Man shocked to see boat in cyclone photo
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.
SURPRISE: Hugh Brown was just one week away from visiting the Whitsundays to sail Empede.