RESCUE DESCRIBED: Flotilla Commander Jim Warren with torch (still working), life jacket and distress beacon.
RESCUE DESCRIBED: Flotilla Commander Jim Warren with torch (still working), life jacket and distress beacon.

Coast guard describes dramatic rescue after boat sinks

UPDATE 4PM: MORE details have been released regarding Coast Guard Yeppoon's dramatic rescue of three people and dog from the water off Rosslyn Bay on Friday night.   

Two adults, a man, a woman and a 16 year old teenager had set out for Great Keppel Island in an open aluminium boat just before nightfall but it was swamped and capsized by rough seas shortly after leaving the harbour.   

Fortunately three Coast Guard members were at the base preparing for weekend crew duty and were able to take prompt action.  

Coast Guard member Merv Studt took a mobile phone call from the woman who reported that she was waist deep in water but had managed to keep her phone dry and used a google search to find the Coast Guard number.   

Although the boat owner had previously joined Marine Assist, the trip had not been logged with Coast Guard before leaving the harbour.  

The caller confirmed that the occupants had put on life jackets, (including two for the dog) and they had a distress beacon which she was advised to activate.  


Lifejackets, torch and distress beacon recovered.
Lifejackets, torch and distress beacon recovered.

The Flotilla Commander, Jim Warren, immediately notified the Police Duty SAR officer while Marine Assist Rescue was being prepared for the rescue by Coast Guard member Rex Kirk.   

While the rescue vessel was leaving the harbour at 5.56 pm, the skipper, Jim Warren, received from the Police the co-ordinates of the distress beacon which had been detected by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra.   

The co-ordinates were available immediately because the beacon was a model which included a GPS unit and the signal to the satellite included the co-ordinates in addition to the beacon identification.  

Once outside the harbour, the Coast Guard crew were confronted by the task of finding three people and a submerged boat in darkness in two-metre seas.   

After it was activated, the beacon had been tied to the teenager and secured inside his life jacket. However that obscured the signal and the vessel's radio direction finder could not home in on the location of the beacon.    However the boat's occupants had grabbed a large LED torch and were able to shine that in the direction of the approaching rescue vessel which ensured their rescue.   

The torch still worked even though it was partly filled with water and it was still shining 15 hours later as it could not be turned off.  

When located at 6.18 pm, two nautical miles East of Rosslyn Bay Harbour, the three occupants (and dog) were pulled from the water but the boat could not be taken in tow.   

The boat and numerous pieces of equipment later washed ashore on Yeppoon Main Beach. The occupants who were suffering from mild hypothermia, were brought back to the harbour at 6.35 pm and able to use the hot showers at the Coast Guard base to restore body heat.   

After being checked by a QAS paramedic, they were taken home by ambulance as they had lost their car keys when the boat capsized. They have since taken the ferry to Great Keppel Island to resume their holiday.  

Flotilla Commander Jim Warren expressed satisfaction that a successful rescue had been accomplished but urges boaties to take note of basic safety procedures:  

  • Check weather forecasts and make sure your boat is suited to forecast conditions
  • Reduce weight in a boat to ensure stability and seaworthiness; consider using the ferries to GKI for some passengers and cargo
  • Log all trips with the Coast Guard, especially in poor conditions and fading light
  • Test your VHF radio before departure and keep it on while travelling
  • Store the Coast Guard phone number in your mobile phone
  • Buy and install a GPS-equipped distress beacon, even if you only operate inside Keppel BayIf a beacon is activated, tie it to a person but let it float on the surface.
  • After a beacon has been activated, do not turn it off until you are found
  • Ensure you have a torch or flares available to alert rescue vessels or helicopters
  • Practise the 30 second test - don life jacket, make emergency call and activate distress beacon

YESTERDAY 7.50PM: THREE people are safe but shaken after they ended up in the water when their boat sank off Rosslyn Bay tonight.

Ambulance officers received a call from police just after 6.30pm to attend to the three who had spent 20 minutes in the water before being rescued by the Yeppoon Coast Guard.

A helicopter search was about to begin just as the three were found.

A spokesman for QAS said they were returned to Rosslyn Bay where they were assessed and found to be cold but uninjured.

It is not known what caused the boat to sink.

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