Drama on Tweed bar
COLD, wet and fully clothed, a man and woman watched from Jack Evans Boat Harbour as their capsized boat was rescued and towed to shore yesterday.
The pair and two other crew members were found clinging desperately to the overturned boat on the treacherous Tweed bar at 10.30am.
Surf lifesavers on jet skis were quick to arrive at the scene and bring the man and the woman to shore, where a large crowd had gathered to watch the drama unfold.
The other two crew members would not leave the overturned rigid inflatable, anxious to retrieve it from the bar's waters.
Aboard the Aqua Diver were its two owners, a diver and a Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) worker.
The boat was contracted by DERM to fix the Waverider buoy, a device that records wave measurements, which had been broken for several days.
After being righted the craft wastowed to shore by the Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue.
The man and woman rescued by surf lifesavers arrived at Jack Evans Boat Harbour on the north side of Twin Towns Services Club where they were questioned by police.
Soaking wet and wrapped in towels, the pair were then checked by paramedics but were not taken to hospital.
The man, who gave his name as “Vince”, said he was with DERM and had been tasked to fix the Waverider buoy.
“We rolled it on the way in, but the conditions were not that bad,” Vince said.
“I couldn't say exactly what happened, I wasn't the one driving the boat.
“But everyone is okay, there's no injuries.”
Vince said he wasn't frightened when the boat overturned.
“If you were going to have an accident, that's where you'd want it to be,” he said. “The shore was in sight; we were just near the sea rescue tower.
“I wasn't going to swim away from the boat, I had my lifejacket on and just hung on and waited like you are supposed to.”
The other three people involved did not want to speak to the media, but said no one had been hurt and the boat was not damaged.
The skipper was questioned by police when the vessel was brought ashore at Kennedy Drive in Tweed Heads.
Police said the 43-year-old man was an experienced boat operator, but the boat had been swamped by a wave as it crossed the bar.
“He's very experienced,” Sergeant Stuart Crawford of Tweed/Byron Police said.
“There's no dramas, it's just one of those things... (but) it will be reported to Waterways and Work Cover.”
One witness, known only as “Pedro”, said he called 000 after seeing the vessel overturn on the bar. He told police it had happened quickly.
“I saw the boat flipping over and people were swimming around it, so I called Triple 0,” Pedro said. “They got caught on the bar. It was really fast.”
The incident also created interest among a sailing group who were heading out on the water.
“It's not something you see every day,” Mark Scott of Beach House Seaside Resort said.
“Seeing people fully clothed in life jackets being brought to shore by the lifeguards, we just assumed a boat had gone over.”
The Tweed bar Waverider buoy was still listed as inoperative on the DERM website yesterday.