Bitch Slapped for Sure

wellymon's picture
wellymon started the topic in Friday, 7 Jun 2013 at 6:24pm

After watching Restaurants firing yesterday on tin tin net, whilst building my deck and knecking a few at home, keen to get some waves available.

Over to Stradie this morning 0.8m SSE swell 10sec period and chunky 4ft +. To my amazement?
2nd wave got a bomb and bitch slapped hard.

Burst ear drum, came up not knowing where is what, what is what, down is up, up is down only to get punished again. Leg rope wrapped around me upside down couldn't flick around to get air and drilled again into the sand?? So close to giving up, thought that was it.

Another brush with death, in 30 years of surfing this is the 2nd time I thought I was gonna drown, pretty good odds really.!!!

Anyways made it grovelling hard on the sand in knee deep water thanking life once again.

Im sure heaps of you have had a burst ear drum in the water surfing and we all know its shit. Its like skulling a bottle of vodka and smoking an once of weed all at once, but with 4ft sand grinders on your head its not very nice, thank my angels again.

Oh well can't fly to work for 2 weeks and I get to finish my deck??

You got to love life every day by every day we are alive.


yorkessurfer's picture
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yorkessurfer Friday, 7 Jun 2013 at 9:07pm

Shit that sounds heavy!
I had my own less dramatic bitch slapping today wellymon.
Was surfing a break called Baby Daly's which was four feet and fun considering the open ocean swell in South Oz today was peaking at over 10 meters on the buoys! It's a soft wave but the rocks are fucken nasty!
When I was coming in a surge just smashed me heavily into the rocks.
As I have a new board I held it up above my head and took my medicine. My toes are shredded and I have a deep gash in the side of one that bled crazily and left a nice trail up the headland. Ive also got bruises all up my leg. Ahh the joys of surfing:)

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barley Friday, 7 Jun 2013 at 11:37pm

I've had that happen at Grnts got pole-axed and it was only small!! I always wear booties at reefbreaks now..Been pressed at 'the ledge' and held underwater 'till I reached the shore and just starfished on the beach..thank fuck I was alive !! haha!!need to toughen up..yew!!

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barley Friday, 7 Jun 2013 at 11:39pm

Whats the saying? BOARD BEFORE BODY!!

dandandan's picture
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dandandan Saturday, 8 Jun 2013 at 7:10am

That saying only applies to old boards... I believe the new bard motto s "death before ding!"

wellymon's picture
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wellymon Saturday, 8 Jun 2013 at 5:23pm

Had heaps of beatings for sure,

But when it comes down to beatings with a burst ear drum, it puts a different picture in the equation,

When my ear heals up, I'm "deaf" finitely gonna get some custom made ear plugs for sure.

Has anyone used them???

Got any feed back on those, would be much appreciated.


evo62's picture
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evo62 Saturday, 8 Jun 2013 at 8:11pm

Docs pro plugs are cheap ($30), blu tac will work but the best are custom made plugs. Make sure you get vented ones, worth the extra $$. Oh yeah see your GP before you go surfing again, I've seen some really bad ears when people have gone back too early.

rattle's picture
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rattle Saturday, 8 Jun 2013 at 8:16pm

Missed this one but several people I know very well were involved.

Huge swell magnet headland that has a bay on one side that has low tide waves break into it but only on the biggest storm swells. Water movement in the bay is massive, every fresh set pushes you around the impact zone and bay. The wave surfed is a reform of storm waves that crash into the front of the headland.

Water entry is very tricky involving a very careful 150 metre walk under 3 story high sheer cliffs towards the front of the headland and then a 80 or so metre dash across an exposed boulder reef before a metre or so jump into the water followed by a frantic paddle away from the reef and the impact zone. Timing the dash across the reef is everything.

So, the boys fuck up the dash across the reef only to face a 3 wave set of overhead white water washing over the dry reef, which is over a metre above normal sea level.

Result: all boards were damaged badly, ripped wetsuits, broken toes, a broken arm, several lots of stitches on hands, arms and a head, bruises and lumps on most arms and legs.

pster's picture
pster's picture
pster Sunday, 9 Jun 2013 at 12:27am

Reading those makes me feel much better about my last beating.....

Paddling out at one of the Cronulla beachies a just over a month or so ago, it was well overhead, but still looked pretty manageable, and after a couple of months in Indo, my confidence was right up there, so I didn't take my time checking out the conditions like I should have - I just charged in.

I thought I had found a nice rip that would scoot me out the back through a channel without even getting my hair wet. Turns out the rip was pulling across as much as out, and it shuttled me right into the impact zone where 6ft+ bombs were unloading onto a shallow bank....

