As reported on www.ntnews.com.au
A PRAWN trawler crew was forced to make a 20-hour mercy dash to Darwin yesterday after a crewman was attacked by a shark.
And they almost didn’t make it to shore after their large steel trawler – Xanadu I – got stuck in the mud at low tide and almost rolled on its side less than 50m from docking at Fishermans Wharf.
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Holding his bloodied, bandaged hand, injured crewman Quentin Gorrell had to be escorted to shore in a police dinghy before being taken to Royal Darwin Hospital for treatment.
The tendons in his right index finger had been ripped to the bone.
He said he was lucky the bronze whaler shark only bit his hand.
Talking to the Northern Territory News about the dramatic ordeal, the marine engine driver said the shark had been caught in the turtle and shark exclusion device that stops unwanted marine life getting into the nets.
”We were wrestling it and trying to free it and it swung around and got me,” he said.
“It almost took my finger off from the second joint.
“It was a combination of shock and fear at first, and then the pain set in.
“It was very messy and there was a lot of blood – I just went cold white,” he said.
The attack happened on Monday, ”about 20 hours from Darwin”, near Croker Island off the Territory coast.
When Mr Gorrell, 43, said he saw Fisherman’s Wharf in Darwin about 10.30am yesterday he was “extremely happy”.
But then the unexpected happened – the boat got stuck on the seabed at an awkward slant, sparking fears it would roll.
“We got totally bogged and could feel we were starting to go over,” Mr Gorrell said.
“We were preparing to abandon the vessel and sealed all the waterproof hatches just in case we did.
“We couldn’t believe it – the wharf was seriously spitting distance away. It was a case of so close but so far.”
Mr Gorrell, who is from Melbourne but has spent the annual six-month prawn season trawling northern waters for the past 20 years, was treated in the emergency ward at RDH and will undergo surgery to his hand today.
While he was being treated in hospital the five other crew stuck it out on the stranded boat as they waited for the tide to come back in.
They finally refloated the Xanadu I – owned by Vee Jay Fisheries in Western Australia – about 4pm and moved into the Duck Pond marina for the night.
Mr Gorrell said, pending how his surgery goes, he and the crew hope to get back to business and be out on the water again late tonight.