A multi-million dollar salvage effort won out over the elements yesterday as time and tide turned against rescuers.
A multi-million dollar salvage effort won out over the elements yesterday as time and tide turned against rescuers.

Time, tide beaten to prize

RECOVERY experts celebrated last night after probably the most challenging and scary salvage effort in the history of Rainbow Beach.

Rainbow Beach Recovery workers used millions of dollars worth of heavy lifting and transport equipment in the daring and potentially disastrous recovery of a grounded yacht near Double Island Point.

The two-day recovery effort came close to failure on Thursday, as time and tide turned against salvage crews attempting to cart the 43-foot ketch, Australia 31, up the beach.

Cranes, a massive trailer and an eight-wheel drive truck spent Thursday night tucked-up as far from the sea as possible, as a late afternoon rising tide forced them to run for cover.

Many tonnes of equipment rounded the Mudlo Rocks, picking their way across a rocky bottom scoured by recent wild weather.

The ketch was forced aground by foul conditions last week.

A Tin Can Bay Coastguard crew, which went out to assist, quickly found themselves with troubles of their own, as conditions deteriorated, locking them outside the treacherous Wide Bay Bar for the night.

They came in the next day after a safe but uncomfortable night at sea, in conditions rated as too dangerous to be out in unnecessarily.

On board the Australia 31, skipper Bernie Katchor told The Gympie Times he had been attempting to anchor in the lee of Double Island Point when a cresting wave "just surfed us in to the beach."

A convoy of recovery vehicles rounded the Mudlo Rocks at low tide yesterday afternoon after an anxious night, with millions of dollars worth of vehicles and equipment stranded on the heavily eroded beach south of the rocks.

"We had visions of the whole lot being sucked down into the sand, but it was all okay," one worker said yesterday. "We're just having a few beers now to celebrate.

"We've done a few recoveries over the years, but that was one of the most difficult," he said.

Gympie Times

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