A couple were winched to safety from their yacht by a RACQ Capricorn helicopter.
A couple were winched to safety from their yacht by a RACQ Capricorn helicopter. Contributed

Couple saved in dramatic rescue

THEY may not have reached their preferred destination of Bundaberg, but a seafaring couple is happy to be back on dry land all the same.

The couple has been given a clean bill of health from medical staff after a dramatic rescue from a sinking yacht 150km out to sea.

An exhausting journey from the west coast of America came to an end for the long-range sailors when their yacht hit Llewellyn Reef, north-east of Gladstone, early Sunday.

The 45-year-old man and 30-year-old woman had travelled from San Diego and intended to land the vessel in Bundaberg.

But the venturers ran into trouble late on Saturday night when the main sail of the yacht was torn and the vessel drifted considerably off-course.

They had tried to avoid the reef but were pushed onto it by the current.

Further attempts to get the yacht off the reef failed after the mast broke.

A RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue team responded to a distress beacon at 5.30am on Sunday and found the couple drifting in a lifeboat 2km away from the vessel.

The couple caught the attention of RACQ crew members in the early-morning light with the use of flares.

RACQ Capricorn crewman Matthew Brandon said the sailors had managed to remain calm in the trying circumstances, but were happy to see their rescuers.

“They said they’d been out there for two hours by that stage and I think the gravity of the situation had really started to sink in,” Mr Brandon said.

The duo was winched to safety on board the RACQ Capricorn helicopter.

The rescued couple was then transported to the Rockhampton Hospital for observation.

Mr Brandon said the sailors had responded to the accident with textbook care and had helped to save their own lives.

“They had all the relevant safety equipment and they notified the authorities as early as they could,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re disappointed at having made it so close to Bundaberg and not getting there, but it could have been a lot worse.”

The yacht is thought to remain wrecked on the reef.



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