A TRIP up the Clarence River took a horrible turn for the worse on Monday night when their house boat capsized with them aboard.
Seven people were enjoying their New Year's Day on a house boat when a huge storm hit the Lower Clarence.
Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba unit commander Frank Bond said a member of the public reported seeing a flare go off late afternoon.
Mr Bond and the crew raced to get out of the distressed vessel.
"It was in front of the council caravan park, it was only about 100m offshore, and a local guy by the name of John King went to their assistance," he said.
The boat had capsized on the sand spit and was held fast, according to Mr Bond.
"They had to wait for high tide to get the boat off.
"The passengers on board were seven holiday makers."
Mr Bond said the hail and strong winds were likely to have caused the capsize.
"The winds associated with the thunder storm pushed people over onto one side of the boat to avoid hailstones, putting the boat off balance," he said.
Tracey Davis witnessed some of the dramatic events as they unfolded.
"We were told the father actually smashed the window so he could get everyone out," she said.
"He's got cuts and maybe a broken arm.
"Once all the people were out, they realised the three dogs were still inside. There was a lot of cheering when the rescuers got the dogs out."
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said seven patients were assessed with five being taken to Maclean Base Hospital suffering cuts and a man, about 50 years old, was taken to Lismore Base Hospital with a possible fractured wrist and injuries to his hand and abdomen.
Mr Bond said Marine Rescue Iluka/Yamba were called to a 47ft yacht which had run aground about the same time as the capsize.
Mr Bond said the yacht just needed to wait for high tide and it would have floated.