Man overboard in South Coast boat drama

There was drama aplenty on St Georges Basin this week when Marine Rescue helped retrieve a runaway boat after its owner was knocked overboard by a passing vessel.

A jet-skier came to the rescue of Shoalhaven fisherman Anthony Rocheta, who was thrown into the water by the wash of a larger boat on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Rocheta, who was wearing a lifejacket, was spotted by jet-skier Jame Karaista, who took him on board and headed for shore.

Marine Rescue Sussex Inlet Unit Commander John Lang said it appeared Mr Rocheta knocked the throttle to full as he fell and the tiller turned, causing the empty boat to run at speed in a five-metre circle.

Mr Lang said it was likely the passing boat skipper would not have been aware of the incident.

Marine Rescue vessel Sussex Inlet 10 arrived at the scene about 20 minutes later.

Mr Lang said in the 10 years he had been working for Marine Rescue,  he hadn’t seen anything like it.

‘‘It was too dangerous for the crew to attempt to board the tinny,’’ he said. 

‘‘We couldn’t get too close or inside the five-metre circle.’’

A short time later Mr Karaista returned with Mr Rocheta and a rope they hoped to use to snare the out-of-control tinny.

A decision was then made  to stop the boat spinning by tangling the propeller.

‘‘We kept the rope not too far down under the water to catch the propeller. We got it first time,’’ Mr Lang said.

If it hadn’t succeeded, the boat would have been left to run out of fuel, he said.

Marine Rescue towed the boat back to shore while Mr Rocheta remained on the back of Mr Karaista’s jet-ski.

Mr Lang said the fisherman was lucky not to have been injured when he fell overboard. He praised Mr Karaista for his rescue efforts.