Rescue missions

megzee's picture
megzee started the topic in Tuesday, 6 Jul 2021 at 5:50pm

We've all been there.....most times by being in the right place at the right time.
Whether it's helping an injured mate/ stranger or rescuing a complete non ocean person. I doubt there is one person on this forum that has not been involved in some sort of rescue mission to get someone safely back on the beach, to a hospital or having been on the receiving end of needing a helping hand.
The brave blokes that paddle towards a shark attack situation are real heroes in my book, and there are people still walking around today thanks to surfers who had insight, ocean knowledge and most importantly, selfless confidence to act in helping someone in distress.
Ten times out of Ten , the unsung heroes humbly head back to their car, take off their wetty, throw the board in the back and disappear.

Over the decades I've been on the delivery end of a few rescues, with a couple of notables, which I lightly look back at now, but were none the less pretty heavy at the time.
Please share......should be a few good reads.....I'm sure!

Footnote: Land based stories of your best mate turning into a seedy, thieving little rat junkie and roping him in [read - captive] to drive him 10 hours down the Great Northern Highway to endure 3 months of Drug free Rehab, in Perth, thus ultimately saving his scrawny little life, will be equally considered as......."How to save a Life"

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megzee Tuesday, 6 Jul 2021 at 6:19pm

Easter 1994
Location: Left point south of the Murchison River, WA.
Scenario: The river mouth had begun to silt up several months earlier, therefore the cray boats and other commercial vessels could not access the safe, calm river anchorage.
Numerous deep water moorings were laid in the deep water bay area adjacent to the point and further south, allowing the fisherman to moor their vessels and transfer crews into a smaller vessel to get into the river mouth.
Situation evolving: Rapidly increasing swell throughout the day, compounded by howling 25-30 Sou-westerly, so by around 1500 hrs the point was pretty well solid 8' and un-surfable.
The holiday kids had no surfing/boogie option other than the "little right hander" in the bay which allowed semi safe splashing around.
Rescue Team: Me and Rocky grabbed half a carton of Emu's to watch the late arvo sets in the carpark.
Victims: Two young boogie boarders had just endured an extra large set in the bay and were flushed out into the bay, with nope hope of flippin' their way back in, as the massive rip spat them into the bay. At least the little buggers had the foresight to flip for one of the moorings.......Getting washed north was sure tragedy.
Plan: 2nd beer in, we intently watched as they clung to the mooring, with the sun steadily setting.......
Note: Large crowd was gathering to witness two scrawny lid kids clinging to a mooring........45 minutes before dark...
Rescue Team: Oh fuck it....Wetties on, boards out and a late arvo paddle out to greet to very relieved sprouts.
Plan: We sat there with the kids for 15 minutes to layout the plan, and of we set south with one lad each in tow. Headed directly south to the point with the plan of timing the sets and paddling into the rip to try and get back into the gap they were washed out of earlier.....
Instructions Given: Paddle and flip like fuck when we say so..
Finale: we made it in 10 minutes before dark with about 300 spectators and parents weeping on the beach...
Sat had had a couple more warm Emu's

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stunet Tuesday, 6 Jul 2021 at 7:49pm

Nice one, Megzee.

Awlright, this one not in big surf but a heavy situation nonetheless.

Samoa, 2006. Surfing Nu'usafe'e Island about four foot or so. When bigger it can wrap a bit, but at this size, it was more like Aussie Pipe with a downstairs extension tacked on - one more section to make it interesting.

Just before boarding the boat we picked up a Seppo fella who lived there with a local wife. No-one really knew the deal, he just said he was coming and so he did.

Well into the session old mate caught a wave and was way down the line when I heard his voice, screaming: "My leggy!"

"I've got a spare one on the boat," I replied helpfully.

Again he screamed, "My leggy!"

But before repeating my generous offer I paused a moment and deciphered his statement. He hadn't, as I thought, broken his leggy and was simply screaming in exasperation, he had in fact broken his leg and was in worlds of pain.

I reached him first and it was ugly; broken at an angle through the shin, compound, skin tear, blood. Fuck. I screamed at the others who arrived pronto and we gently reassured him while paddling him to the boat, where we figured we'd lift him in and motor away. It sounds so easy.

