The “almost derelict” yacht sits in Manly Boat Harbour after its young owner became stranded in Moreton Bay.
The “almost derelict” yacht sits in Manly Boat Harbour after its young owner became stranded in Moreton Bay.

Rookie sailor rescued in derelict boat drama

A YOUNG sailor with no idea how to sail his new yacht or any experience on the ocean has been rescued from a Moreton Bay island, sparking a warning from Coast Guard officials.

The man, aged in his early 20s, was rescued after his 7.5m vessel ran aground on mudflats on the south side of Fisherman's Island, just outside the mouth of the Brisbane River earlier this month.

He had bought the "unregistered and almost derelict" vessel online for $500 and was attempting to sail it to his Gold Coast home with no sailing skills, licence or maritime knowledge.

Wynnum-Manly Coast Guard spokesman, Harvey Shore, said running aground so close to land was the best outcome for the novice sailor, whose life was in danger from the moment he set sail.

Had he continued heading out to sea as he planned, he would have been a serious danger to himself and other sailors.

"He had no idea what he was doing - he just sailed out of the river and turned south," Mr Shore said.

"The motor conked out and the southeast winds blew him onto the shallow mudbanks."

But with no radio or navigational equipment, the young man had to rely on his mobile phone to call for help.

"He rang 000, who put him onto the Water Police but when they asked him where he was, he said he had no idea," Mr Shore said.

"So they got a rough triangulation on his phone and alerted us.

"We went looking for him and eventually found him and towed him back to shore.

"He had absolutely no idea what he was doing, so he was very lucky that things turned out the way they did."

Mr Shore said the young man didn't know all vessels with engines over 3 kilowatts or four horsepower had to be registered and all skippers who operate vessels with engine power over 4.5 kilowatts, or six horsepower, needed a marine licence.

"He didn't know that small vessels like his need basic equipment to operate even in smooth waters when less than half a nautical mile from shore and that skippers are responsible for ensuring their vessels are safe, properly equipped and maintained and operated in a safe manner."

Wynnum-Manly Coast Guard Commander Steve Fleming said it was an important lesson for any young people who loved boats.

"Before you buy a boat and go to sea, get a marine survey and a boat licence," he said.

"You'll end up saving money, and maybe even your life."