Crime Stoppers

Overturned Vessel – Darwin Harbour

Monday 25-Jan-2016 07:06

Four men clung to the upturned hull of their dinghy for nearly three hours after they were caught in a thunderstorm in Darwin harbour this morning.

Water Police Sergeant Andrew Hocking said the men were hit by the storm while fishing about three nautical miles north-west of East Point about 5.30am Sunday.

“The winds were so strong they were unable to steer their vessel, which quickly took on water and overturned,” he said.

“Before the boat overturned, all four men had put on their life jackets sensing the danger they were in.

“They had also dropped anchor to avoid being swept out to sea by the wind and the strong outgoing tide.”

The group then set off distress flares, but due to a combination of strong winds and poor visibility, the flares were not seen.

“They placed their V-sheet over the upturned hull and waited nearly three hours before a passing fisherman saw the sheet, came to their aid and raised the alarm,” Sergeant Hocking said.

The Volunteer Coast Guard then assisted by transferring the four men ashore, recovering their property and towing the vessel back to shore.

“The men were very lucky in the circumstances. It was a very dangerous situation, but the men realised it early and prepared by putting their life jackets on before they hit the water.

“They were all amazed at how quickly it all happened and were very grateful they were carrying all of their safety equipment.”

The same storm also caused a 15m yacht to break moorings and drift towards Stokes Hill Wharf. Sergeant Hocking said the skipper on board managed to anchor the vessel within 100m of the wharf. He was later assisted by Water Police to another mooring.

A 16m fishing trawler also dragged its anchor for several hundred meters, only stopping when the strong winds subsided. The owner was later advised and recovered the vessel.