Commercial fishers Roger and Julie Fourter are resigned to the fact they will have to purchase a new boat after the near-sinking of their 30-year-old vessel, Roamer, at the Eden breakwater wharf on Friday afternoon.
The couple had just come alongside the wharf after catching salmon at the Kiah Rivermouth around 1pm on Friday when Roamer’s stern began to go down, with the back deck at times descending around 6-7 feet underwater.
The beach seine vessel is now floating again at Snug Cove, but the damage to her engine will be too great for continued commercial use.
The Fourters say the incident was “just one of those things”.
“It was no fault of anyone; it wasn’t overloaded or anything,” Roger said.
“She’s sprung a leak in the rudder stock compartment, and the water that came in there has then proven too much for the back of the boat, and it’s started filling up back there as well.
“We’ve had 12 or 14 tonnes on there before and it carried it, no worries.
“This time, we only had about seven or eight tonnes, conditions were quite calm, and this happened.
“It’s just one of those things.”
Roger said he and the crew had checked the boat before coming back to the wharf, and found no problem.
Once the boat came to rest alongside the wharf however, she had taken on water.
“She’s back floating alongside the wharf again now, and the leak is above the waterline,” Roger said.
“The fish didn’t cause it directly, but indirectly they probably did [by pushing the hole down below the waterline].
“She’s an old boat, around 30 years old, so I knew in the back of my mind that we’d eventually have to get another one, but I never expected this to happen.”
Fellow fishermen, boat owners and members of the public joined the Eden Water Police and Eden Slipway Services in attempting to keep Roamer afloat, unload the catch and stop her from taking on more water.
Unfortunately for the Fourters, the engine was flooded and the catch lost, and Julie says the boat they have owned for the past eight years will no longer be commercially viable.
“She’s back floating again at the moorings and we’ve patched up what we could, but the engine was still going when the water got in,” Julie said.
“That will be the end of her for us; I suppose she could be [used recreationally] if someone wanted to fix her up, but not for us commercially.
“She’s insured, but we’re waiting for the maritime assessor to come and have a look in about a week."
Julie says it’s now time to “start again”.
“It might be a while, but we will be back fishing as soon as we can get another suitable boat.
“That’s just what you do; you can’t not [keep going].”
Julie said the efforts of all those who tried to help are greatly appreciated.
“I’d just like to thank everyone who did what they could for us,” she said.
“There were just so many people who pitched in.
“I’ll be writing a letter for this week’s Magnet to say thanks to all of them.
“We’re just lucky that it happened at the wharf and not halfway across the bay.”
A rescue effort is currently underway at Eden’s breakwater wharf to keep Julie and Roger Fourter’s 30-year-old fishing boat, Roamer, above water.
The cause of the boat's near-sinking is not known yet.
Wharfside, Julie Fourter said the boat kept going down and down alongside the wharf, where Roamer had returned after catching salmon at the Kiah Rivermouth.
"We hopped straight off her, and rang Greg Dunne (Eden Slipways)," Julie said.
"She'll be a write off.
"The water came right above the engine, right up above the floor boards.
"That'll be the end of the engine," she said as she watched ongoing efforts to keep Roamer afloat, unload her catch of salmon, and stop her from taking on more water.
Mr Dunne, from Eden Slipway Services, said he was called around 1pm to the stricken boat.
"We were just about to go and have lunch when we got the call, " he said.
"The back deck was 6-7 foot underwater.
"We're trying to keep her afloat."
As work continues to rescue Roamer, Julie reflected on the fact that it's her birthday tomorrow.
"Not much of a birthday present, is it?" she said.