'Whatever I've got left in my body, I'll use it'
SEAMUS BOYER AND BEN HEATHER
Battered and bleeding, Brian Waghorn barely survived a three-metre fall down a jagged reef into crashing waves.
But it is his lost fishing rod he most deeply regrets.
"I lost my $550 Shamiano fishing rod - that was the worst thing - but I figure that's pretty cheap," Mr Waghorn said from his bed in Wellington hospital.
A witness to his fall said he was cut like a "cheese grater" after he tripped while fishing near Castlepoint on Monday.
Mr Waghorn, 59, of Alfredton, said he had just caught hold of a stingray - his first catch of the day - and was descending to a lower ledge to reel it in when he tripped and fell.
The fall shredded his skin on one side of his body and on both his arms, fractured his left ankle, ribs, and pelvis, and punctured his lung.
Left on a small ridge being repeatedly pounded by waves, he tried to hold on while people above rushed to get a rope.
But a huge wave came through and "there was no way I was going to hang on".
After he finally managed to surface, the water pulled him out to sea and he struggled to stay afloat, with multiple fractures and a "flopping, grinding" ankle.
"A couple of times I thought I was going to go under but I managed to stay afloat. It's just determination.
"You think: ‘Do I want to give up and leave it here or do I keep going?' You think, whatever I've got left in my body, I'll use it."
After about 30 minutes in the water, Mr Waghorn was eventually hauled on to a crayfishing boat, which had been alerted by people on the shore.
Crayfisherman David Wilton was near the lighthouse when he received a phone call for help. He sailed to Mr Waghorn - by then 50 metres from the reef - and hauled him in with the help of crew members.
"I don't think he had too much longer to go, really," he said.
"He was pretty buggered. Another 5 to 10 minutes and he might not have made it.
"He wasn't really floating - put it that way. He was just sort of bobbing around out there and, when that starts, you know they're not far off."
Despite the ordeal, Mr Waghorn was in "reasonably good spirits", Mr Wilton said. "But when the shock set in and he realised what had happened, he deteriorated a little."
Mr Waghorn had surgery on his ankle yesterday. He hopes to be home in a week, and back fishing in his favourite spot in six weeks.
But next time he ventures on to the rocks, he says he will be going barefoot.
"It was the shoes that caught in the rocks. You try to lift them and you can't . . . Now I'll just go barefeet and let them toughen up."
Before then, he plans to pay a visit to his rescuers.
"Those guys out there were just great. I owe them a couple of cartons of beer."
- The Dominion Post