The men were found clinging to their upturned boat on a sandbar near Snake Island near Port Welshpool in the early hours of Friday morning, December 11.

THREE men are being treated for hypothermia in the Latrobe Regional Hospital after their boat capsized at Port Welshpool overnight, Thursday-Friday, December 10 and 11.

The trio from Yarram was fishing from a 4.5 metre boat in Corner Inlet when the boat started taking on water.

None were wearing lifejackets at the time their boat capsized and they had to cling to the hull before being rescued some four hours later.

Fortunately, one of the men was able to call 000 from his mobile phone.

Victoria Police’s Air Wing assisted in the rescue, locating the group to the west of Snake Island just after 1am.

The men were rescued by Port Welshpool Coast Guard, landed at the wharf at Port Welshpool and then taken to Latrobe Regional Hospital.

Water Police will attend later today to retrieve the upturned vessel and investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The incident, and two other potentially tragic boating mishaps in the past three weeks prompted one of the coast guard volunteers involved Friday morning’s rescue, Dave McLeish, to issue a warning on ABC Radio.

He acknowledged that a lot of people were keen to get back on to the water after the COVID-19 lockdown and was concerned that, in their haste, they may be neglecting boat maintenance and safety checks.

“People are keen to get out but in their hurry to get on the water they’re not checking their boats,” Mr McLeish said.

He also warned boaties to wear their lifejackets at all times.

“They weren’t wearing their life jackets at the time of the incident and in the dark, over 30 metres of water, you’re not necessarily going to be able to find your life jacket at that point.”

Mr McLeish said he came to Port Welshpool for the quiet life but the past few weeks had been anything but quiet,

Two weeks ago the Port Welshpool Coast Guard towed a boat in from near Cliffy Island, after it started to take on water with three people onboard, and prior to that, they were called to Sealers Cove after a couple’s boat overturned and they swam to the beach.

Mr McLeish found he needed rescuing himself by the Police Airwing, after he was left on the beach by rescue boat and was only able to raise the alarm after meeting a Prom hiker who had a mobile phone.

“The main thing is everyone got home safely,” said Mr McLeish, who acknowledged he’d now had his own brush with the anxiety and exposure associated with being stranded.

The moral to the story is check your equipment, take all the safety precautions, carry the necessary communications devises such as a mobile phone and EPIRB, don’t go alone, and report your location to others.

The Port Welshpool Volunteer Coast Guard is presently making an appeal for donations to support their new building project at the port.

Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett gave the facility redevelopment project a huge boost on November 23 when she announced there would be $300,000 for the ‘demolition of existing building and construction of new shed and office area’.

There’s also been funding and in-kind support from the South Gippsland Shire Council but further funding is still required. If you would like to donate, folllow the link below.

VF20 Port Welshpool