Luck was with two sailors cling­ing to boat

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Ali­cia Nally

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.”

Pic­ture: SCOTT TIB­BALLS

Frank Law, Yvette LeGrif­fon, Yvonne Ren­nie, Jen­nifer Fer­gu­son and Rod Martin at the Moss­man Hospi­tal with the newly do­nated wheel­chairs.

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