STUCK FAST: The eight-metre cruiser which ran aground at Flat Rock on Tuesday night suffered only minor damage.
STUCK FAST: The eight-metre cruiser which ran aground at Flat Rock on Tuesday night suffered only minor damage.

Three escape when cruiser hits rocks

By WILL JACKSON staredit@northern- star.com.au

AN eight-metre cruiser had to be dragged off Flat Rock yesterday after running aground on Tuesday night.

The boat was believed to have been on its way to Sydney after being purchased at Southport on the Gold Coast.

Its owner declined to comment yesterday beyond saying it was an accident.

Jetboat surf rescue captain Garry Meredith said the Cape Byron Coastal Patrol received a distress call at about 11pm on Tuesday night.

"We attended in a fourwheel-drive and rubber duck," he said.

However, the boat was so high above the water the three men aboard ? the owner, a man believed to have been a hired skipper and another man ? simply stepped off the boat onto the rocks then walked to the beach.

"We got the three guys and some gear off the boat and took them to the caravan park on Skennars Head Road where they stayed the night," Mr Meredith said.

"We picked them up at 5am the next morning and brought them back to the boat."

Members of the Coffs Harbour Water Police, in the area to aid with the search for an ultralight that crashed off Tyagarah Beach on October 22, aided the recovery operation.

The surf rescue personnel ran a line between the police boat and the cruiser and dragged it off.

Jetboat president Pat O'Connor said the operation wently smoothly, aided by calm seas.

"The only difficulty we had was getting the rope to the cruiser," he said.

"They must have hit the rocks while on the crest of a wave and the momentum drove them further up. Apparently they were going about 10 knots at the time.

"As the tide came up we waited a bit until there was some water around the boat and then we just dragged it the five or six metres off the rocks."

The vessel's hull only suffered superficial damage however its twin props were severely damaged. The boat's bilge pumps were able to deal with a small leak.

The boat was towed into harbour where a crane was brought in to lift it onto land at approximately 1pm. Last night the boat was at the trawler har- bour in West Ballina.



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