Praise For Lifesavers Who Saved Fishermen

Two rock fishermen are lucky to be alive while another is tragically still missing after all three were swept off rocks with no lifejackets in large surf at Seal Rocks on Wednesday.

While the search continues for the missing man, those responsible for the rescue of the other two men are being praised for their efforts.

It all started when the Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC) received a request for assistance from NSW Police for three fishermen swept into the ocean in large seas off seal rocks.

The SOC then notified the Pacific Palms SLSC Emergency Call-Out Team with volunteer lifesaver, Lennon Fisher, quickly responding by getting the club’s jetski and driving it to Boat Beach where he could launch it quickly.

Lennon was concerned as the spot where the fishermen were reported to be was notoriously dangerous.

“I’ve done a lot of rescues over the years and that one stretch of coast between Boat Beach and Lighthouse Beach is by far the worst and most dangerous. It is so remote, unpredictable and dangerous that I can’t fathom why people even go there,” said Lennon.

President of Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast and Duty Officer on the scene, Brian Wilcox, further elaborated on the area’s dangers.

“It’s a treacherous spot with plenty of shelves, sharp rocks and blowholes. There’s certainly nowhere easy to climb back onto the rocks if you fall in and the water is very deep,” he said.

In fact the location was so remote that the fishermen actually had to abseil down the cliff before they could fish off the rocks.

Once Lennon had left the bay he was greeted with the full brunt of a powerful south swell with waves peaking at 3-4 metres and strong winds.

“The wind was so cold and with all the spray in my face and the large swell it was quite hard to see where I was going let alone to spot a man in the water,” he explained.

Nevertheless he soon located a man in the water just 10m from the rocks and picked him up while the Hunter Westpac Rescue Helicopter winched the second man who was clinging to rocks to safety. None of the men were wearing lifejackets.

After dropping the man back on the beach, Lennon Fisher continued the search for the third missing man along with the helicopter, NSW Water Police and Marine Rescue.

When the search was eventually called off that evening by Police, Lennon was so cold that he couldn’t feel his hands.

Brian Wilcox praised the quick response from Lennon Fisher who went above and beyond during the rescue.

“He’s an absolute legend and just the best bloke to have around in this area. He’s always ready to help and we’re very lucky to have him as part of the surf life saving system up here.”

While the search continues for the missing fisherman and Surf Life Saving NSW’s thoughts go out to his family and friends, there can be little doubt that without the quick response of Lennon Fisher, Brian Wilcox and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew the search may be for three fishermen instead of one.

Surf Life Saving NSW urges people to follow these basic safety precautions at all times while rockfishing:

  • Always wear a lifejacket and non-slip footwear
  • Check tides, swell and weather conditions
  • Fish with a friend – never fish alone
  • Carry a mobile phone
  • Never turn your back to the sea
  • Always spend time watching the conditions before fishing, and constantly scan for changing conditions
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!

Fri 9 May 2014