubbing and getting to know the other guests.

We had only been there one night I think, and had all hit the fart-sack on the second night when we were all awoken by a lot of yelling at around 1.00am.
Loud voices, American voices. The tone and volume indicated trouble, something wrong. It was very worrying and went on for some time. None of our group got up to investigate, and we all went back to sleep.
The following morning the owner of the loud American voice turned out to be an American pro surfer by the name of Joey Buran…he had simply been checking in the night before…he was just loud. I'd hate to hear him shouting.
He had a girlfriend with him, and a friend who was also a pro by the name of Mike Sherman who was also with his woman.
I don't have any pics of Joey, why would I when I could take pics of his girlfriend instead, Bonny.
Bonny was immediately renamed as Bonnychearleader, by Jessy, a guy we knew from home.
Pics…
The rondavels and Bonnychearleader
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:55 pm

Joey Burans arrival heralded something we hadn't been looking forward to.
In a week or 2, pro surfers from all over the world would be here for the 3 comps that were held here every year, the Hang ten, the Gunson and another one I can't remember.
Some pros showed up early like Joey to get a feel for the waves, others showed up last minute.
Being Sth. Australians, Jonno and I were pretty isolated and ignorant of the entire pro surfing world, the identities involved, and anything to do with the corporate world of surfing for want of a better term.
Not that we had a problem with any of it, but it just wasn't on our radar and we'd never been exposed to it.
We didn't know anyone involved in board riders clubs, or comps, that stuff was almost non existent in Sth. Oz.

I mean, you know, there were surf mags laying around at times, so we knew who the big names were, but there were probably just as many stick books laying around and similarly, it was all about the pictures.

J-bay's waves could handle a sudden influx of good surfers, it wasn't a big problem, but we didn't really want much to do with it, and certainly weren't into star spotting, so we used the opportunity to explore a little further afield.
While we still had the hire car we used it to get away and explore. The great thing about the locals was their willingness to share their surf spots, all you had to do was ask.
We found ourselves at Cape St. Francis, AKA Bruces Beauties, not that far from J-bay. They say it only works a couple of times a year, if at all.
We must have hit the jackpot because we had it twice, and both were exquisite.
I can't even put into words how perfect it was. It was glassy both times, like the waves were made of plastic.
During the second surf at BB I was sitting there on my board waiting for a set, talking to a Kiwi guy a few metres away when a fin appeared directly between us.
It was an overcast day, late in the afternoon so the water had the appearance of being black, you couldn't see into it.
The fin wasn't moving in any direction other than up, slowly. It was mesmerising. We both stopped talking and froze as the fin just kept rising slowly….up and up…and up.
It was unmistakably a Shark fin, but that's all we could see, the fin and it was big. So there we were only maybe a car length apart with this thing between us, not moving. Then it started to swish it's tail slowly and gently and move forward on the surface. We both carefully laid down on our boards and lifted our arms and legs out of the water. It disappeared from sight, and I spoke first…"did you see that?" It was probably the dumbest thing I've ever said because both our eyes were as big as dinner plates.

The strangest part of the whole thing was that nobody went in. Lots of people had also seen it, but none of the 15 or so surfers went in because of it, the surf was still pumping and life went on.

We surfed a few other places as well, Seal Point, it was alright but not great.
I had a surf at Magnatubes one day while Simon Anderson was out, just us two. He was wearing a bright blue steamer with a wide white stripe down the sides like a bus conducter.
It must have been the year of making wetsuits look unique, because Mark Richards was wearing a silver steamer. Given our location, resembling a Tuna didn't seem like a good idea to me, especially in light of the Shark scare at BB so I mate a point of avoiding Mark. It would have to be a pretty clever Shark to see through my Seal disguise.

Eventually the comps all ran their course and the circus left town, and everything was back to normal.
This pic is Simon Anderson at Magnatubes.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by Rustt » Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:37 am

Yeah, swvic we are all Anglsea lads. Harry Lives in Penong , Mick Ceduna and Pete the kneeboarder the last time I saw him he was a Reverend on one of those hellfire ministries up in Queensland, praising the lord for all he was worth on sunday morning tv. :lol:

Thanks for the memorys mentone, those rondavals were the first place we stayed in also, Atlantis was shut down by 84. I imagine Atlantis must have been an interesting place to stay, which is probably why it was shut down.

We found the J/Bay area wave to be similar to Victorian waves, cept another step up in quality.

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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:27 am

Thanks crustt, It's real good to know they are O.K. I haven't seen either of them since the trip. Harry spent a night or 2 at my Mums place in Adelaide before going home, and I've kept in contact with Jonno. I've been in Newcastle for 21 years, long overdue for visit back home. Tell 'em Chin says hi.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:30 am

Any and all encouragement welcome Matt, hopefully this is priming you for your own O/S adventure. :-)(
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:54 am

One evening in J-bay there was a screening of a surf movie, one of those old 70's movies, but it was recent at the time.
Maybe Morning of the Earth, or Pacific Vibrations, I can't remember but anyway the town hall was packed.
Everyone was transfixed, watching quietly, until a J-bay sequence started. It was all-time classic J-bay as good as it gets, and the thing was we had surf exactly the same that very day. It was as if everyone in that town hall was watching footage of what had happened only a few hours earlier, one of life's magic moments. Everyone was on their feet hooting at the screen until the location changed to somewhere else, then the rest of the movie seemed dull.

