AN afternoon boat trip around the islands of the Glennie Group could easily have turned to tragedy last Wednesday had it not been for the fortuitous sighting by a passing vessel of two of the boat’s occupants clinging to an esky near their overturned boat.
At around 2.30pm on Wednesday afternoon, skipper Geoff Dixon and passenger Ray Henderson of Sandy Point, rounded a point on McHugh Island and were surprised to see the two men clinging to an esky not far from the bow of their boat, which could be seen sticking up out of the water on the south side of the island.
Geoff and Ray helped the men into their boat and were told that there was a third man, who was, as yet, unaccounted for. They then contacted two other boats in their party, who proceeded to the area to assist. One of the boats, crewed by local residents Warwick Jacobson and John O’Sullivan, discovered him ashore on the other side of the island.
The three men had been skin diving for kingfish when their boat was swamped by a wave in very choppy conditions at around 2pm.
The odds, however, were certainly in their favour on this day as not only were they rescued, but abalone diver Tas Martin, formerly of Sandy Point, was working on a nearby island and was able to get two parachutes (air bags) onto the stern of the overturned boat and righted the vessel. After a great deal of bailing, the boat was towed back to Tidal River by Rob OSullivan, the third boat in the group.
Cuts and abrasions were received by one of the men, however, no serious injuries were sustained by the three.
“At all times, you should monitor weather by keeping a close eye out on the horizon,” urges Paul Corkill, spokesperson for Transport Safety Victoria.
“If you sense that a change in weather is approaching, head for the shore immediately. If you are caught out in adverse weather, ensure that all people onboard are wearing an appropriate life jacket and the vessel is kept bow into the wind.
“In the event where your vessel capsizes, stay with your boat until help arrives. Staying close to the vessel improves your chances of being sighted by rescue vessels,” Mr Corkill said.
Visit the TSV website (www.transportsafety.vic.gov.au) for more information about weather and tides. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website (www.bom.gov.au/marine) provides the latest information about weather conditions, tidal conditions and wind warnings.