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“I’ve Got Enough Secret Spots To Surf With No One For A Lifetime”

A moment with the intrepid Captain Martin Daly.

news // Sep 2, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I’ve been everywhere, man,” sings Johnny Cash. The same could be said for Captain Martin Daly. And while Cash pulled into every honky tonk and state prison from Florida to Folsom, Daly’s made it his life’s work to jump in at every unsurfed stretch of coast he can find. His resume runs long, from a salvage diver to early days in the on his Indies Trader, to surf industry booms times on the outlandish Indies Trader 4, to deep diving in the Marshalls and solving the Amelia Earhart mystery – he’s been everywhere, man. Stab caught up with the good captain to find out a little more about where he’s been, and more importantly, where he’s going:

Stab: Do you still enjoy being behind the wheel and adventuring as much as ever?
Martin: I am probably happiest when onboard, behind the wheel at sea. I never get tired of seeing what’s around the next headland or on the next island. I am addicted to exploration. Never jump into the tin boat with me when we are driving along the coast and I say, “Let’s just go in and have a closer look!” unless you are ready to spend hours and hours pounding along looking at every nook and cranny. I think we did over 100 miles of coastline on the last exploration trip in June.

You’re obviously known for your work in the Mentawais, but lately the Marshalls have captured your imagination. How are they similar and how are they different? 
Both areas have fantastic reef breaks and consistent swell. The Marshalls is wilder, windier with crazy clear water. There’s more marine life and it still feels fresh. The Mentawais is awesome, but for me the number of surfers now in the area, the environmental issues, makes it less exciting overall. Both are awesome so I guess I will just do both.

What can you tell us about the Amelia Earhart discovery
In the first instance, we went out and without huge expectations and had a look where the locals said she crashed. My mate, Dick, brought some metal detectors with him. We found a bunch of crap but a bit that I found turned out to be a dust cover off one of the wheels on her plane. That kind of got the interest going and Dick followed things through to where things stand now.

At one time or another you’ve had pretty much everyone who’s anyone on your boat, who are some of your favorite surfers to go exploring with?
I’ve had a lot of great surfers onboard. Most pro surfers tend to lack the patience for exploration. They generally want things handed to them on a plate. Some exceptions and people I’ve loved traveling with include Tom Carrol, Pottz, RCJ, Timmy Turner, Kai Lenny, Jimmy Rotherham, and of course, Ian Walsh is all over it. I’ve had some great adventures with Kelly too.

Out of all the trips you’ve done and been a part of, is there one trip that stands out? 
The first time I took other surfers to the Mentawais: Tom, Pottz, RCJ, Stewart Cadden and the Newport, Australia, boys. It was pumping, still the best Telescopes I’ve ever seen. Of course, the trip I just got off was bloody insane—paddled into the biggest wave I’ve caught in 15 years. Stoked!

With social media and Google Earth and all this stuff, is it inevitable that surf spots will be revealed? Are secret spots dead or do you still have an ace or two up your sleeve?
You know, I’ve never spilt the beans. It’s always the people that are with you that betray you. I’ve got enough epic secret spots in my memory bank to be able to surf with no one around for another lifetime. They’re definitely still out there. Most surfers are like sheep. They need a roadmap, Google Earth, a tour guide, photographic proof, a perfect forecast and wifi so they can show everyone immediately if they score. And they only have five days. I never run into anybody out in the wilds anymore looking for waves. It is not inevitable that a surf spot will be revealed if you take the wrong people with you and you take all the photos.

If you’re keen to see more of Martin’s handiwork, check out his Insta feed @indiestrader. He’s got a “100 Days of Empty Waves” campaign running at the moment, and if you’re lucky you could win a trip to the Marshalls with the captain.

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