NEWS – Capsized NSW-five survive


Yet another lucky escape was experienced by five men whose 6m boat capsized on Monday night near Broughton Island off Port Stephens on the NSW Hunter Coast. Once again this highlights the critical need to wear lifejackets at sea, said Marine Rescue NSW. 

“Less than eight weeks into 2010 and already there have been several drowning deaths in Australia that could have been avoided by wearing a lifejacket,” said Glenn Finniss, acting Commissioner of Marine Rescue NSW.

“In NSW there are between 15 and 20 deaths caused in boating accidents every year. Most of these are from drowning and capsized boats are involved in the majority of these incidents.

“The rescue of these men was dead lucky for them and they’re lucky none of them are dead as a result,” he said.

Monday’s incident occurred at around 5.30pm and the men stayed with the upturned boat for about an hour before two of them decided to swim to the uninhabited island to raise the alarm. There they were able to attract the attention of another boat that went to the aid of the three men still in the water.

After the alarm was raised the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was able to winch the two men on the island to safety.

Port Stephens Water Police and Marine Rescue units at Port Stephens were also on hand ready to assist. No one was injured in the incident.

“There is a very real comparison between the effect of using seat belts in motor vehicles and using lifejackets on boats,” said Finniss. “They save lives. You have a greater likelihood of surviving a life-threatening emergency when you wear a seat belt in your car and when you wear a lifejacket on your boat.”

Marine Rescue NSW said lifejackets have come a long way over the years, and today come in a range of styles that are comfortable to wear. They are far from the uncomfortable, bulky designs of the past.

“You only have to look at the marine-rescue professionals when they are on duty. They wear lifejackets — even in the relative calm of inshore and harbour waters,” said Finniss. “So take your boating safety advice from the people who spend most of their working lives on the water.”

The marine-rescue volunteers of NSW urge skippers to remember their responsibility — to themselves, their passengers and their families — and help make every trip in their boat a safe one by ensuring everyone onboard wears a lifejacket.