Touch and go for cruiser taking on water off Coffs Harbour
IT was touch and go for a 40-foot cruiser taking on water as it made its way north towards Coffs Harbour on Tuesday evening.
A crew from Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour was deployed when the cruiser's skipper called for help as he was taking on water off Nambucca in fading light.
He was holding the water at bay with a shower pump, managing to make slow progress north at six knots.
When the boater realised his bilge pump (which removes water from the bottom of the boat) wasn't working, he thought quickly and turned the shower pump on.
It was just enough to help him make it into Coffs.
The crew of rescue vessel Coffs 30 rendezvoused with the boat offshore, shadowing the cruiser in the darkness, ready to rescue the skipper and transfer him to their boat if conditions deteriorated, as it limped towards Coffs.
The boat was sitting heavily in the water and taking waves over the bow - deteriorated dangerously.
Despite reporting knee-deep water in the bow, the skipper managed to steer his way into safe harbour.
Marine Rescue NSW Mid North Coast Regional Operations Manager Randall Gawne said the boat only just made it into the harbour.
"It was touch and go; they only just managed to get the distressed vessel in," he said.
Mr Gawne congratulated the Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga members for their rapid response to assist a boater caught in a perilous situation offshore.
"This incident could have had a very different outcome," he said.
"I'm sure this boater is very grateful to our professionally trained and equipped volunteers, both on board Coffs 30 and in the radio base, who made it their mission tonight to ensure he returned safely to shore."
He said the Coffs Harbour Water Police arranged a portable pump to drain the cruiser's bilge.
The crew of Coffs 30 was skipper Mitch Harvey - the Unit Commander of Marine Rescue Woolgoolga - along with Paul McLeod, David Oliver and Ken McNeil, with communications support from Jan Steel, Brian Holmes and Graeme King.