Paul Marshall Fenn. Not quite right in the head.

Could’ve been all the martinis and smokes his mum had when she was pregnant with him — mums did that then. While the other kids were planning their post-high school lives, he was failing everything but geography and gym. Left home at 16. Been out looking for the experience that satisfies ever since.

Things happen to Fenn. Strange things. Enormous things. Terrifying things.

A lot, but not all, of these stories come out of quitting his job and life in Toronto and heading to the South Pacific islands with a hundred grand in his pocket and no plan. He was 28, semi-adventurous, a bit brave, a bit chickenshit — depending on the threat. Wasn’t too keen on filthy and dangerous. Got used to that. Wasn’t good at living cheap. Figured that out. Wasn’t one to make fast friends. Got better at that. Wasn’t so sure about crossing oceans on sailboats. Did a bit of that.

Expect guests, once things get going.

Above image

“This was taken in 2010 by my Australian friend of nearly 30 years, Todd Roesler, a key initiator of several ‘that nearly killed me’ moments in my life. This is me after swimming ashore at Jurrassic Park, a terrifying (to me) secret surf break in a group of islands called Kepuluan Telo, off the west coast of Sumatra Utara, Indonesia. It’s as wild as it gets; next stop straight off this beach is Africa. Its exposed location explains the hugeness of swells that unfurl there, having traveled uninterrupted from where they’re created in the great tempests of the “Screaming 60s”, aka the Southern Ocean, several thousand miles below. It’s not far from where the seafloor suddenly uplifted in 2004, triggering the Indian Ocean tsunami. Elemental indeed. Jurrassics was about as inhospitable a place as can be imagined. I was devoured by insects on arrival. The tracks of large lizards were everywhere, and unidentifiable wild animal calls emanated from the dank, foreboding primary forest beyond. Todd is a co-founder of the surf retreat Resort Latitude Zero in Telo and owner/skipper of Nomad, a traditional Pinisi-style cargo-sailor that he built into a live-aboard surf boat in Sulawesi. Launched in 1995, Nomad visits remote breaks all over the Telo & Mentawai Islands.”

— Paul Fenn

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