Still, I thought I had timed the sets really well, because I had made it to maybe 15-20m away from the safety of the deeper water, where I could see the crew sitting waiting for the sets....

And that's when shit got real - a solid set started looming on the horizon, one of the ones where the ocean goes black, and you know immediately that it's gonna be big. I also knew straight away that I was in the wrong spot, so I dug deep, trying to get to that sweet spot where I could get under the first wave cleanly.... but it wasn't to be.

The mountain of water jacked up like a scene from a horror movie, with the feathering lip resembling a row of teeth ready to tear me apart. I pushed my board deeper than I ever had before praying that by some miracle I was going to get under the beast, only to feel what could only be described as a swimming pool, land on my head, slamming me straight down into the bank... and then like a giant hand, it grabbed me, picking me up like an elevator to the top floor, then slammed me into the bank again.

No idea which way was up, I reeled in my board by the legrope, and gave it a big bear-hug so it would send me to the surface.... Just in time for a quick breath, before the next wave had go at beating me senseless.

As the third wave landed on my head, I started to get concerned. The wind was thoroughly knocked out of me by now, and it was a very real thought, that if there was one more in the set, I was probably gonna need CPR by the time I got to the beach... if I got to the beach.

Thankfully, there was enough of a pause in the set for me to get a couple of breaths in and paddle towards the shore far enough that the next wave washed me in, rather than kicking my arse.

For the first time, I was properly spooked.... and with my tail between my legs, I called it a day.

Somehow I walked away from that with nothing but a damaged ego, only to fold myself in-half, hyperextending my back two days later in 2ft mush.....

wellymon's picture
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wellymon Sunday, 9 Jun 2013 at 7:28pm


Yeah cheers for that evo, will go see a specialist this week, this is the second time that Ive burst this ear so I have to look after it.

Some good stories there from other fellow brothers of the surf board.

Peace,Rip and Carve

stunet's picture
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stunet Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 2:31pm

Hey Wellymon,

Here's a description of my worst wipeout, it involved a broken eardrum at big Sunset (the story appeared in White Horses magazine):

He who hesitates is lost. Look before you leap.

Two proverbs that can apply to the same situation. Each sounds good in your North Shore mission statement yet each contradicts the other. To charge, or not to charge: that is the question.

On the 19th October 2000 I flew out of Sydney bound for the North Shore. It was the best surf trip of my life and by far the most expensive. Before disembarking I quit my job, sold my car and packed everything in. I committed to the season in full. Upon landing I immediately hooked up with friends who sorted me out with a job and a place to stay. The work was minimal and unpaid – a few hours a day for a roof over my head – yet it was essential if I were to see the season out.

At around this point I should inform, or at least remind, readers of Australia’s economic state in the spring of 2000. At the dawn of the millenium dollar parity was a distant pipedream. Back then the Aussie dollar was the proverbial Peso of the Pacific, getting barely 50 cents to each American dollar. Heading to Hawaii? Take your travel budget, now divide it by two.

After a week or so of good-sized Sunset I felt like I’d picked up from where I left off the season prior. Confidence was welling up and the season had barely begun. As any Hawaiian visitor knows a good beating can instil confidence as profoundly as any barrel and I was testament to that. On Christmas Day I had a 20 foot set break 20 feet beyond me at Waimea Bay. On the morning of the 2001 Eddie I went under a three- wave closeout set at Waimea before parking my arse on the point and watching Ross Clarke-Jones win it. I was even dealt a literal beating by a 16-year old moke for being the only whitefella at V-land.

Between the character building punishment I even caught some waves.

The confidence was also building on land. Erick Regnard of Tungsten fame, employed me as a lighting guy for photo shoots. Half of them involved unclad wahines, the other half watermen such as Tom Carroll, Darrick Doerner and Cheyne Horan – all clad fortunately. I’d bought a car for a six-pack and I was running with a good crowd.

Without doubt the season peaked with an impromptu interview for ASL magazine. “Unknown, Unsponsored, Unbelievably Stoked” was the title of the article put together by then-editor, Andrew Farrell, who made sense of my caffeine-fuelled, stream-of- conciousness answers by planting commas and fullstops where none existed in my speech. For some reason I mentioned not wearing underwear for six months.

Things were happening. I had a spring in my step and was reckless in the surf. Better yet, I was pulling it all off with aplomb. Introspection, reflection, that whole thing about discretion, I had no need for that. He who hesitates is lost.

