A team of locals and rescue workers helped recover the boat at Wooli.
A team of locals and rescue workers helped recover the boat at Wooli.

Boat, crew tip on wild Wooli bar

THREE South Grafton men were left to rue their decision to cross a tempestuous Wooli bar about 8am yesterday when their boat, a five-metre fibreglass runabout with a brand new motor, overturned after being hit by two big waves.

Marine Rescue commander Stephen Reading said the first wave caused significant damage to the vessel, filled it with water and knocked the occupants to the floor.

“The second wave resulted in the vessel being overturned, throwing the occupants into the water,” Mr Reading said.

With a rising tide, he said, the vessel and the three occupants made their way onto the Wooli beach to the north of the breakwater.

The men were wearing lifejackets.

The crew of Marine Rescue Wooli’s rapid response vessel was stood down once it was established all occupants were safely ashore and the vessel posed no further navigation risk.

The three occupants of the vessel were bruised, suffered minor cuts and were treated for shock by first-aid personnel from Marine Rescue Wooli.

One was injured when hit by the anchor as it was thrown from its stored position in a tub.

The vessel was retrieved from the beach by the owner, locals and Marine Rescue personnel in a team effort spanning 45 minutes.

“Conditions on the bar at the time were poor with breaking waves and short distances between swells,” Mr Reading said. “Several local vessel skippers had already made the decision not to proceed to sea because of the nature of sea conditions.

“The result could have been far worse if it was an outgoing tide ... you virtually can’t find people in those conditions until you’re right on top of them.”

The boat suffered significant damage and many personal possessions were lost overboard.

Recreational boaters should exercise extreme caution when crossing any river bar entrance and skippers must ensure that all persons are wearing lifejackets, Mr Reading said.

Cyclone Ului means it's not so swell for skippers

SKIPPERS need to have a good hard think about whether they will ‘take on’ bar crossings in the Clarence Valley this weekend, according to Marine Rescue Wooli commander Stephen Reading.

Low pressure systems and the flow-on effect of cyclone Ului means big waves on the coast – a dream for some surfers but a nightmare for rescue workers.

“It’s not going to get any better for probably the next four days,” Mr Reading said yesterday.

He said a marine boating licence was not enough to cross a bar in rough conditions.

“There needs to be a suitable vessel and enough experience to make the right decision – days like today are unsuitable for small craft,” said the veteran boatie.

Mr Reading said any vessel going to sea should ‘log on’ for free with Marine Rescue NSW or the Coast Guard, which can be contacted by radio.

Signposts at boating ramps show the relevant channels but the channel numbers can also be obtained through the emergency channels – VHF ch16 or 27 mhz ch88.

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