THE day nearly ended in disaster for an elderly couple from Tooradin who had hoped to enjoy a day’s fishing in Corner Inlet last Wednesday.
The 80-year-old man and his 81-year-old wife left the boat ramp at Port Welshpool at about 8am to fish in the Lewis Channel, just west of the Long Jetty. They were at anchor between 8.30 and 9am when the man fell overboard. During his efforts, aided by his wife, to get back into the 12-foot aluminium boat, the vessel was swamped and sank.
The couple, who were wearing life jackets, were clinging to the boat when they were discovered by a kayaker, who notified the emergency services at 9.30am. The kayaker kindly remained with the couple throughout their ordeal until they were rescued from the water by local professional fisherman Don Cripps and his deckhand who were returning to Port Welshpool. They managed to pull the couple from the water and returned them to the boat ramp about 10.15am. An ambulance was called, as the woman was suffering from hypothermia. They were taken by ambulance to the hospital at Yarram, where they were kept for observation until allowed to leave in the afternoon.
Gippsland Ports towed the boat back to Port Welshpool. Once there it was taken from the water and loaded onto the couple’s trailer by the port authority and members of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard (Port Welshpool).
Senior Constable Mal Heywood from Toora police station commented: “It was very fortunate that Don Cripps arrived when he did, as the lady’s condition was deteriorating, and it was likely that she would have been unable to hold onto the upturned boat for much longer in the conditions.”