Fishermen rescue two from bar
DRAMATIC photos have emerged of two men fighting for survival after their boat capsized on the river bar at Brunswick Heads.
The skipper from Queensland and his male passenger were left clinging to their aluminium boat after it overturned on the bar around 6.40am on Sunday.
Kelly, a freelance photographer who was taking photographs of the sunrise at Torakina Beach saw the incident and snapped images as waves smashed into their boat.
She said conditions were "big and rough" and she was "surprised boats were trying to get out".
She said the boat got caught in a set and rode Kelly Slater style on top of the wave, for about 100m. It was unbelievable!
The commercial fisherman who rescued the men, Aaron Royle of Brunswick Heads, said they were lucky not to drown.
"My deckhand pulled them in over the side of the boat and I've got no doubt the smaller fellow would have been dead if it wasn't for his life jacket," Mr Royle said.
"His lungs were full of water and he was conscious, but only just."
One man was treated in hospital but neither had serious injuries.
Mr Royle said conditions for crossing the bar have been terrible for months and it's "really shallow and dangerous to cross."
"There was quite a swell on the bar and because they weren't experienced they mistimed it and drove out into a set of waves which hit them and sent them over."
Mr Royle said sand was silting up the bar.
"It seriously needs to be dredged. People have died on it and it's a only a matter of time before it happens again," Mr Royle said.
"There are definitely times when we just can't go to work because the bar is so shallow and dangerous... but when these amateur fisherman turn up they want to go out, no matter what."
The boat was submerged near the north wall of the Brunswick.
Two other vessels got into trouble while trying to cross the bar on Sunday.
One skipper fell overboard while attempting a crossing and his passenger was forced to beach their boat.
Marine rescue crews also had to remove passengers off a chartered vessel that was unable to cross.
Four men were lucky to survive when their boat capsized on the bar on January 3.
Brunswick Heads Marine Rescue unit commander Owen Danvers said boaties should seek advice before crossing.
"It's one of the most dangerous bars on the North Coast," Mr Danvers said.
"So they need to contact the radio base because whoever is on duty will have a better view of conditions on the bar."