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May 13, 2021

No plan yet to salvage rescue boat

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A wall of sand up to three metres high blocks land access to the stranded Marine Rescue vessel. Photo Margaret Howes

Chris Dobney

A spokesperson for Ballina Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) told Echonetdaily this morning there was still no timeframe for the retrieval of the organisation’s rescue boat that was washed into South Ballina beach on Tuesday after it overturned and was abandoned in high seas during a rescue on Sunday night.

A picture taken by local pilot Margaret Howes yesterday shows a wall of sand two to three metres high along South Ballina beach, as a result of the recent strong winds and heavy seas, potentially blocking land based access to the boat.

But Steve Reading, VMR north coast co-ordinator, told Echonetdaily ‘it’s in the hands of our insurers. It’s up to them to organise salvage off the beach.’

He said the insurer was still awaiting quotes to appoint a salvage company and said the retrieval should happen ‘within 24 to 48 hours’.

He added that tides and equipment access would also affect the timing of the salvage.

‘National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are currently working on access,’ he said.

An NPWS spokesperson confirmed the sand wall, or ‘drop off’ and tides were the critical issues in any salvage plan.

‘The NPWS is working to assist the contractor remove the wreck as soon as possible. The drop-off presented a bit of challenge for the recovery operation however, we’ve been advised the intention is to remove the wreck today at low tide with an excavator,’ he said.

But Ms Howes told Echonetdaily, ‘The last time an excavator hired by NPWS from McGeary Bros at Woodburn had to go on the beach to bury a dead whale, the NPWS had a lot of problems with the wide access track it created through the dunes. This could be subject to serious beach erosion.’

She added there is an Aboriginal burial site ‘somewhere in the dunes near where the vessel is beached’.

 


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