Adam McLauchlan - Moreton Bay, QLD

Moreton bay is the location back in 2006. I had just bought a 28ft timber sharpie named Zetta II. She is a very good sea boat, low centre of gravity and powered by an 80hp Perkins. I had left my harbour of Cabbage tree Creek and headed for Mud island on Boxing Day, not normally a bad time of year for storms or bad weather. Day three of a 3 week holiday on the boat, we had spotted some weather on the horizon to the SSW over the Gold Coast hinterland. All VMR’s and Coast Guards had called the weather but then called it off during the day but we still kept an eye on it as we had northerlies of 10-15 knots. As a result, we had tucked up in tight to the coral in a nice depth of water and had the pots in chasing a nice feed of blue swimmers. We watched the front go to sea off the Gold Coast in a Northeasterly direction just on dusk. The northerlies picked up around dusk so in the anchorage, there were around 25-30 boats of all sizes 19ft to 60ft.

Zetta II - very good sea boat with low centre of gravity

Then around 9pm, we had heard the VHF light up with all sorts of boats in trouble to the south of us. This had the Alarm bells ringing as we didn’t have an option of going around the other side of the island due to a stiff 25-30 knot northerly. Then the lightning and the rain had started so I decided to up anchor and move off the coral ledge and head out about 500 meters off the island.

Before we knew it the front and storm were on us. I had visitors onboard and they were in a 16ft Clark and I had set their boat on the large heavy weather tow rope and my tender behind that - all on the one rope. I had approximately 150meters of anchor rope out plus 20 meters of 8mm chain and we were copping a southerly buster of 30-35knots from the south-east. Things were not going well with the tenders getting airborne and taking on water. The anchor rope was like a piano string and I had the main engine running to engage gears periodically as we would get 3 on the nose and on the fourth wave which was around 2-3 meters and breaking would hit us side-on.

One of my passenger we’re not well with one person very seasick, hanging on to a rear stay in a chair expelling over the side. She had slipped and fallen and broke her nose. This was just another level!

I was trying to keep the boat in control and nose into the waves. This went on for about 7 hours. Just on daybreak the 60 footer was a beam of me and as he was rolling around and pitching I could see his prop coming out of the water in the troughs.

By 0700 the next morning it had turned into a glass out and we sent the injured back to Brisbane for treatment and I carried on with my trip after a big clean up. All stores ended up either on the floor or down in the hatches.