Iluka-based trawler the Waverider on fire four nautical miles off Angourie.
Iluka-based trawler the Waverider on fire four nautical miles off Angourie.

Trawler sinks off the coast

THE Clarence Valley ocean trawling community is in shock after one of its boats caught fire and sank off Angourie on Monday.

Flames erupted on the Waverider at about 7am when the boat was four nautical miles off the coast.

The crew told Iluka Yamba Marine Rescue the fire appeared to take hold in the engine room and had been smouldering since midnight.

The boat was owned by the Kerr family, who also have three other trawlers based at Iluka.

One of the family’s other trawlers, the L Margo, came to the aid of the stricken trawler.

The Waverider’s skipper, 45-year-old Rob Forrester, and his 18-year-old deckhand left the smouldering vessel, got onboard the L Margo and watched fire begin to consume the trawler.

A member of Iluka Yamba Marine Rescue said Mr Forrester then got in a dinghy and rowed back to the Waverider to try to extinguish the fire.

He said Mr Forrester tried to put out the fire without opening the hatch of the engine room, so the fire couldn’t get more oxygen, but it was too hot.

Crews on several other boats saw the fire take hold and burn the boat to the waterline, causing it to sink at around 12.40pm.

Witnesses from Yamba, Angourie and Brooms Head reported plumes of smoke billowing from the boat yesterday morning.

After witnessing the fire and sinking yesterday from the safety of one of the family’s other trawlers, Steven Kerr said he was trying to come to grips with the loss.

“I’ve just got off one of our other boats after watching it sink and I’m still in shock,” he said.

“I don’t really want to talk about it.”

He said the family had owned the Waverider for the past seven years.

Police said they were unsure how the fire started.

Police said Mr Forrester and his deckhand were not injured in the incident.



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