Iluka fishermen Brad Everson and Peter Duncombe were aboard the disabled ‘Naomi Star’ as it came perilously close to the southern breakwall on Saturday.
Iluka fishermen Brad Everson and Peter Duncombe were aboard the disabled ‘Naomi Star’ as it came perilously close to the southern breakwall on Saturday. Lynne Mowbray

Massive wave hits trawler

TRAWLER skipper Brad Everson and deck hand Peter Duncombe were pulling their nets in and preparing to make the trek home early Saturday morning when a rogue wave struck their vessel Naomi Star.

The skipper of the Iluka-based trawler had, after checking the weather forecast on the Bureau of Meteorology website, set off to fish grounds about 28 kilometres off Minnie Water. But the forecast then changed significantly, but by the time the pair received word of the change via the Coast Guard report, they were too far out to sea to return.

“By the time we made it back to Yamba it would have been low tide and dark, making it disastrous to attempt crossing the bar,” Mr Everson said.

“We chose to stay out and trawl through the night and return in the morning.

“The sea was massive; the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The rogue wave that hit the Naomi Star crashed over the trawler, sending Mr Everson hurtling across the deck. He managed to grab hold of part of the gantry support which saved him from being washed overboard. Mr Duncombe was thrown back into the wheelhouse which filled with water.

To make matters worse, the boat stalled as water made its way into the engine and air filter.

Yamba fisherman Shane Anderson, skipper of the Osiris, heard of their plight and travelled 13 nautical miles to reach the stricken vessel before towing it back to Yamba.

About midday on Saturday both trawlers sat off Yamba’s Main Beach rolling around in the huge swell as they waited to cross the bar.

A concerned crowd, including other professional fishermen, gathered on shore to watch the attempt.

Under the guidance of the Iluka/Yamba Coast Guard, Mr Anderson towed the crippled trawler to the mouth of the river before retreating quickly as another huge set of waves came through.

After the first boat was safely across the bar, Mr Anderson then negotiated the dangerous obstacle in his own vessel before towing the damaged trawler back to Iluka.



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