Water Police chase on high seas
WATER Police were led on a low-speed nine-and a half hour pursuit after an Iluka man allegedly took his son’s fishing trawler without permission for a test run in heavy seas on Wednesday.
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 navigate the notorious Clarence River mouth bar successfully and headed due east, travelling at between six and eight knots.
A spokesperson from Coffs Harbour Water Police said they received a call the man and the boat were missing at 12.30 pm.
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 ten knots.
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, police escorted the boat back to port.
Favourable swell direction assisted both boats’ passage back to Iluka, arriving at the Clarence River bar about 5.45am on Thursday at low tide.
The Water Police decided 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 about 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.
Upon his return to Iluka, the man was taken to hospital for examination.
Police are making further inquiries into the incident.