Cyclone heartbreak grounds veteran yachtie
FOR Trevor Burns, losing his boat – a 43-foot ketch named Southern Lights – was utterly heartbreaking.
Southern Lights was moored at Shute Harbour where, with extra mooring chains, Mr Burns was confident she would survive.
But like most people, he didn’t expect Tropical Cyclone Debbie to linger as long as she did and did not expect her power.
“I was close to confident that (Southern Lights) would survive but nothing could have survived what went through Shute Harbour,” he said.
“It would have managed through a normal cyclone.”
He returned to his boat, which he owned for
23 years and was worth an estimated $100,000, and found her with moorings broken off and pushed up against mangroves.
Mr Burns said he couldn’t believe the amount of damage done to Shute Harbour.
“The terminal building there has been almost completely demolished,” he said.
“There were extraordinary scenes of boats pushed out almost right onto the road and into the car park.”
It’s not the first cyclone Mr Burns and Southern Lights have been through, having experienced Cyclone Ului in 2010.
“She got damaged in Cyclone Ului and we repaired her but this time I went to have a look and it’s beyond economic repair,” he said.
Despite no longer having a boat, Mr Burns said he and his wife would still live in the Whitsundays but there were no plans to buy another.
“I promised my wife that after these two experiences with Southern Lights that we would not own another boat in the Whitsundays,” he said.
“Even at Abell Point (Marina) there was no guarantee (boats) would get out not damaged.”
DREAMS SMASHED: Scenes of devastation at Shute Harbour following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.