SANTA ANA Five Orange County and three Austrailian surfers were hoping for the adventure of a lifetime when they set sail on an iconic charter boat, Quest 1, for a two-week surfing trip off of the coast of the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia in 2015.
But in the middle of the night the Quest 1 sank in high seas about 30 miles from land, leaving the group of eight men clinging to a life raft and surfboards, as the captain and crew panicked and abandoned ship, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court.
The surfers say they floated for hours in the darkness, battling seasickness and rough waves in the Indian Ocean, before they flagged down another boat and were rescued.
The eight men are now suing surf giant Rip Curl, which organized the excursion, alleging the company knew the vessel was in disrepair and failed to provide any aid or assistance after they were rescued. The lawsuit, filed last month, also names Rip Curl executives and the boat’s operators, PT Neptune Adventures, which is described in the suit as a “shell” company set up by Rip Curl to “avoid liability and circumvent regulatory compliance” for the Quest 1.
Rip Curl is a major Australian-based surf wear and gear company with U.S. headquarters in Costa Mesa. A representative could not be reached for comment Monday.
The lawsuit says Orange County residents Jay Lewis and Shawn MacLachlan planned the trip for mid-July 2015, finding six other avid surfers and paying more than $30,000 in all to charter the Quest 1, described as a 21-meter, legendary surf vessel that has been featured in classic surf movies.
After a day of surfing, MacLachlan awoke at about 2:30 a.m. to a hot cabin. The crew was rushing about in the darkness and the engine room was three-feet deep in seawater as the anti-flooding equipment had apparently failed, the lawsuit says.
The panicked captain had “barricaded himself in the wheelhouse and was observed repeatedly yelling English obscenities into the…