'Respect the sea'
THIS is the dramatic moment a walker was almost swept off rocks by a 40ft column of water as he tried to get a closer look at the waves from a Newquay headland.
The alarming image was captured by Paul Terry, of nearby Curlew Close, who was on his way to Fistral beach to take photos of surfers riding the monster waves.
It has prompted coastguards to issue fresh warnings to thrill seekers as large swell and impressive spray continue to draw crowds during the winter months.
Matt Pavitt, sector manager for North Cornwall, said people failed to realise that a single cubic metre of water weighs a tonne.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
He told the Cornish Guardian: "In that context I doubt anyone would like a one-tonne bag of water swung at them – it's incredibly dangerous. We don't want to be the fun police, we just want to instil a bit of common sense. It's incredibly impressive to watch the power of the ocean but you have to treat it with respect. Less than a foot of water will knock you off your feet, so at the height we're talking about here you've got no chance of trying to stand up against it if it breaks over you.
"Our advice is to watch the waves from a safe distance otherwise you're putting yourself in danger – and those who come out to rescue you."
Coastguards regularly risk their lives rescuing fishermen or walkers who get caught out by unpredictable waves, he said.
Mr Terry, who owns a web design company, backed the coastguards' warning saying he had seen the emergency services called out on numerous occasions to help stranded people.
The 35-year-old hoped his photograph might encourage people to think twice about venturing too close to waves crashing against rocks.
"There were two people sat up by the headland, quite a way back, watching the spray. Then the guy in the green jacket decided to try and get as close as he could. All of a sudden a huge wave came in and he had to duck out of the way behind the rocks. It's pretty dangerous and a lot of people seem to do it. If people get swept off then it can be a huge drain on resources, the coastguards and the RNLI.
"People need to be careful. It's a buzz watching it; it's exciting, but you can still do it from a safe distance. There's a lot of power in that spray when it comes down."
Mr Pavitt urged people to call 999 if they spotted anyone in danger and stressed they should never jump in after someone who has been washed into the sea.
"We don't want to be rescuing two people," he said.