Dream sail ends in disaster - WA family rescued

Townshend Island, Shoalwater Bay, where the catamaran sank just 18 nm into its journey
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The waters around Mackay are having more than their share of sinkings and rescues at the moment. Just a week after a lone sailor had to be rescued by helicopter after his yacht sank of the Percy Group of islands, a West Australian family's catamaran has sunk not far south of the Percy's, in Shoalwater Bay.

The family of four has been rescued from a drifting life raft. The two adults and two children, girls, aged six and 13, paddled in an inflatable liferaft to nearby rocks after they abandoned their 15-metre catamaran, Seaside Spirit. They had only purchased the boat two days before.

The family had set out to sail the catamaran home to Western Australia after they purchased it in Rosslyn Bay, and on Friday, after sailing a mere 18 miles towards West Australia, noticed that it was starting to take on water. They were already bailing on Friday afternoon, after they discovered the bilge pump was not up to capacity, police said.

However, they still went to bed on Friday evening, and then awoke at 3am today to find the port side of the boat submerged. They then tried to get onto a life raft on the roof of the boat, but the vessel flipped and they ended up in the water. Police said the family managed to scramble into the life raft and activate two emergency beacons around 5am.

The Coastguard boat and a rescue helicopter from Mackay were sent to searchafter they were alerted by the family's emergency beacon. They winched the family to safety at about 6.30am (AEST)

Police confirmed four people were airlifted from a 15-metre Shark Cat that has taken water and was sinking near Townshend Island in Shoalwater Bay, 18 nautical miles from Rosslyn Bay marina at 7.50am.

They were unhurt and taken to Rockhampton. A dream sail over after 18 nautical miles.