Joe Kennard, centre, with the remains of his fishing boat which sunk on the Brunswick River bar, with his passengers.
Joe Kennard, centre, with the remains of his fishing boat which sunk on the Brunswick River bar, with his passengers.

Brunswick River sends sailors overboard

By STEPHANIE FORESTER

IT took 10 days for honeymooner Michelle Smith Hughes's husband to get her into the water during their holiday in Byron Bay.

Yesterday, she finally relented ? and the boat sank.

Michelle and her husband Brad, from Hobart, were among five people rescued from the mouth of the Brunswick River when their boat, which belonged to a friend of a friend, was smashed to pieces by waves just moments after they crossed the bar.

Joe Kennard and his mates, Ali bin Mohammed Omar Al Muscati and Zoran Tkalak, all from Byron Bay, invited Michelle and Brad on a fishing trip to Julian Rocks.

Fortunately, said Joe, he had insisted on everyone putting on life jackets just before they crossed the treacherous bar.

"I knew the bar was dangerous and I thought I'd timed it right," he said.

"We thought we'd made it through and then this big set came up from behind."

Ali jumped ship when the first wave hit.

"I thought it was all a bit of a hoot until I saw the boat go down," he said.

The other passengers were thrown into the water when the boat broke up in a second wave.

"The boat just fell to bits," said Joe.

"My first thought was 'oh no, I'm going to kill the honeymooners'. It was pretty freaky.

"The good news is, we're all here."

The hapless boaters were spotted as they went over the bar by Brunswick Valley Volunteer Marine Rescue Association radio operator, Tony Baggio.

Tony called in the Brunswick Surf Life Saving Club's rescue team, Greg Chapman and Dave Munn, who are on standby this week while the VMR boat's gearbox undergoes repairs.

Cheekily, Ali said anyone who wanted to meet the survivors could come to their gig at Buddha Bar, Byron Bay, on Friday night.



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