Men rescued after bar crash
TWO Ballina fishermen were hospitalised yesterday after a dramatic rescue when their boat capsized off the Ballina bar at the North Wall.
The men, aged 73 and 68, were returning to shore around 1.30pm when their 5.6m-long aluminium half-cabin got into trouble crossing the Ballina bar on an incoming tide.
It is understood the tide was an hour off changing and the vessel was hit by sharp waves in the shallow bar and rolled.
The Ballina Surf Live Saving Club inflatable, Ballina Marine jetboat and Ballina volunteer coast guard were sent to rescue the men who were then delivered to a waiting ambulance at Fawcett Street Wharf.
The men sustained minor injuries and were taken to Ballina Hospital.
Both men were members of the Ballina RSL Fishing Club, which had the day before cancelled a planned Sunday outing due to unsafe conditions seen at the bar on Saturday.
Club treasurer Anna Konya was at the rescue scene yesterday with her husband Tony, was relieved that both club members had made it to safety, but said the accident highlighted the urgent need for the Richmond River to be dredged.
“It definitely needs to be dredged,” Mrs Konya said.
“The North Wall is already shallow, and it is getting worse.
“Even the professional fishermen say the bar is getting very dangerous.”
Ballina coast guard volunteers reported that this was the third such rescue in the past month at Ballina, citing the shallow bar as the reason boats were coming into trouble.
In March the Northern Star reported Marine Rescue Ballina commander, Norm Lannoy calling for dredging of the bar to make it safer.
“We have an outer bar that has been building up for the past two years,” Mr Lannoy said.
“Dredging would increase safety across this bar. It’s one of the worst along the east coast.
“When the sand builds up it causes pressure waves and they cause all sorts of problems.”