Brothers rescued after yacht runs into trouble off Kiama

Two brothers have been reunited with loved ones - and treated for hypothermia - after their boat capsized in "horrendous" conditions off North Bombo on Sunday afternoon. 

Greg and Brad Thornton got into trouble after they lost the rudder on their 14-foot sail boat in rough seas, rendering it uncontrollable. 

"[There were] two of us on board so there was plenty of weight, but when we got out there we capsized a couple of times," Greg, 57, told the Mercury.

"When it got ugly was when we lost the rudder, if you lose the rudder on a boat you can't steer it and basically you're at the mercy of the weather.

 "We just had to de-rig the boat as best we could and then a squall came through and then we got the sail off."

Greg, from Gerringong, said he and his 54-year-old brother, from Sydney, became separated in the water. 

"That's pretty dangerous. We had to get together again, so we sacrificed the sail," he said.

"We got to the boat, hung onto the boat and that was it, we just waited to get to shore.  

"We were lucky it was an onshore breeze, not an offshore breeze or we would have been in New Zealand."

The men weren't able to raise the alarm themselves.

"Our wives knew that we were out there, they were watching us, and when they saw that we couldn't get the boat upright, they raised the alarm," he said. 

"We can't raise the alarm ourselves, because we didn't have that sort of gear. We did what we could."

Emergency services were called to reports of a boat overturned and persons in the water about 3.30pm.

Kiama Council’s supervising lifeguard Andy Mole said lifeguards on Bombo Beach also witnessed the yacht overturn.

“They saw the yacht out there and thought something looked strange, the next minute they saw it tip,” he said. 

“They immediately launched the jet ski to respond, they had a lifeguard supervisor on radio back on the beach they then proceeded to the overturned yacht where the two yachtsmen had life jackets on.

“The guys had to deal with pretty horrendous conditions to get out there on the ski, they eventually found the yachtsmen and then about 15-minutes later Surf Rescue 50 came out of the harbour and met up with them and took the two yachtsmen back into the harbour.”

Mr Mole said the lifeguards liaised with Ambulance crews to carry out the rescue.  

“It was a really good outcome and team effort from all the emergency services, especially the Ambulance NSW and the lifeguards,” he said.

“It was great for the lifeguards to witness that, the beach was actually closed at the time, it was pretty horrendous conditions.”

The NSW Ambulance helicopter from Albion Park also responded to the incident.

"The jet ski riders were on scene before the helicopter arrived and thus they [the helicopter crew] followed the jet skis and the boat in to make sure they got in safely," he said.

Both men were wearing lifejackets and wetsuits.

"They had all the right gear and the right equipment with them," Inspector Milne said. 

Back on dry land, the pair were assessed by paramedics for hypothermia.

They were then able to embrace their wives and walk away from the ordeal, leaving the very surf boat that rescued them to retrieve their stricken yacht. 

"We're very thankful for the emergency services, they responded very quickly," Greg said.

"It was pretty wild out there, the waves were huge."

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