Alan Zavodny.
Alan Zavodny.

‘Extremely skilful skipper’ unable to return to trade

A CHARTER boat skipper who lost his sea legs is suing the driver of a utility.

Alan Zavodny, 65, a former Townsville Bulletin fishing columnist, has told Cairns Supreme Court he was impeded by the ute in Townsville on September 10, 2014, while riding an electric bicycle.

"As I was riding along, a vehicle pulled out in front of me suddenly, reversing out," Mr Zavodny said. "I had to try and miss the vehicle. I jackknifed the bike - I didn't hit the vehicle, I hit the ground."

The court heard driver Kevin Couper admitted liability over the incident.

Justice Jim Henry will hear arguments over the next three days as to the amount of damages to award.

The former skipper told the court he could not operate aboard a fishing boat due to shoulder and ankle injuries, which affected his balance and agility.

"The engine room is difficult to access, it's not easy getting there," Mr Zavodny said.

"You have to crawl down under battery systems, turbos, all the components - it requires agilist that for me is the problem it never used to be."

The court heard Mr Zavodny was no longer able to scale the 9m tower of the fishing boat Azura. "When I was fishing I would live in it," he said.

After the accident, his injuries restricted movements.

"There is no sensation on the bottom of my foot. I don't know when I hit the ground," Mr Zavodny said

"Standing at the fly bridge, there is a fair bit of speed … it is unstable."

He told Justice Henry the accident had taken him from the top of his industry.

"I had more contracts than I needed," Mr Zavodny said.

"If you know what you are doing, people find you, and I had a reputation."

Michael Jonsson QC, defending, suggested there was a "particular risk" when confronted by parked cars.

Mr Zavodny disagreed.

"I just don't think that would happen, the bike was big enough to be seen and I was far enough out," he said.

"He just backed out … what was I to do?

Acting for Mr Zavodny, Andrew Philp, QC, told the court that medical reports deemed his client, "an extremely skilful skipper," to be unfit to return to his trade.

The owner of AZ Fishing Charters appeared on True Story with Hamish and Andy last year.