Friends gather to remember Carmel
FRIENDS and family members of former Whitsunday resident Carmel Brookes gathered on Monday at Coral Sea Resort to remember their loved one who went missing off her yacht near Thailand in February and has not been found.
Carmel, 60 was a co-owner of the sailing business Whtisunday Escape and lived in Airlie Beach with her partner, marine biologist Dr Gerry Goeden, for about ten years.
In 2007, they sailed to Penang in Malaysia where they settled.
They left Langkawi for Phuket on January 23 on their 47 foot yacht "Moondancer"and on the night of February 2, it has been reported Carmel fell overboard while on watch at night about 53 nautical miles south east of Phuket.
Carmel's Brisbane-based brother Bill Heang received a phone call from the Australian Air Sea Rescue in Canberra at about 6am, advising him that they had received a distress radio signal from "Moondancer 2", off Ko Lanta Island.
Bill then tried phoning his sister's mobile several times but there was no answer, so later that morning he phoned the Australian Embassy and advised them of the situation.
An Embassy worker then advised Bill that they had alerted the Thai Navy and that they would start searching for the yacht.
Six days after the search started for Carmel, Bill received a phone call from the Australian Embassy informing him that the search for his sister had been called off at sunset.
But Bill has refused to give up the fight to know what happened the night she "disappeared".
"It's always hard to have a memorial without finality," he said.
"I am at a bit of a loss myself with Carmel's disappearance because we don't know where she is or if we will ever find her body.
"It is hard to get my head around."
Ms Brooke's friend of 23 years, Michelle Black said she owed it to Carmel to find out the truth.
"She can't be lost without a trace, without us knowing," she said.
"I just want peace in my heart about it."