Hook, line or sink?er
By CRAIG McTEAR
COFFS HARBOUR dad Steve Cooper will now be laid up during the festive season, an unfortunate legacy of his dramatic ordeal at sea on Saturday.
The 43-year-old almost lost his charter fishing boat, Orara, and aggravated a serious back injury in the process.
Steve was on his own, bait fishing near Split Solitary Island, and was headed for other fishing grounds when he thought he hit something in the water about 5pm. He immediately rang the Coffs Harbour Coastal Patrol.
He discovered his boat was filling with water and water police were soon dispatched to his rescue, bringing a much-needed water pump with them.
But Steve twisted his upper body as he tried to steady the police launch when it came up alongside, hurting his back which he'd broken in a motorbike accident 18 years earlier.
A passing vessel on a delivery run to Sydney had also stopped to help Steve and a crew member climbed aboard.
During the long tow back to harbour by the water police, the rescuers discovered a hull fitting had come loose on Orara, resulting in the steady flow of water into the hull.
"My boat was extremely close to sinking. If it hadn't been for the pump, it would have been gone," Steve said.
"I was concerned she was going to go down."
Ambulance officers were called to the marina to treat Steve for his injury, while fire crews were also waiting with hazardous materials equipment in case of any fuel leaks.
Steve was admitted to hospital and was released about midnight.
The Orara will now undergo repairs at the local slipway, while Steve recuperates at home with his family.
"I really appreciate what everyone did to help me. The teamwork was just superb," he said.