Epic task to move

The man be­hind sal­vage op­er­a­tions post Cy­clone Deb­bie has now seen it all

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Sharon Small­wood sharon.small­wood@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

DAVID Edge is the man be­hind sal­vage op­er­a­tions on 29 of the 80-plus boats strewn across Whit­sun­day shores thanks to Cy­clone Deb­bie.

But when he be­gan his epic task he didn’t even have dry clothes.

On the day the cy­clone hit, David was bunkered down in his home at Edges Boat Yard, deep in the man­groves past Ju­bilee Pocket.

David had been through six cy­clones in his three decades of liv­ing in the Whit­sun­days and he thought he knew what to ex­pect.

But while Deb­bie may have ex­ceeded his ex­pec­ta­tions one of his pre­dic­tions turned out to be cor­rect. He was go­ing to need his two sal­vage barges.

“Be­fore the eye, the boat­yard of­fice blew away and then the roof peeled off my house. I was get­ting wet in­side,” he re­called.

“The leaves were peel­ing off the man­grove trees and it was like a swarm of lo­custs.”

With no roof on his house and all his pos­ses­sions ruined, he rode out the rest of the cy­clone in the cab of his ex­ca­va­tor in­side his shed.

Like the rest of the re­gion’s res­i­dents he emerged when it was over to a dev­as­tat­ing scene.

“I didn’t have any dry clothes (and) I was sort of be­wil­dered,” he said.

“We had no power... but I knew we had work to do.”

That work, for David and his sal­vage crew con­sist­ing of an ex­ca­va­tor driver, en­gi­neer, deck­hand and skip­per, was about to start.

In­surance com­pa­nies with boats aground at Hay­man and Hamilton is­lands were among his first tasks.

For boats that had sunk, the team at David Edge Marine would utilise their crane barge, lift­ing the hulls out of the wa­ter on big slings, patching holes and tow­ing them back to the mari­nas to be as­sessed.

For those that had been blown ashore, onto rocks or into man­groves, the winch barge, ca­bles and ex­ca­va­tor be­came the tools of choice.

It was the lat­ter method David and his crew pre­dom­i­nantly em­ployed at Shute Har­bour where some of the most shock­ing scenes would be found.

Other mem­o­ries etched in­deli­bly in his mind were the bro­ken 65ft Princess yacht on Dent Is­land worth a cou­ple of mil­lion dol­lars and

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