That sinking Solitary feeling ...

By TOBY WALKER

FIVE PEOPLE were rescued off the Wooli coast yesterday after their boat began sinking almost 40 kilometres out to sea. A Grafton man who took the fishermen out yesterday morning south, past Solitary Island, in his seven-metre vessel Big Foot, was lucky to still have his boat after it began taking water just after 8.30am. A mayday call went out to the Wooli Volunteer Rescue Association for help but the boat was too far out from the shore to transmit a signal. The triple-0 service also picked up a call from a mobile phone on board Big Foot but a communication error led to a Care Flight helicopter rescue team being sent to the wrong location. The helicopter went out 18 nautical miles off the coast of Bulli, north of Wollongong, rather than to the boat's rescue point off the coast at Wooli. Picking up the distress call, it was clear to fisherman Stan Young, owner of Wooli Deep Sea Tours, that he was the best hope for the stricken vessel. However, Mr Young was still about 25 kilometres away, north of Solitary Island, when he began heading for the boat. By the time Mr Young arrived to the fishermen's rescue, he said their vessel had taken on a critical amount of water.



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