Note From A Shark-Bitten Friend.


Dear Michael,
My name is Scott Stephens, October 30th I had an encounter with Whitey at Bunkers. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet you that night at the ATL when you showed your videos. I want to thank you for your book Crossings. It gave me so much great imagery and dreams as I was kept out of the water recovering this last month. The next best thing to surfing has to be either reading about it or watching it. I appreciate your willingness to travel on less traveled paths in search of new discoveries.  The Times Standard Humboldt has decided to give me my very own surf column. This being a dream as I've always wanted to be a writer, but also a daunting task as I hope to not offend too many local surfers. Anyways, I'm doing my first column on an old time Humboldt Boardshaper by the name of Ken Roch, and would like to write another from my travels in Peru about reed surf boats. Do you have any idea where I could see/get more information about these boats and the history of their use in Peru? Perhaps a surfing museum in Peru? Also, while I'm at it, In March am I going to get more swell in the north or south? Thanks so much Michael! I really aspire to live a life like yours someday. Be your own boss, surf everyday no matter how shitty it is, and live to tell the story. I've attached some writing I did about my experience that you may find interesting.
All the best, Scott

Dear Family and Friends,
Tuesday, October 30th the day before halloween was like any other recent morning in my life. I filled up a mug of coffee, loaded my car and headed to the beach to surf. Fall has been good to Humboldt Bays surf exposed peninsula and this morning followed in suit. Smoke from the power plant drifted up and over Samoa Blvd, hinting of offshore SE winds and groomed conditions off the North Jetty. I remember the first thing I noticed when I eased onto the beach at the end of Bunker Rd. was large flocks of shore birds flying low to the surf turning simultaneously, reflecting shimmering silver like the offshore ocean spray. I tried to film the spectacle on my phone but of course you just had to be there to appreciate it.
The morning looked perfect, high tide peaks broke up and down the beach, most of the action being focused where an underwater canyon funnels in the approaching swells and maximizes their size and intensity. The water looked clean and clear characteristic of the spot and time of year . As I suited up into my 5×4 wetsuit I got a call from my friend Teddy asking me how the surf looked. I laughed asking him how he knew I was checking the surf? “I guess I  know you too well.” Out in the water I ran into another buddy Blake and we commented on  how clear and nice the water looked. A set rolled in and I took a wave left separating me from the rest of the surfers on the north end of the peak. A fortunate channel brought me back out to the outside and I caught three more waves in quick succession, laughing at my luck I dug deep paddling hard to get back out and catch another. My arms felt good, finally getting into paddling shape with all the recent surfing. My luck would change in a heartbeat. Mid paddle, from behind me and out of the corner of my left eye something dark broke the surface and I felt a weight land on my back.  My first thought was seal, but as I was drug under water and felt the force and power of being shaken in the jaws of a top predator, I feared for my life. Feeling so small and insignificant I opened my eyes under water to see my first shark in thirteen years of surfing. The face was black and streamlined the nose jutting foreword over an almost grinning mouth of teeth. Four feet from the tip of the nose to the beginning of the dorsal, it’s right eye as large as a baseball. My right fist made contact with the shark just behind this eye. It felt like punching a bag of concrete. I can’t describe what I was feeling at this moment. Some combination of shock and terror surely but within seconds it was all over. I was released, and the shark was gone into the depths. It wasn’t until I saw my board floating near by, leash bitten through and a 14inch diameter half circle missing out of it that I put thought to my injuries. As I got back on my board and started paddling to shore I noticed the red. Blood mixing with water, creating a crimson pool around me a hole in my wetsuit and my torso that I knew was serious. Screaming for help while I paddled back to shore I hoped the other surfers 150 yards away would here me. I kept paddling as I waited and wondered how much blood I had left to lose. A wave came to my rescue bringing me back to shore on my stomach where I was met by another surfer in waist high water. He grabbed my board and I stumbled onto the beach where two other surfers quickly met me. My hand did nothing to stop the bleeding, so I laid onto my side and one of the surfers Ian an off duty EMT had the quick and as the surgeon would later call it creative thought to lay on my wound using his body weight to apply pressure. Luckily for me your allowed to drive on the beach here and right when I needed it most another surfer Jason drove by on his way home. Not a minute was wasted as I was loaded into the back of his truck and driven almost to the hospital before being intercepted by an ambulance in Eureka. From there, everything continued incredibly with the head surgeon of St. Joseph’s Hospital on duty and fresh out of another surgery. I was going to make it. Modern medicine saved my life but not without the help of my heros and fellow surfers.                                                                                                                                       In a sport made for kings, surfing remains a pursuit in which the playing field is unlimited, unbiased and unconquerable. Perhaps it’s this sense of unconquerable magnitude that drew the great Polynesian Kings to love the feeling of gliding atop the waters edge on something greater than themselves. I could only imagine that when your job is to be a ruler, you would seek out the places where you are least in charge. A place that beckons you time and time again asking nothing and tolerating so much. In a sport made for kings, surfing remains a sport ….well…..made for Kings.
In the wake of my recent shark attack I’m forced to stay out of the water but I find myself riding a different wave. A wave of compassion and support shown from the local community and surfers that live here, that has brought me back to shore standing tall, and mighty like a Polynesian King. I’ve always loved the saying “Surfers Can Do Anything,” and after witnessing the actions taken by fellow surfers to save my life and the response of others to raise funds for my care I believe it more than ever. In thought to why or how I was so lucky, I am given a sense of joy for being alive. A joy that I feel it’s my duty to spread with the world. An infectious stoke that has started as a bacteria inside the jaws of the mighty Great White, grown on my healing wounds and spread into the community that has supported me.
Call it a second chance, borrowed time, good graces I would have never thought a life threatening accident could bring life to such a clarity. A little over a week after the accident I am told by my surgeon that I’m fortunate I’m young and healing fast. In just another couple weeks I should be back in the pool swimming, rebuilding, getting strong again. As far as the mental barrier to getting back in the ocean and back to what I love to do, it’s simple. Life is too boundless not to. Too boundless to turn your back on your dreams and not embrace what you love. 
It’s in this same sense of urgency that I have written this letter to thank everyone that has supported my family and me over the last week. For the boundless compassion and generosity only capable of humans. I can only hope to be able to give what has been given to me.
See ya in the water,
Scott Stephens