Grounded yacht hit by thieves

OPPORTUNISTIC thieves took advantage of a yacht that washed up on a beach at Nelson Bay at the weekend when they stole outboard motors while it was stuck on the shore.

The 37-foot sloop broke its moorings on Saturday as it attempted a manoeuvre in high winds.

Port Stephens water police were already at the scene helping the captain move his vessel, but neither were able to stop it running aground.

The two people on board were not injured.

Then thieves broke in overnight.

Salvage crews are expected to free the ship from its perch, just west of Fly Point, tonight at high tide.

Port Stephens water police were also called to the Fingal Spit at 3.30pm yesterday when a dinghy capsized on the northern side of the sandbar.

Two middle-aged men in the boat were unharmed and the boat was towed to shore.

The weekend’s high winds were the result of a low-pressure system over the Tasman sea combined with a high-pressure ridge that sent chilly winds up the coast.

The State Emergency Service had 57 call outs in the Hunter on Friday and Saturday to fallen tree branches, leaning fences and roof damage.

Winds eased yesterday and ushered in warmer temperatures that are predicted to last until Thursday.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said such ‘‘topsy-turvy’’ weather was typical of spring and a sign the seasons were changing.

Newcastle City Council will resume lifeguard services today.

Council aquatics services manager Peter Withers said even though the water was still cold, at 16 degrees, the city’s six beaches would have lifeguards on duty.

Anyone with information about the outboard thefts has been asked to contact Port Stephens Water Police 49849012.

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