Epic task to move
The man behind salvage operations post Cyclone Debbie has now seen it all
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