IT WAS 4:30pm on Monday, July 5, when Joe Hoffman pulled into the Crescent Head car park with his buddy, for a late afternoon surf.
They had been on a three-day road trip down from Byron Bay, and after checking Scott's Head in the morning, decided that Crescent might be a better option.
As the sun was slowly setting over the point break, Joe paddled out intending to "only catch one or two", and waited until a good size set wave came rolling through with his name on it.
"I caught the wave all the way through to the inside (close to the beach) and I sort of jumped off my board to paddle back out," Joe said.
From all accounts from Joe, the next part is a bit of a blur.
"I think it got me on the duck dive, I just remember hearing this sound like someone had dropped their surfboard in the car park, the crunching of fibreglass and foam as it hits the road," Joe said.
"Then I felt cold water running through my wetsuit and looked down, saw my arm, and it looked like an uncooked lamb roast, or when you cut a sausage open on a barbeque, everything on the inside, was now on the outside.
"I don't really know how it did it, I didn't see it or anything, honestly I was just looking at my arm thinking, how the heck has this much damage been done to my arm without seeing a thing."
Now Joe was sitting on a board with a "comic book-like " bitemark in it and a severely injured right arm.
In shock, he turned towards the shore and rode a wave in.
"I didn't feel any pain, and I think that's important for the families of the people who don't get so lucky, what often gets reported is quite a violent incident, I didn't feel anything, and once your adrenaline takes over, you're actually really calm," Joe said.
The unseen Great White Shark had snapped both bones in his forearm, lacerated the radial nerve and severed several tendons.
Looking back, what occurred next, might make Joe the luckiest man to have ever been bitten by a shark.
As he walked out of the water clutching his arm, the first man who assisted him had recently completed a first aid course, a trauma surgeon from John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle had also been surfing, there was a paramedic going for an afternoon stroll, and an anesthetist was also in the area.
These trained professionals and countless amazing locals immediately rushed to his aid.
"If there weren't these people around me at that time, I'm under no illusion that I wouldn't have made it," he said.
At this point, Joe took a back seat, and let the experts take over.
A tourniquet was applied to his arm, and they tried to stabilise him as best they could until the ambulance arrived.
"I was almost a passenger to the scene, I could just see so many people looking at me and they just had this shocked look on their faces, so I was just thinking to myself, don't freak out, because all these people looked traumatised enough," he said.
Joe maintained his high spirits the whole time, even joking at one point, "so this is what it feels like to get bitten by a shark".
That night, he was airlifted to the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle to undergo surgery for his extensive injuries.
Nine weeks later, Joe is now recovering at his parent's house in Mudjimba, undertaking intense physiotherapy to help recover function in his hand.
"There are certain parts that haven't come back online yet, but if you don't use it you are going to lose it, so I'm constantly pushing scar tissue around to keep it soft," Joe said.
"I'm just so grateful and fortunate that I have physio to do because it could have just taken the whole arm."
Joe looks forward to getting back into the water as soon as possible, but has no interest in being that close to a shark again. He confirmed that the attack has definitely not changed his love for surfing.
"It was a good wave, which kind of makes it worth it at least," Joe said.
If you want to donate to Joe's GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses, the link is: www.gofundme.com/f/joe-hoffmans-shark-encounter-recovery
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