Mates survive after trawler sinks runabout
By JANELLE MCLENNAN
ANCHORED at sea about 10km off Evans Head early yesterday, Mick Endres did not see the trawler bearing down on his eight-metre, open-deck, aluminium boat until it was about 45 metres away.
With little time to do anything else, he screamed at his mate Shaun McLean to wake up, and watched in horror as The Saint, a 20-metre prawn trawler from Iluka, headed straight towards them.
"We hit head on, we were that far off dead centre," Mick said, indicating the distance of just 7cm with his thumb and index finger.
"The trawler pushed us back, the arse end went under, the boat filled with water and eventually flipped."
The two men stayed on the boat until they knew it was about to go under, then they too were in the water.
Clinging to a life ring and an esky lid, Mick and Shaun were in the water for about 10 minutes before The Saint rescued them.
"I wasn't concerned about drowning, but I was a bit worried about sharks," said Shaun, who had gone out with Mick for a night's fishing.
"Especially since all the fish we caught were floating around us and sharks are always following the trawlers."
Their upturned boat was towed back into Evans Head by local fisherman Peter McHunter and his trawler, The Piper J, after the Evans Head Coastguard, unable to get to sea because of engine trouble, sent out a call for help.
A veteran of numerous sea rescues, Mr McHunter, who had engine trouble himself earlier, did not hesitate to offer help.
"It's just what you do. Everyone has to look out for each other out there," he said after towing the upturned boat over the oftentreacherous Evans River bar.
Having arrived back in Evans Head late yesterday morning Mick, with the help of friends and a borrowed forklift, was busy trying to right his boat.
"It was just one of those things. Neither of us saw the other until it was too late," he said.