Cruise guests beached

PASSENGERS and crew aboard a Seventeen Seventy tour boat spent the night with a howling wind, rain and huge seas, after an engine failure forced their trip home from Lady Musgrave Island to be abandoned.

After one of the MV Lady Musgrave’s engines broke down, the skipper decided it was too dangerous to try to make the return run for Seventeen Seventy on Sunday.

Fifty-eight passengers and 11 crew tried to make the best of a bad situation, grabbing snatches of sleep as the boat rocked in the normally calm lagoon.

Conditions worsened overnight, but the engine was repaired by yesterday morning and the Lady Musgrave made the dash for its home port; leaving the island at daybreak and arriving at the marina wharf just after 8.15am.

David and Lisa Bowdler, of Brisbane, said it was a difficult night trying to get any sleep and the trip home was rough.

“It was pretty bad, but not as bad as going out (on Sunday),” Mr Bowdler said. A group of 30 Japanese tourists looked tired and sleepless, and several suffered seasickness as they disembarked.

The boat was met by QAS paramedics and SES crews, but only a few passengers required help; two for acute seasickness and one for a coral cut. None required transport to hospital or the medical centre.

Lady Musgrave Cruises spokeswoman Carolyn Clayton said the passengers were comfortable with sufficient supplies for the evening.

“The company organised breakfast, further accommodation and transport to assist all passengers for their future holiday plans,” Ms Clayton said.

Customers were offered a full refund, but Ms Clayton said only about half of the guests chose to take it.

“They said it was an adventure, and had a lot of praise for how the staff handled it,” she said.

Gladstone Water Police officer in charge Jeff Barnett said police monitored the situation closely, and ensured rescue vessels and aircraft would be at hand if needed.

“It was a rough night at sea, but everyone is safe now,” he said.

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