Bowen dad risked daughter’s life on ‘doomed sea voyage’
A BOWEN father risked his five-year-old daughter's life when he took his boat for a spin in rough seas and they had to abandon ship and swim through open water to be saved.
A magistrate told the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, his only daughter could have been killed in the "doomed" voyage, which he embarked on at night and during a strong wind warning.
The details of the terrifying ordeal were revealed at Bowen Magistrates Court this week, after the 38-year-old father pleaded guilty to one count of operating a ship unsafely.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said a week after the man bought the boat in May, he decided to "test out" the vessel in Grays Bay and took his five-year-old daughter and a friend with him.
The boat stalled twice and he had to drain some oil, but by that time night had fallen.
Sgt Myors said the fibreglass boat had no navigational equipment so the man could only use his eyes to navigate, which would have been difficult with the cabin light on.
The plastic side spray deflectors had also aged and could not be looked through, she said.
The Bowen man had just intended to drive around Gray's Bay, however, he had been blown well off course and ran aground at Innaminka Rock.
Everyone had to abandon ship.
"While seeking shelter on the rocks, his friend contacted another friend and all, including his five-year-old daughter, were required to swim out to open waters to the rescue vessel greatly risking the safety of all parties," Sgt Myors said.
Sgt Myors said the boat was destroyed and remained sunk at the rocks.
Magistrate James Morton grilled the man about his decision to take out the boat that night.
The man said he held a boat licence but it was about seven years since he had been on a boat.
He confirmed there were life jackets on board and the radio, navigation lights and EPIRB all worked.
"I was a little bit rusty," he said.
"I just wanted to drop it into Grays Bay to run the motor, I had a mate here at the right time and he's a diesel mechanic."
The man said he paid $10,000 for the boat, which was still sitting in the water so he had to pay to have it removed.
Mr Morton asked the father if he understood he'd put his daughter's and friend's lives at risk.
"Imagine having to say goodbye to your daughter because she drowned out there," Mr Morton said.
"You put her life in danger because of this stupid old boat that you wanted to take it for a burn in the rough seas.
"If she never wants to get into a boat with you again I wouldn't blame her."
Mr Morton fined the man $1200 with a conviction recorded, and sent him on his way with a warning to stay away from boats.