Take a closer look at the above picture and that young man standing there. He's far enough above the ocean waves below, so he should be safe, right? Well, read this story entitled "Terrifying reef ordeal - survivor" below by Nathan Crombie in Wairarapa Times-Age of New Zealand:
The man who survived being torn from the reef at Castlepoint Beach into massive seas has described his hour-long ordeal in the water.
A huge wave swept the 22-year-old Nelson man off the rocks on Saturday.
Speaking about his lucky escape yesterday, Pip Richards said he quickly abandoned hope of rescue after being swept from the rocks and tried to swim for The Gap, the only way back to safety from open sea.
But Mr Richards faced two-storey high waves pounding the rock outcrop.
"My only real chance was where the waves were smashing against the reef. It was the most terrifying time of my life. I was hoping rescuers would miraculously appear. But they didn't."
Mr Richards was unaware two fishing boats had been launched to help him and a helicopter put on standby as the rescue attempt threatened to become a recovery operation.
"Then seagulls started attacking me, divebombing me," he said. "They were ferocious."
Mr Richards had been with friends at Castlepoint Beach to celebrate the birthday of his sister Harriette and climbed the reef, past a warning sign.
"I was just sitting and watching the waves," Mr Richards said. "I could see it was stormy and I saw the sign. But I thought the warning was about the odd rogue wave."
Mr Richards started swimming clear of the reef as soon as he entered the ocean. He stripped off his boots, jeans and shirt and swam towards the opening.
He signalled to his friends as they pointed him toward The Gap, "just to let them know I was still all right", while out of his sight about 50 onlookers had gathered with emergency crews along the beach.
Meanwhile, the two fishing boats, the Norwester and the Legioneer, had come within 200m of the reef in an attempt to reach him before turning back for fear of running aground.
"I could see the beach through The Gap and it gave me hope," Mr Richards said. "But the waves were crashing and they travel so fast and have so much force. The power behind them was incredible.
"I was hit three or four times in a row and I turned to see if it was clear. A big one was right on top of me. I said 'no, no, no' to the sky just before I went down.
"I came back up spluttering and coughing because I'd swallowed water. I was still scared and worried but I realised I'd just passed the worst of it."
Once through The Gap he was reached by rescuers who swam out to help him.
"When I put my arms around the guy who pulled me out of the water, all the strength went out of me and I felt the cold. I couldn't even stand up. I was done."
Mr Richards was taken to Wairarapa Hospital where his wounds were treated and his lungs and stomach were checked for sea water. He is grateful to his rescuers, including Louise Oakly and Lawson Campbell, who swam to help him once he cleared The Gap.
He leaves for work in Germany next Thursday.This is a terrifying story but rather enjoyable to read because knowing it'a a happy ending we are not nervous or worrying. We may even share Mr. Richards' triumphant survival as we are cheering him on the sideline. Thanks to Mr. Crombie's superb story telling, and the editor's nice tittle choice for the story, it makes this a heart warming happy ending story that everyone appreciates. After all is said and done, however, we must congratulate Mr. Richard for his incredible luckiness while a number of things can go wrong when he was swept off the rock. Note that he was smoothly fallen into the ocean, we know that many tragic cases happened during just that moment. The swept force is totally unexpected and unpredictable, no one can control where to fall and how they will be hit along the way. Many had been rendered bodily injury or even unconscious. But Mr. Richard can immediately and calmly prepared himself for swimming and he is a good swimmer able to successfully struggle with those ferocious waves. All these certainly made the rescue effort relatively easier in the end. God help those who can help themselves! So all the lucky factors rolled up together to bring about this happy ending story. Thanks be to God!