Two people were rescued from the ocean near Exmouth yesterday afternoon after their boat was likely swamped by a wave.
The rescued 44-year-old skipper, from Victoria, received fractured ribs, abdominal injuries and a possible minor head injury and a 41-year-old woman received head, shoulder and foot injuries and spent the night in hospital.
The pair, who were in Exmouth on a fishing trip, were rescued after setting off an emergency beacon which was later found in an esky in the ocean.
A police spokesman said it appeared the pair were swamped by a wave on the outside of the reef, north of the North Passage. Their boat became semi-submerged.
About 3.30pm WA Police was contacted by the AMSA Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra regarding an EPIRB that was activated near Exmouth.
Police said the EPIRB - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon - was registered with AMSA, and from the information included in the registration details the rescue centre was able to identify the Victorian owner.
The details also included details of his next of kin, who told the centre the owner was in Exmouth on a fishing trip, provided details of his travelling companion and told emergency services the man had launched his boat from the Tantabiddi Boat Ramp.
"While this information was being gathered, the Water Police Coordination Centre in Fremantle began co-ordinating a marine search and rescue operation," police said.
"A commercial boat responded to an emergency alert broadcast on marine radio and stated they had just earlier found an esky with food in it, about 300m north of North Passage. It was later discovered the activated EPIRB was inside it.
"Exmouth Volunteer Marine Rescue Group was deployed and began a search of the area with the commercial vessel. About 4.20pm the commercial vessel found two people in the water.
"It appears they were swamped by a wave on the outside of the reef, north of the North Passage. Their boat became semi-submerged.
"Exmouth Police met up with the commercial vessel, and established the two people on board were injured."
Police officers drove the pair to meet an ambulance en route.
Senior Sergeant Greg Trew of the OIC Water Police said the incident was a reminder of the importance of emergency equipment, in particular EPIRBs, in an emergency at sea.
“Not only did this skipper have an EPIRB, it was registered with AMSA, which meant the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra was able to obtain critical information quickly”, said Senior Sergeant Trew.
“Had the skipper not had an EPIRB, who knows how long it would have been before anyone knew of the danger he and his passenger were in, and even then there is no guarantee we would have known where they were, which would have resulted in a significant amount of resources being deployed to search for them.”For more information on EPIRBs, or to register your EPIRB online for free, visit http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/