‘Ghost’ boat discovered but no sign of glass-bottom vessel

Ocean Freedom has requested boaties keep an eye out for this 6m tender with a 115hp outboard.
Ocean Freedom has requested boaties keep an eye out for this 6m tender with a 115hp outboard.

A CAIRNS-based Reef operator has put the call out to boaties after its two vessels went missing during a ferocious storm that lashed the Cairns coast.

Ocean Freedom has asked all mariners to keep their eyes peeled for a 6m tender with a 115hp outboard and 11.5m glass-bottom boat with Beach Buggy Ocean Freedom written on side and a 60hp Mercury engine.

They are among a number of boats which became lost at sea during galeforce winds on Monday.

Ocean Freedom's Kerry Patterson said early Monday crews headed out to Upolu Reef at about 7.30am to retrieve the two boats permanently moored about 40km northwest of Cairns.

This 11.5m glass bottom boat with Beach Buggy Ocean Freedom written on side was lost during stormy seas on Monday off Cairns.
This 11.5m glass bottom boat with Beach Buggy Ocean Freedom written on side was lost during stormy seas on Monday off Cairns.


However, rough seas during the return trip to Cairns meant the tender was cut loose and crew was forced to anchor the glass bottom boat a short distance from the port.

"We quickly raced out to go and collet them (but during) the rescue attempt of the vessel we ended up having issues," she said.

"It just gusted up out of nowhere, there was gusts blowing at 40 knots. And there was a few other vessels impact on the day."

Ms Patterson said the small Ocean Freedom operation would be severely impacted by the loss of the boats.

"We use them for glass bottom boat for tours which is part and parcel of what we offer," she said.

"It means we can't operate both of our tours."

Two empty boat can be seen drifting out of the mouth of Mourilyan Harbour at Innisfail. It is one of four boats reportedly lost at sea following wild weather on Monday caused by now tropical cyclone Niran. Picture: Supplied
Two empty boat can be seen drifting out of the mouth of Mourilyan Harbour at Innisfail. It is one of four boats reportedly lost at sea following wild weather on Monday caused by now tropical cyclone Niran. Picture: Supplied


The missing boats were another blow to the operator impacted by loss of international Reef visitors and a looming end to the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

"Its just another stab in the guts, whist we are all still trying our best to keep our heads afloat," she said.

Ocean Freedom owners Taryn Agius and Perry Jones requested boaties who may frequent the waters between Cairns to Cape Flattery be on the alert for the two vessels.

Anyone who spots the boats is asked to contact the Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom office on 40521111 or Perry Jones on 0408 411 118.

Cairns dive boat the FV Hellem rescues a stranded vessel off the coast of Cairns during a wild storm on Monday caused by tropical cyclone Niran. PHOTO: Dyllan De Jong
Cairns dive boat the FV Hellem rescues a stranded vessel off the coast of Cairns during a wild storm on Monday caused by tropical cyclone Niran. PHOTO: Dyllan De Jong


Meanwhile there has been a happy ending to another casualty of Monday's wild weather.

Brent Negri lost his 30-foot mackerel boat from Mourilyan Harbour but found the vessel this morning washed up on a beach at Yarrabah.

"It's amazing, I am rapt and very happy with the results," he said.

"I am just heading down to Yarrabah now, to retrieve valuables and then I am going to wait till next Thursday until the high tide and get my mate with a trawler to see if we can sneak it off the beach."

The Tablelands-based boatie said there has not been any reports of the 50-foot wooden yacht and a 35-foot aluminium also lost form Mourilyan Harbour on Monday.

He said a Yarrabah local recognised his mackerel boat after seeing a Cairns Post report and got in touch to say it was high and dry on the beach.

Originally published as One 'ghost' boat discovered but no sign of glass-bottom vessel



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