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Swr - Part 2


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It was the middle of my holiday at SWR. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday had been spent taking kids out, surveying the water and mostly gathering important info at the holiday park in the evenings. It’s always handy to check out the fish cleaning facilities and have a few VB’s with the other boaties there!

The plan was for an early rise on Wed morning, as sea breeze said the swell was up Thursday and Friday. With South West Rocks having a very long bar, and possibly one best described as “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” I was determined that this was the day for a big fishing brag on Fishraider!

We launched at 6.30am with Me, Mum, Dad, and my partners Son- Ryan on board. Everything in place, Nav equipment and radios on, we cruised down to the bar.

Stopping 100 metres inside the bar, life jackets went on all and I surveyed what was ahead of me, no big deal, a series of 1 and 2 foot waves in sets of 5 to 7 waves at a time. The first set at the end of the wall, the next set approx 50 metres further out where a sand bar has built up over the years. The basic routine being to hug the right hand side of the wall where no waves break, and then cruise past the first set of waves into no-mans land. Then you cruise up to the second set and should there be nothing coming, break right away from the sand bar and power gently outside the reach of the waves and off to fishing! Should you confront the second set, just take them front on nice and easy and break right when all clear. Never get caught going sideways with a wave about to hit you. No Rambo required, just keep going forward and cruise over the very small waves. Done it quite a few times now...............

I didn’t log with Trial Bay Coastal patrol, something I did last time, but since adding another 3 foot to the bertie, and equipping her with 300 hp on its tail in the form of twin 150 Mercs, I felt that my 24 footer could deal with this quiet easily as I have done before.

Well, with jackets on, we proceeded along the right hand side of the wall, nice and easy over the 1 and 2 foot set that came on us. We approached no mans land and onto the outer sand bar. Half a dozen baby un-broken waves approached us so I decided not to break right straight away and took them head on. Easy, no more waves, lets head out................

Keeping the same steady pace, and no waves ahead ,I turned to Dad to suggest of the brilliant day that lay ahead when he looked back from the water and said “Son, where in trouble” I looked ahead and forming about 20 metres in front of us was a wave with an easy 7ft face and we could both see the sun shining through it................it was about to break! It all happened in about 5 seconds, nothing could be said, I neutralized the twins with the thought of letting it break in front of us but we were being pulled straight in to it. So straight away I launched the bertie, the twins roared which lifted the nose of the bertie up just as she broke.

Well, the twins pushed us through the wave, thank God, so we didn’t go sideways and roll. I backed off at the top of the wave so we wouldn’t go vertical and all I could feel was water washing over my feet. I kept going forward until I knew we were out of danger, barking out a sound-off to see if we had lost anyone. All present and accounted for. A quick scan showed me a massive amount of water in the boat, engine management system down, thankfully radios working. I idled the twins and looked into the cab, to my horror the wave had punched through the front windows and filled the cab, the water was going red and to my dismay, the flaming glass was not safety glass and as it shattered , was pushed through the boat by the several tonnes of water that went through. Our legs and my ARMS were peppered by shards of glass. The steering consul was also ripped off its mount by the impact. We sat there bottom heavy and I threw the bilge pump on. Thankfully it worked.

After much bailing and the bilge pump going full noise, we decided to head in, still with water inside but after a little drive, figuring the boat handled well enough. I was worried that with all the management systems down, I wanted in!

Soooooo, with nerves totally shot, I re-entered the bar for a text book pass and we soon were back at the boat ramp, with all the other boaties there in shock at seeing 4 bloodied people exiting the once proud and now tattered Day Release.

We had a small scare on the way in though, just at the point of no return when re-entering the bar, we had a small electrical flameout causing me to abort and shutdown all electrics, foolishly I should have radioed VMR Trial Bay, but having wired the boat myself, I knew that the radios were on a separate power circuit and were all working OK. I think pride also played a major part in my silence, ..........how stupid..........

If there is a lesson to this story, never take Mother Nature for granted, as when you least expect it, She will bite you on the arse.

A footnote to this account is that on our way in we passed an 18ft twin hull heading out, he got smashed aswell. Later on that morning, a beautiful 19 footer wasn’t as lucky as us, it went down............. 3 sinking’s and countless bashings (such as ours) in 2 weeks.

post-2682-1232232092_thumb.jpg The Hit Reefed my Steering

post-2682-1232232113_thumb.jpg The Remainder Of My Windows

post-2682-1232232391_thumb.jpg After Taking The Water Out

post-2682-1232232413_thumb.jpg Glass At The Rear Of The Boat

Well, a big learning curve for me....................


Grumpy Stumpy :mad3:

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G'day Stumpy

Mate ive had quite a few hairy moments on the Macleay river bar and no matter how many times i cross it im allways nervous, and a few times i have turned around and not went out. The fishing at swr is sensational and because of this a lot of boaties risk the crossing when maybe they shouldnt. A local once told me you should move up here than you just go out when its safe. If there was a printing company in swr i would move there in a flash, i think i will have to wait till retirement.