Just getting him out of the water, over the side and into the floor of the boat as it rocked on the tradewind was an ardurous, and no doubt painful, exercise. It took fucken ages.

Then we had to motor back to the wharf and with no barrier reef to offer protection between here and there, old mate grimaced and swore as the boat bounced about on the chop, at times his lower leg moving with it, freely swinging in ways that made my stomach queasy.

Then from the boat to the van, where we laid him in the centre aisle. It was getting dark, he was getting delirious and saying silly shit, while we laughed and reassured him under the weak interior light. We didn't even know him, even Sean McGuigan, the surf guide, barely knew him, nor how to contact his wife.

Drove over the central mountains to Apia Hospital and left him there with the doctors. Found out later from Sean they couldn't fix the break at Apia so he flew from there to Sydney, and from Sydney to LA.

Hopefully his wife caught wind of what happened by then....

Six weeks later Sean himself had a life-changing accident in Samoa, but I wasn't there and it's a story for another time.

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megzee Tuesday, 6 Jul 2021 at 8:04pm

Stu, when you said "heavy situation nonetheless", you probably should have said FUCKEN HEAVY.......
I had a mate Broken pelvis story, but it now pales into insignificance.......

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simba Tuesday, 6 Jul 2021 at 8:58pm

Well this ones a salute to an unknown hero..........around '79 a mate and i were sitting down on the grass where the shed is today at lenno just chewing the fat watching a few sets probably 4-5ft south east swell,pretty high tide.Guy runs over quite distressed saying he just pulled a guy out of the water and could we help.Recons he saw his board floating down the point as he was on land watching the surf a bit further along....realised there was a bloke still attached by his leggy but face down .Guy gets over the rocks on high tide swims out and drags the guy in on his own, on high tide ....gets him half up the rocks and runs over to us for help....well the poor bastard was full of water eyes rolled back and foaming at the mouth......got him breathing but later heard on the grape vine he survived but had brain damage........the unsung hero who wasn't a local is a full blown legend...wish i knew his name.......

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dandandan Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 10:08am

Strangest one I had was when I was a divemaster in Pulau Perhentian in NE Malaysia. We were diving a wreck called the Sugar Wreck I think, sitting perfectly in 18m of water which means many beginner courses go out there and you can hang out there for a good 50+ mins on a dive. There were probably a dozen operations on the nearby islands, some of them fancy and some basic but none that I would have called rogue or reckless until this day.

We were diving up the southern side of the wreck and I was keeping our group of 8 together as they came in and out of a part of the wreck, with the other divemaster inside. Once everyone was out I did a headcount before swimming for the other side of the wreck and ascending. Probably not going where you think it is. We hadn't lost someone, but picked somebody up. I counted a dozen times and thought I must be losing my mind. I got everyone together and then it made sense - a girl with curly red hair that I hadn't seen before. I left the other DM to finish to dive with our guests and I took her to the surface.

Turns out her dive group left without her and she'd been swimming around down there by herself for 20 minutes. She'd only just been given her Open Water on holiday in Thailand and didn't really know what she was doing, and had convinced herself that she would get the bends if she went to the surface so just hung around the bottom. I had to give her my spare reg while doing a safety stop as she was basically out of air. It was the most bizarre experience, even more so because she was so relaxed about it.

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megzee Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 11:46am

Heavy Simba.... that mystery lad is a legend
Dandandan, strange story indeed. I knew the ex WA cray fisherman that sold up, moved to Cairns and bought a reef dive boat business.......Not long after the two Americans disappeared during one of his dive tours and ultimately the poor bugger lost everything...

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garyg1412 Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 3:00pm

Spent Christmas day around 2011 on Caves Beach near Swansea and decided to stuff around on my young blokes boogie board for a bit. The swell was quite big and washy on the bank where I was sitting. Being the furthest out I had a view of the swimmers looking back to the beach. About 15 minutes in I see this young kid bobbing towards me in the rip and I knew immediately from his facial expression that he was in panic mode. I paddled over gave him the boogie board and we swam back to shore. We may have been outside the flags but regardless there wasn’t a lifeguard in sight.
Anyway I headed back out and drifted down the beach a bit and not 10 minutes later I see this couple in the same position but much more serious than before as she was Filipino and couldn’t swim and he was built like John Candy and was already exhausted. This time around I gave them my boogie board and swam away a bit so they didn’t latch onto me as they were in full blown panic mode. We were now about 100m out to sea and I looked back for help only to see the lifeguards flip their Zodiac in the shallows. It took them about another 5 minutes to get their shit together and get out to us by which time this big bloke had had a heart attack and his partner was only just holding on to the boogie board. Another minute and it would have been all over.
Anyway they managed to resuscitate the guy and his partner was okay. I didn’t say anything to the lifeguards but wondered how they didn’t anticipate these two situations as the beach wasn’t that busy. I’ve always wondered how that would have turned out if someone (not necessarily me) but anyone with ocean instinct hadn’t been there to read the situation.

