Lifejackets save three in high seas rollover at Merimbula
Three people are lucky to be alive after their boat overturned during an unsuccessful bar crossing at Merimbula.
Transport for NSW A/ Executive Director Andrew Mogg said the bar crossing incident occurred in the middle of a local NSW Maritime safety and compliance operation – Operation Safe Return – focusing on safe bar crossing.
“The three men, who are all related and range in age from 16 to 55, had attempted to cross the Merimbula coastal bar about 8am today despite the weather warning for hazardous surf conditions,” Mr Mogg said.
“Thankfully all three were wearing lifejackets when their 4.8 metre half cabin runabout was swamped and flipped by a wave.
“All three of the men ended up in the water and were lucky enough to remain buoyant in the swell of at least two metres before they were rescued by surfers and taken to Main Beach, suffering only cuts.
“The eldest of the trio was momentarily trapped in the upturned cabin but managed to escape through the gunwhale.
“This is not the fishing trip they had planned and all three are lucky to have survived. All were wearing lifejackets which had recently been serviced – two inflatable lifejackets and a traditional foam lifejacket.”
Mr Mogg said incident demonstrated the additional risk swell and large waves add to the conditions to be considered when crossing a coastal bar, where currents are already strong.
“Even in calm conditions, vessels can be swamped, damaged or wrecked on coastal bars. Crossing a bar safely really does require a high level of skill and planning,” he said.
“Use all of the tools available to help you make your decision – watch the timing between sets of waves before you go out, don’t cross in a run out tide and be mindful of the swell.
“Most importantly, if you’re in any way in doubt, do not go out.”
For more information on bar crossing safety visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime/using-waterways/designated/coastal-bars/crossing.html and www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/maritime/usingwaterways/navigationandcommunication/coastal-bar-safety-a-guide-to-crossing-coastal-bars.pdf