The tourists had more of an adventure than they bargained for, but Maritime Safety Queensland will investigate an incident where the 101ft yacht Anaconda III, carrying 32 passengers and six crew struck Bait Reef in the Whitsundays on Monday this week. The Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) said that the sea conditions on Sunday were 'horrendous', with 35 knots of wind.
Anaconda III at sunset - passengers had more excitement than they had paid for, but no injuries or pollution
The large yacht, which is used for three day tourist trips, began taking on water after it struck the reef, damaging its hull, at about 6.30am or 7am, passengers said.
The crew sailed the boat to Blue Pearl Bay, where Hayman Island workers helped them pump out some of the water before a Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) crew arrived. Passengers and crew members were transferred to a standby vessel, Atlantic Clipper, a Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman said.
Scottish tourist Gordon Riddoch, who was aboard the Atlantic Clipper, told the Warwick Daily News that the boat's crew helped pump water from the troubled yacht for about two hours before bringing its passengers back to the mainland.
He said the yacht's passengers did not appear to be distressed and its crew seemed organised.
Anaconda III's owner, who was en route to the mainland this evening, sounded relieved the damage wasn't worse.
'We're on our way back in now and everything is looking okay,' he told the Daily News. 'We've taken all the precautions needed. There's a four-inch scrape along the side of the hull. We should be back in port (by 8pm).'
Maritime Safety Queensland confirmed there were no reports of pollution or injuries.
'MSQ have inspected the vessel and the regional harbour master has agreed to allow the vessel to travel back to Airlie Beach,' a spokesman said.
'Additional pumps have been placed on board as an additional measure to control further leaks.'
The incident was the latest of three boating mishaps, according to a VMR Whitsunday spokesman. 'The weather was unbelievable,' he said. 'The winds were 35 knots and the seas were horrendous.'