I had tried my new 7 foot Gravelle out that day, the surf seemed to warrant it, and the verdict? Neutral. I had been dying for a chance to use it, and had taken it out around Durban a couple of times in sub 4' surf just to see how it felt. It felt great, it didn't have any vices, it was virtually just a bigger version of my 6'6" but it was just no fun. I just didn't need it, my 6'6" was comfortable in anything and got down the line on those rifling super tubes walls just as quick as the 7 footer, so I resigned myself to the fact that it was now just a backup spare board.

A few more surf pics, I think these are the last of the wave pics but there's more pics and words coming.….
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by Beanpole » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:59 am

Great story. Great old photos. The disintegration adds to the effect really.
Place I always wanted to go to.

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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:24 pm

crustt wrote:We found the J/Bay area wave to be similar to Victorian waves, cept another step up in quality.
Yeah I dunno, I've surfed Cathedral Rock, Johanna and others in Vic. and the power was a lot like Sth. Oz.
I hope I'm not giving anyone the impression that me or the other guys were anything but average surfers, except for Jonno who was and still is a freak. When I said we found J-bay easy, that was the consensus of the 4 of us. I would tell anyone to go there, we just didn't find it intimidating at all.
I was competent enough to enjoy myself in good surf I guess is what I would say. I was never good at finding barrels, if I did it was only because the wave overtook me. Jonno used to drop in on me all the time because he couldn't stand to see a wave wasted by someone who wasn't going to surf it properly. I've always had a limit of 8 foot, but it was only that day at cave rock that anything over 8 foot cropped up and it would have been a good chance to try my big board, but you gotta know your limits.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:43 pm

Our time at J-bay was pretty good once we got settled into daily life at Atlantis, but Mick had a bit of a mishap which could have ruined his trip.
He was out in the surf one day, when someone noticed him floating around on his board, but not really moving.
Eventually he got pushed in by the whitewater onto the rocks and somehow made his way out of the water, I can't even remember if anybody helped him. He had a back problem which manifested itself in the form of an agonising pain down his leg which virtually paralysed him. For all intents and purposes he was f**ked.
He went to a local quack, but ended up having to go to a Chiro in East London, or Port Elizabeth which meant a big drive. The treatment involved several regular visits back to the Chiro, but Mick was incapacitated and couldn't drive. Harry and I took it in turns to do driving duties, neither of us minded missing a surf for the day, Mick was the paternal figure of the group and he sure felt old now.
He came good after some treatment, well good enough to get back in the water eventually but he had to sleep flat on his back on a wooden board…ouch. #*!

The pic of the Dog here is Betty, she was a police dog in a former life, and retired to live at Atlantis. The owner of Atlantis told me how a black guy came running through the property one day with a uniformed cop hot on his heels, and the chase went onto the beach. The sight of a black man being chased by a police uniform was all Betty needed to come out of retirement, and automatically chased the guy down the beach and pinned him on his back.

The other pics are of a full moon, but it's in the middle of the night when it should have been pitch dark.
I've got no idea what kind of meteorological phenomena this is, but the pics I took are just happy snaps, with no special settings on the camera, I wouldn't have known how. It was exactly as the pics look…broad daylight…weird.
Another night the phosphorous in the sea was so bright that a few guys actually went out for a surf, f**k that I wasn't going out but it looked amazing.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:36 pm

For the benefit of anyone who's been following this, I'm pretty much finished with surfing at this point.
I've got more stuff, but it's all about the trip back to Joberg to get our flight home, and from my point of view this is where things went to another level of adventure altogether. We experienced things I doubt too many other Ozzie surfers ever would have, tune out now or….onward……..

During our time in J-bay we had noticed some strange characters getting about, but none more intriguing than Mike the Mushy. We had seen this guy in the surf, wild man, short stocky build, hair and beard like a castaway from a shipwreck and a board that looked like it had been shaped with a blunt chainsaw. On the board was the word "MOXA" in big black letters. It was a time in surf clothing history where everybody was wearing wind cheaters and long sleeve t-shirts with team this and team that written down the arms. We dubbed this guy Team Moxa. He was the subject of some piss taking and a few laughs at his expense, but as we got to know him, it emerged he was a pretty cool dude and a nice bloke. His said his name was Mike, which of course would never do, he was Mike the Mushy.

The time had come to start thinking about how we were going to get our arses back to Johannesburg for our flight home. Mike was heading up there in his Kombi, and offered to take us, as long as we didn't mind taking a few diversions here and there. It would take a few days. We discussed it and the outcome was that Jonno wasn't willing to leave any waves unridden so he was staying until the last minute then flying up. Mick wasn't interested either, so that left Harry and me, and also coming was Joey Buran's pro surfer mate Mike Sherman and his girlfriend Christy, and also a mate of ours from Adelaide, Hicksy. The Kombi would be crowded but we were all keen for the long drive.

