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RESCUE MISSION: Family's terrifying night at sea

RMH Rescue brings the catamaran alongside the pontoon.
RMH Rescue brings the catamaran alongside the pontoon. Yeppoon Coast Guard

UPDATE: A FATHER and two of his children spent a sleepless night paddling by hand to safety after their catamaran started to sink yesterday afternoon.

The man, 46, his daughter, 12, and son, 14, set off from Mulambin Beach on the Capricorn Coast towards Humpy Island, and were last seen at 1.30pm.

Yeppoon Coast Guard QF11 flotilla commander Arthur Hunt said the trio only intended to be on the water for a couple of hours, and did not have water or a signalling device.

When they did not return the mother started to fear for her family's safety and raised the alarm with the Yeppoon Coast Guard about 6pm.

RMH Rescue towing the catamaran which capsized off the Capricorn Coast yesterday with a father and two children aboard.
RMH Rescue towing the catamaran which capsized off the Capricorn Coast yesterday with a father and two children aboard. Yeppoon Coast Guard

"The mother was of course very upset, there was a five year old with her, they were naturally very concerned," Mr Hunt said.

A widespread air, sea and land search on and around Great Keppel and Humpy islands began from 6pm until midnight, but a storm grounded the helicopter for about an hour.

It was during this morning's air search that the rescue aircraft Dornier, flown in from Cairns, located the trio on Divided Island about 6am, only about half an hour after they reached the shore.

 

 

 

After they were airlifted by helicopter to the Rockhampton Hospital and treated for cuts and scratches, the family returned to tell Mr Hunt of their ordeal.

"They capsized because one of the hulls was leaking and taking on water, so they were heavy on one side," Mr Hunt explained.

"They managed to right it three times, then the mast fell down and so they were paddling to try to get to an island during the night and eventually they got to Divided Island at about 5.30am just before they were found.

"The boat was still afloat, but they were lying on top of a boat that couldn't sail anywhere.

"They were floating and trying to paddle to reach any shore... any shore.

"They went in the vicinity between Mulambin and Monkey Point, closer to Great Keppel Island."

Mr Hunt said the man and two children saw the helicopter last night, and the Coast Guard had come close to their location in the water, but without signalling equipment they could not notify them of their location.

 

RMH Rescue towing catamaran into the Rosslyn Bay Harbour.
RMH Rescue towing catamaran into the Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Yeppoon Coast Guard

"They saw the helicopter last night, we were in our rescue boats in fairly close proximity, unfortunately we couldn't see them in the dark," Mr Hunt said.

"They weren't in the water, they were lying in the boat."

The Yeppoon Coast Guard towed the catamaran from Divided Island to the Rosslyn Bay Boat Harbour this morning.

Arthur Hunt.
Arthur Hunt. Chris Ison

Mr Hunt said the Brisbane-based family were in the area to visit the father, who works in Rockhampton.

Mr Hunt praised the community and emergency services' combined efforts and was pleased the mission ended with the family in good health.

He said Great Keppel Island and Humpy Island residents searched until after midnight, and the State Emergency Services, Queensland Police Service, rescue helicopter, Keppel Sands and Yeppoon Coast Guards all assisted in the search.

Mr Hunt advised people notify the Coast Guard of their plans on the water, do not sail in an isolated place and bring a signalling device.

 

The catamaran which capsized off the Capricorn Coast is fastened to the pontoon at the Rosslyn Bay Harbour.
The catamaran which capsized off the Capricorn Coast is fastened to the pontoon at the Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Yeppoon Coast Guard

INITIAL: THE search for a man and two children aboard an overdue catamaran off the Capricorn Coast came to an end early this morning.

The 14-foot catamaran with a 46-year-old man, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy on board was last seen off Mulambin Beach around 1.30pm yesterday and was seen heading east towards the South Point of Great Keppel Island.

 

 

Last night the Queensland Police Service, with the help of other agencies, searched the beaches in Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island, before they resumed the search this morning.

The catamaran was located by aircraft on the beach at Divided Island at 6am this morning, and was towed to Rossslyn Bay Harbour.

The Queensland Police Service stated the man, girl and boy had minor injuries, but are safe and well.

The Queensland Ambulance Service were unable to provide further information.

Topics:  capricorn coast editors picks great keppel island missing boat queensland police service


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