Eleven people saved in two hours on Nambucca Bar

Ken Brandli out on the one of the unit's Sea-Doo jet skis, NH 11. File photo
Ken Brandli out on the one of the unit's Sea-Doo jet skis, NH 11. File photo

Eleven people were rescued in six emergencies on the hazardous Nambucca River bar over two hectic hours on Wednesday afternoon.

Marine Rescue Nambucca launched six rescue missions to return five swimmers, two snorkelers and a paddle boarder safely to shore and respond to a high-speed jet ski accident throwing three people into the water.

The unit's two Rescue Water Craft - including a new $20,000 model delivered in time for the peak season - have been on patrol on the shallow bar each day since before Christmas.

RWC (jet ski) operators, Unit Commander Gary Nichols and Ken Brandli, with communications support from radio operator Barry Flynn, were on duty for Wednesday afternoon's strong run out tide.

UC Nichols said the unit had taken a proactive approach to summer safety on the popular but often-treacherous river.

"There is an ongoing risk for swimmers and others who can be easily swept up on fast and strong runout tides at the shallow river mouth, which is why we patrol the bar every day through the peak of the summer holidays," he said.

"This vigilance paid off yesterday when we were able to rescue eight people and were quickly on the scene of the jet ski rollover."

At 1.15pm, Mr Brandli, on RWC NH 11, raced to the scene after seeing the jet ski roll over at high speed, throwing the three people on board violently into the water in the main river channel just near the Hole in the Rock at Indicator Point. The three riders appeared uninjured and were able to right the jet ski.

While patrolling the river mouth at 2pm, he thenobserved two snorkelers clinging to the rock wall about 50m out from the carpark, after getting into difficulty in the runout towards the bar. They were pulled on to the RWC sled and returned safely to the V Wall beach shallows.

Just four minutes later, UC Nichols, on NH 12, rescued three young girls being swept out to sea as they tried to swim from the beach to a sandbar in the inner river channel.

No sooner had NH 11 returned the snorkelers to safety than Mr Brandli saw an elderly paddle boarder who was not wearing a lifejacket being swept out towards the bar. Reaching the man less than 100m from the river mouth, NH 11 took the craft under tow and returned him to the V Wall Beach.

At 3.05pm, NH 12 rescued a swimmer in difficulty being swept out at the confluence of the two river channels at Indicator Point, followed five minutes later by a swimmer attempting to swim from the beach towards a sand bar through the Hole in the Rock at the Point.

Marine Rescue NSW Director of Operations Andrew Cribb praised the swift response of the RWC operators and the unit's smart work to keep people safe at the popular swimming spot.

"Our mission is to save lives on the water and our Nambucca volunteers are out doing just that," he said. "Each of these emergencies could have ended very differently but 11 people have been returned safely to their families and we can all thank our volunteers for such a positive outcome."

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