arty art art for boatie
arty art art for boatie

Rescued boatie got nude and waved shorts at passing ships

A BOATIE rescued from an ocean beacon after he fell from his 45ft cruiser has told how he jumped up and down in the nude while waving his board shorts to attract the attention of passing boats.

David Simpson, 64, spent three and a half hours clinging to a beacon as boats and helicopters scoured the water nearby looking for him.

A massive search was sparked after his abandoned boat hit the Caloundra bar, the motor still running and his dog on board.

Mr Simpson, who recently sailed solo to Port Douglas and back, was cruising past Bribie Island yesterday afternoon in rough seas when he fell from his boat, the MV Focus.

The vessel, on autopilot, motored away towards the northern tip of Bribie Island, his staffy Mitch still on board.

It was spotted around 4pm when it ran aground.

Salvage operations underway after a 45ft motor cruiser named Focus ran aground on a sandbar off Caloundra. Picture 7 News
Salvage operations underway after a 45ft motor cruiser named Focus ran aground on a sandbar off Caloundra. Picture 7 News

The abandoned cruiser sparked a massive search involving Sunshine Coast lifeguards, water police, the Coast Guard and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter amid fears Mr Simpson had drowned.

The experienced boatie described how he was knocked into the water when he tried to secure an inflatable dinghy attached to the stern.

He said the rope securing the dinghy broke, causing the smaller boat to hit him in the ribs and knock him into the water.

He fell about 3m from his boat, which continued on without him.

Mr Simpson told how he swam for 30-40 minutes against a tide to reach a nearby beacon.

"It was half, to three quarters of a mile or something like that," he said.

David Simpson was the skipper of the 45ft MV Focus that ran aground off Caloundra Beach. Picture: Nine News
David Simpson was the skipper of the 45ft MV Focus that ran aground off Caloundra Beach. Picture: Nine News

"I could see the distance and was just pushing against a little tide and just swam on my back and rested and breast-stroked.

"I have no idea of time. Maybe 30 or 40 minutes?

"I wasn't scared. It was there. I knew I could swim to it. I was more worried about sharks. I know that area's filthy with sharks."

Mr Simpson, who lives aboard the MV Focus, said he was wearing only board shorts when he fell into the ocean.

He said he saw several boats pass by after he climbed onto the beacon but they did not see him.

"I was waving and jumping up and down," he said.

"I took my board shorts off and was sitting there naked and jumping up and down waving my orange board shorts. That's all I had on."

When the afternoon light faded and the beacon's red warning light came on, he came up with a better idea to attract attention.

"It was getting dark and I thought I was going to be there for the night, which wasn't dangerous or scary," he said.

Sunshine Coast Lifeguard Corey Jones with Mitch who was rescued from a boat off Caloundra. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Sunshine Coast Lifeguard Corey Jones with Mitch who was rescued from a boat off Caloundra. Picture: Patrick Woods.

"It was just going to be a pain in the arse. It was just going to be cold and miserable and rainy and I was already getting cold.

"But I did something like an SOS. I held my arms around the red light and stopped the red light flashing.

"I did like an SOS - one, two, three - and stopped the light from working."

It was this that caught the attention of a passing ship.

"He flashed his light at me to tell me he'd seen me. And then they called the chopper.

"The chopper came and flashed their lights down on me and then the police came and the Coast Guard.

"I jumped in the water and into the police boat."

Mr Campbell standing on the navigation beacon before he was rescued. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight
Mr Campbell standing on the navigation beacon before he was rescued. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight

The RACQ Lifeflight helicopter arrived on scene soon after and shone a spotlight on Mr Campbell until his rescuers arrived.

Mr Simpson said he was still trying to determine how much damage had been done to his boat and he feared it might be a write-off.

He said he was incredibly grateful to everyone involved in his rescue, particularly the lifeguard who rescued his dog from his runaway boat.

"The Coast Guard and the water police have done an amazing job and a big thanks to the surf club guys who came over and tried to get my boat off (the sand bank)," he said.

Originally published as Rescued boatie got nude and waved shorts at passing ships


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