ADRIFT at sea after two battery failures, with no radio contact and not enough anchor rope to hold them in place, three fishermen were lucky to be saved near North Solitary Island on Monday.
Marine Rescue Wooli was alerted to the fishermen’s plight by the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard, which had received a distress message from one of the fishermen via telephone.
Marine Rescue Wooli president Stephen Reading said the incident was made worse because the fishermen had virtually no knowledge of the offshore area.
“The information was at best confusing in that the fishermen only knew that they were between two islands and were drifting – they didn’t have enough anchor rope on board to safely anchor,” Mr Reading said.
Responding in the JJ Ensbey rescue craft, the Wooli rescue crew of Steve Reading, Richard Taffs and Kerry Purves proceeded towards North Solitary Island but failed to locate the vessel between the islands.
A short search to the east of the island, after radio operator Jackie Taffs was able to secure more details about the boat’s precise location, resulted in the vessel being located and taken in tow to Wooli.
The vessel had drifted some two nautical miles from its initial reported position.
“It’s a timely reminder for all vessel owners contemplating an offshore fishing journey to ensure that all equipment is in good condition, that they carry at least 200 metres of anchor rope, that batteries are tested and that fuel is checked to ensure it is not stale,” Mr Reading said.
Vessel owners and skippers need to ensure they have required NSW Maritime-listed safety equipment for their boat.