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megzee Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 3:05pm

utmost respect for your actions garyg...
Unfortunately mate, most clubbies lack "Ocean Instinct"........It is a time earned art.

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Pops Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 3:43pm

Sadly true megzee.
Thankfully for a mob of Afghanis one gorgeous summer evening in 2005, my 14 year old self was one who did have a bit of instinct.
Would've been around 6pm, we'd finished packing up after patrol and myself, a mate and my old man were hanging around debating whether a quick wave or a feed was the better option.
A big family (I think) Afghanis in full traditional garb were having a picnic down in the southern corner next to the pool - which also happens to be the site of one of the NBs more notorious rips. Swell was the usual summer slop, but the rip was screaming.
Quicker than I could say "dad, I reckon you should open the shed back up", one of the girls had gone to wade in the shorebreak only to be swept off her feet and out. The rest went in after her while the three of us sprinted to the club shed to grab rescue boards and followed them. None of them could swim. By the time we got to the water's edge, they were all well over a hundred metres out and heading round the corner.
Dad and I are only little blokes, and my mate wasn't that much bigger back then. I reckon the lightest of our patients woulda been well over a hundred kegs, much more with the soaking wet garb taken into account.
First girl was gone by the time we got to her (can't have been more than a minute or two after she went in - drowning can happen fast!), the rest were mindlessly panicking, scrambling all over each other. Dad took her in and started resus while mate and I formed a raft with our board and managed to calm the others enough to keep their heads above water (was bloody hard to stabilise them given the aforementioned weight disparity).
Somehow we managed to ferry them all in, one at a time (one of us paddling one in on one of the boards while the other kept the rest above water on the other, taking it in turns. Eventually the ambos must have turned up and taken over looking after the drowned one and dad joined the rotation). Memory's faded but it mighta been 7 by the time we got them all in. All survived.
We ended up on a couple of tv news bulletins and in the local paper (possibly because this was just after the cronulla riots and the media wanted a "clubbies aren't racist" narrative), and got a couple of bravery awards. When we got interviewed for the paper, they'd managed to track down the girl who drowned (and was resuscitated) and we got to have a chat with her which was a really cool moment.

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megzee Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 4:13pm

Pop's, I started the thread because of guys like you...
With all the COVID, anti vaxx, political shit going on, true tales of human spirit and courage will always bring people back to earth.......As surfers, we have our finger on the pulse......[ no pun intended]
All the stories above, got a few neck hairs tingling....
Legend stuff mate..

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Pops Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 4:25pm

Thanks megzee.
Same to yourself, Stu, simba's mystery hero, gary, etc. Cool to read stories of skills and intuitions learned through our "selfish" pursuit so often help people in a real way.

I'd reject the legend label though... when it comes down to it, if you're the person on the spot and have the right skillset, you don't even think, you just do what has to be done.

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Westofthelake Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 4:26pm

Incredible stories fellas.

I have a rescue story but it's no where near as heavy as any of the above. Short and sweet it involved a semi-hot girl from my high school when I was about 17. Basically she got swept out in a rip and I paddled out and got her on my board and we both made it in ok. She had a boyfriend at the time, so there was no bonus prize for saving her, not that I was expecting such a compensation for doing my friend-appointed job.

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megzee Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 4:51pm

Pops wrote: Thanks megzee.
Same to yourself, Stu, simba's mystery hero, gary, etc. Cool to read stories of skills and intuitions learned through our "selfish" pursuit so often help people in a real way.
I'd reject the legend label though... when it comes down to it, if you're the person on the spot and have the right skillset, you don't even think, you just do what has to be done.

