Across the Straight to Desert Point

Indonesian turtle boats, feral crossings, and early expeditions at one of the best left-handers in the world.

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In TSJ 26.6, writer Steve Barilotti engineers a long-form storytelling session with Desert Point boat-in pioneer Bill Heick. As part of the first crew to truly realize the potential of the wave, Heick’s tales of their early expeditions in the 1980s include everything a good surf-discovery yarn requires: feral crossings on rickety turtle boats, run-ins with Russian intelligence agents, near-disaster on the high seas (and at anchorage on the reef), and of course a decade of secluded strikes at one of the best left-hand tubes in the world.

In the clip above, Heick narrates through the broad strokes of the early days at Deserts, providing perspective and insight to go with select motion and still photography, most of which was gathered during their initial expeditions. The result is a three-minute crash course in the surf history of Deserts. And if you’re interested in a longer study, check out Emmy-award-winning director Ira Opper’s Secrets of Desert Point, a feature-length documentary of Heick and his team’s story. Or grab a copy of the mag.

Edit by George Trimm / Footage and narration courtesy of TheSurfNetwork