Early in February I surfed Sunset on a weird, short-range north swell. The waves were around 10-12 feet but the lineup was like nothing I’d ever seen. It appeared almost impossible to get out the back, there was always another set further out.

Sitting about halfway out on the north peak a wave stood up offering an entry. Leaping before looking, I spun and paddled for the wave.

It was the worst decision I ever made.

The wave jacked hard coming across the reef and the takeoff was all freefall, I didn’t have a chance. The first point of impact was the side of my head and my thoughts were immediately scattered. As I struggled to make sense of what was happening I saw blue sky, realised I was in the lip with the base of the wave below me, and yet I hadn’t felt myself getting sucked up and over?

Through a thick cognitive fog I realised I’d broken my eardrum and I wasn’t registering motion – I couldn’t feel up or down. I also knew I was in strife, I’d missed a good chance of a breathe and the wipeout was only just beginning.

What followed was a wipeout that brought order to my mortality. A wipeout that rejigged my religion. A wipeout that, like Kerry Packer who died and came back to say, “there’s nothing there,” turned me into a casual – though much better looking - commentator on the other side. I’ve no idea how long it lasted: I panicked and swam into the bottom thinking I was swimming upward; I heard a second wave roll overhead; I relaxed then panicked some more; I watched myself from a distance. And then I gave up and breathed in.

Amongst layers of foam a friend who saw the wipeout pulled me onto his board. I had just seconds to breathe in air before the next wave separated us but it was all I needed. He and another surfer got me to shore where I vomited a bucketful of blood- flecked foam then lay back on the sand under the soft tradewind and the care of a capable lifeguard. Warm pus ran out of my ear.

I was driven to Kahuku Hospital where I had my first encounter with the US medical system. In serious pain with alien fluid coming out my ear a doctor told me to scram, “No papers. No service.” So we drove back along the Kam Highway, picking up my travel insurance papers on the way, to Wahiawa Hospital. The people there were no better. “I don’t want to be filling out goddamn forms for the next six months,” said a doctor when presented with my insurance details. I went home, necked a row of Panadols from my first aid kit and rocked myself to sleep.

I couldn’t fly with a broken eardrum so I had to stay in Hawaii. Fortunately I found a good ear, nose and throat doctor who helped my recovery. She gave me painkillers, tested my hearing, and gave me advice. But she didn’t come cheap. After six visits I’d paid her nearly $8,000 for medicine and services wiping clean two credit cards that I hadn’t intended to touch. There was nothing to worry about, I told myself, it was all covered by travel insurance. I’d simply claim it when I got home.

I arrived back in Sydney on the 15th March 2001. The newspaper headlines that day were all announcing the same news: “HIH Insurance Collapses”. It was Australia’s largest corporate collapse yet the story meant little to me. Until, that is, a few days later when I attempted to claim my outstanding travel debt. It was there that I found out what the role of an underwriter is and who was underwriting my goddamn travel insurance.

I had no job, no car and not a cent to my name. Thanks to HIH collapsing I also had a debt of $8,000 American dollars which, given the exchange rate was actually a whole lot more. Take your debt, now times it by two. I owed $16,000 for one dumb takeoff.

Beware the advice you heed.

wellymon's picture
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wellymon Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 4:42pm

Far out Stu what a crack up read.
Thats like camping, I mean thats Intense.
I like the idea of going on an awesome journey that will change your life a little, Yeah it did I reckon, in so many ways. You got to surf amazing big Hawaiian waves and see half cladded Wahine's, that sounded like good times altho you can have the big waves Stu. Id go for the half cladded things?
I reckon you also got to respect that your still with us, sharing your experience (Life), which I think a lot of people take for granted. When we have near death experiences, thats when we become happier and more appreciative of life and the surroundings.
As for the money aspect "We don't get buried with that stuff anyways", thats what my grandad always said too me and "As long as the wolves don't keep knocking at your door".
Also Stu,your art of putting words down on paper in the correct english manner is well good eh. As you've probably noticed I failed english big time at school.
I bet your friend that saved you out at Sunset is a great friend for life, you were so lucky, someone was looking down on you that day, for real. As you mentioned above , "not being able to feel motion or what is up and what is down" its not nice especially when you've got more waves about to pound you and have no breath. I could not imagine 10-12ft Sunset, let alone my piss weak 4ft Stradie, ( Boring!! ).
The only conscious thing I managed to do was pull my leg rope in and grab my brd but with not much strength, if my leggie had gone I would of been K.O. (Sorry about that , If I can surf I shouldn't be in the water with a leg rope??? I read that last nite in a forum about longbrders not wearing leggies and taking everyone out, down in Syndey. What a lengthy debate that ones turning out. Idiots need to learn about "DUTY OF CARE" ).
Anyways. My mate in Dunedin was telling me the other day about an interview with Greg Long?? some big wave fella. He was surfing Mavericks and got held down for 2 waves, he popped up, failing around like a bobbing peanut, only to try and swim back down. He had burst his ear drum and still thought he was on the bottom trying to swim up, but in fact he was on top trying to swim down, No sense of direction at all.
Well as for, "to charge or not to charge, he who hesitates is lost and look before you leap" heard them many times in different situations. I reckon just be positive and focused, have a will to survive and believe in that always.
What a great journey you had Stu, another that won't be forgotten.
Do you wear ear plugs in the surf now or what, I have to wear them 12 hrs a day on the rigs, Im sure a couple of hours in the surf won't hurt
Peace out

