Tourist yacht hits reef
THIRTY-TWO passengers and six crew members were evacuated from the Anaconda III after it struck Bait Reef in the Whitsundays on Monday morning.
The 30m yacht, which is used for tourist trips, began taking on water after it struck the reef, damaging its hull, at about 6.30am or 7am, passengers said.
The crew sailed the boat to Blue Pearl Bay, where Hayman Island workers helped them pump out some of the water before a Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) crew arrived.
Passengers and crew members were transferred to a standby vessel, Atlantic Clipper, a Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman said.
Scottish tourist Gordon Riddoch, who was aboard the Atlantic Clipper, said the boat's crew helped pump water from the troubled yacht for about two hours before bringing its passengers back to the mainland.
He said the yacht's passengers did not appear to be distressed and its crew seemed organised.
Anaconda III's owner, who was en route to the mainland this evening, sounded relieved the damage wasn't worse.
"We're on our way back in now and everything is looking okay," he said.
"We've taken all the precautions needed.
"There's a four-inch scrape along the side of the hull. We should be back in port (by 8pm)."
Maritime Safety Queensland said it would investigate the incident and confirmed there were no reports of pollution or injuries.
"MSQ have inspected the vessel and the regional harbour master has agreed to allow the vessel to travel back to Airlie Beach," a spokesman said.
"Additional pumps have been placed on board as an additional measure to control further leaks."
The incident was the latest of three boating mishaps, according to a VMR Whitsunday spokesman.
The service towed a charter boat full of backpackers from Nara Inlet to Abel Point Marina after it experienced gearbox or engine trouble on Sunday afternoon, before going to the rescue of 43-foot catamaran, which got stuck on the rocks at Nara Inlet, he said.
The catamaran was pulled to safety and re-anchored, he said.
"The weather was unbelievable," he said.
"The winds were 35 knots and the seas were horrendous."