Composed and shared by Ceduna Old Photos, Sue Trewartha and Erica Bodger.
WCS. 14 October 1953. Denial Bay. Two men almost lost their lives at Ceduna when they were trapped by the incoming tide while spearfishing. They were the Clerk of the District Council of Murat Bay, Mr Gerry Hough and Mr George Twist an accountant of the Adelaide Electricity Trust who was visiting Ceduna.
The men got into difficulties at about 11pm, when they were fishing out from the end of the reef near McKenzies Landing, between Ceduna and Denial Bay. They were unaware of a deep channel between them and the shore and kept walking into deeper water in their efforts to reach land after losing their bearings. They attempted to return to the reef but the ledge had become submerged by the rising tide and they could not find it. When the water eventually reached their necks the men had no alternative but to swim for their lives. They had lost their sense of direction and in the extreme darkness had no idea which way to swim for shore.
Their experience became more fearful when they lost each other in the darkness and were obliged to continue the grim fight for their lives alone.
Fisheries Inspector Jim Green who had gone out with Twist and Hough and was fishing two miles away, became afraid for their safety when he went to rejoin them. He found the parked car but could see no sign of the fishing lights. Fearing that his companions had been trapped by the tide, Green dashed to Denial Bay from whence Messrs Ross Skinner and Stan Thiselton set out for the reef in their motor boats.
After an intensive search Hough was eventually found by Mr Skinner, swimming about three quarters of a mile out from the shore in 12 feet of water. He was heading towards the Denial Bay jetty over a mile away and was in the last stages of exhaustion. His terrifying ordeal had lasted nearly two hours. It is believed that Hough owed his life to Mrs Ross Skinner, who heard shouts for help coming from the sea. Her husband was about to leave in his boat when Green arrived.
Later Twist was found in a collapsed state on the beach. He had touched bottom in 5 ft of water when about to sink through exhaustion and had managed to drag himself ashore. A Spitfire pilot in the last war, Twist described his experience afterwards as the closest shave of his life. Hough said on Saturday he still felt like a ghost walking!