Trawler test run not without drama
AN Iluka man who took his son’s fishing trawler without permission for a test run in heavy seas on Wednesday has led Water Police on a marathon nine-and-a-half hour pursuit of the boat.
Water Police finally caught up with the vessel at 10pm on Thursday, 40 nautical miles east of Yamba, after negotiating a three to four metre swell and howling 30-knot north-easterly winds.
The 55-year-old man set out from Iluka boat harbour in the recently purchased 13.4 metre vessel, named Kay Bee, just before noon.
Despite having limited experience on the trawler, the man managed to successfully navigate the notorious Clarence River mouth bar and headed due east, travelling at between six and eight knots.
A spokesperson from Coffs Harbour water police said they received the call that the man and the boat were missing at 12.30pm.
He said water police left Coffs Harbour and monitored the trawler’s position on radar as they chased the boat at a speed of between eight and 10 knots.
The water police caught up with the trawler, which had its lights on, and made radio contact with the man.
Deciding conditions were too dangerous to board the trawler, the water police began the process of escorting the boat back to port.
Favourable swell direction assisted the boats’ passage back to Iluka, arriving at the Clarence River bar around 5.45am on Thursday at low tide.
The water police made the decision that conditions were too dangerous to cross the bar so they ordered the trawler to motor back out to sea for two hours until conditions improved. A successful bar crossing was made around 9am, and the trawler was escorted back to Iluka boat harbour.
Water police said the Kay Bee received only minor damage to its trawl arms from the heavy seas.
Police are making further inquiries into the incident.