The Cairns Post
DRAMATIC ESCAPE FROM BURNING BOAT
THREE men have had a lucky escape when they were plucked from the ocean by a passing vessel after a fire ripped through their boat.
The fire is believed to have started in the boat’s engine room about 7.30am yesterday. The trio were forced to don life jackets and take refuge in the inflatable tender as they waited and hoped for help to arrive at Linden Banks, more than 70km from Cairns.
Help arrived in the form of game fishing boat Tarmac, whose crew were fishing at a nearby reef when they spotted smoke on the horizon.
“We’d been out for four or five days fishing out on St Cris- pins Reef,” Tarmac Warren Fowler said.
“We were just trawling for a bit of bait and we spotted smoke about 20 miles away so we thought we better go have a look. It was getting blacker as we got closer. We saw three guys in the water and went to pick them up.”
Mr Fowler said it took them about 35 minutes to reach the stricken vessel, which had burnt to the waterline by the
owner time they arrived. They alerted authorities then cut their own fishing trip short to make the five-hour trip back to Cairns where they moored at Yorkeys Knob just before 2pm.
“It’s just lucky we saw the smoke,” Mr Fowler said. “They were pretty happy to see us. They were pretty shaken up.”
Gippsland man Brent McCrorey had been on a dream fishing trip with the Tarmac crew with two friends when the drama unfolded. He said this was the first time he had been involved in any kind of rescue, but they were all happy to help out.
“We just did what anyone else would do,” he said.
“They looked pretty glad to see us coming along. She (the boat) was fairly well gone by the time we got there.”
Cairns police Senior Sergeant Dion Readman said they were contacted about the incident about 8.30am yesterday.
He said it was believed the men’s 21m vessel had since sunk.
He said water police and Marine Safety Queensland officials had met up with the men when they arrived back in Cairns.