Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

February 12th 2008
The roughest sea in a lifetime

"It was the roughest sea I have ever seen in Horseshoe Bay in all my time here" was how long time Horseshoe Bay resident, ex-fisherman and hire boat owner, Geoff Hardy, who has been on and off Magnetic Island since the 1940s, described the conditions which beached all five moored yachts in Horseshoe Bay, two of which were destroyed.

The conditions were caused by a massive low pressure system which brought torrential rain to the Island - recording over 300mm since Friday. Accompanying the low, which was located near Charters Towers yesterday, were winds of over 70 kph from the north west.

According to Geoff Hardy, "The break was starting 1000 metres from the shore with many bigger white caps out past that." Geoff Hardy believes the beach break during the night would have reached seven feet in height and only fifteen feet apart, creating conditions which made it impossible to save the vessels or even get out to them in boats from the beach.

"I've never seen wind strength like that" said Geoff Hardy who claimed he had seen greater carnage in the past when yachts were caught inside the bay during a big storm but, yesterday's was, "the biggest seas and wind."

Magnetic Island Adrenalin Jet Ski operator Peter Smith told Magnetic Times, "It blew in hard yesterday morning and just got worse. It was a wild old day and a wild old night."

Mia Couchman who lives on a Horseshoe Bay beachfront property said, "It was just shocking watching two men trying to save their yacht"

Magnetic Times has been unable to confirm the names of the vessels but one is believed to be The Crescent, a fifty foot charter fishing vessel which Geoff Hardy said came in on top of another boat at the stinger net.

The other vessels were washed ashore north west of the boat ramp and are believed to be in a less serious condition with one having been brought well up onto the beach prior to the storm reaching its peak.

Magnetic Island police report that there have been no known injuries to people as a result of the weather.

A spokesperson for Maritime Safety Queensland said that as the yachts were now all on the beach there was no navigation hazard and that there was no oil pollution reported.

Early this morning Townsville Police were urging motorists to exercise extreme caution following the heavy rainfall and flooding in the Townsville District.
Overnight rain has seen water levels rise in Bowen and Home Hill with areas of localized flooding possible later this morning.

Two major highways connecting Townsville with towns to the south and west have been cut by rising water in several locations making the roads impassable.

The Bruce Highway south between Townsville and Sarina is impassable in several areas and the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charters Towers is cut in two places.

According to the police, "Motorists should consider seriously whether they need to venture out in adverse weather and road conditions. If they do need to, they should avoid venturing into flooded roadways and travel with the utmost care and diligence.
Advice on localized areas of flooding and road closures can be obtained from local media outlets, councils and police.

Police were urge members of the public to take care in flooded areas and areas of fast flowing ground water.

"Do not attempt to cross flooded crossings and roads and stay out of areas of fast flowing water. Dangers from floods and fast flowing ground water are not always be visible.," they said.

(Magnetic Times regrets that we are unable to provide more extensive information of the storm as we are presently off the Island and working from a remote location. We therefore encourage locals who witnessed the storm to add their comments (photos presently difficult to handle) below for the many other readers who read Magnetic Times from around the world. Ed.)

To add your comment, see below

The roughest sea in a lifetime
February 13th 2008
Today (Tuesday) is fine and clear - calm seas, plenty of drying sunshine - a perfect day. But yesterday was something else. Heavy rain overnight (around 200mm in the 24 hours to 9am) and bursts of downpour during the day which created moments of incredible gushing streets. The creeks are up and raging but not actually flooding. A few trees over but not like when there's a big blow and there are branches everywhere. Horseshoe Bay seems to have copped more than elsewhere when the winds turned northerly - I was not aware of the carnage on Horseshoe Bay beach until I read about it here. And to top it off, Cleveland Bay was remarkably lively on Monday evening so that the 6pm boat was the last for the day.
Magnetic Island has a new official (Bureau of Meteorology) rain gauge located on the breakwater at Nelly Bay so if anyone wants to know about the rainfall they can read it off from the web site - look in Qld under Townsville region rainfall observations.
February 13th 2008
The 5.20pm ferry home to Nelly was a wild ride too - with big seas washing over the front deck and breaking on to the front windows, the entire boat seemed constantly to creak and shudder. However, in the more-than-competent hands of our skipper we all felt that the vessel was being coaxed along, and not being gunned through the sea and a solicitous crew were vigilant for the "greener" members of the public with water and bags! Thank you Sunferries for your care.
Adam Winn
February 14th 2008
Re: Wild Weather Creates Havoc, Published 12/02/08
To the Editor,
After the carnage at Horseshoe Bay recently in 35-40 knot winds I was surprised that only two boats came in to shelter in Magnetic Island Marina, Since then I have heard all sorts of story
February 27th 2008
Re: Adam Winn (above),

".....we do cater to live aboards contrary to popular belief".

We are talking about Nelly Bay harbour here aren't we? Next time you arrive at the ferry terminal by boat check out the enormous sign mounted on the end of the landing pontoon, facing outwards towards the channel. I think it is designed and located so that incoming vessels and their skippers can read the material written on it. The sign specifically states that there will be NO LIVEABOARDS in the harbour. The reason is that, due to design constraints which were well documented at the time of construction, the harbour is very poorly flushed and liable to become polluted - especially while most of the houses in the catchment of Gustav Creek still use septic tanks. People are cautioned against swimming in the harbour for that very reason. It might sound far-fetched but the truth is that faecal coliforms (yes, that's the real doo da) congregate in high levels right there in the inner (c)anal estate. And you want to "live" in it?
Adam Winn
March 14th 2008
No chasmac we are talking about Magnetic Island Marina, They are two seperate areas. For more info about Magnetic Island Marina please contact Adam Winn or Graham Ewings at the office in Blue on Blue or via email at

Regards Adam Winn
March 15th 2008
Oh dear. Magnetic Island Marina and Nelly Bay Harbour are "two separate areas". Sorry to sound like a drongo but this Magnetic Island Marina at Blue on Blue - that is the one down the bottom of Mandalay Avenue at Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island isn't it? I think I heard you say, "yes". Well then, go to the Internet and look up Magnetic Island Marina. According to the organisation's own website:

"The Island (ie. Magnetic Island) is part of the Palm Group of Islands which stretch up well past the Hinchinbrook Channel."

I'm not sure which planet that mob occupies but they seem to have difficulty reading maps. They wouldn't understand "two separate areas". They probably also have difficulty understanding signs.
I'd say that the Magnetic Island Marina is in fact a part of Nelly Bay Harbour and is subject to exactly the same constraints.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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