BOATIES HIT BY BOMMIE
By MURRAY SIMPSON
A MAJOR-search-and-rescue exercise on the Tweed Coast on Saturday suddenly turned into the real thing when a small boat overturned off the Cudgen Creek estuary shortly before dark.
Two men were thrown out when hit by a wave at a popular dive site about 100 metres off the estuary mouth called the Bommies. The alarm was raised at the Kingscliff Volunteer Marine Rescue by members of the public just on dusk at 4.50pm.
The Cudgen Surf Lifesaving Club members who raced to the scene in an inflatable IRB found the men had managed to swim ashore but needed help to retrieve their boat.
Kingscliff VMR commander John Pernell said the emergency came hot on the heels of a combined search and rescue exercise organised by the VMR on Saturday morning and included the Cudgen and Salt resort lifesavers.
The exercise involved a simulated rescue of eight passengers from a yacht sinking off the Bombies.
"So I suppose they were pretty geed-up for it when a genuine alarm was raised," said Mr Pernell.
He said the two rescued men were extremely lucky.
"The Bommies are dangerous at the best of times and even locals approach them with caution," he said.
"What's more we and the lifesavers were already packing up and were about to head home, as it was getting dark when the alarm was raised."
Mr Pernell said the Cudgen lifesavers did a tremendous job getting to the scene so quickly.
One man did not have a lifejacket and both seemed mildly in shock when found.
The Cudgen IRB then went out and managed to right the men's boat and towed it ashore.
Both rescued men left without leaving their names or saying where they were from.
The drama at Kingscliff followed an extraordinary Easter Saturday on Gold Coast beaches in which 83 rescues were carried out.
Surfing Queensland duty officer Kevin Dunn said the deluge of rescues began about 2pm which coincided with low tide and a rising swell.
At Surfers Paradise there was a mass rescue of 14 people caught in a rip and involved lifesavers on boards, IRBs, waverunners and the rescue helicopter.
Other hot spots included North Burleigh, with 15 rescues, and Mermaid with 12, while there were another six each at Tallebudgera and Coolangatta.