yorkessurfer's picture
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yorkessurfer Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 at 3:33pm

That's a killer tale stu, glad you made it and are still with us!

Wayne who had that amazing board collection at the Daly Heads party deserves an honourable mention here for getting held down for 3 waves in a row without coming up for air last Saturday at 6ft Chinaman's! Not quite in the same league as Waimea/ Sunset but still BITCH SLAPPED for sure!

roubydouby's picture
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roubydouby Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 at 4:11pm

Farrkkk Stu, that's classic - the gods sure set you up for a joke.
Physical, spiritual and economic destruction.

I'll never complain about tiny reef cuts on my feet or speckles in my vision again - not to people that actually surf anyway.

Craig's picture
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Craig Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 at 8:00pm

Love that story Stu, but jeez it sounded like as heavy a situation as it gets.

YS, did Wayne get stuffed in one of the caves/crevices in the reef or did his leggie get caught?

Heard some horrendous tales about people getting shoved under the ledge there, one where the guy thought he died and saw his family coming to get the body from the beach. The next minute he was above water and alive.

The body can survive far past the point that you mentally give up it seems.

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 at 8:08pm

Hey Wellymon,

Doesn't really matter where it happens, the first time you break an eardrum in the surf it's a scary experience - even 4ft Straddie. The first time I did mine (the story above was the second time) was surfing a limp beachbreak near Forster. It was so long ago now I can't really remember the details but I can recall getting to the beach and trying to get help from people on the shore. I attempted to stand up and fell suddenly sideway, like one second I was upright looking at them and the next I could feel sand on the side of my face. The people freaked out - drunk teenager at the beach! - but they eventually figured I was fucked up and gave me a lift home.

When the Sunset incident happened I had just enough presence of mind to realise I couldn't use my senses. Probably stopped me from freaking out too much too early.

The bloke who rescued me wasn't a great mate but just a South African fella I befriended in Hawaii. He was a good guy, bit intense, but a great big wave surfer. He'd practice breath hold techniques while sitting around the dinner table at night. There'd be banter around the table and you'd notice Bevan hadn't spoken for a few minutes then look over and see him slowly going blue in the lips. It was that sort of intensity and devotion to big waves that I was into at the time.

Hey Yorkes,

Getting held down for three waves and surviving? Ol' Wayne must be made of tough stuff. Wonder if he's made out a will for all those beautiful boards of his? You know, just in case he gets held down for four waves...

yorkessurfer's picture
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yorkessurfer Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 at 10:27pm

Yeah Craig it was the cave that got him not his legrope on the reef!
Those caves down there are freaky. You go over the falls and you can see its not very deep but you just go down down down! It's black and if you don't come straight up the same way you went down there's undercuts so you can actually be under the reef! Most of us have gone down there at least once and two wave hold downs happen but three is crazy! He is lucky to be alive! And yeah Stu Wayne is a tough old nut alright!

udo's picture
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udo Friday, 13 Dec 2013 at 12:03pm

bede durb and the others probably should of had ear plugs in at pipe the other day, do any of the pros wear earplugs ?

stunet's picture
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stunet Friday, 13 Dec 2013 at 1:05pm

I've never seen any of them do it. Not in competition at least. Personally I reckon you wouldn't want to wear plugs in competition unless you really had too. For one, you an't hear very well with them in. Hard to know what score you need when you can't hear the announcer bellowing it out.

Secondly, and this is the reason I don't wear them more often, they slightly disengage you from the moment. One of your senses is almost gone and it has the effect of making you feel at a slight remove to what's happening around you.

Competitors, however, need to be 100% present and focussed.

braithy's picture
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braithy Saturday, 14 Dec 2013 at 9:08am

I found wearing plugs in tassie ... they take a fair while to adapt to. They do mess up your balance. Just working out little adjustments you need to make getting to your feet and leaning into turns, I found it really easy to overcommit and lose balance, where I'd normally never lose balance.

