Image Source: https://www.theguardian.com/
A man has been found clinging on to a marine beacon after he fell from his boat into the sea off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Emergency services scrambled to find the man after his 13-metre yacht was discovered run aground between the northern tip of Bribie Island and Caloundra at about 4pm on Tuesday.
The yacht still had its engine running and a dog and phone onboard, sparking an extensive air and sea search in nearby waterways.
The experienced sailor, David Simpson, told Channel Nine’s Today show he was thrown off his boat when a strong wave hit.
“The wave hit the side of the boat and I was trying to secure the dinghy, which had come a little bit adrift and a rope broke holding the dinghy,” he said.
“The dinghy hit me (on) my ribs and I fell about 2.5, three metres off the boat.”
Surf Life Saving Queensland jet skiers, a Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter, water police and coastguard
members joined in the search. Officials said that up to 30 people took part in the search.
Authorities said they found the 64-year-old man at around 7pm, clinging to a marine beacon in the ocean, some 2.5km off Bribie Island. The man had swum about 2km to reach the beacon and climbed a ladder onto a platform.
Senior Constable Mark Muddiman from Sunshine Coast water police said that bar some minor injuries, the man was in good health.
“It was a pretty dramatic rescue,” he said.
“He was obviously happy to see us and to be rescued. He didn’t want to spend the night on one of those beacons. He was pretty overjoyed, but upset that his boat is still on the beach.”
Authorities said the man used the beacon to attract attention, by covering it with his hands and attempting to communicate an SOS to passing ships.
It was a container ship transiting through that picked up the man’s attempted message.
Muddiman said the man was on the beacon for around three hours, and it was his smart decision to use it that eventually led to his rescue.
“That’s what actually ended up showing us where he was, which is fantastic. It was through good observation by the ship that alerted us to where he was.
“He’s very, very lucky. Some of these jobs don’t end as well as this one, and we’re really glad it ended for the best.”
Authorities were baffled when they found the empty ship ashore, but used the man’s last phone call to narrow the search area. Emergency crews were working to retrieve the boat.
Coastguards told the ABC the man had been trying to secure something to his boat when he was flung off his vessel.
Surf Life Saving Queensland Sunshine Coast regional operations manager, Aaron Purchase, said it was an “odd” case, but he was happy the man was found alive.
“Things have gone astray and caused him to go overboard … it’s odd but we’re very thankful he was found alive at the end of the day.
“We’ve seen smaller vessels that have capsized but nothing ever of that size that’s run aground under its own speed. It’s certainly a strange one, but thankfully everyone is OK out of it.”
Muddiman said the rescue was a good reminder to boat owners to ensure safety precautions were taken before and during any trip.
“The things we can take out of this is that it’s prudent to wear your life jacket, especially if you’re on the boat by yourself.
“Life jackets is the number one thing, make sure you have them on your boat. If you are out by yourself, it would make sense to have you life jacket on at all times, because you never know.”