News

Esky keeps men afloat for 14 hours

AT LAST: John Lynch and Paul Maher clinging to their esky after they were found floating off the Clarence Coast on Saturday morning. Photos: Westpac Rescue Helicopter
AT LAST: John Lynch and Paul Maher clinging to their esky after they were found floating off the Clarence Coast on Saturday morning. Photos: Westpac Rescue Helicopter

TWO men rescued off the Clarence coast after spending 14 hours at sea must be glad they packed the esky.

John Lynch, 34, and Paul Maher, 25, were on a social fishing trip to celebrate their last day of work for the year on Friday, but recent repairs to the hull of the old cabin cruiser they were on appear to have failed. It started taking on water off the Ballina coast around 3.30pm.

They managed to make a mayday call and put on lifejackets before being forced into the water.

Ballina Jet Boat Rescue and a Police Marine Rescue Unit began searching around their last known location, off the South Wall in Ballina, and Westpac Rescue helicopter searched from the air.

The helicopter continued searching with the aid of night vision goggles up until midnight on Friday, without success.

The scale of the search was increased at first light on Saturday and six aircraft and seven rescue vessels were part of a search co-ordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The men's submerged boat was spotted by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew about nine nautical miles north-east of Yamba about 6.05am. They

then spotted another object in the water further north which turned out to be the two men clinging to their esky.

Helicopter crewman Jethro Lampe said they were "pretty exhausted but otherwise in good spirits" when they were winched on board. They were treated for hypothermia and taken to Lismore Base Hospital.

Sergeant Graham Hill from the Tweed Marine Rescue Unit said the men were "very, very lucky".

He said weather conditions were favourable for the men, who were aware there was a rescue operation going on while they were in the water, but ultimately their lifejackets and esky probably saved their lives.

Paul Maher celebrated his birthday yesterday. Both men received their boat licences in the past three months. For John Lynch, it was his first time in the open ocean. EPIRB location beacons were not required for the trip as they were not travelling more than two nautical miles from the coast. The men declined a media interview.

Topics:  editors picks, esky, luck, rescue




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Labor plans for the future with renewable energy

Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Mark Butler and Janelle Saffin in South Grafton.

Mark Butler joined Janelle Saffin for an environment Q&A

Speed limit to be reduced in Ashby

The speed limit on Ashby-Tullymorgan and Murrayville roads in Ashby will be reduced to 80kmh from June 3.

Speed limit will be reduced in June after review

VIDEO: Is this the rugby league try of the year?

It was a gutsy and determined Grafton Ghosts that broke through the Nambucca Heads Roosters on Sunday afternnon at Frank McGuren Field.

A piece of ingenuity leads to a miracle try at Frank McGuren Field.

Latest deals and offers

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 5

Officers drag the woman back to her cell

In this video the woman drinks water from the toilet.

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 4

In this video the woman asks for water as the tap in the room is broken

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 3

In this video police continue their search and male officers are present despite...

Perfect time to invest in Northern Rivers property

The Northern Rivers rental market is tighter than Sydney making it the perfect time for investors to get better returns out of property than superannuation or banks deposits.

Low interest rates and tight rental market are prime time to invest