A 52-YEAR-OLD Tweed Heads man was injured when his yacht capsized after being washed onto rocks in a dramatic incident at Evans Head on Saturday.
The man, William Sims, had been sailing his 7.6-metre sloop from Iluka to Ballina when his fuel pump broke down off Evans Head and he sought refuge in Shark Bay about 5.45pm.
Tony McNally, Commander of Evans Head Marine Rescue, said the sailor declined offers to be towed into the river and sailed in himself.
“The conditions were all right for it – the tide was coming in and there was a 13-knot nor-easterly wind,” Mr McNally said.
“But he came to grief about 50 metres before the sandbar when the wind dropped away and two good waves came over him,” he said.
Witnesses said the yacht was pushed over and dragged to the southern breakwall where it smashed into the rocks, knocking Mr Sims into the water.
He managed to swim back to the boat in a bid to rescue his dog, a black poodle which was tied up to the vessel, but was thrown against the rocks by waves.
“He is lucky to be alive,” Mr McNally said.
“We thought he’d be squashed between the rocks and the boat.”
Another witness to the dramatic events was Evans Head surfer Norm Snow, who had stopped at the look-out after leaving home to buy fish and chips for tea on Saturday night.
After rushing to the scene, the 49-year-old supervisor of G James Glass in Lismore wrapped one of his glazier felt blankets around the yacht’s shocked and badly lacerated skipper after he was eventually able to clamour up off the rocks.
“We ran over to help him out of the water, but even a couple of surfers on boards couldn’t reach him, the rip was too strong,” Mr Snow said.
“It was pretty horrific seeing him getting smashed around.
“You question whether you should jump in, but you couldn’t get to him and you’d end up in the same position.
“He was in shock when he got out and had lots of cuts over him and a sore back.
“He was worried about his dog.”
Police said that Mr Sims’ dog did not survive the sinking.
They said that Mr Sims was treated at the Lismore Base Hospital for severe lacerations and hypothermia.