Saved ‘against incalculable odds’
MUFFLED screams for help heard from the helm of VMR 1 alerted the skipper to the location of a missing swimmer last seen on Coral Beach as darkness began to fall.
VMR Whitsunday president Mal Priday said his crew was activated on Saturday at 6pm by the police search and rescue co-ordinator.
Grave concerns were held for the man in his 30s who had left no personal effects on the beach.
A shoreline search ensued between Pioneer Point and the Neck, the crew operating at speed in lumpy seas going as far at Coral Point before turning around and doing it again.
But to no avail.
Off Swamp Bay the crew noticed a little light emanating from the shore.
Turning to investigate, Mr Priday said the crew used their infra-red cameras and search light, launched the dingy and headed in the direction of the light.
“I sent two crew in and as they were getting close they saw on the FLIR someone walk down onto the beach to talk to them,” he said.
“But it wasn’t the people we were looking for.”
About 8pm VMR 1 began heading back to Abell Point Marina when off Green Point Mr Priday “heard a voice”.
“Against incalculable odds,” he said.
“I was up driving the boat on the fly-bridge and in the middle of nowhere, off-shore, I heard a voice and someone yelling.
“I initially thought one of the crew had fallen over board so I pulled back on the throttles by which time the crew were telling me there was a guy in the water.”
The man was pulled aboard in an exhausted state and wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.
Police were notified and the man was transported to Proserpine hospital for observation.
About 800 metres off-shore in an exhausted state Mr Priday doubted the man could have swam the distance to save his own life.
Whitsunday VMR 1 rescued a man in his 30s off Green Point.