by Penny Robins
NSW Maritime today reminded skippers of the importance of keeping effective communication tools on hand when boating.
Waterproof pouches are available free at all Maritime service centres
The warning follows a close call earlier this week on the Illawarra coast.
NSW Maritime A/Regional Manager South Coast Wayne Langshaw said two men were rescued from a rocky island off Port Kembla on Tuesday evening because they had taken a simple precaution of putting a phone into a waterproof pouch.
Mr Langshaw said the two men had taken their personal watercraft (PWC) offshore late in the day for a ride around Flinders Islet, a bare rocky island, located a short distance off Port Kembla.
'Something went wrong and the two men found themselves swamped by a wave on the south east shoreline of the islet which is exposed to difficult seas,' he said.
'They appear to have been thrown into the sea and washed onto rocks. Fortunately, they managed the retrieve a mobile phone from the PWC before they lost the vessel altogether.
'Once ashore, with dark closing, they were able to make an emergency call for help and were rescued with only minor injuries.'
Mr Langshaw said the PWC owner had been to the Maritime Service Centre at Port Kembla only three weeks prior and had been handed a waterproof phone pouch.
'Such a simple pouch made the difference because it meant they still had communications even though their vessel was wrecked and eventually lost to sea,' he said.
'Our Customer Service Officer Deanna Carocci offered the owner a Maritime phone pouch as a safety gesture just a few weeks ago and it certainly paid off.'
NSW Maritime is conducting an investigation into the incident and has issued Security alerts along the South Coast because the PWC is believed to be floating off the coast and is a potential navigation hazard to other craft.
NSW Maritime website