Miss­ing skip­per a ’gen­tle­man’ of sea

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Daniel Bateman and Sam Davis

THE skip­per of the boat that sank off Glad­stone’s coast has been de­scribed by friends as a “true gen­tle­man” of the ocean.

Ben Leahy, who is also be­lieved to own the FV is well-known among Cairns’ fish­ing com­mu­nity as a high­lyskilled skip­per who had been work­ing on the wa­ter for more than 20 years.

Po­lice are un­der­stood to have told rel­a­tives that Mr Leahy was be­lieved to have been in the en­gine room when the boat over­turned.

His par­ents, Pa­trick and Rose­mary Leahy, trav­elled to 1770 from their Bris­bane home on Tuesday, and were re­port­edly told they should ex­pect the worst.

Cairns Game Fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Daniel McCarthy, who spoke to Mr Leahy only a few weeks ago be­fore the headed south to har­vest sea cu­cum­bers, said the Aus­tralian Mar­itime Col­lege stu­dent was a very ca­pa­ble sea­goer.

“He’s a great guy — very well trav­elled on the Reef, very ex­pe­ri­enced,” Mr McCarthy said.

“He’s a lovely guy. I just can’t be­lieve what’s hap­pened.

“He’s a strong swim­mer, too, who is mad into spearfish­ing and div­ing.

“He’s spent a lot of time in the wa­ter – very fit and strong.”

He said the fish­ing com­mu­nity was pray­ing for a mir­a­cle that Mr Leahy and the rest of the miss­ing crew mem­bers of the were found safe and sound.

“It cer­tainly doesn’t sound good, but we can’t give up — and mir­a­cles do hap­pen,” he said. “We’re go­ing to need one.” The is re­port­edly a well-equipped, large 17m ves­sel, kit­ted out with all safety re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing a satel­lite phone.

How­ever it is un­der­stood the boat was un­able to get a may­day call out be­fore it cap­sized.

For­mer Port­smith Fuels lo­gis­tics man­ager Brett Ken­nerly, who used to ser­vice the ves­sel, said it was sound and de­scribed its crews as “con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­als”.

Skilled: The Dianne’s cap­tain Ben Leahy

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