LOST: The inflatable boat a 47-year-old man was missing at sea in for almost 20 hours last Friday.
LOST: The inflatable boat a 47-year-old man was missing at sea in for almost 20 hours last Friday. Jessica Lamb

Stranded at sea for 20 hours, a search success story

A GOLD Coast man who recently moved to the Whitsundays for a fresh start hasn't had the smoothest of transitions after a bad decision left him stranded at sea for almost 20 hours last Friday.

Thankfully, this story's ending is a happy one.

The 47-year-old, who was last seen departing Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island in a three-metre grey and white inflatable tender at about 8pm last Thursday, was picked up by a Sea Quest charter boat around 4.30pm the next day.

The man, who had been working in cyclone recovery on one of the Whitsunday islands, was intending to travel to Hamilton Island on Thursday night.

He was expected to be on a private boat on Friday, but crew reported him missing at 10.30am on Friday when he didn't arrive.

Officer in Charge of Whitsunday Water Police Sergeant Graeme Pettigrew said the man got himself lost in the dark as he did not know the area.

"He did not have sufficient gear and ran out of fuel to float adrift throughout Friday," he said.

"He was found reasonably okay, he was worn out and dehydrated after his ordeal."

The search was co-ordinated by Senior Constables Tony Parkinson and Adrian Fitzpatrick on the mainland and included three helicopters from Mackay and Townsville, Bowen VMR, Whitsunday VMR, Midge Point VMR, staff from Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Water Police.

Sgt Pettigrew stressed the importance of using common sense, taking the correct gear and knowledge of seamanship.

"Carry the right equipment, make sure you have flares, charts, a radio and don't go out at night time if you don't know the area," he said.

"This expensive and extensive search could have been avoided."

Police said alcohol may have been a factor.

Sea Quest fishing charter boat located the man near Perseverance Island about 4.35pm, just south of Hamilton Island on Friday.

"Police would like to thank VMR's all-day effort. The search in the afternoon involved the Bowen and Midge Point volunteer marine rescue and marine," Sgt Pettigrove said.

This was the second missing persons alert in just 24 hours for the water police and VMR after a neighbour raised the alarm after a Cannonvale family with a two-year-old toddler did not return home from the water Thursday night.

Their boat had run aground and the family were stranded overnight in Tounge Bay hear Whitehaven's Hill Inlet.

Sgt Pettigrew said the family had all the correct gear just misjudged the tide and met the Whitsunday VMR boat on their way out to look on Friday morning.


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