SEVEN fishermen had to be rescued as they clung to a Mooloolaba charter boat that capsized off the Sunshine Coast.
The Offshore Reef and Game Fishing boat overturned during a fishing charter on Saturday afternoon, with five passengers and two crew members on board.
The skipper sent out a mayday call about 2.30pm, before setting off an emergency flare six nautical miles north-east of Caloundra.
A pilot vessel on its way back to Mooloolaba from the shipping grounds responded to the call for help, plucking the
fishermen from the upturned hull.
Brisbane Marine Pilots chairman Ross Nicholls said the boat had sunk to the water line by the time his crew
"It was pretty lucky that they were out there because the boat sunk in a matter of minutes," Mr Nicholls said.
"They were all hanging onto the hull when we arrived.
"The crew were able to get all the men on board and take them back to safety without a worry."
Police said Offshore Reef and Game Fishing bought the 10-metre boat about a month ago from the Volunteer Marine Rescue in Brisbane.
It was believed to be the same vessel that suffered major damage after colliding with a whale near Stradbroke Island in June last year.
The collision tore apart one of the hulls and was believed to have cost $70,000 to fix.
After Saturday's incident off Caloundra, the overturned boat was towed to Mooloolaba.
A salvage crew spent several hours righting the vessel yesterday morning before it was towed to Lawrie's Marina for inspection.
Water Police officer-in-charge Sergeant Kyle Bates said it was still unclear why the boat capsized.
"Police will be investigating, but at this stage it is unclear," Sgt Bates said.
"There was no obvious sign as to why it capsized.
"We will be taking a marine surveyor to do an inspection over the next few days."
The owners of the charter business were contacted yesterday but declined to comment.
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