RACQ CQ Rescue has located a lone fisherman sitting on his upturned boat in the dark after he activated his EPIRB very early this morning.
The Mackay-based rescue helicopter was tasked by the Australia Maritime Safety Authority to conduct a search for a distress beacon which had been activated about 13km east of Mackay about 1.30am.
The beacon was registered to a six-metre fishing boat called The Hooker.
The RACQ CQ Rescue crew quickly reconfigured the Bell 412 helicopter for a search over water and was able to hone in on the beacon signal almost immediately after take-off.
RACQ CQ Rescue rescue crewman Ben McCauley said the boat was spotted easily from the air in the dark ocean because of the strobe light which was activated on the EPIRB. A man, the sole occupant of the vessel, was sitting on the hull of the upturned boat and was waving when the helicopter strobe light was on him.
The helicopter crew orbited the area and via radio was able to guide Volunteer Marine Rescue 5 to the vessel within 10 minutes. The man, who was uninjured, was picked up by the VMR vessel and taken back to Mackay Harbour. RACQ CQ Rescue remained overhead for support.
“This is a perfect example of how EPIRBs save lives as well as save rescuer’s time and money,” Mr McCauley said.
“If he didn’t have an EPIRB on board, who knows how long he would have been sitting out there in the water and in the dark before anyone even knew he was in distress. Activating the beacon meant we knew who and what we were looking for and that we were able to find him quickly and get him to safety.”
“He’s really incredible lucky,” Mr McCauley said.
VMR was returning to the scene to tow the upturned vessel to Mackay Harbour early this morning.
Today’s rescue capped a busy weekend for RACQ CQ Rescue who also flew to Moranbah, on Saturday, Dysart on Sunday as well as Glenden to transfer injured and unwell patients to Mackay Base Hospital.