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Surfers blame Rip Curl for dangerous boat, incompetent crew

It was a two-week outing on a charter boat with broken bilge pumps, no working emergency equipment and an incompetent captain. According to eight top surfers, a $30,000 trip with Rip Curl surf clothing went dangerously wrong. When the ship went down, they were left drifting for hours in the Indian Ocean while the captain abandoned them.

It was supposed to be "the surfing adventure of a lifetime," but this was more adventure than even top surfers were looking for. The three Australians and five Californians are suing Rip Curl and its company principals, as well as the charter boat's owner, PT Neptune Adventures -- which they claim may be a sham. The lawsuit says PT Neptune Adventures' offices were in the same building as Rip Curl.

According to the lawsuit, the eight surfers paid a total of over $30,000 for a "Live the Search" adventure in 2015. They headed out to the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia in search of big waves. The ship was the Quest 1, formerly known as the Indies Trader II, a 21-foot super boat carrying the eight surfers, four crew members and the captain.

Yet by the time they made it 30 miles out to sea there was already three feet of water in the engine room. "Apparently, none of the bilge pumps aboard Quest 1 were working," the lawsuit states. The captain was yelling into the radio and the crew quickly gave up trying to make repairs. The surfers tried to bail out the water.

Late that night, one of the surfers suggested they all gather their belongings and get ready to abandon ship. When they went to the sleeping areas, however, their berths were full of seawater and fuel.

Then the captain abandoned ship -- suddenly riding off on a JetSki with the masseuse. The crew made off with the tender boat, leaving the passengers to try to operate inflatable life rafts.

More chaos ensued, and it turns out that the Quest 1 was missing other critical emergency equipment, including a signaling beacon. They drifted through the night in 15 knot winds with 6 foot swells, sick from diesel fuel. They realized the Quest 1 was sunken when dawn arrived.

Worse still, the captain and crew had made no effort to send help. The surfers turned toward what they thought was land, but were ultimately rescued by a passing boat.

When they finally got home, the surfers tried to contact Rip Curl, its officers, or PT Neptune Adventures, only to be ignored completely. They are suing for negligence, breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment and emotional distress.

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