The story behind the surfers who pioneered the Mentawai is already well documented. Legendary surfers and boat operators like Martin Daly, John Mcgroder and Chris Scurrah, among others, are rightfully recognised for their part in the discovery and creation of a surf travel industry in the Mentawai.
However, the untold story is that of the local seafarers and their contribution to the creations of the modern Mentawai Surf Charter. Way back in the early 90’s a fisherman based in Padang, Heng Erewan had just added some extra cabin space to his sturdy locally built wooden fishing boat when some surfers noticed it moored in the creek. They approached Heng and asked to him to take them on a surf charter to the offshore Mentawai Islands. This was the start of a new industry and those surfers returned many times over the next few years. The surfers eventually purchased two fishing boats from Heng, providing this enterprising Padang seafarer with the seed capital that became the basis of the Padang surf charter fleet.
Having already spent several years captaining and operating Mentawai surf charters, Heng had developed a great understanding of what surfers needed in a charter boat. Combining his traditional knowledge of Sumatran boat building with his understanding of Mentawai waters and surfers needs, Heng designed and built the first surf charter specific boat in 1995, the Susanna.
After a few years of operating successful charters to stoked surfers, Heng saw the opportunity and evolved the design, building a new surf charter boat “Christine” in 1998.
As his expertise and experience in boat design and charter operation grew, he became sought after to create boats that surfers loved. In 2001 he built Budyadahri, ensuring that it was both taller and wider throughout, adapting classic Indonesian boat construction to the western surfers it was designed for.
The evolution continued with the classic Padang style surf charter boat Kaimana launched in 2005. Now named Kai Satu it remains a firm favourite with surfers based on both its great value and seamless charter operations. The success of the design spawned the construction in 2007 of a couple of the Mentawai fleets most popular charters – Oasis and Melalueca. Twin share cabins for up to 12 surfers with generous air-conditioned living spaces as well heaps of outdoor space defined a new standard in charter boats.
Throughout this time Heng’s son, Ferry Erewan grew in to the family business, taking on the operation of Padang’s leading charter fleet. Ferry now runs the operation, supported by the the captains, chefs, crew and staff who have all grown with the fleet. It is this long serving teams experience and commitment that is the basis to hundreds of safe, successful charters and many thousands of stoked surfers.
Moving in to a larger, more luxurious charter boat Heng and Ferry Erewan built the Kai Dua (Kaimana 2) in 2014. The spacious cabins setting a new standard with major renovations underway in 2018 to ensure it continues the premium standard.
Surfers who know what matters when exploring the remote archipelagos of West Sumatra choose the boats with surf-specific design, legendary captains and chefs, highly experienced crew and trusted, seamless charter operations. It pays to know the heritage and history of quality behind your Sumatran charter.