Sounds like your crew were lucky to have you skippering as you didnt panic and kept the boat going straight into the wave, dont worry about any damage to your boat mate, you got your precious crew home safley and thats all that matters.

Im heading up there in a coupla weeks and im praying the bars calm. Last year i went up with Kiwi Waynie and it was the worst ive seen it, but we managed to get out every day with a lot of caution, if its that bad this year i wont be going out. Anyway im glad you got through your bad experiance to fish another day.

Cheers Brett

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Bad luck Stumpy, and after reading your post and the way you attempted your crossing it can only be put down to bad luck. The rocks bar is without a doubt one of the most dangerous bar crossings on the east coast. A few years back it rolled 5 boats in 3 days. It is a bar that is hard to study from a suitable vantage point and as a result most boaties get their first look at it from a hundred metres away. Human nature being what it is they slow down for a few minutes sometimes seconds and then they commit. The trap is they will be in the danger zone for sometimes 300 metres or more and depending on the tidal flow they will be in it for a lot longer than they would like. If you are crossing on a low water tide you will nearly always get a kicker even when there is very little swell readings. I lived at the rocks for 4 years and still fish out of there about 20 times a year and i know locals who only have used the creek for years rather than take that bar on a regular basis although the creek crossing is now so shallow its almost useless for extended fishing trips. I hope you and your family members were not hurt and your holiday not soured by a bad experience that has happened to hundreds of boaties over the years on that bar.


Edited by kero
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Stumpy, I'm really sorry to hear about the nasty incident at the bar and the damage to that excellent Bertram of yours.......I'm glad everyone came out of it ok, but the sea being as unpredictable as it is does leave a few scars...... I was going to reply to your post reminding you of the bar but I thought such advice might bring bad luck, sort of like advising someone to change their departure time on an aeroplane if you know what I mean...... Even in normal northerlys it pays to pick the tides and either go out in the mid afternoon according to wind pick up or go out in the dark and make plans for an unknown wind shift and come back by ten o'clock which is also typical of the Ballina Bar....... The other thing is that safety glass certified as such doesn't always meet the standards.

Your other post makes one realise that family holidays are much more than having an opportunity to fish deep sea no matter where you go.


jewgaffer :1fishing1:

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Hey stumpy.

Dont be too hard on yourself, you didn't cause the seven foot wave.

That bar is a dangerous boodly area, we bottomed out a few years ago on the way in and got smashed up the rear end by the next wave.

It's just one of those things.

Just glad everyones okay.

Cheers, Adam.

P.s :biggrin2::beersmile: . Did you go to the pub to carm your nevers after that?

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Mate, i read that about 4 times just to make sure i was reading the right words.

Glad to hear that everyone survived and Day Release survived, battered but not broken.

Take care On the water always.

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Even a charter boat came to grief there. A wave smashed the windscreen and one of the clients standing in the cabin (against the rules) got glass in his eye.

I prefer the Back Creek, but this is only really a prospect for boats under 5.5m and with the tide at least half in.

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Stumpy called me today and assured me he and his family are ok ,although a little shaken from thier ordeal.

All the best on the repairs Murray and thank god thats all it is :thumbup:

Cheers Stewy

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I'm glad everyone was ok Stumpy. A boat can be repaired, loss of human life can not. Mate, you stayed calm and got everyone back safely, that is the main thing. No one could've predicted that wave. Just a freak of nature. Could've been a different result if you didn't handle it in the calm way you did.

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WOW :1yikes: ...

Muzz im glad you all got back safe mate...

woulda been a real heart starter seeing that greeny pop up in front...

sounds like you did all you could and most important the head count came up trumps :thumbup: ..

good lessons to learn from that eh,especially logging in..

was good to hear you still soldiered on and made the most of the precious time with the kids...


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Damn Muz :(

Sorry to hear about Day Release but glad all came out the other side

Have to agree that SWR must have the worst bar on the north coast

I hope it doesn't take anything as nasty as this to keep you posting mate

Maybe you should be looking at Mylar or Lexan for the screens instead of

safety glass

Heal up and make the most of whats left of your holidays :biggrin2:


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Hey Stumpy, glad you and the family are ok. I was up at SWR a few years back and witnessed an 18 ft Kevlacat roll at the Bar, I couldn't imaging what it would be like to be in that situation but from your story it seems you handled it very well.

Good luck with the repairs!

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I'm really sorry to hear about the drama mate. Heard about it yesterday. I'm also really glad that Day Release got you home safely. Hope the glass didn't cause any serious damage to anyone but getting back the ramp with the same number of people on board is something of an achievement in the circumstances.

Hope you can get Day Release back on the water without too much drama or expense.

Best wishes Stumpy.

Cheers, Slinky

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sounds like you managed a pretty good outcome considering the circumstances stumpy. I've never had the plaesure of crossing a bar and now you have me very nervous as i'm heading down to narooma next month and have heard the bar there is similarly dangerous, just have to hope i can keep a cool head like you did if anything goes wrong

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