The Australian surf is a very dangerous place even for the well trained. When a rip occurs, or stamina fails, or a health condition flairs up when someone is in difficulty, or simple panic sets in, then it is increasingly likely the outcome will not be a good one.
No one could stand on the beach and do nothing when a loved one, particularly if it is a child relative under your care, gets into difficulty in the surf. The instantaneous response is to get out there and save them.
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, says that his wife Delma found herself in difficulty some years ago at Shelley Beach Moruya, a favourite swimming area for locals.
The surf was up and normally one could walk out a fair way, enjoy the waves, come in on the peaks and all was well. On this particular day, the currents had washed the sand further back on the previous night, and when Delma went in, she found herself unexpectedly out of her depth with the strength of the current taking her further out.
Fortunately their son Wesley and one of his mates were in the surf at the same time and saw what was happening, and were able to bring Delma back onto standing ground within the surf, where she made her way back to shore.
Delma Tronson, an experienced and strong surf swimmer, has spoken of that frightening experience over the many years since, as a warning about the dangerous situations for international visitors and the unsuspecting.
The heartbreak for all concerned when a drowning occurs on what should be a happy and carefree family outing is beyond measure.
If a father dies trying to save family members, then certainly a family can honour him for time immemorial, and hold up his memory as an example of bravery, but by any measure they would prefer to have their father alive.
But the tragedy is even greater when children drown. M V Tronson serves now as the Footplate Padre, writing a monthly article for the On Track railway e-magazine. He tells the story of the Bombo railway station on the New South Wales south coast. He would occasionally be assigned to duties involving driving trains hauling blue metal wagons from the Bombo open cut quarry and wait in the siding for up to an hour for their timetabled running.
In those long breaks he would often wander across the highway to the historic Bombo Cemetery where so many of the tombstones recorded the drowning deaths of tiny tots to children under 10 in the late 1800's. Bombo beach is notorious for its dangerous rips. There have been signs up for as long as he can recall, yet Bombo beach looks as though it is 'picture post-card pristine'.
Herein lies the difficulty of the Australian surf. It looks pretty, but its dangers are hidden underneath the surface of the water.
Mark Tronson cannot but comment that this is like the situations that entice so many away from the things of the Lord, and about which the Bible speaks continuously.