‘Could have ended in tragedy’: Couple caught in capsize
AN Atherton Tablelands couple are lucky to be alive their catamaran capsized off Ellis Beach and they were thrown into rough waters.
The couple, a 56-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man, had launched a sailing catamaran on Tuesday and were about 1.5km offshore when they got into difficulty about 11am.
The vessel subsequently capsized in the rough conditions and the pair were thrown into the sea.
Attempts to right the vessel proved unsuccessful and the couple became separated from the stricken catamaran and swept away with the current.
An observer on shore had witnessed the couple's predicament and contacted police.
A/Sergeant Russ Parker said Cairns Water Police quickly responded with their high-speed rigid inflatable tactical response vessel, 'QPV Ivan Brodie' and located the overturned catamaran.
"Local surf lifesaving personnel were assisting with the incident and had responded with a personal water craft, however, the man and woman were not able to be located," he said.
"Armed with a comprehensive knowledge of local ocean currents and drift patterns gleaned from the years of search and rescue experience, the officers determined a search area away from the upturned vessel, locating the couple in the water several hundred metres from their upturned boat soon afterwards.
"They were brought on board QPV Brodie and safely transported to the Yorkeys Knob marina before being assessed by paramedics.
"While not being physically injured as a result of their ordeal and despite their exhaustion, the couple were certainly grateful for the efforts of their rescuers."
Officer in charge of Cairns Water Police, Sgt Andrew Ibell praised the actions of the observer who initially contacted police.
"Had they not kept watch on the catamaran, seen the crew get into difficulty and quickly raised the alarm, what started out as a routine sailing activity could very easily have ended in tragedy," he said.
"We know that the ocean currents in that area will generally run to the north and it's highly unlikely the couple could have made it to shore safely.
"Survivability time frames become a real issue in these rough and windy conditions."
Originally published as 'Could have ended in tragedy': Couple caught in boating mishap