Graham Winning and fellow anglers Dave Winning, Raina Gerlech and Warren Kempton
Graham Winning and fellow anglers Dave Winning, Raina Gerlech and Warren Kempton

Marine safety gods have mercy on anglers

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

"THE marine safety gods certainly were shining on them.''

That was the thoughts of Volunteer Marine Rescue Tony Dirosa when describing the rescue of four locals whose boat capsized on Wednesday night.

Graham Winning and his fellow crew spent two hours in freezing water at the mercy of the tides before eventually swimming to a nearby island where they spend the night.

Mr Winning was fishing in Graham Creek when it all went wrong.

"We just got hit from a couple of big waves over the back and it just snowballed from there,'' Mr Winning said.

"I can't believe how quickly it happened, it was literally seconds and then we decided it was going over and jumped in.''

Mr Winning, his brother Dave, Raina Gerlach and Warren Kempton then spent about two hours in the water struggling to stay afloat.

They clung to to the overturned boat, floating about nine kilometres down the cargo channel.

Near exhaustion, they left the safety of their boat to swim to nearby Tide Island, where they found shelter and slept for the night.

Amazingly when they woke the next morning, even though their boat remained stranded on rocks out at sea, the EPIRB from the boat had washed up on the very beach where they slept.

"It was freakish, there it was, so we activated it,'' Mr Winning said.

An hour after the alarm was raised, Gladstone VMR had arrived at Tide Island on its boat Mobil 1.

VMR duty controller Tony Dirosa described the local boaties as "very very lucky.''

Even though they were members of VMR, the locals failed to log in at the start of their trip.

Mr Dirosa said the four survivors were tired, cold and distressed, but uninjured and very thankful to the rescue crew.



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