Here follows the first of the waterman chronicles, an ongoing series to retell the real waterman tales that need telling.
This is a story about Vic Ivec but first you need to know about the Neptune Islands.
If you have heard of the red triangle off the California coast, then you will know the Farallon islands form the point of that bloody triangle. Located 30km off Port Lincoln and heavily populated with seals and sea lions would make the Neptune Islands the Australian equivalent.
Sea lions at play
To say they it’s a little bit sharky, would be like saying the desert is a little bit sandy.
So it was in April 2013, that Vic and seven mates left Marion Bay on a hired Cray boat to go Samson fishing. Heading out on their first day under a big southern swell, the large rolling sets buffet the boat as they rounded Rhino point. Surprisingly named, because it looks like a Rhinoceros. Vic notes the lovely green colour of the water and the way it’s breaking across the bommies. A rugged coastline, its nature at its best.
Making their way over to Wedge Island, they anchor on the west side and try for some Samson fish. Hooking four and losing four. Not uncommon around these parts. There is a guy on board, Tim and at 120kg he is a solid unit. During a hookup he is locked up over his Tiagra, knees to the gunnels, butt into his groin, and there’s pain written all over his face. He gets one wind on the reel before it’s over red rover. Before the line snapped, everyone had unconsciously begun rehearsing “how we lost Tim overboard”.
The fish have a powerful urgency to their fight that speaks of the nature of these waters.
After a night onboard, the ocean had calmed. Still big but smooth in the way large green hills appear to slowly amble the countryside. Its while heading over these lumps that the Captain pulls the boat over to a bommie in the middle of nowhere. They are there to catch some live bait for the days fishing. Slimey mackerel. So the fisherman are all burleying away, throwing bait over the side, when Vic notices and begins to admire a beautiful left hander breaking off the rock ledge right in front of the boat. It about this time Vic’s best mate Dave goes “You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking.” Because he knows. He knows that there is a thin line between bravery and foolishness and that line is dedication. He also knows Vic is a very very dedicated man. Who else brings swim fins on a fishing trip to the Neptune Islands?
Bomboras in no mans land
Like a moth to the flame, the wave and idea begin drawing Vic in. Dave knows that look in Vic’s eyes; he has seen the zeal before and beings to talk Vic out of his reverie. It’s at the tipping point when the Captain pipes up and says “No worries. I got two rifles here. We’ll get up on the deck with some binoculars. You’ll be right as we’ve never really seen them around this part.”
The rest of the crew take up the chant and with Captain “Quint” leading the choir with rifle in hand there is no turning back now.
with Captain “Quint” leading the choir with rifle in hand there is no turning back now
The line of dedication had just became a cold swim across emerald depths lurking with teeth.
Vic is shitting a brick but dives over anyway.
As soon as he hits the water, the worries disappear (the lack of a wetsuit probably forcing blood away from key thought processes). He is focused on the wave. Nothing else matters.
The Bommie is approx. 30mtr in diameter, with a flat rock shelf in front running from the middle to the left and surrounded by very deep water. There is not much room for error, as it slabs close in to a set of boulders before petering out into the dark channel. It demands attention.
Vic lasts thirty minutes and eight heart felt rides before the hypothermia and reality set in. Back on board, there is a mixture of exhilaration, relief and “what the hell was I thinking?!”
Moral of the story. Besides Vic being a mad bastard. Its only when you cross the line, do you know if you are brave or foolish and if you are going to make that leap – it doesn’t hurt to have some buddies with rifles looking after you.
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Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.