Missing sailor located

Solo Coffs Harbour sailor Robert O’Brien.
Solo Coffs Harbour sailor Robert O’Brien.

THE family and friends of missing solo Coffs Harbour sailor Robert O’Brien can breathe easy after hearing he is safe and well.

Mr O’Brien was found yesterday at Sweet Lip Reef, part of the Swain Reefs, east of Rockhampton.

He was spotted by the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service, which flew over the area and saw Equilibrium, the 61-year-old’s vessel.

Mr O’Brien had sailed to Cairns, back to Airlie Beach, and was en-route to Mooloolaba when bad weather forced him to extend his stay at Hixson Cay, at Swain Reefs, 170km from Yeppoon.

He had been reported missing by his family as he had not made contact with them since mid-September, which was “out of character”.

The rescue aircraft crew, along with two police officers, were able to locate the vessel within a few minutes of commencing their search at Hixson Cay.Acting Inspector for the Rockhampton police district, , said Mr O’Brien told the helicopter rescue crew over radio he was fine and would continue his trip when the weather was better. We think he had his radio off trying to conserve power while sitting out the poor weather,” she said.

“When he sighted the rescue helicopter he turned it on and had a conversation with them. He indicated he was low on supplies, but he has enough to see him though and was quite self-sufficient.”

Mr O’Brien was located not far from Hixon Cay where a Coast Watch plane had identified his vessel on October 5. Acting Inspector Adams said Mr O’Brien’s family were very relieved he had been found and passed on their thanks to commercial and recreational vessels that assisted in the search – Volunteer Marine Rescue, the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service and Coast Guard – for their efforts.

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