Originally written by TIANA RAY
RESCUING a man from rocks near Cape Nelson in April resulted in a Portland fisherman being without his fishing boat and source of income for more than seven weeks.
Rob Davis was hailed a hero after pulling a 68-year-old Portland man and his 38-year-old son out of the water and performing CPR on the man for 35 minutes until Water Police met the boat about halfway to Portland on April 5.
While Mr Davis performed CPR on the man, the son had to ‘skipper’ the boat under the guidance and advice of Mr Davis. Due to the dire circumstances the boat was pushed to its limits, while fully laden with rock lobster and rock lobster pots.
“We pushed the boat to the limit because we were doing our best to save the guy,” Mr Davis said.
Unfortunately once the boat arrived at the Portland Trawler Wharf, ambulance officers pronounced the man dead.
“I was concerned I had damaged my hull, so I took the boat out of the water and took it home on the trailer to inspect the bottom of the hull for damage,” Mr Davis said.
“There was no visible damage so I used the time out of the water to service my engines and do other maintenance for a few days.
Mr Davis returned his boat to the water and fished on April 9 and 10, but on the morning of April 11 he discovered his boat had sunk.
“Unfortunately my day of inspecting the boat didn’t reveal the damage because it was under the square aluminium tubing of the keel plate,” he said.
Insurance covered the main costs of having the boat repaired, but the boat was out of the water between April 11 to June 2, meaning there was no income coming in for more than seven weeks for Mr Davis, his wife Wendy and their five children, aged between 17 and 10.
“It has put financial hardship on the family, the nature of fishing is if you miss two months of the productive season you can’t catch up,” Mr Davis said.
The loss of fishing has not been the only financial loss for Mr Davis and his family; having paid for leasing a rock lobster quota, but never catching the quota due to the boat being out of the water.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine has brought their financial hardship to the attention of the Premier in a bid to get compensation.
“The action I seek is for the Premier to provide fair and reasonable compensation to Rob and Wendy Davis of Portland for the losses they incurred as a direct result of the involvement of Mr Davis in a good Samaritan mercy mission,” Dr Napthine said in Parliament on July 29.
“Robbie Davis and his family would not do anything differently. Robbie would again respond in an emergency, and he needs to be commended for his bravery, but I think we need to make sure that he is not out of pocket.
“I ask the Premier to make an ex-gratia payment to the family,” he said.
Mr Davis thanked Dr Napthine for his help on the issue and said, “I want to thank Denis for sticking to his motto of being caring, active and local, and all that he does for the fishing industry in Portland”.
He also said the Department of Primary Industry had spoken to him and had made the same compensation recommendation to Premier’s office.
“Compensation would be a big help to set us up for the next season,” Mr Davis said.