'It flipped over': Scary boat crash sparks change
PAT Laws will forever remember the overnight fishing trip in the Gladstone Harbour that almost turned into a tragedy for him and two mates.
"It involved alcohol, there were too many people in the boat and no one was wearing a life jacket," the Gladstone fisherman said.
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"The wash from another boat in the middle of the night caused our boat to rock, and everything moved to one side ... and it flipped over."
The motor was destroyed and they lost most of what was in the boat but Mr Laws said he and his mates were lucky to come out unscathed.
"Luckily we lived to tell the tale," he said.
But the incident - which happened 15 years ago - changed the fishing fanatic's approach to boating and fishing.
Mr Laws shared his story in light of new Maritime Safety Queensland information that revealed of the 13 people who died in boat incidents in the 2015 - 16 financial year, three were in Gladstone.
He said the accident had been an eye-opener about how dangerous alcohol and boating can be when mixed.
Now working servicing and selling other Gladstone boaties' vessels, Mr Laws said he is always offering safety advice.
Mr Laws, who declared he is "between girlfriends" having recently sold his boat and is on the lookout for a new one, said he is now "always cautious" on the water.
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The Ship and Sail general manager said most boating incidents occur in Gladstone during "rough" weather.
Between 2011 and 2015 Mr Laws worked in the commercial boating industry driving water taxis for Curtis Island workers during the construction of the three LNG plants.
"I'm always cautious, the boats were always serviced and had all the specifications like your flares, your life jackets, fire extinguishers and so on are all there," he said.