28 April, 2014 28 April, 2014

Everything is Bagus – by Gavin Rother

Check out another rad entry in our Write to Surf competition, which has some great prizes up for grabs (see below for details).




Would it float? Or even worse, would it break in half? This was the question Big Zee would soon answer. But before we get there, where did it all start?

It started around the teak reef at the Yacht Club. The idea of a surf trip for the crew of Jouster, who were all surfers that also enjoyed their sailing. Three young guns and two watermen; Big Zee, Legend, Hoshie, Hosh and  Brown Dog. Between them, Big Zee and Legend had more years in the surf than the ages of the other three combined. Well, almost!

So, anyway, the watermen had quite a few trips to Transkei under their belts, while the YGs had NONE! Time to introduce them to the magic of the TK, its waves, its culture and all other things good. And to prove that goats do live in trees.

The magic of the Transkei…

Plans were set in motion and eventually the day arrived all misty and still. BYE BYE wives and girlfriends and off they set, bakkies loaded with all the camping gear and supplies needed for ten days in rural Transkei. Oh yes, the original crew were joined by another YG, Hey Richie, so that pushed the ages of the YGs to just beyond the surfing experience of the watermen. Well, almost!

Those that have been to the Kei will know the feeling – rolling hills next to the N2 and rolling hills next to whatever dust roads take you to your favourite TK hideaway. Waving locals as you wind your way to the coast – “sweets!” – and then the sight of the sea. Questions – is the swell here yet? MSW said it would be up? Was it offshore? Is the sardine run past here yet?! Interpret that last one as “I hope the sharks have followed them away!”


It was almost dark. Time to find a spot to set-up camp. In the intervening years however, some things had changed in the Kei. Like, last time I was here there was no fence. This looks like a coastal reserve now. Let’s just find a spot outside the fence. Over there on that hill overlooking the sea and estuary. Only problem – it was a hill, so the choice was to either sleep feet or head downhill. It doesn’t matter, just pitch your tent and find a place to make fire.

And some priceless TK advice – make your own toilet with that spade, but be sure to mark it afterwards with a stick and some toilet paper (unused). This way no-one has an excuse for getting their hands covered in you know what. It was, you know, advice that only someone who had been on the border would give, like Big Zee. I’m almost giving away his age now!


The next morning everyone was up early and ready to go. Boards were loaded on the modified golf cart for the walk along the beach – which makes things easier you know, until the wheels came off! Then it’s back to carrying all the kit yourself, because we would be spending the whole day at the point. We hid the cart, but it eventually disappeared (just like some of the kit at the campsite). Thanks to the local community forum most of the kit was returned to the crew AFTER they had left the Transkei, but that is another story.

So, the crew gets back at the end of the first day to find the aforementioned kit gone, but what the hell, they had surf and that is why they were there! Relaxing around the campfire (just don’t use those toilet paper sticks for kindling!) looking at the stars, more of them than you can imagine, seeing the closest galaxy to earth as well as the five moons of Jupiter with BINOCULARS! Big Zee is also a raconteur of note and regaled the crew with stories of the early TK years. Not much has changed – except for that darn fence!


This is where the optometrist comes in. Well, he kind of stumbled in. Thought he would spoil the fun. There is another optometrist in this tale, but he can tell his own story. So this first optometrist stumbles into camp to get cellphone reception – I mentioned the camp was on a hill remember – and immediately starts frothing at the mouth at the sight of this (tidy) camp marked on the outskirts with these toilet paper sprouting sticks.

“You guys better be gone in the morning or else I will call the cops!” he barks. “This is a reserve, so move on!” Except we’re outside the fence.

We were there to surf, so in order to keep the peace we agreed to decamp in the morning and find another hiding place. We made sure to leave those sticks behind, but as revenge, didn’t use the spade or mark the toilet, so if the eyeman wandered up there the following night to make his call, who knows what he will step on, or in!


Day 2 – and two problems.

Problem one – Big Zee, who you might have deduced by now is not young anymore, needed to go to the capital of TK to get another heart prescription. Why? Well, if you see a local who is either very old or very active, let us know, because he is the one who raided the camp on Day 1 and took Big Zee’s heart tablets! This caused Big Zee to miss the best surf of the trip while he was to and from that place near Nelson’s home. Double whammy! But then he did bump into the most beautiful woman in the world when he was in the pharmacy, so not all bad for him!

Problem two – place to stay. To cut a long story short (the in-between bit is another story!), trips to the TK for this crew are not about camping anymore. They’re more like going to the Country Club. The optometrist did the crew a big favour – thanks, but you are still chopper number one. Now they were in the lap of luxury – a proper roof, soft mattresses, running water (of a sort) for unheard of showers, domestic help (what a bonus!) plus a nightwatchman. At least the crew would not be unrecognizable when getting home to the wives and girlfriends.


So it was – days spent surfing, fishing, sleeping, walking, exploring, knowing that at day’s end there would be a huge plate of vetkoek waiting on the stove (thanks Eronelle!). That’s what it was like from Day 3 to Day 10. God, this was the life! No phones to distract and business on-hold for 10 days. But life went on, like it should.

Where did the watermen go wrong? How could they make this happen more often? The YGs had their lives before them, but how could they live the dream without getting sucked in to the trappings of a normal life? In order to live this normal life in the TK, one had to live a normal life outside the Kei. Or is that what the world makes us believe? Sacrifice was necessary, or was it? This is all getting philosophical now, or was it just those other things good that Transkei is famous for that made the crew philosophical? Another story there I am sure…


The YGs lived the dream – in fact Hoshie, Hosh and Brown Dog still do, while young Hey Richie still has some schooling to do – All the while, Big Zee and Legend observed the YGs having fun. Just like they did all those years ago. Except for the camping and being unrecognizable when returning to the real world (or what we thought was the real world). Or maybe the Kei is the real world? Sorry – it must be those other good things talking again. Where was I? Oh yes, observing, and joining in the fun where and when they could keep up of course!

It is now Day 405 and the crew has been back to the Country Club in the TK for another mission. Even better fun was had, and surf, of course. We found this one wave… but that’s another story there too!

And yes, the board Big Zee made specially for the Transkei did float and it did not break in half when he surfed it. Everything was BAGUS. And not just because of the optometrist! And so started the Legend’s other surf trips, long delayed, to Madagascar and Bali – where he learnt the real meaning of Bagus.

We’ll save that tale for next time…

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Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on www.zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.


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