The novice sailor sits high and almost dry on his yacht before being rescued by the approaching Ballina Coastguard at the mouth of the Richmond River.
The novice sailor sits high and almost dry on his yacht before being rescued by the approaching Ballina Coastguard at the mouth of the Richmond River. The Northern Star

Wind overturns yacht on river at Ballina

A NOVICE sailor who got caught out by a gust of wind at Ballina yesterday ended up sitting on his capsized boat while waiting for help.

The 62-year-old Ballina man had been sailing the six-metre yacht on the Richmond River, near the mouth of Fishery Creek, when the accident occurred about 9.15am.

He declined to speak with media, but police said the man was 'not hurt, just shaken'.

Senior Constable Aaron Ryan said the Ballina Coastguard had been called to the scene by a member of the public who had witnessed the incident.

"He was in no danger. He just sat on his overturned boat and waited for help," Snr Const Ryan said.

A catamaran passed by just minutes after the yacht overturned and its operator tried to help the man, but the Coastguard crew and police then arrived at the scene.

Despite some difficulties approaching the boat because of the wind, the Coastguard crew was able to manoeuvre its vessel alongside the capsized yacht before throwing the man a rope and pulling him to safety by 9.45am.

They later pulled the yacht to shore.

Darren Watson, a boating officer with NSW Maritime who helped with the rescue, said the man was cold and a bit shaky from being in the water, 'but otherwise all right'.

"He was a learner sailor who just got caught by a gust of wind," he said.

"It's been pretty windy out there ... this kind of thing happens every now and then, more regularly in summer when there are more people out on the water."

The man was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident, however, he had one on board his boat.

Regulations require there to be one life jacket per person on board the boat, however, it is only required that they are worn while the boat is crossing a bar.

The incident follows a fatal boat accident on the Tweed River last week, which killed 35-year-old Chinderah man Sean Staunton. Mr Staunton had taken his son Louis, 5, for a boat ride near Chinderah Bay when the incident happened.

The boy was hauled unconscious from the river some time later, but his dad didn't survive the apparent accident. Neither were wearing life jackets.


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