By Mitch Guy
A VENTNOR man is lucky to be alive after he was rescued from an overturned boat on Wednesday night.
The man – who is visually impaired – was fishing approximately 200m offshore at Elizabeth Cove, Ventnor in a small tinnie with a friend in calm conditions.
As darkness approached at 6pm, the experienced fishermen were set to head back to shore – a short ride they have taken for many years.
But the pair struck trouble whilst pulling in the anchor and an anchor malfunction caused the boat to overturn.
The boat quickly filled with water, making attempts to right the boat difficult and leaving the pair unable to return to shore on the vessel.
In freezing conditions, one of the men decided to bravely swim to shore to raise the alarm, in an action that proved to be life-saving.
He struggled to the shore and drove his car to a nearby friend’s house, who raced down to the beach with a surfboard.
Nearby residents heard the visually-impaired man’s screams for help, as he clung on to the boat and panic set in.
Local resident Josh Williams heard the screams of ‘Help! Help!’, and ventured down to the beach in his 4×4 Hilux Ute.
He drove through the bollards at top of the beach to gain access and used spotlights on his car to try and locate the boat with fishermen on the beach.
The quick-thinking Mr Williams dashed home to bring his jet ski to the beach to help find the man.
In the meantime, police and ambulances arrived at the scene, as well as nearby resident Sam Haycroft, who heard the screams and bolted down to the beach.
Sensing the seriousness of the situation, Mr Haycroft grabbed the surfboard and paddled out in the darkness to the man.
He reached the man and began to guide him to shore, before Mr Williams reached them on the jet ski and towed the man to shore.
Suffering from hypothermia, the man was transported to Wonthaggi Hospital by ambulance and was released hours later.
The other man required medical examination but did not require a hospital visit.
Senior Constable Scott Lambie, of the Cowes Police, said the man had been boating for 26 years.
“Even guys familiar with conditions in the area and know what they’re doing – there can still be risks,” he said.
The police are looking to nominate Mr Haycroft for a bravery award for his efforts.
The son of the man rescued said the family was thankful to everyone involved in the rescue.