Keep­ing his head above wa­ter

Whitsunday Times - - LIFE - Ja­cob Wil­son ja­cob.wil­son@whit­sun­day­

“IF you don’t laugh, you will cry”.

This is the phi­los­o­phy of Jet Ski Re­pairs Air­lie Beach op­er­a­tor Rus­sell Wil­son who not only lost his boat to Cy­clone Deb­bie.

“I lost my home and most of my per­sonal be­long­ings but at the end of the day it’s all ma­te­rial,” he said.

“I’m glad I’ve still got my life and if I stayed on my boat I knew I wouldn’t be alive as it cat­a­pulted through the man­groves.”

Mr Wil­son moved to the Whitsundays three years ago and has lived on his boat for the last 18 months.

He said it was hard to de­scribe the feeling he felt when he saw the state of his boat af­ter Cy­clone Deb­bie had passed, washed up against the Shute Har­bour man­groves. But he is de­ter­mined to keep go­ing one day at a time.

Mr Wil­son was left with just a bag of clothes and his re­pair busi­ness af­ter loot­ers pro­ceeded to steal what­ever they could from his de­stroyed ves­sel.

While hav­ing to deal with a tem­po­rary liv­ing sit­u­a­tion, sub­stan­tial debt and a $14,000 boat sal­vage fee, he still holds out hope.

He has a dream to build a float­ing home along Shute Har­bour and is cur­rently in the process of col­lect­ing plas­tic drums and plan­ning how to go about it.

Mr Wil­son said he and his fa­ther had the ex­pe­ri­ence to make his dream a re­al­ity, but his fi­nan­cial po­si­tion meant it would be a project for the long term.

“I also have to get ap­proval from MSQ, when you get some­thing on the wa­ter it has to be le­git – even if it’s not mov­ing any­where,” he said.

This hasn’t stopped him from mak­ing a start.

“If peo­ple want to do­nate any plas­tic drums or tim­ber planks I’m happy to ac­cept it,” he said.

Any­one in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing plas­tic drums can con­tact Rus­sell on 0481 774 688.


Rus­sell Wil­son looks to the future de­spite los­ing his home from Cy­clone Deb­bie.

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