4 March 2024

Marathon rescues on the rise as South Coast game fishers chase marlin

| Katrina Condie
Start the conversation

Some offshore rescues are taking more than nine hours to complete. Photo: MR NSW.

It was a slow and steady recovery in treacherous conditions, but after five-and-a-half hours, Marine Rescue Eden volunteers managed to tow a disabled fishing vessel into Snug Cove on Friday night.

The crew was deployed from Snug Cove at 3:30 pm on Friday (1 March) after a fisherman became stranded 22 kilometres off Green Cape.

Marine Rescue NSW Inspector Glenn Sullivan said the man called for assistance and reported his six-metre vessel had mechanical failure.

He said NSW Police Marine Area Command tasked the Eden Marine Rescue crew for the mission, and rescue vessel XRAY 30 was en route to the stranded boater within 30 minutes.

READ ALSO Researchers find a way to turn farmers scourge into money-spinners

“The seas were bumpy, but the Marine Rescue Eden crew reached the disabled vessel in just over an hour,” Insp Sullivan said.

“The challenging sea conditions resulted in a slow and steady return to Eden. The man and his vessel were safely returned to Snug Cove at 9 pm.

“It was a long, challenging afternoon and evening for our Marine Rescue Eden crew, but they did an exceptional job along with our radio operators who provided vital communications during the rescue.”

The rescue follows reports of a surge in calls for assistance as the marlin fishing season reaches its peak along the South Coast.

Marine Rescue NSW units along the Batemans and Eden coasts have completed over a dozen rescue missions for boaters stranded offshore with mechanical issues over the past fortnight.

Boat in harbour

Bermagui rescue: boaters are reminded to be prepared for changing weather conditions. Photo: MR NSW.

A fortnight ago (20 February), volunteers at Marine Rescue Bermagui were called after a vessel with three fishermen on board experienced engine failure almost 15 km from Bermagui.

Insp Sullivan said a volunteer crew was quickly assembled and Bermagui 30 was deployed to rescue the anglers.

“The men on board the disabled vessel called radio operators at Marine Rescue Bermagui, stating they could not start their engine approximately 6.8 nautical miles east of Three Brothers Rocks.

“The volunteer crew on board BG 30 reached them and commenced a tow back to Bermagui Harbour, which took just over an hour.

“The three men were safely returned to shore,” he said.

Marine Rescue NSW volunteers at Batemans Bay, Narooma and Eden have also completed offshore rescues in recent weeks as anglers chase marlin along the coast.

“In terms of rescues at the start of the marlin season, there’s been quite a considerable increase of those rescues,” Insp Sullivan said.

“With the distances being so far offshore, rescues are taking up to nine or 10 hours when a vessel 39 miles offshore needs recovery,” he said.

Inspector Sullivan said boaters stranded offshore could quickly find themselves in a life-threatening situation because conditions could change dramatically at sea.

READ ALSO Ngarigo, Coomaditchie artworks to feature at Museum of Sydney

“The dangers that are associated with [being stranded offshore] are that they’re a disabled vessel and at the whim of the elements,” he explained.

“So when conditions change, the storms roll in and the wind picks up, that can actually produce seasickness and then turn into a medical emergency as well.

“That’s why making the call [to Marine Rescue NSW] early and being able to get assistance as soon as possible is the best thing boaters can do.”

Insp Sullivan is asking all boaters heading offshore to ensure they have the correct working safety equipment, including lifejackets, flares and an EPIRB.

“It is also vitally important that boaters make sure their vessel is maintained, their marine radio is working, they have enough fuel for their journey with some in reserve and that they log on with Marine Rescue NSW either via the free Marine Rescue app or VHF channel 16,” he said.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.