Police investigating MOB death of Queensland sailor

Carmel Brookes disappearance
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Queensland police are now investigating the MOB death of a Queensland female sailor who disappeared from a yacht in the middle of the night in calm conditions off the coast of Trang, Thailand in February this year. (See Sail-World http://www.sail-world.com/index_d.cfm?nid=94063!story.)

Carmel Brookes, 60, was last seen aboard her yacht, the 14m Moondancer 2, as she and her longtime partner, prominent marine biologist Dr Gerry Goeden, were sailing from Langkawi to Phuket and were a mere 54 nautical miles from Phuket when the incident occurred.

Dr Goeden told police he got up to take over the night watch from Ms Brookes about 1.30am and found her gone.

However, several days after the incident Australian consular officials called Ms Brookes' brother Bill Heang to say they could do nothing more to help because no official report had been made to Thai police about his sister's disappearance.

So he reported her missing himself to police in Brisbane.

Mr Heang said he spoke with Dr Goeden some days after the incident with the help of consular officials.

'He said two bean bags that had been in the life raft were missing, plus the boat hook, so he believed she had fallen in trying to retrieve them,' Mr Heang told Brisbane's Courier Mail. 'They were red bean bags and they float but they haven't been found.'

Carmel, 60, a former member of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, and her partner Dr Gerry Goeden had been business partners in the sailing business Whitsunday Escape and lived in Airlie Beach on Australia's golden sailing area behind the Great Barrier Reef for about ten years. In 2007, they sailed to Penang in Malaysia where they settled. Whitsunday Escape owner Trevor Rees, their former business partner, said she was a very experienced sailor.

'She was a very cautious person,' he said.

Missing Persons Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell confirmed they were looking into Ms Brookes' disappearance. 'We are assisting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Interpol in their investigations,' he said.

Dr Goeden's first wife, Ellen Goeden, died in January 1984, in what friends described as a tragic accident. A newspaper report at the time said a 37-year-old woman was walking in the Barron Gorge, north of Cairns, when she slipped while crossing a waterfall, falling 10m to her death.