Every surfer has an epic surf story or three. As you get older they gather in the backwaters of your memory and sit, waiting to be trotted out at the odd dinner party.
This blog thing is my opportunity to dig the occasional one out, without the excuse of one too many glasses of red, and today, I'll tell you a story about Hec.
As you've gathered from my earlier post, a couple of years ago I enjoyed a boat trip to the waters off northern Sumatra. One of my shipmates was Hec, and welcome he was, as Hec in his other life is the local GP in the town of Denmark, sitting deep in the southwest corner of Western Australia.
We were all very pleased to hear he was coming on the trip, and amazed at the sight of the major hospital cunningly disguised as a first aid kit he brought with him. How the hell it got through Indonesian and Singaporean customs I'll never know, but it did, and as we ventured out on our little holiday we all secretly hoped it would not be needed.
For the first few days the only time it was opened was to bring out the Betadine, for the odd scrape from the reef, but on, I think day five, I was the first recipient of his ministrations when I had a fight with my fins during a wipeout at that little break called Rockstars. One caught me in the head, just above my right eye, and Hec dutifully gave me 6 of his best stitches. I was back in the water the next morning, albeit with a healthy smearing of antibiotic ointment and a silicon swim hat under my helmet, just to keep everything in place.
A couple of days later, Hec dragged the bag out again to sew up Neil, another of our number, after his fins decided to attack his leg. Not so bad this time, just 3 stitches, and Neil back in the line up, again the next day.
Then, again a couple of days later, we're all sitting in the lineup at a pumping lefthander called Asu, when one of the other boat captains comes into the lineup in a skiff and yells, "Which one of you guys is a doctor?
I was sitting close enough to see Hec roll his eyes as he dutifully put his hand up, and he was whisked away to God knows what.
As it turned out, a young guy surfing the inside section called the Nuke zone (now no longer existent, as the earthquake that occurred a couple of months later caused it to rise 3ft out of the water) had been hit in the leg by a passing surfer exiting the tube as the aforementioned young guy was attempting to duck dive the oncoming wave,
Now this was a cut, and, given that Asu is about 300 miles from the nearest hospital, the kid had just won the lottery to have Hec within yelling distance.
God knows how many sutures later, both internal and external, and we had a very happy camper. His trip was due to end the next day, and the last thing we heard was he was off to enjoy the delights of the Octoberfest in Munich, with a gammy leg.
Now, you might say this is a kinda cool story, but a bit so what. But really the story is about Hec and how hard core he is when it comes to getting a surf.
Earlier this year, unlike the rest of us, he managed to wangle another boat trip, this time to the Maldives.
Day one, and Hec rides a longboard (he's 50) , he wipes out and receives a rather heavy knock to the leg. Hurts a bit but no big deal, and it's the end of the day.
Day two, and after another wipeout and a bit of a drag from the legrope (Hec's a natural, and the leggie is on his right leg, the one that was hit)... and Hec feels an odd sort of clicking going on. Hmmm... the diagnostic brain switches on, he's not liking what he's thinking but on with the show.
Day three, and another wipeout confirms his suspicions... he's busted his fibula, the smaller of the two bones in his lower leg, and not to put a too fine a point on it... the trip's looking fucked.
Not to be deterred, Hec, back on board, gathers together the boats two week supply of sun cure resin and fibreglass, builds himself a cast and surfs out the remaining 8 days, just 2 hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, as he didn't want to overdo it.
The sequence, courtesy of one of his shipmates via our mutual Sumatran shipmate Marky, is of Hec, nicely slotted, on his 50th birthday trip.
Go Hec... you're a bloody legend.