Boat was 'thrown into the air' on moment of impact with whale

Crew members on board the A1 Fishing Charter boat which collided with a whale are on the road to recovery.
Crew members on board the A1 Fishing Charter boat which collided with a whale are on the road to recovery. Contributed

RACHEL Carpenter believes the whale encounter experienced by the eight person A-One Fishing Charter crew in the Whitsundays yesterday could have been a "lot worse".

Ms Carpenter's partner Oliver was the skipper on board the 8.5m vessel which collided with a Humpback whale described as "three times the size of the boat".

Ms Carpenter said while the collision was a tragedy, it was clear God was on their side with all crew members on the road to recovery.

"It could have been so much worse, if (the boat) had capsized or if it was a fibre glass boat it would have sunk," she said.

"God was on our side because they didn't capsize or get broken into bits, we were just so lucky."

There was no sign of the whale at the moment of impact, north-east of Gloucester Island - with crew members initially thinking that they had run into a shipping container.


A whale impact left a dent on a A1 fishing charter vessel.
A whale impact left a dent on a A1 fishing charter vessel. Contributed

The boat was "thrown into the air" and came back down on one side before bouncing back up.

Shortly afterwards, the tail end of the whale was seen as it broke the surface of the water and proceeded to swim to safety.

But two crew members were knocked unconscious after the boat struck the whale.

Of the four people taken to hospital after the boat returned to Abell Point Marina, the skipper suffered a laceration to the forehead and required eight stitches, another man broke his nose and has since been discharged and a third man broke a couple of ribs and suffered a laceration to his arm.

The fourth man, originally suspected to have suffered spinal injuries is still in hospital with facial fractures, but he is now understood to have avoided spinal problems.

The A One fishing charter boat sustained a large dent on the port side and one of the engines was destroyed.

"When I was talking to (the) insurance (company) and told them that our boat hit a whale they said "WHAT?" But they have been amazing," Ms Carpenter said.

Ms Carpenter said the incident was "devastating" for their charter business but she was happy everyone came out alive.

"I have got a skipper with a massive laceration to his forehead and our deckhand is injured as well and out of action for a very long time," she said.

"We've only been operating for a month and this is what happened."

Ms Carpenter said she couldn't be more grateful to the emergency services on the scene and everyone involved in supporting the crew.

"VMR, the Water Police and Maritime Safety were all really awesome and just super supportive and very good with their communications," she said.

"I was so stressed and didn't know what to expect and they were all over it and even the hospital has been super supportive."

An RACQ rescue helicopter was also diverted to the scene to assist those on board the fishing charter boat.

Previous coverage of the whale collision can be viewed here.

Topics:  abell point marina north gloucester island proserpine hospital whale

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