Wednesday, April 27th (Bali Day 32)

  • Woke up at 7am in order to meet Alex and Tuan (our friends from Mui Ne, Vietnam) for a morning surf session at Balangan Beach.
  • When we arrived they were no where in sight but the waves were absolutely massive.
  • We waited for 15 minutes on the beach, appraising the situation, before I decided to give it a try while Cory opted to watch from a beachfront cafe.
  • It took me 3 tries but I finally made it past the breakers.
  • Once in the lineup, I spent some time watching the experienced surfers and paddling for my life when a monster set would roll through.
  • Due to the swell size and shape, rideable waves were few and far in between.  I tried for a few smaller waves only to be punished by huge waves that would break before I could paddle past them, dragging me underwater and holding me down for ages.
  • Two hours later I returned to shore without a single ride, though the experience of being in the water with such powerful swell was worth it in itself.
  • Back at Gunu Mandala Inn we freshened up before heading to Warung Heboh for lunch.
  • We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in our room before heading to Padang Padang beach for our evening surf.
  • Once again the waves were huge walls of rolling water.
  • Despite having surfed Padang Padang several times, we still had to spend some time acclimatizing to such intense conditions.
  • At one point Cory took a huge wave and I took the one after, which left both of us in the crash zone for the rest of the set.
  • Wave after wave broke on us.  It must have taken 15 minutes of hard paddling, duck diving, and panic to get back out to the lineup.  Meanwhile the current had carried us far down the beach to the next break: Impossibles.
  • We slowly paddled our way back to Padang Padang as the sun fell below the horizon.
  • Cory was ready to call it a session but I wanted one more wave to end on – and that was my first mistake of the evening.
  • I found my last wave and had a fun ride, but surfaced in the crash zone once again, only making it back out to open ocean many minutes later after being washed down the beach for a second time.
  • The last rays of sunlight were still in the clouds as I paddled back.  I fell into a rhythm of 200 strokes followed by 60 seconds of rest, on repeat.
  • As I became more and more tired I stopped watching the horizon – my second major mistake.
  • A huge set rolled in and caught me by surprise before I could paddle out, rolling me underwater in the darkness and washing me back down shore, eliminating all of my progress.
  • By this time the light had completely faded and I started to realize that I could be in trouble.  However, with no other options, I set my sights on a patch of darkness in the right direction and fell back into the 200 stroke/60 second break routine.
  • Finally, after what felt like ages of paddling, I found myself parallel to Padang Padang Beach, recognizable from the cliff point on the East end.
  • Relieved, I started paddling towards shore, only to find myself caught in a rip current that was only slightly less powerful than my failing arms.
  • I put my head down and paddled until I hit the beach, finally stepping on to shore a full hour after last light.
  • Cory was frantic when I arrived, not having seen or heard my voice for over an hour and a half.
  • I caught up to him on the beach just as he was leaving to initiate a Search and Rescue.  Thankfully it didn’t come to that!
  • We returned to our room while recapping the situation, then made a trip to Nirmala Supermarket for watermelon, snake fruit, and a wafer snack called Tango.
  • We watched the documentary “Into the Abyss” upon our return then fell asleep shortly after.

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