Lo­cal dive boat hit on rou­tine trip

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Dane Lilling­stone dane.lilling­stone@whit­sun­day­

SUN­DAY, April 23, was just an­other nor­mal day on the wa­ter for Il­lu­sions owner and skip­per Josef Concy, but then some­thing went hor­ri­bly wrong.

Sail­ing the same route he has for the past 14 years, on a tour be­tween Hay­man Is­land and Stone­haven, off Hook Is­land and trav­el­ling at around six knots, he heard a loud bang and knew some­thing wasn’t right.

“I knew we hit some­thing,” he said.

“What we hit... no­body’s seen. Pas­sen­gers were sit­ting at the front of the boat (but) no­body saw it.”

It was around 11.30am and the boat im­me­di­ately started tak­ing on wa­ter.

The 42ft tour boat, with 13 pas­sen­gers and three crew on board, was hit on the star­board side and that’s about as much as Mr Concy can tell.

“We had a div­ing in­struc­tor go down to see if we could patch (the hull) and come to the main­land but wa­ter was com­ing in too quickly,” Mr Concy said.

“We tried to find a moor­ing in Black Is­land (but) we even­tu­ally had to make the de­ci­sion to ditch the boat.”

Mr Concy put out a pan-pan call on ra­dio and soon an­other lo­cal div­ing charter came to their res­cue.

Brent Chat­ter­ton, skip­per of dive boat Kiana, was the first to get the call around 12.30pm.

“And I was there in about 12 min­utes,” he said.

“We as­sisted all the pas­sen­gers off the ves­sel, gave them some lunch and got all their lunch and be­long­ings off the boat.

“We talked to them, set­tled them down and made them feel com­fort­able.

“We got all their de­tails, took them back to the main­land and dropped them off at their ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

Mr Concy had noth­ing but praise for the Kiana crew say­ing their help was “ab­so­lutely magic”.

Af­ter stay­ing with Il­lu­sions on Sun­day and hav­ing it se­cured, the boat was towed back to Air­lie Beach last Wed­nes­day night.

Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, both skip­pers agreed that all ves­sels in the Whit­sun­day wa­ters needed to be care­ful.

“I’ve been do­ing the same route for 14 years,” Mr Concy said.

“(But) since Cy­clone Deb­bie, all of the Whit­sun­day wa­ters have changed a lot.

“There’s a lot of de­bris, a lot of sunken boats around. No­body knows where they are, no­body knows what’s hap­pen­ing. What I hit put a hell of a dint on my boat.”

A spokesper­son from Mar­itime Safety Queens­land said many of their nav­i­ga­tion aids had been de­stroyed and said they would be un­der­tak­ing a sur­vey of un­der­wa­ter haz­ards and shift­ing chan­nels.


WHAT LIES BE­NEATH: Il­lu­sions, which was on a rou­tine trip, af­ter hit­ting some­thing un­der­wa­ter.

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