It?s not ferry nice

By DAVID MOASE and CRAIG McTEAR

A TWIN-HULLED ferry from Queensland's Stradbroke Island was an unusual sight for early-morning walkers on Woolgoolga Beach yesterday.

The Stradbroke Ferries vessel attracted stares and plenty of photographers after running aground at the mouth of Woolgoolga Creek.

The delivery skipper and deckhand were on their way to Tasmania when fuel line blockages played havoc with the vessel about 11am on Tuesday, forcing the captain to anchor in Woolgoolga Bay early that afternoon.

At 3pm, Coffs Harbour water police contacted Woolgoolga Volunteer Sea Rescue, which sent out personnel to try to fix the problem.

"We did what we could, but it was literally a dockyard job," training officer with the rescue unit, Robert Thorsby, said.

The next step was to arrange for the stricken vessel to be towed.

"However, he started dragging his anchor and drifted onto the beach at 7pm," Mr Thorsby said.

"Nothing could be done until morning."

Ironically, the ferry was left just metres from the 19th-century wreck of the Buster, which sticks out of the sand between Woolgoolga and Safety Beach.

Following an inspection at first light yesterday, members of Coffs Harbour's fishing fleet came to the rescue in what Mr Thorsby described as an 'expert operation by the locals'.

"It was a brilliant piece of driving," he said.

One trawler skipper and his deckhand attached their boat to the ferry with a tow line, another skipper boarded the stricken vessel, while a third provided valuable assistance in his Sharkcat runabout.

They used the high tide between 10am and 10.30am to slowly inch the ferry out of trouble so that it could make its way to Coffs Harbour.

Mr Thorsby said that at no stage were any lives in danger.



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