BAD SIGN: Chris Fitchen's boat began taking on water when a one metre crack formed in the hull.
BAD SIGN: Chris Fitchen's boat began taking on water when a one metre crack formed in the hull. Contributed

Sinking boat rescued off Rosslyn Bay following mayday call

TWO Zilzie fishermen "thought they were going to die" yesterday when their rotten boat hull cracked and began sinking during a Spanish mackerel fishing trip off Rosslyn Bay.

Keen fisherman Chris Fitchen, 31, and his mate were forced to send mayday calls and distress flairs after a one metre crack appeared in Mr Fitchen's new 6.5 metre boat which was rapidly taking on water shortly after 11.30am.

"We had a hit on one of the lines and accelerated with the motor when we started taking on a heap of water," Mr Fitchen said.

"Within about five minutes there was a foot of water in the boat.

"We only got one trevally, I was spewin'.

"We thought we were going to die, I have never been so scared in my life."

Mr Fitchen said he put a lifetime of experience on the water into action and sent mayday calls and distress flairs for aid as soon as he realised he was in trouble.

Three boats responded to the sinking vessel as well as RACQ Capricorn Rescue Helicopter and Yeppoon Coast Guard who were involved in training activates at Rosslyn Bay.

"We thought we were sinking," he said.

"If it wasn't for my next door neighbour putting the extra bilge pump on board we would have sunk.

"I'd like to thank the emergency services and the rescue helicopter, coast guard and the people in the three boats who came to help us.

"I would really like to thank them because we would have sunk."

Yeppoon Coast Guard skipper Kingsley Bartle said any vessel which heard a mayday call was required by law to offer assistance.

"Lucky there were boats in the vicinity otherwise he would have gone down," Mr Bartle said.

"When we arrived he was sinking, he was taking on water.

"The people who came to assist were very lovely people."

 Mr Bartle said RACQ Capricorn Rescue Helicopter arrived at the scene at Flack Rock within 15 minutes of the mayday calls and the Yeppoon Coast Guard boat took four hours to tow the sinking vessel to safety.

"They were lucky in all respects," he said.



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