At around 11am today, Tuesday 12 July, a 40ft cruiser at sea 11nm off the coast at Tweed Heads, caught fire and the crew was forced to abandon ship.
The three people on the vessel, two men and a woman, launched a Jet Ski that was carried on board and escaped from the burning boat.
The heavy plume of smoke from the emergency was seen by volunteers at Marine Rescue Point Danger observation station and a crew of four made a high speed dash for the vessel in ‘Point Danger One’ their 11.3m (36ft) Naiad RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat). A local charter boat also saw the dense black smoke and made for the stricken vessel where they found the three safe on their Jet Ski. The charter vessel stood by and Marine Rescue Point Danger arrived to take the survivors on board.
‘Point Danger 1’ took the Jet Ski in tow and returned to Point Danger at approx 3:00pm to a large crowd of waiting onlookers and both NSW and Queensland Police who will investigate the incident.
Bernie Gabriel, Unit Commander at Marine Rescue Point Danger, said, 'The three people saved were very lucky they had the Jet Ski on board. Only the dense smoke alerted us to the emergency. The seas were up and although our rescue boat is a high-speed response unit it took over an hour to reach the scene. This is a local boat from Tweed Heads,' he said. 'The skipper hadn’t Logged On before leaving and if the emergency hadn’t been so visible, it may have been some time before the alarm was raised. I urge every skipper who goes offshore to Log On with Marine Rescue Point Danger. Tell us where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Then when you get back, tell us you’re home safe. If we don’t know you’re out there, we won’t know if you’re not back when you intended and by the time someone reports you missing, it may be too late.' Marine Rescue NSW website