Fourteen Palghar fishermen were saved in the nick of time, after their trawler was flooded with water at mid sea on Tuesday afternoon. The waterproofing coat of the trawler wore off, leading to cracks in the wooden structure,and sea water gushed into the engine room. A passing trawler rescued the boat,which was stuck after it hit rocks 2km off the Satpati coast.
The fishermen, including the owner of the trawler — Satpati resident Mahesh Pandarinath Meher — set out to sea in the boat, Maha Ganapati on Tuesday. This marked the beginning of the fishing season for them, after the state government lifted the ban on fishing on August 1.
After covering 20 nautical miles — 37km — sea water suddenly began gushing into the trawler and one of the khalasis (labourers) on-board heard a loud thud from the propeller. He informed the captain. “We thought the propeller hit a foreign object, and we ignored the sound. However, water started gushing into the trawler with great force.My men tried to empty the vessel using buckets, but the flow of water was fast, and we suspected danger,” said Meher.
“My men noticed that the epoxy coating of my trawler — a waterproofing paint to prevent water from entering the wooden hull — was missing and it was the epoxy coating slabs that hit the propeller. My captain turned the trawler around and planned to return to the Satpati coast. The safety of my crew was our priority,” said Meher.
“Hardly 2km away from the Satpati coast on Tuesday night, the trawler got stuck between the rocks. The cracks widened and water began to gush in with greater force.I saw 10 diesel drums — each of 200 litre capacity — blocks of ice, dry rations, net and other fishing implements swept away by the Arabian Sea. We were just helpless,” he said.
“Around 9.30pm, we saw the Satpati trawler, Sai Roop, passing by and we shouted for help at the top of our lungs. The captain mercifully heard us and came to our rescue,” said Meher. “However, problems arose as there was a 30-foot gap between our boats,and the sea was choppy. Sai Roop’s captain did not want to risk his trawler hitting the rocks. He was ready to help us, but was also worried,” added Meher.
“I tied a thick rope around my waist and jumped into the water. I swam the distance between our boats and boarded Sai Roop. I tied the rope to the rescue boat so it could tow my boat to safety. I braved the choppy sea so my crew could be saved,” said Meher.
“After nearly an hour of fighting the sea, Sai Roop managed to tow the boat to Satpati,and we were saved from certain death,as the water had submerged my trawler and we were at the mercy of Lord Ekveera — the presiding deity of the Koli fishing community,” he said. “The boat needs repairs costing Rs2lakh. We will visit the Lord Ekveera temple near Lonavala to express our gratitude to him for saving us,” added Meher.