Two fishermen were rescued by Water Police after their boat began to sink off Altona early Thursday morning.

Senior Sergeant Scott Dower, of Williamstown Water Police, said the two mates from Taylors Lakes were about 10 kilometres from Altona boat ramp when they put out a distress call about 2.45am.

The men had launched their 4.5-metre boat during calm conditions, but during the night the wind increased to 20 knots.

Their boat began to take on water after waves rose by up to 1.5 metres.

“The police helicopter plus one of our Water Police vessels from here has gone out to where they were,” Senior Sergeant Dower said.

“With the conditions during the rescue, both guys on the boat have gone into the water and subsequently been dragged on board the police boat and brought back to Altona and taken by ambulance to Footscray Hospital.”

Senior Sergeant Dower said the rescue was a reminder to others to monitor weather conditions and ensure their vessel and equipment were suitable.

“There weren’t many people out – they were the only car and trailer at the [Altona boat] ramp … because it was a howling northerly,” he said.

“It was a hot night, but you go too far offshore and the waves just increase and increase, so it gets pretty rough for a small boat like that.

“The other thing is, just to ensure that the safety equipment you’ve got is serviceable and in proper working conditions.

“They had lifejackets, they put them on, but they didn’t have them on properly.”

The incident is being investigated.