Rescue drama at Evans Head
AN EARLY morning boating accident off Evans Head on Wednesday led to a dramatic sea rescue which left one of the rescuers in hospital.
A four-metre aluminium runabout, the Nikkiana, got into trouble and capsized at Chinamans Beach at the southern end of Evans Head yesterday morning.
There were conflicting reports yesterday about what actually took place on the water.
However, it is understood the boat, carrying two men, crossed the bar at Evans Head before sunrise on a fishing outing.
The boat’s skipper wasusing a global positioning satellite device to work out his location on the water, but became confused and mot-ored off in the wrong direction toward the beach.
When the skipper realised he was almost on the beach he turned back and successfully made his way through two breaking waves.
However, a third wave crashed into the boat swamping it. It then capsized.
Fishermen on a commercial fishing boat, the Julia, were close by when they saw the overturned boat and went to assist.
Australian Volunteer Coast Guard radio operator Christian Booker said a deckhand on the Julia became entangled in rope while in the water during the rescue.
The deckhand, who was trying to secure a tow rope to the runabout, began to suffer chest pains.
He swam to shore where he was picked up by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and airlifted to the Lismore Base Hospital, where heremained under observation yesterday. No one in the run-about was injured.
Troy Robson, skipper of a third boat, Free and Easy, who arrived on the scene shortly after the rescue, said it was a strange place for a boat to nearly run aground.
“Boats aren’t normally around that area,” he said.
Mr Booker said the coast guard had been unaware of the unfolding drama as it occurred in an area outside its radio reception.
The Nikkiana had not reg-istered its outing as it haddeparted prior to 5.30am, when the coast guard opens.
The skipper of the Nikkiana did not respond to The Northern Star’s request for an interview.
The Julia has rescued a number of amateur fishermen in trouble on the water.
It was once involved in its own dramatic sea rescue when it was struck by a Clarence-based trawler, causing the Julia to capsize.
Miraculously, in that incident, no one was injured. The Julia was entirely rebuilt.