EPIRB, fridge save tuna fishos

TWO fishos survived a capsizing off the South Australian coast last weekend thanks to an emergency beacon, and a portable fridge.

Brad Neicho and Michael Fisher were suffering hypothermia when plucked to safety after spending four hours in 14-degree water off Port MacDonnell, on Saturday. The pair were tuna fishing when a wave swamped Fisher’s boat and disabled its engine.

A second wave capsized the vessel, leaving Fisher, 59, and Neicho, 54, clinging to its hull.

“We stayed with the boat until the boat actually sank, which was about 45 minutes,” Fisher told the Geelong Advertiser.

“Call it providence or whatever you like, but then this esky popped up between the two of us the boat went down and the esky came up.”

Before the boat went down, Neicho had repeatedly dived beneath the capsized boat  searching for an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to alert rescuers.

On the fifth try Neicho found the beacon, activated it and tied it to his wrist.

As the hours passed waiting for help to arrive, the men conserved energy by keeping still as they clung to the Bushman’s car fridge, exchanging words every 15 minutes to check on each other’s welfare.

When volunteers found Neicho and Fisher about 7pm and pulled them to safety, their body temperatures were down to 34.4C.

The two men were treated at hospital for hypothermia before being released on Sunday. They plan to frame the EPIRB as a reminder of their lucky escape.

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