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South Coast boaters smashed on bar crossing, surfers praised for quick thinking

Boaters come to grief on a large swell at the Merimbula bar on Sunday.
Boaters come to grief on a large swell at the Merimbula bar on Sunday.

Surfers have been thanked for their quick action in rescuing three people whose boat overturned while trying to cross the bar at Merimbula on Sunday morning, March 7.

President of the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club was full of praise for Chris Wright and other surfers who acted quickly to rescue the three men.

"They're very good, a very active group and some do CPR training with us," Ms Smith said.

Commander of Merimbula Marine Rescue Sonia Teston said it was great to watch the community come together to help.

A family friend also thanked "all the wonderful people who took action and saved one of our close family friends and his family".

"I'll be forever grateful that I was able to hug him at lunch time and he and his family be in one piece," she said.

Transport for NSW executive director Andrew Mogg said the three men, all related and aged between 16 and 65 were lucky to be alive after their boat overturned during an unsuccessful bar crossing at Merimbula.

The bar crossing incident occurred in the middle of a local NSW Maritime safety and compliance operation - Operation Safe Return - focusing on safe bar crossing.

"Thankfully all three were wearing lifejackets when their 4.8 metre half cabin runabout was swamped and flipped by a wave," Mr Mogg said.

Merimbula's Marine Rescue commander Ms Teston said they were involved in helping at the Eden fishing competition and called the police and ambulance.

"We went out after the event but were unable to right the boat," Ms Teston said.

She said the boat would have suffered damage particularly to any electronics.

Pambula Surf Life Saving Club went out to tie up the boat at the 24 hour mooring between the bar and wharf.

The boat was salvaged on Monday morning and is believed to have been taken for assessment by marine engineers at Pambula.

"Conditions were rough and there was a warning out all along the coast about crossing bars with the hazardous surf conditions and dangerous swell," Ms Teston said.

Mr Mogg said all three men ended up in the water and were lucky enough to remain buoyant in the swell of at least two metres before they were rescued by surfers and taken to Main Beach, suffering only cuts.

He said the 65-year-old man was momentarily trapped in the upturned cabin but managed to escape.

"Even in calm conditions, vessels can be swamped, damaged or wrecked on coastal bars. Crossing a bar safely really does require a high level of skill and planning," he said.

"Use all of the tools available to help you make your decision - watch the timing between sets of waves before you go out, don't cross in a run out tide and be mindful of the swell.

"Most importantly, if you're in any way in doubt, do not go out."

For more information on bar crossing safety visit the RMS site here.

This story Surfers praised for their quick action as boat smashed at bar crossing first appeared on Bega District News.

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