A BLACK Labrador was “extremely happy to see people” after it was pulled from the water and rescued along with three divers off the coast of Hillarys.
At 4.32pm on Thursday, Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue received a call from the Water Police regarding an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) that had been activated about 10km north-west of Hillarys Boat Harbour followed a few minutes later by two separate sightings of a flare.
By 5pm, the group had two vessels on the water headed for where the EPIRB was indicating.
“However, the sightings of the flare from the members of the public indicated the vessel in need of assistance was about 1 to 2km off the coast west of Mullaloo Beach,” radio operations leader Peter Peebles said.
“Green 2 altered course to the area where the flares were sighted and at 5.15pm found a submerged 16ft aluminium dingy with three people – two males and a female – holding onto the mostly submerged vessel.”
“The three survivors and Cougs the black Labrador were pulled from the water and onto Green 2 and then taken back to Hillarys.
“Green 1 then went to the scene and attached a tow line to the now overturned and submerged dingy and began the tow back to Hillarys.
“The crew, with the aid of the wind and the waves, managed to right the dingy and tow it successfully back to Hillarys.”
Mr Peebles said the inaccurate reading from the EPIRB would have been because it was an old one.
“The coordinates the EPIRB gave the Water Police were 8km away from where we found them,” he said.
“The police even passed within 100m of them but didn’t know.”
Mr Peebles said the trio was diving near Little Island when the weather started to get a get a bit rough and they decided to go back to Hillarys.
“But the anchor was stuck and they could not free it so the anchor rope had to be cut,” he said.
“In the meantime, wave action filled the boat with water and the engine would not start.
“The skipper got everyone into life jackets and tried calling for assistance on a hand held radio but the radio appeared not to be working.
“By this time, the boat was pretty much submerged and the three people plus Cougs clung to the side of the boat as it drifted towards the coast aided by a strong sea breeze.
“The skipper activated the EPIRB shortly after.
“After drifting for about an hour or even more, the skipper let off two flares, which were sighted by members of the public.”
Mr Peebles urged boaties to log on with a sea rescue group before heading out on the water.
“The skipper had not logged on so no one knew exactly where they were and no one knew that they were overdue and possibly in trouble,” he said.
“No matter how close to the coast you may be going, always log onto a sea rescue group.
“This situation could have been a lot worse.”
Mr Peebles thanked the members of the public who alerted Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue to the flare sightings and were able to give a “reasonably accurate location” for the vessels to go to.
He said though the hull of the boat appeared to be undamaged, the people had lost “quite a lot of diving gear”.
“One of our volunteers who is a qualified diver has offered to go out and see if he can recover anything,” he said.