Rescue saves potential castaways

THE Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue service and the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter saved two Brisbane men from spending the night as island castaways.

The two 21-year-olds were onboard a catamaran which was anchored off Border Island on Monday.

The men decided to take a hike through the bush but became lost.

When they had not returned after several hours, the captain of the boat phoned '000'.

Both the RACQ CQ Rescue and VMR were deployed shortly after 9pm to search for the missing men.

VMR members Mal Priday, Dean Kowitz, Mick Evans and Rod Wilson headed into a heavy rain squall, strong winds and moderate to rough sea.

Despite the conditions, the rescue vessel VMR 1 reached Border Island about an hour later and was able to rendezvous with the missing persons' boat and communicate with the rescue helicopter crew.

VMR1 then started a shoreline search to the south-western side of the island where the young men had last been seen. They were advised by the rescue helicopter crew that a small fire had been spotted on the south-western end of the island but that no-one appeared to be near it.

While VMR1 launched its tender to investigate further, the CQ Rescue helicopter conducted several circuits of the island without sighting the men.

CQ Rescue air crewman Russel James said the helicopter was getting low on fuel and it was on a final fly-by that the pilot spotted two men, waving from the top of a hill.

The men were winched to safety and apart from some mild dehydration, they were determined to be in good health and relieved their ordeal was over.

VMR1 recovered its tender and returned the catamaran's grateful skipper to his boat at Cateran Bay. The VMR crew were back at Abell Point Marina and finished with their mission by 1am.

"All in all, [it was] a difficult, testing night for both the rescue vessel and the helicopter crew, but with a good outcome at the end," VMR crewman Mal Priday said.

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