02 Jun Head On Boat Collision – as told by Eve Malone
“It was Sunday morning of Hook up. We hit the water just before dawn/sunrise and set off through the harbour, my husband David at the helm and me happily taking happy snaps on my phone so I could send to my fishing buddies, letting them know what conditions were like.
As we headed out through North Entrance and taking to the left to avoid the shallower area’s to the right we made the hard right directing the boat toward Rock Cod as it was our first port of call for the morning, as we turned we were sitting on around 50km’s an hour (30 something Knots) and turned smack bang in the rising sun, it was around half way over the horizon and very intense, David sat back down in his seat and mentioned to me that the glare was too much slowing up the boat to around half noise and asked me if I could see if his Sunglasses were on the ground as they had fallen on the floor back at the boat ramp, I remember him turning his head to look to the right of him looking for them and then popping his head up to make sure we were still on course and the marine radio chirping away with boaties logging on to VMR when, and I say this bluntly chaos followed.
I don’t remember any noise of the impact, I don’t remember my face hitting the dash board or the Perspex windscreen, all I can remember is holding my face and looking at my husband in such confusion and pain and asking what had happened. A lot of the next 10 minutes is a blur, but the first realisation of what happened and hearing 2 men yelling to help them out of the water, we realised we had had a collision with another boat!
David went into auto pilot, helped the older man out of the water first and then the second, and getting them back into their own boat all the while saying he was sorry over and over. After some of the shock of what had happened calmed, both boats assessed each other’s damage, the boat we collided with was pushed in at the front like a head on car crash, and their motor wasn’t starting, we had very large hole in the front of ours. As David was throwing ropes over to tow them back to the boat ramp my pain started to crush me I got up and sat down the back of the boat, I was covered in blood, coming from my mouth and my nose and I had bone fragments in my mouth, it felt like I wanted to be sick and go to sleep at the same time. I wanted to yell out that I needed help and I needed to get back quick so someone could help take this horror and pain away but nothing came out, I remember hearing the guys in the other boat yelling out that the terminals on the battery had come loose and they could get back under their own power and for us to get back to the ramp so I could get medical attention, and before I knew we were at full noise heading to help. David called the ambulance on our way back in and kept yelling at me to stay awake as I couldn’t keep my eyes open and still wanting to be sick.
Both boats made it safely back into the harbour to the boat ramp in spite of the damage both had sustained, we were greeted and the ramp by waiting ambulance and the police so formalities and statements could be taken and for me to get to the hospital. I was the only person who was hurt enough to receive medical attention with 3 breaks in my nose, fractures in my cheeks, my front teeth were pushed back into my mouth and am still yet to know if they may have to be removed and thanks to a gaping wound my lip to chin upwards of 10 stitches but thank goodness the fellows in the other boat had jumped out into the water just seconds before impact and albeit in shock they were physically ok, in all honestly that’s all we can think of is how grateful we are that they didn’t get hurt.
I am telling this story as after a few weeks of operations and had some time to reflect on the events that morning, what could we have done different and most of all to make sure we never have this happen again. These are the factors that we have reasonably deducted to be the major reasons in what we believe everyone should consider when venturing out in any waterway. The intensity of the rising sun, coupled with dew on our windscreen, the position of our seats being too low for a boat such as ours, the marine radio was too loud, we didn’t hear anyone yelling at us to change course and finally second skipper (Me), should have been more alert until safely out into the open waters.
We are safe boaties, we have all the safety gear, no drinking is ever allowed on our boat, we have never had an incident before and we have been on the water for many years and this happened to us, it can happen to anyone. We are very lucky that we are fully insured so we could take care of the fellows in the other boat, that is our main focus, we are also very lucky that no one got seriously injured, boats can be replaced but people can’t and most of all we have learned so very much. A great website for safety advice is msq.qld.gov.au/Safety its worth a look over. We live in a town where safety is at the forefront of our everyday working lives and this same attitude should be, and for many of you is, the same philosophy when boating, there’s no road markers out there.”
I thank Eve for everything she does for the fishing community; she is a warm, giving and does this report as a volunteer. For her to share her story and help others is brave.