Holiday season on the Cooloola Coast

Coastguard Double Island Point

Heading 11 NM south of Double Island Point to designated search area

AVCG Tin Can Bay QF17 Report

Must be holiday season… two police requests to the coastguard in two weeks to help search for missing persons, presumably lost at sea.

Monday April 6 started with a 4am wake-up call from police to search for a missing person, 11 miles south of Double Island Point off Teewah Beach. Person apparently went for a swim at 10pm and failed to return.

Crew assembled at QF17 base and cast off before 5am, and headed toward the Wide Bay Bar. Met with “Moderate Seas” and a spectacular sunrise, Cooloola Rescue 2 headed south to commence search pattern in designated area of responsibility.

Noosa did their bit and we did ours for about four hours until a “Stand Down” order was issued from police. All ended happily and we headed home.

We could have begun earlier IF we had thermal imaging cameras, but QF17 couldn’t afford to purchase one on its own, and emergency services don’t issue these as part of necessary equipment. Maybe all activations occur in daylight?

Less than two weeks later, another SAR call-out. This time, orders were received to proceed to search area, some 35 miles out to sea “off Fraser Island”. It’s a BIG area to look for a person presumably lost at sea.

The trip outbound dealt with moderate seas and 3+ metre on the Wide Bay Bar. The search area took seven hours to reach due to worsening conditions, and the crew of five began a search pattern in order to investigate about 100 square miles of rough, windy open seas “east of Fraser Island”.

Standing down at sunset (again no night search capabilities) Cooloola  Rescue 2 and a tired crew headed back to Wide Bay Bar to attempt an inward crossing.

The day had morphed into a “dark and windy night”. Yes, really it was! Too dangerous to cross, particularly at night, it was decided to move south to overnight shelter by Double Island Point and attempt another crossing in daylight.

After a pleasant night anchored in protected waters, the crew awoke to a typical beaut Queensland day and successfully navigated the Bar and returned to base more than 24 hours after the call for help. Unfortunately this story does not have a happy ending.

Between half a dozen assists inside the Straits and about the same number outside, the month consisted of our weekly training, maintenance programmes.

Also, fundraising raffles on Friday nights at the Country Club, BBQ boat raffle at venues at Gympie shopping centres, BCF, Woolworths Cooloola and TCB markets, Camp ANZAC Cooloola and our annual major fundraiser over Easter.

QF17 would like to thank all those people who gave generously to help us raise almost $9,000. It is this money which helps keep our boats afloat and assists towards our fuel bills, maintenance and insurances.

Main Roads didn’t allow any collection activities after sunset and the predicted wet weather (and actual wet weather) did keep numbers down and opportunities to donate restricted. Visitors and residents in our area have big hearts and appreciate our volunteers when help is needed.

Mantaray Barges allowed us to collect on their vessels (nothing like a willing captive audience) and Main Roads issued permits for collection points.

Either people felt sorry for the small band of wet, tired volunteers, who bravely smiled throughout their shifts, or the public really, really acknowledge our true value and gave what they could.

Mariners are reminded to LOG ON (it’s free) when departing no matter what distance they plan to travel. Contact QF17 on VHF 80, 82 or 16 and 27 Mhz 27.88 or 27.90 or phone in on 54864290.

Tide Guides, adjusted for TCB and WBB June-Dec and transiting to a new format with more colour, will be available at our authorised stockists: AVCG QF17 at Norman Point; TCB Chandlery  (TCB Marina); TCB Boat Hire (Sculett Dr); Rainbow Beach Hardware; Fishing & Camping (R.B. Road); Carlo Pint Point Boat Hire and Cooloola News Agency

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