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Chris Peel: Why To Choose Adventure


Life is a myriad of choices. You make them all day, every day. And when it comes down to it, the only thing that separates your fantasy from your reality is a choice.

 

Chris Peel is a person who has chosen to bridge that gap. The 25-year-old Australian native lives a lucid dream, working on a surf charter boat in Papua New Guinea. Because, as Chris puts it, “If you want to see the most amazing things in the world, you won’t find them online. They’ll be out on the boundaries, away from roads, electricity, flush toilets and phone signal.”

 

But we’re not here to tell his story — we’re here to have him tell it.

 

 

QUIKSILVER: Give us a little background on yourself.

CHRIS PEEL: I’m from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland but moved to Byron Bay when I was 4 years old. I spent a lot of time traveling and looking for good waves as a teenager. Now, I split my time in Papua New Guinea, Byron and Japan.

 

 

What brought you to Papua New Guinea?

I went there on a surf trip when I was a little kid and met (Skipper) Andrew Rigby for the first time. Then I did another trip with him when I was about 19 and we got on really well. As I grew older, I decided I want to explore new waves and experience a culture that hasn’t been skewed by the west — PNG has both of those things. Then, one day, I got a message from him saying that a position had become available on his boat and asked if I was keen to come on board. I jumped straight in.

 

That was 2.5 years ago, and each year I find myself more and more excited to get back. I love it.

 

Why do you love it?

It’s much wilder than anywhere I’ve been. Every day is a full-blown adventure. We still have big pods of dolphin, lots of pelagic fish, reef fish, sailfish, whales, giant clams and big turtles. There are crocs in the big rivers, the reefs are all alive, the local people are rad and to top it all off, the surf we get to access by boat is epic. That's what brought me here.

 

What’s your life like over there?

I’m on a boat for 10 days straight when we’re on charter. It feels like an epic surf adventure with a different bunch of mates every time when we’re out there so the line between personal life and work life can be pretty blurry.

 

And when we’re not on the boat, we spend a couple days in port switching guests, restocking provisions, bunkering fuel, fixing anything that broke, doing all the things you do with a busy charter boat. The boat anchors a short swim away from Shaun Keane’s Nusa Island Retreat, which has a bar, so we have a bunch of fun there.

 

 

What’s the best part of your life out there?

The new discoveries. That feeling seeing an amazing wave that nobody has ever surfed is pretty special. I also love hanging out with Andrew every day. Learning about boats, reefs and weather from a legend like him is amazing. It's all pretty memorable and the fact that I have a giant archive of images of these experiences makes it even better.

 

What do you like about photography?

If you nail a shot of a guest on the wave of a lifetime, the stoke they get is amazing and 100% contagious — it's almost as good as getting the wave yourself. Shooting regular surfers is really different than shooting pros. The stuff you’re chasing is totally different. You want to capture all those little moments when a guest is totally and utterly stoked and that’s much easier than getting a pro surfer on that same page.

 

What’s next for you?

I’m getting better at understanding a photograph’s full journey — from when I capture it, to it going out to promote what we’re doing, to somebody seeing it and feeling all the stoke that's in it and booking a trip to come experience it for themselves.

 

We just added a new boat to the PNG Surfaris roster called Ultimate One. It's a super high-end wave-piercing catamaran. I’m getting to be involved a bit more directly with the whole operation of that one with booking, marketing, all that.

 

 

Any advice for people on the fence about pursuing an adventure like yours?

Sometimes you’ll be broke, tired and wondering what the hell you were thinking. Sometimes you’ll be pinching yourself and wondering whether or not you’re dreaming. People think that all the adventure in the world is gone, but that's not true. All the easy adventure is gone. There is still a lot waiting out there for anyone who wants it bad enough.

 

If you really want to see the most amazing things in the world, it's not going to be on Instagram or Facebook. It’s not going to be online. It's going to be out on the boundaries, away from roads, electricity flush toilets and mobile phone signal. You have to really want it, and you have to be OK with the reality of your dream being a lot different than what you’d imagined. Because, in a lot of ways, it’ll be even better.

 

Follow Chris' next Journey here