Nicely said Pop's, but I stand firm on my legend label....Glad you used the word "intuition", as my mate severely fractured his pelvis surfing large. ugly Jaques point many, many years ago and the nearest hospital was Northampton Regional.
After a large dose of wonder drug Pethadine from the local Nursing outpost Sister, we were instructed to throw a mattress in the back of my trusty wagon, fuel up and get back here ASAP to load him up...
"Intuition" told me and my mate Stor, that we couldn't drive that far and back without a block of hash and following Sister Gail's instructions, we promptly drove around town in search of the said puff. Again, "Intuition" told us where to find it.
Long story short. Gail tore strips of us for taking to long, Loaded Shicky boy in the back and ambulanced our way out of town.......all the while trying not to laugh like stoned idiots every time he screamed like a girl going over the numerous livestock grids on that particular stretch....
Gotta love Intuition Pops

I

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Pops Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 4:58pm

Poor bastard!

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mattlock Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 8:51pm

I once met these two hot Swedish backpacker girls and invited to stay our South Coast shack. First morning my bro and I surfed a rip bowl into the corner setup while the girls sunned themselves on the beach. We came in from our sesh and noticed they were laying their towels out on the shelf. Bad idea with the rising swell and tide, Of course a wave surged over and knocked them both off their feet, tumbled them across the rock over the edge and into the rip. They could swim pretty good but we thought we better help them out. Five minutes later, with the hottest of the two swedish ladies propped on the front of the board I had my face in her incredibly hot arse.
Best rescue I've been involved in.
Got to know that arse better as well.

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zenagain Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021 at 10:02pm

#MeToo

You can't tell those stories these day Mattlock as epic as it was.

It's all about how they gave you consent to rescue them and how brave and empowered they were.

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I focus Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:13pm

Being modest and humble I hope my own story of courage and heroism doesn't throw too much shade on any of the great stories so far.

I heroically saved my wife's life as we were making our way down the Sekonyer river in the upper reaches of the Tanjung Puting National Park deep in the jungles of Borneo on a klotok.

It was late arvo the jungle had fallen silent not long before darkness set in when out of the black depths of the jungle came the biggest march fly ever looking for blood... my wife's life was on the line as it stalked her relentlessly.

Unselfishly I put my ice cold bintang down and hatched a plan, explaining to my wife she had to play a very small and minor roll here to help slay the beast... she had to be the bait and stand perfectly still.

I don't know how but my wife went along with the idea and almost immediately the small attack aircraft size march fly screamed back out of the black depths of the jungle landing on the wife (and now this is the hero bit) I then sprung into action putting my life on the line heroically killing the beast.

Puffing up the 3 hairs on my chest did a great rendition of a Tarzan call that echo far and wide just letting all know who was King of the jungle.

My wife has a slightly different version of the event complete with expletives.

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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:27pm

She probably shouted expletives at you because It landed on her nose?

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megzee Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 2:06pm

This clip is dedicated to I focus

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Optimist Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:14pm

Ive been involved in a few rescue missions over many years but this one was the strangest.
I'm surfing a small town break with a crew and paddled away by myself. I noticed a guy about 150 metres away from me who had been body surfing waving frantically at the beach and could see he was in a big rip and in trouble. I started over toward him full speed and saw his son of about 14 dive into the rip and swim out and now he's in trouble as well. Then the daughter dives in too , shes about 12 and they are all in this big river of a rip heading way out.
I finally get to the dad and he has a dislocated shoulder so can't swim. The kids are right near him by now and I'm trying to figure out how to get them in on my 6'5". I undo my leggie and throw it to dads good arm. He and the son have got the leggie now and the daughter has the sons arm and they are all kicking along while I tow them. It was a shame mum wasn't there because I would have had the whole family. Hardest paddle ever across the rip then a long way to shore..I'd go about a metre and a half, then, after the leggie stretched out BOING it would recoil and pull them a bit...Would have been hilarious to watch and funny to me if not such hard work. The dad wanted to buy me a carton but I didn't drink back then so I gratefully declined.
Was a strange day...I highly recommend Shapers Comp leggies...very strong, mind you it seemed a bit longer afterward.

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Pops Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:42pm

Geez that would've been hard work

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mattlock Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 8:40pm

I know Zen I know. In my defence I will say that:
She did waive for help and was appreciative of it.
She was very brave about losing bark off all corners.
She had some power over me.

