LUCKY ES­CAPE

Prepa­ra­tion was key to group’s sur­vival

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Nathan Paull nathan. paull@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

A BUSH­LAND Beach man yes­ter­day told of how he and three mates were plucked from waters off Townsville.

A BUSH­LAND Beach man forced to cling to an Esky with three mates in shark­in­fested waters says they all would have died if they did not have an EPIRB.

Al­lan Meads said he and his mates, Ray Thompson, Tony Ro­gy­land Ma r k Smith, headed out on the wa­ter early Satur­day night and planned to re­turn Sun­day morn­ing, but had a power fail­ure.

Mr Meads said the Townsville Coast Guard was con­tacted about 7am and the group was told they should sit back and en­joy their f i shing un­til t hey were picked up, but things started get­ting se­ri­ous about 10am.

‘‘ We ra­dioed them and said ‘ we are sink­ing, please help us’ and they heard us but they couldn’t re­spond be­cause our ra­dio was fail­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘ So we got our life­jack­ets on, got the EPIRB and a cou­ple of min­utes later we were still get­ting or­gan­ised when the boat went down.

‘ ‘ It just hap­pened that quickly.’’

Mr Meads said he tied the EPIRB to his arm, grabbed other sup­plies and swam to his Esky which was start­ing to float away.

‘‘ It stood out so well be­cause it was a big red Esky but we were a bit con­cerned be­cause it had fish in it,’’ he said.

‘‘ So we were try­ing to keep that afloat so it wouldn’t go into the wa­ter too much so there wouldn’t be too much blood and at­tract sharks.

‘‘ We all just helped each other along, tied each other to­gether and kept calm, but it was pretty nerve-rack­ing I must ad­mit.’’

Mr Meads said the group was as pre­pared as they could be, grab­bing life­jack­ets, flares, buoys, ropes and the EPIRB be­fore the boat went un­der.

Mr Meads said prep -ara­tion was key to the group’s sur­vival.

‘‘ We wouldn’t have sur­vived,’’ he said.

‘‘ EPIRBs are just some­thing you must have. It was $ 900 well spent and it saved our lives.’’

But he con­ceded even the best laid plans could not stop him from get­ting at least a lit­tle wor­ried, es­pe­cially when they saw the Coast Guard boat ap­pear, drive around and then head back to­wards the port.

But Mr Meads said he knew he and his mates were saved once the boat re­turned and he started to hear a he­li­copter.

The men were res­cued around 1pm and re­turned to shore by 4pm.

The avid boatie said his Coast Guard mem­ber­ship was money well spent and wanted to thank the or­gan­i­sa­tion and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Queens­land for help­ing with the res­cue.

Photo: SCOTT RAD­FORD-CHISHOLM

SAFETY FIRST: Al­lan Meads is urg­ing boat­ies to take wa­ter safety se­ri­ously af­ter a week­end emer­gency

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