An excerpt from Tohora, an adventure turned survival.

Emergency say they are inundated and are unable to send a helicopter!” Diane said “They suggest we stabilise the patient as best as possible until they can send the Helimedics!” Diane went on to say. “But they mentioned there was a Coastguard boat scouring the sea for any boats in distress, they have a doctor on board and they are about 15 kms up the coast. I have their direct number and if we are desperate we can call them for assistance!”

Tohora Pukaki

1 The HMNZS Pukaki is stationed at Nelson and is one of numerous Coastguard NZ boats manned by volunteers.

I took one look at René lying there, her clothing covered in blood and said quickly:

Let’s get her to that Coastguard boat somehow, she’s in a bad way. We must get that head wound stitched and her arm set!” Not to mention broken ribs or possible internal injuries, I thought to myself! Diane had, in the meantime, changed my dubious dressing of dunny paper and insulation tape and René’s face looked less bloodied, but drawn.

We have a rubber duck that we store on the beach above the high tide line under a tarpaulin, but with the Tsunami warning out it will not be clever to go out to sea!” Diane warned.

I had already decided though!

Call the Coastguard and tell them to get here asap, we’ll go out and meet them!” Diane made the call and the rest of us started planning how we were to get my badly injured Sweetheart down to the beach. We found a stretcher in the storeroom, helped René to lie on the narrow strip of canvas and with Russ taking the lead and myself in the rear we were about to set off when Diane called out:

You are going to need the petrol can and the battery, they are in the garage. The battery gets regular charging and the petrol is always full! The ignition key is hanging on a nail next to the battery charger. The Coastguard has responded are on their way, they will be here in about an hour!” She added, “The life vests are in the rubber duck but there only two of them, we lost two on our last outing, when a freak wave dumped them overboard! They were empty life vests by the way, we didn’t lose any passengers!” Diane grinned as she assigned the logistic duties to a couple of the other campers. “Charlie, you and Drew can put the jerry can and the battery in the large trunk, it will be easier to carry!” “I must stay here and man the phones, and the fort.”

Most New Zealanders, living so close to the Blue, get involved in various forms of sea activity, so everyone took to their duties like ducks to water!

Russ took charge when we got to the beach saying:

Phillip put the one vest on René and you don the other! I am a strong swimmer and a rubber duck doesn’t sink in a hurry anyway!”

The group of us made easy work of carrying the rubber duck to the water’s edge, although slightly heavier because we had René lying inside already. I won’t mention the screams of pain as we eased the life vest onto her broken body a few minutes earlier! The waves were almost non-existent and the tide a little like a spring tide when the Moon, somehow, manages to change the science of water and sees to it that high tide is extremely high, and low tide opens up a beachcomber’s delight of sea shore, rarely seen before!

Tohora low water before Tsunami

2 When the ocean empties like this, you don’t stand on a rock like that dude! A tsunami is on the way!

We might well have taken heed of this unusually low water, and postponed our mercy mission until the Helimedics were available, but no, the ne’er say die attitude that most of us possess, had laid the path and once the rubber duck was in the water, the outboard was clicked into place, choke set and motor started, Russ steered us out of the deep water bay, his eyes fixed on the horison, looking for the first sight on the Coastguard boat, they can’t be far away.

Then the Tsunami struck!

This excerpt is to whet your appetite for the full adventure story entitled Tohora. (Maori word for Whale), which will be published as soon as my editing is complete! The link below was the inspiration for the story and is a must to view. The video taken from the Whale Watch Kaikoura boat must be viewed with the sound turned up:

St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:

Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:

Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:

The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: