8 Jul 2019

Aussie skipper hits whale with his boat

4:25 pm on 8 July 2019

The skipper of a boat that hit a whale off the West Australian coast late Sunday has described the collision as "like hitting a brick wall".

4113047 - whale tail after whale dives in kaikoura new zealand

Photo: 123RF

One of two other men on the vessel suffered injuries to his face when he was thrown from his seat and into a fibreglass panel, while the boat started to take on water after the crash.

Skipper Ryan Sattery said the group was heading back to Geraldton when the whale appeared in front of them.

"Me mate goes, 'Oh look, there's a whale,' and it just popped right up in front of us and we smashed straight into it," Mr Sattery said.

"All the batteries and everything got thrown around the boat.

"Everyone got thrown out of their chairs.

"We were taking on water so I immediately got to the radio and did a 'mayday'."

No time to stop

A crew from the Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group were sent to the damaged boat while an ambulance crew waited at the city's marina.

Mr Sattery said it was fortunate the boat had two engines.

"One was stuffed, so on the other one we limped home on and marine rescue chaperoned us," he said.

"It is pretty scary."

He said his friend suffered a split lip and "may have lost a few teeth".

"It all happened so quick - it just jumped up in front of us and we just smashed straight into it, and it was like hitting a brick wall," he said.

It is not known what happened to the whale, which the men estimate was 'four or five times the size' of their vessel.

"I hope he's alright," Mr Sattery said.

"He was a pretty big whale so I am sure he will be fine."

Crash during peak migration period

While the species of whale is unclear, humpback whales migrate north along the WA coast to their calving grounds in the north during June and July each year.

Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group communications spokesman Ian Beard, who was in the control tower when the mayday call came in, said it is the first emergency of its kind he has seen.

"I just got a 'mayday, mayday, mayday, we are sinking," Mr Beard said.

"Fortunately our rescue boat was on the water at the time.

"We are right in the middle of the whale migration north, so they are often around and a lot of people are out looking at them."

He said boaties should look out for whales, but there is no way to avoid some accidents.

"In the situation like yesterday, when they just come up in front of you, you have just got no time," Mr Beard said.

"Even an echo sounder will not let you know that there is one about to surface in front of your boat."