Christmas miracle saves kayaking Santa – and his pooch

HE'LL BE BACK: Santa, Ron Hunter, and Spike will be back in the kayak on Lake Cathie on Monday.
HE'LL BE BACK: Santa, Ron Hunter, and Spike will be back in the kayak on Lake Cathie on Monday.

A kayaking Santa was on the receiving end of a Christmas miracle on Wednesday.

Strangers rescued him and saved the life of his faithful “rein-dog” Spike when his kayak overturned on a fast-running tide.

Santa, aka Ron Hunter, was so determined to keep his daily ritual to bring smiles to the faces of local children that he took on a king tide.

Ron is a favourite part of Christmas for children travelling to school in cars or busses. As they cross the Lake Cathie bridge Ron waves from his kayak on the lake until the bus or car is out of sight.

RESCUE: Dan Hunt and Dan Hurd, pictured above in wet shorts, swam into Lake Cathie after noticing the upturned kayak and Santa in the water.

RESCUE: Dan Hunt and Dan Hurd, pictured above in wet shorts, swam into Lake Cathie after noticing the upturned kayak and Santa in the water.

“To wave for a long time, the tide is usually going out, so I back paddle then put the oar down so I can wave,” Ron said on Thursday morning.

“But the tide yesterday was running so fast I took an anchor down so I could keep the kayak still and wave to the kids.

“Anyway it was a stupid thing to do because when the kayak tipped over it stayed in one place and poor Spike was tethered to the kayak and couldn’t swim away. He managed to keep his head above water. The tide took me down and I ended up on the rocks.

Two young blokes in a ute parked and stripped off and swam out into the lake to rescue Spike. They were marvellous. I’m very thankful and grateful they were able to help.

“By that time people had gathered on the shore and there was a lot of concern and hugs for me and Spike.

“How lucky was I?”

Bob Bate was the driver of the ute and the “young blokes” were Dan Hunt and Dan Hurd.

“We were driving across the bridge and the water was very turbulent and we noticed the kayak overturned,” Bob said.

“The two young blokes went to see if Santa was ok, saw him in the water and before I knew it they’d taken off their work gear and jumped in.

“They did a great job and managed to help Ron and get his dog who was stuck at the kayak. I guess it’s not every day you get to say you rescued Santa.”

Ron is heading to Sydney for the weekend but will be back on deck to wave to the children from Monday morning with a new snowy-white beard as his original succumbed to the waters of Lake Cathie.

“I’ve bought a new Santa beard, the other one is floating up the creek somewhere,” Ron said. 

“You never know, it might wash up somewhere, maybe it could be auctioned off for charity or something.”