Sunday, May 10, 2009

Local Man Stranded On Jump Rock

Semi- local surfer Craig Black's jump rock miscalculation has resulted in a four-hour stranding waiting for the tide to go out then come back in.

Black, 50, made his way to the headland of the popular pointbreak at approximately 6.20am without incident, but became disoriented as he picked his way out to the cluster of jump rocks.

“A surge came through as I was walking out ” recalls Black “I was certain my mid-high-tide rock would be the best one to go off, but when I actually got there it was like someone pulled the plug – the tide was way lower than I thought and rocks were popping up everywhere.

“There was no way I was gonna jump and risk the FCS setup on my 6' 8" quad funboard.”

Mr Black believes a number of factors contributed to his decision to remain on his ill-chosen rock.

“Naturally, I considered retracing my steps back to the headland before going out to the low-tide jump spot, but every time I was about to turn tail, a surge'd come through and I'd think 'gonna jump this time', but each surge would be a little shallower with the dropping tide.”

Compounding the problem was the number of local surfers – some of whom acquaintances of Mr Black – heading out for their morning surf.

“This might sound a little foolish, but I didn't want to let the guys see me turning around and walking back to shore with my tail between my legs – it'd be like waving a big red flag in the air saying 'Look at me, I'm a kook! I don't even know what rock to jump off' – so I stayed put, and did my best to look like I was happy to be there.”

“Looking back, maybe I should have sucked it up and bailed, but the longer I stayed the harder it was to leave.”

Mr Black suggests that his jump rock stranding became a spiritual odyssey of sorts.

“After a couple of hours it wasn't about getting off that rock and into the lineup any more, it was more about seeing if I could go the distance. If I could exist quietly with myself. What started out as an innocent surf became a test of character. An inner journey, if you will.”

Coastalwatch surf cam archives provide a more blunt document of Mr Black's ordeal.

Between 6.35am and 7.15am, Mr Black remains in his quasi ready-to-jump-on-the-next-big-surge position, while performing stretches of the neck and torso whenever other surfers walked past on the headland.

From 7.15am through to the .26 metre low tide at 8.22am, Mr Black appears to spend most times on his haunches, often with his head in his hands, and at times rocking back and forth.

Though pixelated surf cam footage only allows impressions rather than details, Mr Black appears to weep on several occasions – an allegation he denies vigorously.

Mr Black is prepared, however, to concede that the suggestion – that he kicked and flailed at a Black Cormorant who attempted to share the rock platform on several occasions – has merit.

“You have to understand, you spend a couple of hours on a rock the size of an esky and you start to get a bit territorial. There were heaps of other rocks around for that Cormorant to dry his wings on, so, y'know, stuff 'im.”

The last hour and a half proved to be the most testing for the father of three.

“You don't know what 'slow' means until you're waiting for the tide to fill back up. Honestly.”

By 10.15am, the tide had risen back to the same level as when Mr Black first set foot on his rock.

Mr Black celebrated by urinating in his wetsuit. A treat he had been saving up to mark the occasion.

“It's hard to explain how good it felt. Not just the hot wee on my leg, but the fact that I was in the box seat now. Sure, it was still too shallow, but with every surge I was closer to jumping. I haven't felt that excited about going for a surf in a long time.

“Which is just as well, cos the onshore had come up by 9.00 and it was complete shit.”

Coastalwatch surf cam archives show Mr Black finally exiting the jump rock at 10.22, after being perched for almost four-and-a-half hours.

Mr Black – who had originally planned to surf for only an hour before nine holes for golf then hosting a barbecue lunch with family and friends – waited a further 15 minutes in the lineup before catching a wave, and was dropped in on immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Image! Surfers!... No way mate, surfers couldn't care less about appearances. We are all just like so individulistic, eh?
    We all reckon so.