TWO LOST AT SEA
IT was a weary John Murray who on nightfall yesterday received the call to end the search for two fishermen who had been missing off the Woolgoolga coastline since Saturday night.
Working off only one hour of sleep, the search and rescue coordinator of Woolgoolga Volunteer Sea Rescue looked forward to the relief his bed would provide, but wished the day had ended on a more hopeful note.
"At the moment, we are not required tomorrow," Mr Murray said.
"It is going on 24 hours since they went missing. In the current water temperatures, the maximum time someone could survive would be six hours.
"But at this time they are still classified as missing."
Shortly before 9.30pm on Saturday emergency services were informed that a 16 foot boat had capsized in the vicinity of North West Solitary Island near Woolgoolga.
The alarm was raised when a 33-year-old man wearing a lifejacket swam to shore and alerted a member of the public. In the subsequent search a 23-year-old man was also located.
The search for the two unaccounted-for men, aged 39 and 43 resumed at first light with Coffs Harbour Water Police, Wooli Volunteer Rescue Association and Woolgoolga Volunteer Sea Rescue vessels all involved.
The AIRPAT 3 aircraft was used overnight for its forward-looking infra-red radar and the Westpac Lifesaver 4 helicopter was also used.
Police had not released the names of the two missing men last night, and would not confirm a rumour the boat had been capsized by a whale because the boat had not been found.