Crab boats rescue stranded lifesavers
By BREE PRICE
JOHN JOBLIN'S crab boat was just centimetres away from capsizing as he went to the rescue of five people whose surf boat became submerged on the Ballina bar on Sunday.
"We thought we were going to lose the boat, we thought we were gone," Mr Joblin said.
"Our boat was rolled on its side by a wave and a window was open, letting a fair bit of water come inside the cabin.
"It was very close to tipping over. If it had, we could have been trapped in the cabin."
Mr Joblin, and a second crab boat skippered by Paul Porter, were returning across the bar about 9am when they saw five members of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf n
Lifesaving Club struggling to keep their surf boat afloat while training in the bar's waves.
"John and I were coming through the bar when I saw the the surf boat about to wear a couple of waves," Mr Porter said.
"A wave broke behind them and filled the boat with water, submerging it."
Mr Joblin immediately contacted the Ballina Coast Guard and offered to try and pull the lifesavers out of the water.
"We knew the Ballina Jet Boat Rescue would be about three to five minutes away, but a person can drown in that time, so we went in and tried to get them out," Mr Joblin said.
Mr Porter pulled two men out of the water and Mr Joblin rescued one man. The Ballina Jet Boat rescued another two of the men who had been swept about 100 metres out to sea.
However, during the rescue, electronic equipment in Mr Joblin's boat valued at $15,000 was water damaged.
He said it would all have to be replaced.
"The guy who looked at the electronics said I would have to get rid of everything, and more or less start again," he said.
"The GPS plotter, the sounder, a laptop computer and the radios are all water damaged.
"Everything is still working, but because of the salt water they could last for a week, or they could last for a month."
However, Mr Joblin he said he had no regrets.
"Of course we were going to go and do it, people's lives were at risk," he said.