Boaties come to grief on bar

Fishermen Joey Meeuwsen and Stuart Goulding tell of being thrown from their boat when it rolled on the Caloundra bar.
Fishermen Joey Meeuwsen and Stuart Goulding tell of being thrown from their boat when it rolled on the Caloundra bar. Warren Lynam

TWO fishermen clung to their sinking boat after it flipped at the Caloundra bar.

It was the fifth mishap at the entrance to Pumicestone Passage in five days.

The men were entering the Passage at low tide around noon on Tuesday when a wave pushed them on to the sand bar, causing the boat to roll.

Caloundra fisherman Joey Meeuwsen said he and Stuart Goulding were thrown from the boat.

"As we came in I didn't sit far back enough on a wave and we ran out of water. It rushed out underneath us, filled up behind us and crashed up on to the deck.

"Then it pushed us sideways and rolled the boat," Mr Meeuwsen said.

"We were both thrown from the boat. We were in the water for a while, nothing to grab hold of. It all happened too quick and everything got trapped under the hull."

The Caloundra Coast Guard and another fisherman rescued the pair, who were taken to Caloundra Hospital as a precaution.

Over the weekend two other boats ran aground and sank, while two more were left stranded.

Five people were rescued from one of the sinking boats on Sunday.

The skipper and another man were taken to hospital with injuries.

A couple also had to be rescued when their tin boat hit the sand and sank earlier that day.

Caloundra Coast Guard Commander Tony Barker said big swells had changed the position of the bar.

"It is quite dangerous now at low tide and people who are coming in at low tide are getting caught up in it," Mr Barker said.

"We have been monitoring it very closely because it does change all the time."

The coast guard recovered the three sunken boats yesterday morning.

The entrance to the Mooloolah River has proven just as perilous. Seven accidents have occurred at the sand bar in the past month.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesman said Mooloolaba harbour was a priority for a dredging program.

"A dredge has been in place at Mooloolaba for the majority of the period since mid-July last year to keep the entrance clear," he said.

In early April, a larger 49.5-metre dredge, the Port Frederick, was brought to Mooloolaba to assist with the dredging operation but it was damaged on April 17 when a large swell dumped the boat on the shoal.

The other dredge has continued dredging whenever weather permits. The Port Frederick should be back mid-next week.

Topics:  boat, caloundra bar, coast guard, dredging, fishing, mooloolah river, pumicestone passage



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