We headed off with Mike the Mushy, not really aware of what his "diversions" might be.
In those days there was a province on the east coast of Sth. Africa which swallowed up a huge chunk of the coast line, known as the Transkei. It doesn't exist any more, it was a black home state where the SA government had handed over complete control to the inhabitants. It had borders and when we drove through it to get down from Durban we had to show our passports to get both in and out, just like going through another country. The Transkei was a pretty wild and lawless place, very few whites lived there and there wasn't even many large towns.

When we arrived at the border, passports came out and got stamped, but not Hicksy's….he couldn't find it.
A horrible moment of panic came over him…F**K..he had left it in his room at Atlantis!! He had a return flight to catch. Alright, the plan was he could hitch back, get his passport, we would wait in Port St. Johns for a couple of days in the Transkei and wait for him to catch up. Cool. Off he went back to J-bay on foot.
We crossed the border and carried on, not knowing if we would ever see Hicksy again.
Pics are typical Transkei, endless rolling brown hills.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by marauding mullet » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:23 am

The road took us a long way inland, onto some smaller roads, then onto dirt roads.
I was starting to wonder where the Mushy was taking us. To see a friend he said.
We pulled up in the middle of nowhere, at some rondavels sitting on a barren hill.
A big black guy came to greet Mike, then 3 women came out carrying big enamel bowls like you would use to wash your face in, and they were full of weed. This bloke was the chief and the women were his wives, and Mike was here to buy weed.
His plan was to buy a shitload then pack it into the walls of the kombi behind the wood veneer panels.
It turned out that this was how Mike survived, by moving a bit of hooch around the country.
I didn't like the sound of it, but we were in his hands now.
We did a bit of an inspection of what was in the bowls, it was just samples. The wind was blowing the stuff out of the bowls, nobody cared. Mike didn't like it, too seedy.
The chief pointed down into a valley, indicating to Mike that if he wanted better quality, we had to go down the hill and pick it ourselves. We had a look down the hill at where he was pointing, there were hundreds of plants growing wild all along the bottom of the valley but it was a bloody long way.
I was relieved when they came to an arrangement and some weed from inside the rondavels changed hands for, not money, but a pair of leather sandals Mike had made for the chief previously.

We hit the road again, this time for the small coastal town of Port St. Johns where we were going to kick back and have a surf or two and wait for Hicksy to show up. Port St. johns was Mikes old stomping ground in the Transkei, apparently he used to live there.
When we got there, Mike showed us the beach where he intended to surf but I didn't like the look of it. It gave me the willies, too Sharky.
He had a surf, I don't think anyone else did. We bummed around in town and relaxed all day, had a snooze and kicked back.
Out of curiosity I decided to have a look in Hicksy's rucksack, which he had left with us. His f**king passport was in there. He had gone back to J-bay looking for it but he wasn't going to find it, and he wasn't going to get across the Transkei border to hook up with us without it either. Things had turned to shit. It got much worse.

Mike went into a small supermarket to get some supplies. The single checkout was staffed by a girl he knew. When she saw him she started whispering in his ear and looked a little freaked out.
What she told him was that the army police were looking for him.
In Sth. Africa every male goes into the army for 2 years on their 18th birthday, no excuses. You don't get sent to Pukka-fcuken-punyal either, you get sent to skirmishes Sth. Africa were always fighting on their borders with god knows who. They say it makes a man out of you…no doubt.
After your 2 years you go back for 6 weeks every year for a "refresher' If you fail to show up for the refresher, the police come looking for you.
Guess who had skipped out on his national duty. The army police had spotted his Kombi in town and were looking for him, he was going to gaol if they found him and so would we if they found what was in his Kombi.
The pic is Christy and the Kombi in the Transkei.
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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by Grooter » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:46 am

Mate you should write a book about this its fantastic
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Meanwhile planes drop from the sky, people disappear and bullets fly. Little grey men are coming our way, "Tastes just like chicken", they say :o

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Re: Wide eyed rubbernecks in South Africa 1980

Post by Rustt » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:32 am

MM, I am pretty sure I have met Hicksy, may have even have met you. My first trip to Cactus was with Harry straight after Easter 82 in a blue Kombi. My first surf at caves was with jonno, just me and him. Yep he was a bit freakish, I can remember him frequently popping his single fin out and side slipping into the barrel.

I would recommend any of you young guys that are getting into a bit of travel to get over over to Africa, It is not like it used to be, but where is? It's heaps more fun than Indo and cheaper once you get there, you'll meet the most beautiful people and also the worst, it's the only place that really draws me back. As Borris the Goat boater said,"this place is heaven, we're tourists so we can break most laws and we're playing with monopoly money" . Also every town on the east coast as world class right hand point.

Love the pictures of the transki.

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