The treacherous South Pier: Snowy’s story

Photography by Kira Erwin, View from the South Pier, 2021

I fished off the south pier, that’s the breakwaters, now it’s a bit safe. But back in the days it was a treacherous pier. I know that pier very well because there was one occasion I was with a friend of mine, Krish, he was a very skilled fisherman. I was fishing with him one evening and we’d gone up to the very tip with the white light that informs the ships out there that they must be careful of this pier because it’s the breakwater, this light flickers continuously. When we got up there, he said we are going to fish for crayfish. We used to fish in the holes along the side of the pier for crayfish with a hand line. Krish’s eyes were drawn to the sea out in front of him and he saw a wave coming. Those are what we call rogue waves. On that particular day this rogue wave was heading our way. Krish said to me, ‘hey Snows, there’s a rogue wave coming, brace yourself.’ But I was on the other end of the pier and he was on this end when the wave broke against the pier, it rose up right over him and broke in the centre and washed off towards me. He jumped off and he came running towards me, ‘let’s pack up and get out of here’. We turned back to look at this wave and we couldn’t see the light in the front. It was just like 1, 2, 3 clean over white water was all we could see. If we were in front, we would have lost hope. As we were sitting discussing what we were going to do next, three guys came past us and we took note that they weren’t in their full senses. I directed them, ‘do yourself a favour, go to pier number 13 but don’t go past 15 because the water is very rough upfront. We’ve just come from the front, we nearly got washed in.’ It wasn’t two hours later; we see two guys coming back and we already knew in our minds what happened. One guy got hit in. They went to 13, they fished, then they drifted to 15 further up the pier. They didn’t realise that when the water starts coming in and reaches a certain level, it bangs against the pier, it shoots through in between the dolosse straight over to the other side. The second thing that compounded matters was that he was intoxicated. When the water hit him in, his mates were further down the pier and discovered, ‘hey this guy has gone too long, what do we do?’ But by then it was too dangerous to venture up there. They packed up and they came all the way to the bottom to us, ‘you know what, the connection that we came with, we don’t know what happened to him’. The guy was found floating with his head down, he drowned and the very same tackle he was using to fish, was entangled on his whole body. 

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