Stab Magazine | The Loneliest Planet, with Pete Devries

The Loneliest Planet, with Pete Devries

From Stab issue 68: A Canadian surfer with a penchant for surf trips and the greasiest of winter-soaked paellas… Interview by Elliot Struck | Photos by Jeremy Koreski In the connected age, it shouldn’t be a surprise that great surfing is leaking out of every slit in every coastline around the world. Peter Devries grew up […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

From Stab issue 68: A Canadian surfer with a penchant for surf trips and the greasiest of winter-soaked paellas…

Interview by Elliot Struck | Photos by Jeremy Koreski

In the connected age, it shouldn’t be a surprise that great surfing is leaking out of every slit in every coastline around the world. Peter Devries grew up on Vancouver Island, specifically Chesterman’s Beach, in Canada, the son of a surfer pops who, along with his ma, bought up a swathe of the area back in the ‘70s when dirt was cheap. And so, beach-born, this second-generation surf jockey did learn to rip.

And in 2009 he became the first Canadian to win an international event. And now, with his filmer pal Ben Gulliver, they’ve made a very Moonlight Kingdom-esque film called The Fortune Wild. And it’s companionable and pleasant. Let’s read the press release: “Starring Peter Devries and Reid and Arran Jackson, The Fortune Wild follows an expedition to the far-flung shores of Haida Gwaii, a chain of wave-swept, lushly forested islands off the British Columbia mainland. Surfing, camping and foraging for food on the area’s unspoiled beaches, the three surfers step away from the modern world and into a quieter, more attuned and more self-sufficient existence.”

Who doesn’t want a piece! Now let’s read about his ice-water adventures!

First big adventure trip: I went up the coast by boat with my buddy, Ollie Atkey, and his dad when I was 13 for a week. We stayed in a very small native village and spent a lot of time carrying firewood and surfing. That was my first experience going north by boat and the first time I’d ever surfed a cobblestone point. I remember having so much fun surfing this mushy little right because it broke in the same spot every time and it was perfect for cutties.

The difficulty of adjusting back to normal life after a stint in the wilderness: The great thing about the wilderness is the lack of responsibility for day-to-day tasks and chores. All we do out there is set-up camp, surf our brains out, eat and finish off the evening with a cold one around a hot fire. I love being off the grid especially with social media these days. It’s a simple life where you don’t have to answer the phone, write emails, and do social media stuff. You actually get to sit around the fire and bullshit instead of looking at everyone staring at their phones scrolling through an Instagram feed. Getting back into that kind of stuff is the hardest thing for me but it always feels great getting out of the bush and getting back to my family.

Preferred method of travel: Helicopter, obviously! There is something about seeing a reef lighting up from the air that gets me so stoked. Budget is a bit of an issue for that method. My more common preferred method is being in a boat on a calm sunny day.

Best trip: Some trips are great because the crew is really fun and others because the waves are really fun. Some of my favourites are from up north at this slab we surf. I love getting barrelled and that is all you really do up there. One that sticks out is the heli trip I did with Jeremy Koreski, Ben Gulliver and Noah Cohen. We didn’t get the best waves but we were all so stoked on the trip and Josh our pilot was the man.

The worst: We did this hiking trip into a rivermouth a few years back that was really painful. It was Jeremy Koreski, Raph Bruwhiler, Catherine Bruhwiler, Malcolm Johnson and myself. It was a trail that none of us had ever done and we assumed the hike was going to take four or five hours. Having a pack with all your gear to camp for four days and a surfboard to carry adds a lot of weight and slows you down big time. The boat dropped us off around midday and from the start it was intense. A vertical incline with ropes to pull yourself up. It took us about 45 minutes to do the first 30 metres. What started out as sun turned to pouring rain. The mud was up to our knees in spots so we were drenched and covered in mud with our headlamps on in the dark after the first four hours. We hiked two more hours in the dark and finally hit the beach. We set up camp in the rain and slept in wet gear until dawn. We awoke to find no rivermouth in site and realised it was on the next beach around the corner. We repacked our gear in the rain and started up another incline with ropes to get us up and over another steep section. Two more hours and we finally arrived to waist-high sideshore lefts. The waves ended up turning on the next day so it wasn’t all bad but we were all super exhausted and could barely paddle against the rip from the flooding river. I surfed with duct tape around my toes because of all the blisters on my feet from hiking in gum boots. Raph got a stomach sickness and Catherine re-injured her ankle on the hike.

(continued below…)


Cold-water tubes stolen from the mouth of a river half-a-doz hours flying time from real crowds? Well, tell me that’s a bad thing.

Rules for packing: Waterproof and warmth are the key. I always pack extra warm when camping in Canada and I always make sure to have rain gear even when the forecast calls for sun. When I surf I wear a thicker wetsuit than I would at the beaches around home so I come in from the surf still feeling warm. Tarps for shelter from the rain are a must and a waterproof tent also. Everything is packed in waterproof dry bags or totes so nothing can get wet before I get there. Fire is key also. An axe, multiple lighters and waterproof matches, paper and even some dry wood if you know it’s been really wet lately. A chainsaw to buck up wood is great if room allows. And a headlamp to see when it’s dark.

Most amazing place: The Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast of British Colombia. There is nothing like the picturesque beauty of untouched areas in BC for me. Giant old growth forests meet an ocean full of life. I was lucky enough to do a 10-day sailing trip with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and a Patagonia crew to make the film, Groundswell two years ago. The amount of life we saw on that trip was spectacular. Dolphins, Orcas, Whales, Eagles, Black bears, Grizzly Bears, Spawning Salmon. One morning I was sitting on the deck at dawn drinking my coffee solo and a pod of Orcas popped up right beside the boat. I sounded the alarm, we pulled anchor, and followed them closely for hours. We spent a day in the Quay river valley during spawning season and the amount of life we saw up there was incredible. There were Giant Bald Eagles flying and feeding on the spawning salmon. The river reflections were as still as I’ve ever seen and we walked a Grizzly bear trail up river and came across three Grizzlies. One of the bears picked up our scent and went crashing into the bush to get away and you could feel how powerful it was as it ran.

Moments of surrender: I’m knocking on wood right now but I’ve been lucky thus far. There have been a few moments with black bears getting a little too close for comfort, but no cougars yet. That is one animal I never want to see in the bush. One camp trip up north we were doing swims out to the boat with our gear and the swell was large so we had to go a fair ways offshore. During our first swim a black bear had come out of the woods and was heading down the beach to have a look at our stuff. Raph started making noise and throwing rocks at it before his final swim. As I came back to get the last load the bear was super close to the stuff and didn’t want to go. I threw some rocks and yelled so he backed off a bit and I was able to grab my bag and get out of there.

Craziest thang: One very strange experience that comes to mind is a trip to the central coast with Chris Burkard. We were shooting these little chest-high finger reefs near his home. It was a sunny offshore afternoon with average waves and 10 guys out. Toward the end of the session I heard some commotion on the inside and looked in to see a body lying face down in the seaweed. The closest guys to the body grabbed him and dragged him to the beach unconscious. Everyone went in and huddled around the guy trying to resuscitate him until the paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, they couldn’t revive him. It was just the strangest day to have someone die while surfing. Nobody saw what happened. I guess you never know when your time will come.

You can now buy the digital version of Stab issue 68 in its entirety, here.


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