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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Six Sailors Owe Lives to Chance Sighting off Narooma

Six young sailors aboard a 14 foot Hobie Cat owe their lives to a chance sighting and the efforts of the emergency services after their vessel was blown out to sea in strong winds off Narooma on Monday.

The Hobie Cat and its six crew were observed by Marine Rescue Narooma Radio Operator David White as they nearly hit the breakwall heading across the bar and out into the Tasman Sea.

Earlier, a member of the public had contacted the radio base, concerned that the vessel appeared to be heading out with no apparent safety equipment.

Although no request for assistance had been received, given the crew’s apparent skill level and the concern of the member of the public, and as the sailing boat was being rapidly pushed out to sea by strong westerly winds, it was decided to send Marine Rescue Narooma rescue vessel Narooma 30 to do a welfare check.

With the support of the local NSW Police Marine Area Command in Eden, Narooma 30 reached the vessel, now far out to sea near Montague Island, to check on their welfare.

The vessel was observed to not have the required EPIRB, radio, flares or any means of communications in an emergency. One female crew member transferred onto the Marine Rescue vessel, but the others declined stating they were going to sail back to Narooma.

Marine Rescue Narooma 30 decided to shadow them back to port, but the strong head winds made it impossible for the young sailors to make progress, with the remaining five crew eventually agreeing to transfer onto Narooma 30 and for their Hobie Cat to be towed back to the ramp.

While there was no legal requirement to act and no formal request for assistance, the vigilance of Marine Rescue Narooma’s radio operator and a member of the public, the support of Marine Area Command at Eden, and the actions of the crew, prevented what could have been a significant tragedy.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos thanked the Marine Rescue Narooma crew for their efforts and put out a call for boaters to always carry the necessary safety equipment before heading out on the water.

“As the skipper of a vessel the safety of all on board is your responsibility,” said Commissioner Tannos.

“It is essential to have on board all necessary safety equipment, the skills to operate your vessel safely, an understanding of the weather conditions, and to have Logged On with Marine Rescue NSW so someone knows where you are going, when you’ll return and can start searching for you if you are overdue.”


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