Port of Air­lie Ma­rina man­ager goes above and be­yond

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Carruthers

HE RODE out Se­vere Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie at the Port of Air­lie Ma­rina.

Clay­ton Matthews said he felt as though he should say he was “bunkered down”, seek­ing shel­ter from wind gusts reach­ing 280km/h. But he wasn’t.

He was out in the driv­ing rain and howl­ing wind at­tempt­ing to min­imise the dam­age to boats in the ma­rina.

Re­ty­ing knots, re­mov­ing po­ten­tial hazards and even chas­ing down boats that had es­caped their berths, Mr Matthews went above and be­yond to pro­tect ves­sels.

“I felt an obli­ga­tion more than any­thing. A lot of peo­ple’s boats are their pride and joy, I have lost a few over the years and I know what it is like,” he said. “For some peo­ple it’s their homes, for oth­ers it’s their es­cape, so you do what you can for peo­ple.”

Amaz­ingly, while he was busy se­cur­ing the prop­erty of oth­ers, his own racing cata­ma­ran, Turn­ing Point, was lifted into the air and be­came im­paled on a big py­lon which held the float­ing pon­toons in place.

Mr Matthews de­scribed his ef­fort at the Port of Air­lie Ma­rina as “dam­age con­trol”.

Wit­nesses es­ti­mate Mr Matthews pre­vented be­tween six and 12 boats from sink­ing or be­ing se­verely dam­aged.

“I have had a lot of peo­ple of­fer to buy me a beer,” Mr Matthews said.

Ross Win­ter­bourn is just one of the boat own­ers that made this of­fer.

Mr Win­ter­bourn had his 35 foot sloop Bobby D tied up at the Port of Air­lie Ma­rina.

“My main­sail cover broke loose and some­one has taken a main­sail hal­yard down. I pre­sume it was Clay­ton,” he said.

“Boat­ies tend to do that, when the sh** hits the fan they help each other out.”

Like­wise Whit­sun­day Times ed­i­tor Sharon Smallwood said if it wasn’t for Clay­ton Matthews she wouldn’t still have her boat.

“Our lines were tripled, but the stern and springer snapped. She was hang­ing on by the for­ward line and had al­ready crashed into the boat berthed next to her,” she said.

“Clay­ton got out there and re-tied her in con­di­tions that were barely safe.

“I am re­lieved noth­ing hap­pened to him and eter­nally grate­ful.”

SAVIOUR: Clay­ton Matthews.

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