one-of-the-family-030214QF11 Yeppoon used an EPIRB locator to find a family who were clinging to the hull of their upturned dinghy for more than two and a half hours on Australia Day after the boat overturned in wild waters off the Capricorn Coast.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC Australia) coordinated the search and rescue after those on board activated a distress beacon about 12.30pm.

The occupants of the boat reported later that a wave had capsized their boat and one passenger was initially trapped underneath. They stayed with the boat and took an hour to bring the EPIRB to the surface and turn it on. Yeppoon Water Police and

Yeppoon Coast Guard were tasked to assist in the search and rescue operation and QF11 reported that the EPIRB was registered to a 6m Quintrex boat that had left Great Keppel Island at 0944 hours with a family of five (two adults and three children) on board but had not reported arriving at Rosslyn Bay Harbour.

At 1230 hrs Skipper Allan Barsby and crew were asked to head along the expected track to Great Keppel Island to search for the boat while waiting for a more precise fix on the EPIRB and the arrival of the RACQ Capricorn rescue helicopter from Rockhampton.

Meanwhile Mick O'Connor and Heather Bellett took the EPIRB Direction Finder to the harbour wall to try to obtain a direction. They received a faint signal to the north and then drove to Wreck Point to obtain a second fix.

They established a possible position 2.8nm north of Rosslyn Bay Harbour and the rescue helicopter and rescue vessel were then redirected to the new search area. The helicopter first gave a false sighting due to the the dredge buoys but then located the five people in the water with their upturned boat. All five people were winched into the helicopter which headed to Rockhampton about 1500 hours.

The crew on RV McDonald's were able to come alongside the upturned boat, retrieve the EPIRB from the water and deactivate it. QF11 said it was a successful operation in very rough conditions but it highlighted the difficulty of searching for a submerged boat in poor visibility without an established starting point.