Man Possibly Traumatised By 'How Not To Rock Off' Clip Stranded On Jump Rock For Four Hours
Toonalook Point – Wednesday morning: Undistinguished local surfer Arthur ‘Arty’ Cook’s jump rock miscalculation has resulted in a four-hour stranding waiting for the tide to go out then come back in.
The 50-year old communications consultant made his way to the headland of the popular pointbreak at approximately 6.20am without incident, but became distracted as he picked his way out to the cluster of jump rocks.
“A surge came through as I was walking out,” recalls Cook. “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 Huey pulled the plug – the tide was way lower than I thought and rocks were popping up everywhere."
“And like everyone else, I’d seen that Northern Beaches ‘How Not To Rock-Off’ clip last week and thought 'what a goose', that kind of recklessness puts more people in danger than just Captain-Can’t-Paddle-Can’t-Duckdive… and there was no way I was gonna take those kinds of chances with the Futures setup on my beloved mid-length.”
Cook acknowledges numerous other factors contributed to his decision to stick it out 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’d be a little shallower with the dropping tide.”
Compounding the problem was the number of local surfers – several of whom well acquainted with Mr Cook – heading out for their morning lap.
“I know this sounds a little vain, 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 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’ – and you don’t know who’s got their phone out filming ya – so I stayed put, and did my best to look like I was happy to be there."
“In hindsight, for sure I should have sucked it up and bailed, but the longer I stayed the harder it was to leave. I was trapped in a psychological prison of my own creation. Like a bad dream where you’re running and not getting anywhere, but, aaah… without the running part.”
Cook suggests that his jump rock stranding became a spiritual odyssey of sorts.
“Know what? After a while 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 defining test of character. An inner journey to the limits of my resilience, if you will.
“I may be overstating this, but I did feel a degree of kinship with Nelson Mandela.”
Swellnet’s Toona Point surf cam provides a telling counterpoint to Arty’s bullshit claim.
Between 6.35 and 7.15am, Cook remains in his quasi ready-to-jump-on-the-next-big-surge position, while performing emphatic stretches of the neck and torso, (or appearing utterly fascinated by the clouds etc) whenever other surfers walked past on the headland.
From 7.15am through to the .26 metre low tide at 8.22am, Arty appears to spend most times on his haunches, often with his head in his hands, and at times rocking back and forth.
Though only a small silhouette in the notoriously buggy Swellnet Toona Point surf cam footage, Cook appears to weep on several occasions – an allegation he denies.
He 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 quite territorial. There were heaps of other rocks around for that Cormorant to dry his wings on, so, y’know, bugger ’im.”
The last hour-and-a-half proved to be the most testing for the father of two, as his mindset veered from numb resignation to mild psychosis.
“Oh man, you don't know what 'slow' means until you're waiting for the tide to fill back up. Honestly, at one stage I was yelling at a bunch of crabs on the rock next door to go fuck ’emselves."
“I still can’t say for sure they weren’t laughing at me.”
Still, good things come to those who wait, and by 10.15am, the tide had risen back to the same level as when our hero first set foot on his rock.
Cook 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 balls, 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 emancipation."
“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, and it wasn’t very good.”
The surf cam shows Cook finally executing a clean rock jump getaway at 10.22am, after being perched there for almost four-and-a-half hours.
In his annoying manner of aligning himself with heroic figures both real and fictional, Cook likened his escape to the 1999 survival drama movie Castaway: “It was just like that moment near the end when Tom Hanks gets clear of the reef and looks back at the island he’d called home and gets a bit teary… yeah, it was a lot like that actually.”
Cook – who’d originally planned to surf for an hour before nine holes of golf then whacking the barby on – waited 15 minutes in the moderately busy lineup for his one and only wave, and was dropped in on immediately by Barry Cornell, who just doesn’t like him.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is two mates: illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer/designer Gra Murdoch. Just last weekend Macca got skittled on a certain rock platform somewhere along the Great Ocean Road, while the idea for this piece first occurred to Murdoch while marooned on a Burleigh boulder a decade or so ago.