Warrnambool boat ramp row resurfaces after ute submerges

ANOTHER vehicle has come to grief at Warrnambool’s breakwater boat ramp, prompting fresh calls for caution when using the infamous facility.

A recent-model Ford Ranger four-wheel-drive utility had to be towed out of the water after it slipped in while the driver was launching a boat on Saturday morning.

Observers were amazed to see the driver had hitched his boat trailer onto a front-mounted towball and driven nose-first down the ramp.

The vehicle then  followed the trailer and boat into the drink.

Seawater washed up to dashboard level, causing extensive damage.

“It was certainly an unconventional way of  launching,” one observer told The Standard.

During the past few years several vehicles have slipped into Lady Bay while launching or retrieving boats at the concrete ramp, which is subject to tidal surges.

 Anglers and boating enthusiasts have waged a long campaign for better facilities and the city council is awaiting results of an expert study into likely environmental impacts if a marina or similar structure was built.

Warrnambool Offshore and Light Game Fishing Club publicity officer Lucas Wilson said yesterday boaters should be careful when using the ramp because of unpredictable surges.

“All of a sudden your vehicle can be half-floating,” Mr Wilson said. “It’s further evidence that we need better facilities rather than half-baked solutions.”

Cr Brian Kelson mentioned the ute incident during Monday night’s city council meeting.

“A $50,000 vehicle has been totalled,” he said.

“We’ve got the tuna fishing season starting soon and visitors will be coming to our region, but to have an incident like this at our harbour is not a good image.”

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