Man shocked to see boat in cy­clone photo

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

WHILE watch­ing ex­ten­sive cov­er­age of Cy­clone Deb­bie’s de­struc­tion from his New South Wales home, Hugh Brown saw a fa­mil­iar sight.

A boat washed ashore at the Air­lie Beach foreshore looked eerily sim­i­lar to his 35-foot En­durance, Em­pede.

“I went on the in­ter­net and I was hop­ing the boat wasn’t mine, but I saw an im­age and saw it said Em­pede on the side,” he said.

In mid-2016, Mr Brown and some friends had sailed to the Whit­sun­days, where he left Em­pede ready for the next win­ter sail­ing sea­son.

In fact, Mr Brown was about one week away from head­ing back to Air­lie Beach and re­unit­ing with his boat when the cy­clone hit.

“I was watch­ing the news think­ing ‘there’s a cy­clone where my boat is’,” he said.

Hav­ing owned the boat for six years, Mr Brown said he was “rea­son­ably anx­ious”.

“I got on to my in­surer and ad­vised them my boat was no longer on its moor­ing and it was on the beach,” he said.

With Em­pede’s lo­ca­tion so cen­tral, it be­came the fo­cal point for many pho­tos de­pict­ing the dam­age Cy­clone Deb­bie caused.

It has since been re­moved from the shore and is now in a boat­yard, Mr Brown said.

De­spite los­ing Em­pede, Mr Brown man­aged to main­tain his sense of hu­mour. He said a few days af­ter the cy­clone he’d been told there were some un­ex­pected guests in his boat.

“The as­ses­sor said when they came to lift Em­pede and put it on the wa­ter, they found a cou­ple asleep in the boat,” he said.

It isn’t the end of Mr Brown’s sail­ing ex­ploits, with his sights al­ready set on an­other boat.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

SUR­PRISE: Hugh Brown was just one week away from vis­it­ing the Whit­sun­days to sail Em­pede.

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