Playing it safe averts crisis after boat breaks down near Warrnambool breakwater

Helping hand: Two fishermen are towed back to the Warrnambool boat ramp after experiencing engine trouble. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Helping hand: Two fishermen are towed back to the Warrnambool boat ramp after experiencing engine trouble. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Warrnambool Coast Guard's Adrian Calderwood

When Warrnambool Coast Guard flotilla commander Adrian Calderwood received a call about a boat in trouble just out from the breakwater early on Friday, he feared the worst.

However, thanks to a good approach to safety and relatively calm conditions, two fisherman whose boat lost power two-kilometres out to sea were towed back to shore without a hiccup.

Mr Calderwood said the runabout boat got into trouble after its engine lost power, and the boat’s two occupants put a call through to emergency services at 8.35am who then got in touch with the Coast Guard.

“We put the call out and around five minutes later I contacted the guy in the boat using a phone number that had been given to us, and he indicated that they had just been picked up by this fishermen,” he said.

Mr Calderwood said sea conditions had been relatively calm, but the wind had started to pick up, causing the boat to drift further.

“They’ve done the right things and so they are safe,” he said. “If a fisherman hadn’t come close enough that they could signal to them then we would have been out there to bring them back in.

“It’s just a reminder that the sea’s not a safe place. Things do go wrong.”

Mr Calderwood said it was a good reminder for people to make sure they were prepared if unexpected situations cropped up.

“Make the call earlier rather than later. We don’t mind being activated and then stood down –we’d much rather that than find out much later that you were in serious trouble and we failed to help,” he said.

One of the fishermen, a professional, said a mechanical issue caused the motor to shut down, thwarting his planned morning fish for tuna.

The man and his companion were both wearing life jackets and he said he had taken many safety precautions, including having an emergency radio beacon on board as a last resort. He said they called for help on his mobile phone after realising they would need assistance getting back to shore.

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