Luck was with two sailors clinging to boat
VOMITING and blacking out, Kieran O’Connor did not expect to be rescued from the upturned hull of his catamaran until well after daybreak on Tuesday.
But at 1am that day the coowner of Palm Cove restaurants Neptunes and Bella Baci and friend Dimitri Fontaine were rescued 9.5km off the coast of Port Douglas by the crew of tourist vessel Coral Expeditions II.
The pair had set sail from Ellis Beach in a 17-foot catamaran when it was swamped by two consecutive seven foot swells near Double Island just after midday on Monday.
They survived 12 hours adrift with no food and little water.
Mr O’Connor’s mother called emergency services about 5pm when her son did not arrive for work.
“It was pretty daunting. It’s pretty heavy being washed around in the sea for that long,” Mr O’Connor said.
“When we rolled my first reaction was, ‘this is all part of the fun of sailing’, but in the process of righting the boat I became quite ill and started throwing up.
“I had no energy, I couldn’t even stand up.”
A fishing boat and search helicopter missed the 42-yearold and his mate.
“We tied ourselves to the boat and settled in for the night,” Mr O’Connor said.
“You hear noises all the time so I hear a noise, turn around and there’s a boat probably 150-200m away.
“I thought, ‘untie yourself because this is going to hit us’, but I heard them power down and I thought, ‘great, they’ve seen us’.”
Mr O’Connor gave the crew a carton of beer in gratitude when they were dropped off safely in Cooktown.
He said the experience has not put him off sailing.
The boat was not equipped with an EPIRB.
“These things happen but they only happen because you do them,” he said.
“You just have to prepare for the worst.
“My worst case scenario on Monday was maybe coming to work late because I was having too much fun.”
Frank Law, Yvette LeGriffon, Yvonne Rennie, Jennifer Ferguson and Rod Martin at the Mossman Hospital with the newly donated wheelchairs.