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The 15-metre ketch Chinook was salvaged from rocks at Angourie last Friday, six days after it ran aground, spreading debris along the coastline and in the ocean. Image: contributed

Angourie locals’ anger over stranded yacht

Rodney Stevens


Angry Angourie locals have taken it upon themselves to clean up kilos and kilos of debris from the 15-metre steel ketch Chinook that ran aground on Saturday July 8, on rocks near Spooky Beach, after the boat’s owner abandoned the vessel.

The yacht’s owner was enroute from Ballina to Port Macquarie when the yacht became wedged in a crevasse on the rock platform between the Blue and Green pools on Saturday evening, and while the three occupants were rescued safely, the yacht was left on the rocks for six days while NSW Maritime organised for it to be salvaged.

Angourie local Kim said as the yacht was left scattering debris for six days in the ocean and surrounds.

Every day since it ran aground, Kim said locals had been collecting debris and piling it up above the high tide mark, which was collected by council on Thursday.

“We’ve been picking up debris, after every high tide the boat is getting smashed around, breaking up and polluting the environment, there’s been diesel drenched debris everywhere,” she said.

“Every high tide there’s been more and more debris wedged in between the rocks and our main concern was the diesel at the start, but now it’s the micro foams, the insulation, that spans all the way along Spooky Beach.

“There are disintegrating mattresses and insulation foam that’s all in the ocean that is getting stuck in the weeds that our marine life eats.

“There have been a number of dead starfish and some dead sea urchins have been found.”

Well known Angourie Surfing family, the Webbers, John, Monty, Will and Flynn, plus Jack Suttor snorkelled the area around the grounded yacht collecting sunken debris.

A local who was surfing on Wednesday fished out two full gas bottles from the stranded yacht that bumped into her in the ocean.

Kim said locals were extremely frustrated that it took five days of environmental damage before anything was done by authorities to rectify the situation.

She said she had been liaising with Maritime NSW who contracted Iluka based Northern Rivers Marine Services to conduct the salvage operation on Friday.

“Finally, it’s happening,” a relieved Kim said.

“The high tide line along the entire length of Spooky Beach has many debris, mainly foam, wadding and insulation.”

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW Maritime said a contractor engaged by Transport for NSW Maritime will start salvaging the 15-metre ketch Chinook at first light on Friday 14 July. 

“The work will involve removing the vessel from where it ran aground at Spooky Beach, Angourie near Yamba,” the spokesperson said. 

“We have been liaising with the vessel’s owner about the salvage and with contractors prior to having the start of this work vessel.   

“We are still investigating the reasons for the vessel running aground. If there have been any breaches of maritime legislation, we may have to take further action but if it was simply an accident, no action will be taken against the owner.”

The spokesperson said NSW Maritime has been monitoring the vessel and its surrounds for any evidence of pollutants.  

“Our boating safety officers have also been carrying out and will continue to carry out shoreline inspections for debris,” the spokesperson said. 

“They have also been working with the Clarence Valley Council who have been assisting us by removing debris from the site. 

“We appreciate their help and that of members of the local community who are assisting with cleaning up the area.”