Device that saved young fishermen drifting off Aussie coast: ‘So grateful’
April 13 April 2023
What started as a last minute fishing trip could have ended in disaster, with three young fishermen drifting out to sea with no mobile signal after their boat’s engine suddenly broke down.
Riley Hinds, 20, and his two friends were eager for a morning of fishing off the coast of Bowen, Queensland but were left stranded without any phone reception, drifting over 28 nautical miles further from the shore.
Thankfully, something Riley’s dad told him stuck in his mind — the boat had an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), a device that alerts search and rescue services if you get into trouble.
“We ended up having to pull the EPIRB, lucky it was still in service. We had checked it that morning,” Riley said. Remembering to do so, could be the difference between life and death, authorities say.
Parents ‘shudder’ at what could have been
Riley’s mum, who was contacted after the EPIRB was activated, “broke down and started crying” when the rescue helicopter and boat located the fishermen almost two hours later.
“He said, ‘We’ve found the boat. There’s three heads sitting in it and they’re waving at the helicopter,'” Mardi Noonan said, recalling what a Maritime Safety officer told her over the phone during the January incident.
The family are now speaking out about the ordeal to remind others not to leave the shore without the life-saving device – and to make sure you always check it. That can hold true for inland trips as well, as only 14 per cent of Australia’s landmass is covered by phone reception, according to an Australian manufacturer of EPIRB devices, GME.
A report from the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience revealed that an average of 2,000 Aussies are rescued from seas, bushland, mountains, and deserts each year. However in 2022 only 323 rescues were initiated by a life-saving technology device.
“I’m so grateful that these three lads, aged 19 and 20 from Outback Queensland, were safe and had the foresight to use a device that saved their lives,” proud mother Mardi said.