Just three days before Greg Pickering tempted fate for the second time when attacked by a shark, the experienced abalone diver was as confident as ever about getting in and out of the water unscathed.
He had been asked by local shark cage builder Frank Payne whether he was still "dragging those bags around", a reference to the practice of diving without a cage and dragging his loot of abalone with him.
He responded without a hint of hesitation or fear. "Yes, I've been doing it for 30 years," Mr Pickering told Mr Payne.
On Tuesday morning, a shark, believed to be a great white, mauled the 55-year-old's head and torso.
His injuries were so severe that he needed 10 hours of surgery after being flown to Royal Perth Hospital and there were fears he could lose one eye.
Yesterday, Mr Pickering, with his family by his side, was in a stable condition as he started his long recovery, much to the relief of the colleagues who helped save his life.
Mr Pickering's boss Marcus Tromp revealed more details of the drama faced by Mr Pickering's three colleagues when he surfaced from the water, describing what confronted them as "hell".
The Southern Wild Abalone manager said Mr Pickering's wounds made it clear he had been the victim of a shark attack, despite none of the men being able to spot the animal in the water.
"The initial reaction was 'hell' and 'how do we deal with this'," Mr Tromp said.
"But thankfully again there were other team members in the vicinity to support and hats off to them, they remained very calm and they saved his life.
"The hours these guys spend in the water, of course it's inevitable at some stage that they are going to encounter the inhabitants of the ocean. They all know the risks and they are prepared for that."
As they pulled Mr Pickering on to the boat, the "magnificent" team immediately got to work, trying desperately to stem Mr Pickering's heavy bleeding.
Still lucid, he was able to tell them to give him oxygen.
Nearly 4km off the coast and at least 160km from the nearest hospital, the team rushed the boat back to shore before loading it onto a trailer and towing Mr Pickering along a gravel road.
"They towed the boat to rendezvous with the ambulance on Baring Road, which was probably about 40km out of Poison Creek," Mr Tromp said. "It's quite a windy, slow track to get out."
It was almost 1½ hours before they met volunteer ambulance officers from Condingup, who took Mr Pickering to Esperance.
"It was a combination of many fortunate circumstances to place Greg where he is at the moment, at the hands of terrific surgeons," Mr Tromp said.
He said it had been a terrible ordeal for Mr Pickering's workmates but they had "all stuck together well and been there for each other for support".
"They are thankful that to date it's been a wonderful outcome for Greg and for his family," he said.
Even with Mr Pickering facing a long road to recovery, Esperance's diving community is not convinced the attack will be enough to make him hang up his wetsuit.
In 2004, he survived being savaged by a bronze whaler shark off Cervantes, saying then that he was lucky to be alive after he dived in to help long-time friend Barry Paxman, who was spearfishing, fend off the shark.
Shark tooth fragments were lodged in his shin when the 1.5m predator bit him twice.
In 2009, Mr Pickering and a colleague were rescued three hours after a wave capsized their boat about 20km off South Australia.
He was diving 12m deep when the incident cut his air supply.
Mr Paxman said yesterday he believed his friend could dive again. "He is an extremely capable diver," he said. "I just hope he makes a full recovery. I'm sure, knowing Greg, it won't put him off."
Mr Tromp was unsure whether the veteran diver would return to work, but said he was "very motivated to be under water".
"Greg is certainly a stalwart of the industry and has been around a long time," he said.
"He's one of the best."
But Mr Payne said the attack was a reminder to divers of the dangers lurking beneath the surface.
"He (Mr Pickering) didn't seem to be worried about it," Mr Payne said.
"I think it's time all the divers realise if you are going to be safe, you have to swim with a cage."