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megzee Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 8:49pm

Mattlock, your brave and noble efforts are appreciated by all....
Carpet burn is an age old "rescue" injury.....

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goofyfoot Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 9:38pm

It wasn’t a rescue, as I was just in my early teenage years and didnt realise what was happening 100 meters away but this shook me up for a while. The helicopter landing and knowing something serious had gone down and watching the parents of two of the kids was horrendous.
And sadly there had been multiple others since then.

4 kids all from the same family. Mum picked me up from the beach tbat arvo and it was a surreal feeling seeing it all on the news that night.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2004-11-15/beach-tragedy-prompts-call-for-un...

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megzee Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 10:14pm

Hey Goofyfoot,
There are some things in life we all wish we could 'unsee" or 'undo"........I've got a couple mate.....and you are right....multiple's keep occurring, in and out of our ocean. {[not talking about the man in the grey suit]

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groundswell Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 2:30am

A young teenage girl probably 16 or 17 that on a hot day near jakes and in a big lull she jumped off the rocks with no flippers. nek minnet a 5 wave set came rolling through at 5-6ft with a super strong sweeping rip. at first i was in position on the left near the bay to the sw (sunnys left) right next to where she jumped off but within seconds we were all on the bay right accross the rippy channel. she was constantly swimming and running out of breath asking me what should she do!
I was in enough trouble on my low volume 5'11.
Luckily a guy on a rockered longboard said jump on my back and ill take you straight in.
There's a last chance bay thats full of sharp rocks urchins and barnacles and is often closed out.
This sort of thing happens all the time in Kalbarri as there are no real beachbreaks near town just beaches with lots of rocks and other dangers. If she went past last chance bay she would be dead.

Ive got another story of a guy breaking his pelvis in 8-10 foot speedies (g-land)after he got stuck inside a bomb and froze still sitting on his board as the lip landed on him. but i told that story a few months ago.
megzee might not have heard it so i will see what happens.

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groundswell Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 2:54am

megzee wrote: Easter 1994
Location: Left point south of the Murchison River, WA.
Scenario: The river mouth had begun to silt up several months earlier, therefore the cray boats and other commercial vessels could not access the safe, calm river anchorage.
Numerous deep water moorings were laid in the deep water bay area adjacent to the point and further south, allowing the fisherman to moor their vessels and transfer crews into a smaller vessel to get into the river mouth.
Situation evolving: Rapidly increasing swell throughout the day, compounded by howling 25-30 Sou-westerly, so by around 1500 hrs the point was pretty well solid 8' and un-surfable.
The holiday kids had no surfing/boogie option other than the "little right hander" in the bay which allowed semi safe splashing around.
Rescue Team: Me and Rocky grabbed half a carton of Emu's to watch the late arvo sets in the carpark.
Victims: Two young boogie boarders had just endured an extra large set in the bay and were flushed out into the bay, with nope hope of flippin' their way back in, as the massive rip spat them into the bay. At least the little buggers had the foresight to flip for one of the moorings.......Getting washed north was sure tragedy.
Plan: 2nd beer in, we intently watched as they clung to the mooring, with the sun steadily setting.......
Note: Large crowd was gathering to witness two scrawny lid kids clinging to a mooring........45 minutes before dark...
Rescue Team: Oh fuck it....Wetties on, boards out and a late arvo paddle out to greet to very relieved sprouts.
Plan: We sat there with the kids for 15 minutes to layout the plan, and of we set south with one lad each in tow. Headed directly south to the point with the plan of timing the sets and paddling into the rip to try and get back into the gap they were washed out of earlier.....
Instructions Given: Paddle and flip like fuck when we say so..
Finale: we made it in 10 minutes before dark with about 300 spectators and parents weeping on the beach...
Sat had had a couple more warm Emu's

A local legend bike racer in retirement by the name i only knew him as Dave used to fix my bikes for me for very minimal fees. he went windsurfing in the Murchison rivermouth and fell off. The next day fisheries found several body parts of his mauled by bullsharks etc. RIP very cool guy.

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megzee Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 11:44am

Recall reading your Speedies story Groundswell.......heavy story.....
A Eruo windsurfer disappeared off Drummonds Cove a while back and days later, shredded wetty washed up on the beach......