Family Rescued
Steve Spinks
January 16th, 2009
A BRISBANE family was lucky to escape unharmed after a late afternoon pleasure cruise on the Tweed River almost turned into a disaster on the notorious bar.
Two lifeguards on paddleboards and two on a jet-ski rescued seven people from the boat after it had lost power and drifted perilously towards the river mouth, about 3.30pm.
The Morrow family -- Rob, Cheryl, Rebecca, 12, Nathan, 11, Lachlan, 8, and Liam, 6 -- and friend Grace Armstrong, 12, had spent the day fishing and wakeboarding miles up-river -- but before returning to the boat ramp, Rob Morrow decided to show the children the Tweed River mouth.
An experienced skipper, Mr Morrow attempted to do a U-turn about 600m from the bar when his 200hp engine cut out, leaving the 21ft craft drifting towards the bar without any power on a strong run-out tide.
The bar also had 2ft waves breaking over it.
"I tried everything to get the boat started again but nothing would work," he said.
"I had the anchor out but we kept drifting. We weren't planning to get that close to it.
"It's a brand new motor as well ... it only has about five hours on it and we hadn't had a problem all day."
After dropping the anchor, Mr Morrow phoned 000 before catching the attention of fisherman George Poulos on the side of the river.
"At first I thought the kids were just waving to say hello but then the dad yelled that they needed help," said Mr Poulos, who raised the alarm.
"I yelled out to another bloke to go and get the lifeguards (from Duranbah) who were just around the corner. They did a great job getting the kids and everyone off the boat. They were awesome."
Mr Morrow said it was a dangerous situation.
"It was very concerning, let me put it that way," he said.
"It was quite rough and I was concerned we were going to go into the rocks. All the kids had lifejackets on and we inflated a double tube we had just in case."
The lifeguards took the Morrows to the beach near the river mouth, just south of the Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue building.
Cheryl Morrow said while it was harrowing for the adults, the children thought it was fun.
"When we got to the beach my eight-year-old asked if we could do it again," she said.
The Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) launch managed to salvage the $25,000 vessel from the edge of the bar.
"It took a lot of skill from the skipper because he had to secure the boat with no one on board the other vessel," said Point Danger VMR radio operator Jim Leuver.
"He secured it from right near the edge of the bar. It was up to the skipper whether he could salvage it or not.
"It's a great result considering there were five kiddies on board."