Whale crew’s heroics commemorated at whaling station

Albany Advertiser
Cheynes II crewmembers Colin Westerberg, Stuart Clements, Rodney Casey and Paddy Hart.
Camera IconCheynes II crewmembers Colin Westerberg, Stuart Clements, Rodney Casey and Paddy Hart.

The original bronze plaque that commemorates a famous rescue at The Gap has found a new and fitting home at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 14 in 1978, a South Australian tourist by the name of Stephen Mathews was swept into the southern ocean from The Gap and Natural Bridge.

Incredibly, his life was saved that night by the crew of the whale chaser Cheynes II. Cheynes II skipper Paddy Hart steered the whale chaser into shallow water along the treacherous coastline.

First mate Keith Richardson tied a rope around his waist, jumped into the water and swam to him.

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A plaque was mounted after the rescue 41 years ago to acknowledge the crew’s heroics.

Mr Hart was at the whaling station last week as the plaque was unveiled next to panels which tell the story of the daring rescue.

“It is very fitting (the plaque’s new home). Keith and I didn’t do it on our own, it took 15 other people and it is good to see that they are acknowledged,” Mr Hart said.

“I was particularly thankful to those down in the engine room because you were down in the bowels and you don’t know what’s going on up top and you know you are in shallow water...it must have been very daunting.”

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