ROUGH seas and a faulty hatch may be why a vessel sunk and a family of four had to be rescued from a Shoalwater Bay island on Saturday.
The Western Australia family, including two girls aged 13 and 6, were winched to safety off the rocks of South Townshend Island by RACQ CQ Rescue after their vessel broke from its anchor mooring and started taking on water at 3am.
An Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesman yesterday said the family had purchased the 15m catamaran in Yeppoon only days before, and spent their first night on board on their journey to WA, but a hatch "wasn't closing properly".
The spokesman said the AMSA Rescue Coordination Centre described the incident as water ingress.
He said the family was keeping an eye on the hatch, but lost control of how much water was entering the vessel.
The family fled the catamaran by inflating a small life raft and used it to paddle to the safety of the rocks where they set off emergency beacons and waved life-jackets.
This caught the attention of the Mackay-based helicopter rescue service, about 5am.
The family were taken to the northern side of Shoalwater Bay for assessment, and RACQ CQ Rescue crewman, Paul Price praised the courage shown by the 13 and 6-year-old girls, as he said they must have been in a great deal of distress.
No one was injured, and the family was taken to Rockhampton.
The vessel was fully submerged when rescuers arrived, and boaties should to take care near the entrance to Island Head Creek at Shoalwater Bay.
Rescue in Shoalwater Bay on Saturday:
- Family of four were rescued near South Townsend Island, approximately 100km north of Rockhampton.
- The rescue was inside the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area
- Military training exercises are underway in the area
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