Surf trips don't always go according to plan. And as veteran wave-chasers like Chris Malloy will tell you, if you have someone leading you around by the hand, you're not doing it right.
Well, ESPN Surfing contributor, Jeff Smith recently had one of those roller coaster trips to a somewhat uncharted island in the Caribbean. He and Billy Hume, Jason Reagan, Kyle Garson and Jeff Myers made a few blunders and a few ace moves, but eventually it all came together. Today, we've got some advice from the guy who bares the brunt of it all the photog. Here are some trip tips from Jeff Smith.
#1 Never change your plans last minute.Surf trips are always a gamble even with computer technology. The great models can give you a clue, but are just as reliable as the weatherman if your destination is not where long period ground swell can be seen coming days in advanced.
If it does arrive, the wind is right, and it's a flawless dreamscape of a line up, making it down there for the swell will not matter if you forgot your board shorts in a rush to get out the door. Not to mention changing tickets last minute can sometimes cost you more than the original purchase price for the trip.
#2 Always be prepared. This means food, water, and shelter. Just because where you're going is tropical doesn't mean you won't have to climb a mountain and freeze your but off in flops a boardies. I remember thinking, "shoes would be great right now...&*#$ Ouch!" Acacia spines through flops on donkey trails getting to breaks were more painful than doing it barefoot.
There are a ton of great tents our there. Do yourself a favor spend some cash on a good one. Always carry water. I always have a stainless one stashed in my backpack and carry a gallon jug that gets filled everywhere. Be able to carry everything you own in a backpack.
#3 Never take anyone's word on it. Have a reliable contact there and plenty of research beforehand. It's always good to go with someone who has been there before. Google maps are a great new tool that will undoubtedly send surfers to even more remote corners of the world searching for surf, but also will be a double-edged sword. You have to have your research done, checked and re-checked before pulling the trigger.
#4 Public drunkenness just don't do it. You may miss the boat. Alcohol poisoning is no fun. Locals usually do not appreciate it. Every local has a word for us... benny, val, snowbird, haole, gringo... d#&che bag?
#5 Keep it small. Four people is about max. It's always best to keep it as low key as possible.
#6 Silly Americans! Take responsibility for how the rest of the world sees us (typically arrogant and/or rich.) Best policy is to respect peoples' ways and property even when it doesn't make sense to you.
#7 Always expect the unexpected. No 8 o'clock ferry? More alcohol. Burp! Not a good idea. Get used to hanging out and waiting for info, trains, planes, boats, food, a room. The rest of the world doesn't move at the breakneck pace we do here in the western world. Learn how to kick back and relax when you have too.