Tin Can Bay Coast Guard Commander Harley Moss aboard Cooloola Rescue yesterday after he returned from two nights at sea.
Tin Can Bay Coast Guard Commander Harley Moss aboard Cooloola Rescue yesterday after he returned from two nights at sea. Renee Pilcher

Coast Guard no longer all at sea

THE four-man Tin Can Bay rescue team stuck at sea for two days this week were all home tucked up in bed by 3pm yesterday after negotiating the deadly Wide Bay bar three hours before high tide.

Coast Guard volunteers Ian Sutton, Neil McFarlane, Dieter Voss and Ross Ashley - none of them getting any younger - endured a day and a half of sea sickness, hunger and sleep deprivation after setting out in the middle of the night on Wednesday to rescue a stricken ketch lost in wild seas off the Cooloola Coast.

Despite their hunger and exhaustion, they were in good spirits as they returned to Tin Can Bay yesterday.

Coast Guard Commander Harley Ross said after driving the last of the men home that standard procedure when setting out on a rescue mission was to take plenty of water and enough food to last each crew man 14 hours.

But this rescue mission took more than 36 hours and involved gale force winds, winter temperatures and a huge swell.

For two nights and a day the men found protection in the lee of Double Island Point, while the weather continued to rage around them.

They pooled their food - some packets of soup and muesli bars - and took turns at sleeping on the one bunk aboard Coolooola Rescue.

The food ran out early on Thursday night, so by the time the crew made it across the Wide Bay Bar at 1pm yesterday they were ravenous.

Cmdr Moss was aboard the safety vessel which observed Cooloola Rescue's bar crossing, and boarded her from the Pride of Maryborough once she was across.

He had a packed lunch of fruit, sandwiches and biscuits, which the hungry volunteers fell upon. Once back ashore, he wasted no time in getting them all home.

Cmdr Moss estimated the exercise cost Tin Can Bay Coast Guard $3000, a sizeable chunk out of its annual running costs of $150,000, to which the government contributes $20,000, the rest being raised through raffles and other activities.

Gympie Times


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