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