Clinging to the back of his fishing boat for six hours in darkness as cold winter rain stung his face, 73-year-old Ross Mead gave himself a talking to.

"You are not going to die like this," he told himself, with conviction.

"Never give up," he repeated.

The father of three and grandfather of eight was returning to his 23m boat moored on Northland's Whangaroa Harbour after having dinner with friends onshore when, in a split second, he plunged into the ocean. He slipped as he stepped from his dinghy onto the duckboard on July 18 about 10.30pm.


A month later,