Swimmer saved against 'incalculable odds' off Green Point
MUFFLED screams for help heard from the helm of VMR 1 alerted the skipper to the location of a missing swimmer last seen on Coral Beach as darkness began to fall.
VMR Whitsunday president, Mal Priday, said his crew were activated last night at 6pm by the police search and rescue coordinator.
Grave concerns were held for the man in his 30s who had left no personal effects on the beach.
A shoreline search ensued between Pioneer Point and the Neck, the crew operating at speed in lumpy seas going as far at Coral Point before turning around and doing it again.
But to no avail.
Off Swamp Bay the crew noticed a little light emanating from the shore.
Turning to investigate, Mr Priday said the crew using their infra-red cameras and search light launched the dingy and headed in the direction of the light.
"I sent two crew in and as they were getting close they saw on the FLIR someone walk down onto the beach to talk to them,” he said.
"But it wasn't the people we were looking for.”
VMR 1, at about 8pm, then began heading back to Abell Point Marina when off Green Point when Mr Priday "heard a voice”.
"Against incalculable odds,” he said.
"I was up driving the boat on the fly-bridge and in the middle of nowhere, off-shore, I heard a voice and someone yelling.
"I initially thought one of the crew had fallen over board so I pulled back on the throttles by which time the crew were telling me there was a guy in the water.
"It was pitch black and blowing 20 or 30 knots in a pretty lumpy sea but we managed to get the spot light on him.”
The man was pulled aboard in an exhausted state and wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.
"He collapsed on the deck and amazingly it turned out to be the guy we had been tasked to find,” Mr Priday said.
The police search and rescue division were notified and the man was transported to Proserpine hospital for observation.
About 800 metres off-shore in an exhausted state Mr Priday doubted the man could have swam the distance to save his own life.
In October last year Mr Priday, in very similar circumstances, against the odds saved the life of man after his fishing trawler went down off 1770.