To The Thomas Pages homepage Episode of Gratitude - 2
Buffelsbaai, Cape Town
A skin-diving trip turned into a nightmare.  About to drown, a strange happening saved my life.
It was my last weekend in Cape Town before returning to a theological college far away from the sea. I was due to preach in a local church the following morning and it seemed that Saturday was my last and only opportunity to enjoy the undersea beauties off the coast. I drove south into the Cape Point nature reserve, pulled on my gear (but did not yet own a wet-suite), and splashed past the tidal pool into the waves, alone. That was a mistake, but no-one was available to come along with me.
I was out in the sea for about two hours. The notorious Southeaster wind had come up and the sea was not pleasant. Tired, I turned back and surfed a wave to the shore. But things had changed. The push of the wind and the drop of the tide were causing the waves to dump far out on slippery boulders. I took the impact with my feet and kicked back to try again. Being rolled on the rocks and striking my head, on the deserted shoreline, was not a risk to take. Repeatedly I tried, and failed. Even the concrete slope of the ski-boat launch ramp was out of reach.
My strength was dropping quickly in the cold water and wind, and I did not know what to do. I knew another try would probably be my last before I drowned from exhaustion or had my head rolled among the rocks with the same result.
Into my head came a voice with a clear emphatic instruction: "Swim for the kelp!"
I looked around, as I had not noticed any kelp nearby. I spotted a clump of its leaves floating near the base of the rocky promontory on which the tidal pool had been built. It seemed ridiculous as the waves crashed against the rocks beyond the kelp and even then there was no place to stand or climb out, if I made it there. But, I swam for the kelp obediently.
I arrived at it as the next batch of waves struck. Clinging to the kelp I went under with it, and hung on.
As I surfaced again I found that hanging onto the kelp had prevented me from being smashed against the rock face, and, in the surf pull-back after the waves, I was close enough to swim to the boat ramp – and walk out of the water.
I stowed my kit in the car, climbed in and closed the door.
I must have fainted, for I regained consciousness with my head on the floor some time later from the gear lever pressing uncomfortably into my stomach.
I started the car and, still close to fainting again, struggled to steer the car back to my parents' home. I was very aware that neither wit nor strength had saved me.
Only merciful intervention of the Lord's wisdom had opened the door for my escape.
Blessed be His name!