Notorious Evans bar's latest victim
By JANE GARDNER
THE impact of Monday night's boat accident caused skipper Kevin Fitzgerald to smack his jaw on the Perspex windscreen of the bridge, dislodging a tooth and leaving two deep gashes in his bottom lip.
The front of the hull was ripped and his cruiser began to take in water.
As Mr Fitzgerald struggled to get his bearings, a strong northerly rip sucked him over the sandbank and back to shore on Airforce Beach at Evans Head.
"It was very dark, I couldn't see a thing," he said. "There was nothing wrong with the boat's engines or anything, a couple of big waves got me.
"I don't know how I'm going to get it off this beach." Mr Fitzgerald, 59, claims he was misled by navigation lights, and when he headed for what he thought was the channel, he hit the wall instead. He was heading home from the Gold Coast, shortly after purchasing the boat ? valued at about $40,000. The unnamed cruiser was removed from the beach by a local salvage company with an excavator and front loader yesterday afternoon.
Local fisherman Kelvin McKinnon said he had never seen a boat get beached that far up, but agreed the sandbar was notorious. "This bar is one of the worst on the North Coast," Mr McKinnon, 67, said.
"I have had a few scares myself over the years. I couldn't tell you how many boats I've seen tipped over the bar, but it would be more than I could count on both hands. There have even been a couple of 40 foot (12 metre) trawlers come aground."
Mr McKinnon said inexperienced boaters, or people not familiar with the Evans Head coastline should be wary. "Count five or six waves when they are cracking and you will see a lull. Go after that. When you come back in, stay well off the front of the wave, otherwise you'll tip over."