HookUp fishers’ lucky escape after boat smashed onto reef

Cameron Winter and Peter Wolsey.
Cameron Winter and Peter Wolsey.

ONE HookUp competitor has told of his lucky escape after wild weather on Saturday morning left him and a mate with no choice but to hit the water and swim to safety through 2.5m swells.

Rockhampton man Cameron Winter was fishing with friend Peter Wolsey about 7.30am on the second day of the competition when a mishap with their anchor rope due to a sudden wind change caused their 5m boat to smash onto the reef at Mast Head Island, leaving them with no choice but to take to the ocean.

"We swam about 500m in pretty rough seas," Mr Winter said.

"We just bailed with our life jackets and boardies and it was a pretty rough swim."

After catching a seven-foot reef shark in the same area the night before, it was a nerve-wracking swim for the men, who suffered minor cuts from the reef as they abandoned their sinking boat.

"The sharks were pretty thick out there ... I'm thankful we didn't get our legs bitten off by them," he said.

"It was a 2-2.5m swell with chop.

"The waves were big and they were smashing us.

"There was a lot of huffing and puffing on the floor of the boat (Prowler, their rescuer's vessel)."

Mr Winter wished to thank their rescuers, the crew of Prowler, as well as water police, the Volunteer Marine Rescue, Heron Island staff and Lions Club volunteers at the HookUp for their help during and after the incident.

In wake of a relatively incident-free 2014 HookUp, Gladstone Water Police officer in charge Acting Sergeant Neale Whalley praised the actions of fellow competitors on Saturday morning, which saw a potentially tragic accident avoided.

Wayne Johnson, skipper of Prowler, and his crew were on hand to help out Cameron Winter and Peter Wolsey.

Acting Sgt Whalley praised the work of both crews who had stayed close to look after each other.

"It could've turned out a lot worse if that other boat hadn't been there," he said.

"Obviously they did the right thing keeping an eye on each other; it's definitely the right thing to do in that situation."



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