A commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Carpentaria says he feared for his life, when he was caught in rough seas as Cyclone Trevor crossed Cape York Peninsula on Tuesday night.
Mackerel fisherman Bruce Davey, said a lack of communication meant his crew were not aware of the cyclone’s path until it was too late.
“At 4 o’clock [Tuesday afternoon] the weather wasn’t too bad, but little did we know that eight hours later we’d be up to our crotch in crocodiles battling life-threatening 30 to 40 knot winds and 3 to 4 metre swells side-on as we steamed north [towards safety],” he said.
“It was 2 o’clock in the morning [Wednesday]; we couldn’t see two inches in front of us because of the rain.
“We were caught in the open ocean and we were just getting smashed by these line squalls.
Mr Davey said his crew, which is made up of family members, were not injured and are now safely anchored near Seisia near the tip of Cape York.
Shortwave radio shutdown risking lives, fisherman says
Mr Davey said in life or death situations, such as the one he faced this week, having access to shortwave radio “would have certainly helped”.
The ABC controversially switched off its shortwave radio service in 2017, which Mr Davey said was a mistake.
“We haven’t got the shortwave radio service anymore so we can’t get any ABC radio and there was so much lightning and thunder with the monsoon trough that there was too much static to be able to get BoM [Bureau of Meteorology] on the old HF radio,” he said.
‘You feel so helpless’
Mr Davey said the sea conditions in the Gulf near Mapoon were nothing short of terrifying as Cyclone Trevor approached, and he was thankful his family was safe.
“It’s such a horrible feeling, you feel so helpless out here when you’ve got your kids, your family out there and Mother Nature is just giving you a battering and you’ve got nowhere to go,” he said.
Tropical Cyclone Trevor is expected to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria later tonight, where it is expected to re-intensify to a severe category 4 system.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall between Borroloola and Groote Eylandt on Saturday.
Mass evacuations have been triggered for Gulf communities, including the population of around 1,500 people on Groote Eylandt.