Back on the goldie, I don't wear plugs or if I do (howling S wind and cold), I only wear one in my left ear. I really do notice a difference -- balance wise -- without them.

And like Stu said ... in comps especially the 'CT, even if you lost 2% balance, you'd probably struggle to make it through a single heat.

Wearing blutac, actually increases your chances of bursting an eardrum. ie A greater surface area over your ear canal to compress air back into the canal. That's why those doc plugs have the small air vent in them, to prevent compressing air if you headslap a wave.

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quokka Sunday, 15 Dec 2013 at 4:43am

Have never burst an eardrum and don't particularly want to either reading some of the stories. Vented Docs are now a part of my routine when I head out for a wave after having both ears drilled to remove exotosis...that in itself is an experience I don't want to go through twice...not so much painful but the time out of the water. I've tried all sorts of plugs, blue tac, putty, custom made, and have found that the vented Docs are the best and most cost effective if you lose them, which you eventually will if you cop enough drillings. They do come with a leash but have found that to be more of a pain in the arse. Find a surf shop that stocks them where you can try them on to find the correct size and then buy them from the US through the Docs website. Sitting back 1:45am in West Oz waiting for Pipe to start in sizey waves...sounds similar to one of the swells you copped Stu! Bring it home Mick.

reecen's picture
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reecen Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 6:21pm

What about the Gath helmet, that must drastically reduce your chances of bursting an ear drum.
You might look like a numpty but I am surprised more people don't wear them when it gets solid or shallow.
Anyone worn them surfing before? Are they uncomfortable? Do you end up like Stunet and Braithy said with one of your senses being removed?

udo's picture
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udo Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 6:39pm

asked luke egan why nobody wears gath helmets at chopes ,to dangerous he said ,they act like a sail when getting flogged... water gets between your head and helmet rips you around totally disorientating you ,would save your eardrums though

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reecen Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 6:55pm

Cheers Udo, often wondered that.
Nothing worse then being flogged by a wave and having that sort of stuff happen.
Rashie pulled up and over your head booties ripped off all that stuff just helps to create a sense of panic while in the spin cycle. l imagine having a helmet pulling up at your throat would not be the nicest feeling under water.

udo's picture
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udo Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 7:01pm

tom carroll always wore one at pipe
the big wave chargers down vicco ,do they wear them ?

blindboy's picture
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blindboy Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 7:34pm

I wore a helmet in small waves for a couple of years to protect an ear I was having problems with and it did the job. The main problems with them are the extra stress they place on the neck when getting smashed and the risk of over heating in the tropics. In cold water they are probably warmer than a hood!

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reecen Monday, 16 Dec 2013 at 8:28pm

No idea about guys in Vicco and helmets?
Most of the guys I see wearing them are of older age usually covered from head to toe in lycra and neoprene and the areas not covered are glowing white with zinc.
This lead me to believe that they were probably worth wearing as these guys have all got to the stage in life when it is all about self preservation and making things as easy as possible.

blindboy I tried one on once as a grommet and it didn't last very long before my head was sweating and itchy and it got turfed.
Thought they may have been able to refine them a little since then although I had a look at them online a moment ago and they don't seem to have changed much over the years.

wellymon's picture
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wellymon Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 at 2:50am

I ended up buying some "Sorky" ear plugs, they are pretty good IMO.
I used them for 3 weeks when I was back in the water but only in punchy waves...?
I suppose I'm used to wearing earplugs all day at work, which I hate cause all I do is yell at people and can not hear them at all. Maybe thats a good thing ah :)
I've never worn a helmet surfing except on the frozen water.

Duty of care goes along way with myself now, watching people who have been punched on the inside and being aware.

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crustt Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 at 5:36am

I find helmets okay, like blindboy I found the biggest problem was it increase the area of your noggin so it put more strain on your neck. I've always worn a helmet on surf trips as I have paid a lot of money and don't want it to end abruptly, Ive had 2 mates burst eardrums on trips. Bang, end of trip!
I wear one whenever the waves are good now as due to med's I'm a bleeder.
If water gets between your head and your helmet, it's probably to big and if your worried about looking like a dork, well then maybe you are a dork. :-))

udo's picture
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udo Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 6:43pm

Stu's Sunset experience is worth another read.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 7:14pm

Unreal story.

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saltyone Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 7:47pm


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wally Monday, 18 May 2015 at 9:00am

Homer said it well in The Odyssey.

"Few men can keep alive through a big surf
to crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches
in joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind"