PHOTOS: Boat pair rescued after reef stranding 

TWO Warrnambool surf lifesavers were in the right place at the right time yesterday, rescuing a man and his nephew after their boat became stranded on the La Bella Reef. 

David Owen and Mike Vafiades were running in a new motor on the surf club’s “rubber ducky” rescue craft when they noticed another boat stuck on the reef behind Warrnambool’s breakwater. 

Mr Owen said they had been around into Stingray Bay and were on their way back to the surf club when they saw the boat.

“They were right up on the reef and would have been in a fair bit of trouble if we hadn’t have come along,” he said. 

Mr Owen said when they approached the reef, their boat became tangled in kelp and was close to ending up on the reef as well. 

“It’s (the reef) razor sharp, and I was worried it would open up the duck,” he said. 

“The man was in the water so we got him into the boat and managed to get a rope to his nephew to drag the boat off the reef.” 

Mr Vafiades said he estimated the man and his nephew had been on the reef for about an hour or so. 

An ambulance was called to treat the man, who received a blow to the head while trying to move his boat off the reef himself. 

Mr Owen said he believed the boat was pushed onto the reef by a strong north wind which he estimated to be about 55 kilometres an hour. 

“They were very lucky. You can get in trouble very quickly around the ocean side of the breakwater,” he said. 

“There weren’t any other boats around so they were lucky we had spotted them. 

“It’s a timely reminder of how quickly things can change out on the water. It’s also a reminder to make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment, like lifejackets.” 

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