WHEN the skipper of a 5.3m fishing boat from Newcastle launched at the Wooli Boat ramp this morning (Monday, June 18), he made a note of the 24/7 Marine Rescue Wooli telephone number from an adjacent sign of emergency telephone and radio contact details.
He didn't realize how soon he and his mate would need it.
Just after mid-day, with seas rising, the skipper tried to start the vessel to return to Wooli but the motor would not start.
His call to the Wooli Marine Rescue number raised the alarm and Wooli 30, the unit's new 9.5m rapid-response NAIAD RHIB, with Stephen Reading and David Richardson aboard, was soon on the way.
The disabled vessel was about three nautical miles south-east of Wooli towards Red Rock.
"Conditions offshore had worsened during the day with a solid 2 to 2.5m swell running from the south and a southerly of approximately 10kts," Mr Reading said.
"Wooli 30 performed beautifully as we punched steadily into the oncoming seas and soon reached the broken down boat.
"Attaching the tow line was a bit of a problem. The vessel didn't have a U-bolt attached to the tow point on the lower part of the bow. We had to fasten the tow-clip higher up but this also made the tow a little more difficult as the vessel's bow tended to dig in as the speed increased.
"This made for a slow run home at just 10kts which enabled comfortable progress and straight tracking of the towed vessel with the following sea."
After shortening the tow for the bar crossing, Wooli 30 was able to cross the Wooli bar under the watchful eye of Wayne Jubb (Radio Duty Operator) and bring the vessel safely back to the Wooli Ramp.
"We carried the skipper and his fishing mate on board Wooli 30 for the tow home," said Mr Reading.
"He called his service mechanic from our boat and very strongly expressed his disappointment at breaking down because he had just had the motor serviced prior to coming away.
"This seems to be a recurring theme with vessels, for some reason."