Sailor left with only clothes on his back as yacht sinks
A SAILOR has been left with only the clothes on his back after his large two masted yacht sunk at St Bees Island yesterday morning.
The yacht 'Karoo', a Ferro Cement boat, had anchored close to the reef off St Bees Island Resort overnight and by low tide in the morning it had hit the nearby reef and rocks, damaging the boat.
During the morning the yacht sank and is now sitting on the ocean floor with only its mast protruding from the water.
Mackay's 448 Volunteer Marine Rescue crew was tasked to the job but in the end couldn't save the boat as it was already submerged and the damage was too extensive.
"It appears there was nothing they could do," St Bees Island owner Phil Webb said. "They could only retrieve the sailor and his dinghy and take him back to Mackay."
VMR skipper Darryl Jenkins said the yacht had started sinking about 10 minutes before they arrived, although it wouldn't have made much difference, he said.
"We got the call to go out about 6.19am where a vessel had drifted from its anchor last night and contacted rocks," he said.
"We got together a crew and would have left just after 7am arriving there at quarter to eight, when we arrived the boat has just gone under.
"There wasn't anything we could do at that time to try and save it..."
The sailor, believed to be in his 70s, was travelling from Airlie Beach to Bundaberg, and had just pulled in for the night.
The boat was his home and so for now he is staying in a hotel in town.
"He was okay when we transported him," Mr Jenkins said.
"But I think it will start to hit him soon, he started to realise that he'd lost everything and only had a little bag of a few things and the clothes on his back at base. He doesn't have a home now and said he's going to have to stay in a hotel and figure out the next step of his life."
The vessel will now be dealt with by insurance who will decide when and how to retrieve the boat, Mr Jenkins said.