Couple marooned overnight after freak wave slams boat

A Clairview couple was airlifted from Avoid Island, 100km south of Mackay, after spending eight cold and uncomfortable hours marooned on the island.
A Clairview couple was airlifted from Avoid Island, 100km south of Mackay, after spending eight cold and uncomfortable hours marooned on the island. RACQ CQ Rescue

'HELP' scrawled in large letters on the sands of a Central Queensland island - that was the dire situation one couple found themselves in after a freak storm hit them at sea Tuesday night.

Forced to camp on the island, 100km south of Mackay, overnight after their boat was smashed into rocks, they set off their emergency beacon and waited for rescuers to arrive.

The couple left their beachfront home at Clairview about 11am Tuesday, in their five-metre vessel, to spend a couple of days fishing and camping in the Percy Group of islands.

They sought shelter on the north-west side of Avoid Island as three storms passed early in the night, and were anchored in a metre of water when, about 1am, the storm hit and "a couple of huge five-metre waves" slammed them into the rocks.

They were able to escape the damaged boat with a few possessions and some food and water.

RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked just after 10am Wednesday to search for an emergency beacon that had been activated in the vicinity of Avoid Island.

The couple was airlifted to Mackay by RACQ CQ Rescue Wednesday morning when they activated an EPIRB about 10am after spending eight hours marooned on Avoid Island, 100km south of Mackay.

RACQ CQ Rescue air crewman Quinton Rethus said the helicopter crew was about 20km from the island when they picked up the distress signal and was able to pinpoint the exact location of the beacon.

They found the relieved couple waving from the beach on the north-west side of the island and could clearly see where they had written 'HELP' in huge letters in the sand.

The pair had waited until the weather had cleared and they were sure the island was uninhabited before setting off the beacon.

An RACQ CQ Rescue rescue crewman exited the aircraft as it hovered just off the ground and was able to assist the man and woman walk about one kilometre to the island's airstrip where the helicopter was able to land.

Despite some cuts and bruises, they were otherwise uninjured and in good health.

They arrived in Mackay on board the rescue helicopter about 11.30am.

It is believed Mackay police offered them a lift home to Clairview.

Topics:  clairview editors picks fishing fishing news mackay news mackay racq cq rescue rescue helicopter

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