Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Idyllic Sail Turns into a Nightmare Because of Uncharted Ocean Reef

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Idyllic Sail Turns into a Nightmare Because of Uncharted Ocean Reef

Article excerpt

IT sounds like an improbable plot for a movie but it's a script Mark Iaconetti and Robert Cole would sooner forget.

The two men, who have been relaxing at Noosa since they were rescued by a P&O cruise ship last week, are still reeling after losing most of their worldly possessions at a reef 500 nautical miles east of Mackay.

The couple, who had been living in New Zealand, set off for a trip on their "gorgeous" South African teak 14-metre Sambaluka in mid-2008 to Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

They picked up two more crew, Brice Mignon and Maud Moussette, in New Caledonia and were cruising towards Brisbane.

"We were just sailing along beautifully in ideal conditions, with 12-15 knots behind us. We were cruising along at 5-6 knots with full sail," Mr Iaconetti said.

"There was a little island (Obs Cay) on the chart with a couple of reefs around it and we were being very careful to stay far away from there until daybreak.

"We thought we would anchor near the island. We've been to reefs before, this wasn't new to us.

"Then all of sudden the depth sounder started sounding, it went from 80 to 60 to 40 to 20 to 10 to six.

"Sometimes it freaks out, when a whale swims under it, but this was too real.

"We let the head sail go and we were getting ready to drop the main sail when we heard these booms.

"About 10 seconds later we were stalled in the middle of the reef, 500 miles from land at 3am.

"The reef we hit was not on any chart that we had.

"At first there was no water coming aboard, we just banged on the reef.

"We couldn't do much till daybreak.

"We had very little water coming in but (eventually) the water started gushing in under the floorboards.

"The most difficult thing for me is the realisation that gorgeous boat is gone. …

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