The waves of my life at Skeleton Bay
So basically I was waiting for the last 5 years to surf this wave and I check the charts every week when it’s winter in the southern hemisphere and last week a big storm with unusual direction popped up . I waited until 2 days before the swell to book the flights to be sure, the swell looked perfect for Skeleton Bay. Didn’t have any budget left from the little sponsorship I have so basically I used all my savings to get there and borrowed some cash from a mate and away I went.
I went into this trip not knowing how I would get to the wave when I arrived or anything I just knew I had to get there . I messaged some mates who were there and as I was travelling I was trying to figure out how I would get a ride on a 4×4 to the wave I must have messaged 10 guys to see what i needed to do .
I got as far as Johannesburg no problems and then boarded the flight to Namibia not thinking there would be any trouble ahead! The 2 hour flight went fine until the pilot told us we needed to circle for an hour which I found unusual. There was a light fog but nothing bad at all! We then were told that the flight was being diverted to another city 40 mins away to refuel and wait until the fog cleared. After four hours on the runway sitting on the plane waiting my high spirits were fading, would I miss out surfing the wave I had been dreaming about for so long?
We were not allowed to leave the plane so driving from this airport wasn’t an option. We had to try to fly back and try to land, if that was not possible we would be flying back to Johannesburg. Imagine being on the runway in Namibia and not being able to leave the plane! At this stage I was 30 hours into travel and what little hope was left was fading. To top it off I overheard some people talking about the airport we were flying to. It turns out the approach radar system had been turned off because of some disputes with airlines and if it was not perfect clear weather we wouldn’t be landing.
We took off and attempted to land but were diverted to Johannesburg. The next day was the last chance I would have at making the swell. To top off the journey my boards were not on the plane they were lost on route. I was assured that my boards wouldbe on the next flight but after the day I had I wasnt so sure.
Next day the flight was delayed the morning again and we were told it was 50:50 chance we would not make it . I at this stage started to look up alternatives of getting home penniless and my dream down the drain . We boarded the plane and crossed our fingers. 2 hours later we are waiting to hear what the pilot says and thankfully it was good news; we landed!
Now all I had to do was find a ride to the wave and luckily Benji Brand was nice enough to offer me and ride with the person who was collecting him . At this stage everyone on the plane was so relieved including legends like Benji Brand, Alex Smith, Gearoid McDaid, Nate Behl and one of my heroes Taj Burrow were all there. The buzz levels were high.
The next twist was that my boards were missing. I was gutted but thankfully Benji was so generous to me and said he would let me use a board . A local guy named Paul Lombard picked us up and 40 mins later we arrived to 8 to 10ft skeleton bay. It goes to show that when your in a bad situation it’s amazing to see how generous people are . Benji, Alex and Taj shared their lift with me . That night Frank Solomon and his friend let me stay at there apartment. They gave me a jacket and some pants for the freezing mornings and the next day again I surfed the waves of my life. It was an epic adventure but the best part was meeting the crew who made the trip there for the swell and to feel that warmth and help from people when I really needed it. I arrived in Namibia almost broken but I left with the rides of my life and real full heart from the generosity I was given. Big thanks to Gearoid, Frank, Ed, Benji, Koa, Alex, Etienne and all the Cape town crew I met. Trip of a lifetime and the waves of my life!
P.S my boards were at Dublin airport when I got back!
Words by Ollie O’Flaherty