Ballina sailor plucked to safety after capsize
JIMMY Strange was clinging to a hull of his 4.2 metre Maricat catamaran by the time his rescuers fished him from choppy waters off Ballina on Saturday afternoon.
Ballina Jet Boat Rescue captain Garry Meredith said his team received a call from the Ballina Coast Guard a little after 5pm that a catamaran had capsized and been swept from the river through the notorious Ballina bar out to sea.
“A catamaran got a little too close to the bar with the run-out tide. The bar was a bit rough and he got swept out,” Mr Meredith said.
With the helpful eyes of a fisherman on shore, the rescue boat was able to spot the near-invisible catamaran about 500 metres out from the river mouth.
“He was lucky because he was a long way out,” Mr Meredith said. “He was hard to see because there was no sail visible. He was level with the water. He was just clinging to one of the hulls.”
The three-man rescue boat team pulled 49-year-old Mr Strange from the water, righted the catamaran, and returned both to shore about 6pm.
Yesterday, the uninjured Ballina man was grateful for their efforts. “There’s probably about $1000 worth of damage to the boat,” he said.
Mr Strange, with decades of sailing experience, said he was very embarrassed, but also very grateful to the rescue crew. “I nose-dived the boat,” he said. “I was a little disappointed that I did that.”
“I then drifted out further and further. I was heading out towards the trawlers and I thought: ‘I’ll be asking them for some prawns in a minute’,” Mr Strange said.