Diver’s ‘blowhole’ ordeal

2012-08-04 00:00

MATATIELE-BASED scuba instructor Damion Joyner is happy to be back home in the mountains having recovered from a bashing in the sea.

He was sucked into a blowhole-like rock feature at Second Beach at Port St Johns on the Wild Coast — a beach notorious for its sharks, crashing waves and wild currents.

“I thought I was going to die,” he told Weekend Witness.

His ordeal started when he and friends had gone to look at the four-metre hole in the rocks, known as The Gap.

One warned: “Hold on guys there’s a big wave coming,” Joyner recalled.

“I turned to my left and remember thinking — cool, cool just hold on, nothing serious,” he said.

But it knocked him down, much to his surprise, because he had thought the sea looked “pretty relaxed”.

Before he knew it he was being sucked in.

Racing through his mind was: “OMG, is this really happening? I’m dead … I’m so dead.”

He said he was convinced he was going to die.

“I remember feeling so sorry for my mom as the waves pulled me up and down the barnacle-infested cave. I was stuck.”

He got out only after his fourth try.

“I came within grasp of Tyler’s [his friend’s] hand. And then I wasn’t dead. And then I was panting.”

Joyner needed stitches to his knee, arm and head.

“I consider myself lucky. Apparently I’m the only person to make it out [The Gap] alive. This is not something I view as an accomplishment, but rather a sad statistic.”

He feels that not enough has been done to warn people about the dangers.

“There should be a big sign that warns people about the danger.”

Craig Lambinon, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson, said the blowhole in Port St Johns is a gap between two rocks on the edge of a cliff on the edge of the sea.

“At high tide, when waves surge through the gap, it gives the impression of water being blown through the gap, which inaccurately leads some people to suggest it is a blowhole, when in fact all it is a gap between two rocks on the edge of the sea,” he said.

Lambinon said an incoming wave being forced through the gap causes water to be sprayed into the air.

“Access to The Gap is difficult — over barely accessible terrain.”

About six years ago, a Johannesburg man died after falling into The Gap when it was engulfed by a wave, said Lambinon. His body was never recovered.

He told Weekend Witness that anyone standing too close to the edge may be swept off the rocks and fall into the sea.

“The NSRI encourages anyone visiting or living along any coastline to exercise caution and not stand too close to the edge of the sea.”

He urged people should be aware of the times of tides and that spring tides, at full moon and new moon, are more extreme.

• Siyathemba.Ben@media24.com

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