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Farewell to Tim

It was summer 1978. My father had packed us all up to go camping. We had a trailer with everything we'd need for a couple of weeks holiday.  The days back then seemed to always be sunny and I remember the feeling of excitement, freedom and and anticipation of the fun that lay ahead as Dad drove for what seemed hours heading north.

After countless attempts of asking "Are we there yet?" Dad finally said "only a few more minutes to go". Driving those last couple of k's along a dry dusty metal road it suddenly dawned on me that this place was among one of the most beautiful areas I had visited. The day was hot and clear and the bush all around looked untouched. From memory we were at Tauranga Bay in Northland.

My Brother and I couldn't get out of the car quick enough and left Mum and Dad to set up camp as we ran off to discover and adventure. The day set quick that evening and after the barbeque we ran around the camp ground for hours till finally we were out of energy and had to sleep.

The next morning I was first up. I made myself some breakfast as the rest of the family slept. Opening the tent zip and stepping outside I was slightly disappointed that it was overcast. The light of a new day was just creeping in and I contemplated what the day may bring.......little did I know.

I decided a to walk down to the beach and find a place where I could sit, soak up the surrounds and enjoy the peace and solitude of being what I thought the only person awake. The beach was still and small waves grew from an oily looking ocean and crashed on the beach, the odd seagull flew past and in the distant headlands a mist was lifting. I smelt the drizzle of rain before it landed all around me and decided that the first day of my holiday was probably going to be spent inside a tent with my nutty family, a thought that made me feel a little short changed, yet I had resigned myself to it.

Another quick glance east to watch the last of the mist dissipate. Then as I was just about to get up and go see if the rest of the family was awake, two figures came over the sand dunes. They were dressed in full black rubber and were carrying long slender single fin surfboards.  They walked briskly towards me and not really knowing anything about wave riding I thought 'this looks interesting' and wondered how these guys were going to ride the dumpers that unfolded before me. They walked past and raised their eyebrows to say "gidday", I guess they were in their early 20's. I could feel the excited energy that they exuded as they started to run the length the beach heading east. Then they stopped for a moment looking out to sea, put on their legropes and began a paddle which to me looked like a few hundred metres out to sea towards an Island.

As they reached about halfway between the beach and the island I watched as just in front of them a wave of what to an 11 year old seemed of huge proportions form out of nowhere. I was mesmerised as this energy rose up in a big A frame peak and broke perfectly either way.   My plan to head back to camp went out the window as I watched the pair paddle into a double overhead perfect oily mass of water.   They jumped to their feet and one went left the other went right. I was totally blown away by what I was witnessing. I'd heard of surfing waves but never really given it much thought. Seeing these two brothers of the sea sharing waves and disappearing behind the curtain for a few seconds then come racing out to ride to the top and slide back down at what seemed terrific speeds. They were so graceful looking yet at the same time looked as if they were defying death. I must of watched for about about another 20 minutes. That morning and those two guys changed my life forever.  I knew right there and then that I would surf.

Shortly after that I caught my first stand up wave at Omaha. on a styrene thing in 1ft mush.

It was another few years at a party when a guy called Tim approached me and said he recognised me and used to watch me doing wheel stands up and down my street on my old healing 10 speed pushbike. He informed me he was suitable impressed with my balancing skills and asked me how I could ride so far on one wheel.

Practice, commitment and balance were my reply. I then asked him what he liked to do and he said "I surf waves and if you like I have a car and can teach you

Tim and I spent many days travelling all over the north island from Coromandel to the West Coast beach of Karekare and north. Quite often we'd be the only ones around, especially at Karekare.   We'd surf, well he surfed I flapped around in the shorey, then Tim would make a fire in the sand dunes of the cove, he'd cook up porridge and then we'd sit around talking about the waves we'd had and where to go next.

One day he came to my home and said "one of my brothers is back from Indonisia, you better come and meet him".  His brother was ill in bed with what I assume now was malaria. He was sweating buckets and although well tanned he looked like death. He said "Gidday, so you like to surf?" I said 'well, I try" and he reached under his bed and handed me a couple of surf mags "take these and never stop surfing". I still have those mags. I also remember the admiration which Tim had for his brother as he said to me "I'm gunna go to Indo oneday and surf places my brothers had talked about". I believed him.

Tim and I did many missions around the north island, discovering new spots and having the best of times.  His joy for life was an inspiration to me. At times he would get a mad gleam in his eyes which indicated to me he was about to do something outrageous and sure enough his antics would usually end up with us running in fits of laughter from a scene.

After a few years we went our separate ways. Tim didn't agree with the company I kept.. said they were kooks and a waste of time and they pised him off...  so I tried to dish out my time between the two sets of mates. Eventually I lost contact with Tim which saddened me.

One day about 3 years later a good friend of mine stopped into my flat. Said he had some bad news.  Said Tim had and fulfilled his dream to go surf Indo...tragically Tim had died there. I never really knew the details of his death and heard a few different stories as to what had happened. I figured Tim's crazy antics had led to his demise...but also realised that although his life was cut short he had made the most of his time on earth...he loved to surf, he loved to have fun, he loved the adventure of discovery.

Sometimes, when I'm out surfing alone I can feel Tims presence right next to me. I hear him say "this ones yours.. take it and don't blow it"

I owe a lot to not only Tim (rest in peace my good friend), but also the two dawnpatrollers that early morning up north.  I'll never forget these guys who changed my life for the better and inspired me to surf and love surfing till the day I leave this earth.



505 Port Road, Whangamata, New Zealand
Phone / Fax +64 7 865 8666
Email pfm@saltwater.co.nz