Preparation was key to group’s survival
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.
SAFETY FIRST: Allan Meads is urging boaties to take water safety seriously after a weekend emergency