Carnarvon father and son recall boat sink and rescue, home lost

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Lisa FavazzoMidwest Times
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Goodbye Ruby Tuesday shipwrecked.
Camera IconGoodbye Ruby Tuesday shipwrecked. Credit: Supplied

A father and son reunion turned treacherous sea adventure — it may sound like the plot of a movie, but that’s what happened to one Carnarvon retiree last month.

Lee Wright, his son Marc and Marc’s friend Katarzyna Sciborowska ended up abandoning their wrecked boat and spending the night on an island 28 nautical miles off Carnarvon.

Lee and Marc Wright.
Camera IconLee and Marc Wright. Credit: Supplied

Now Lee must pick up the pieces, with his home and most of what he owns destroyed by the Indian Ocean.

On April 18, Lee left Carnarvon for Monkey Mia on his catamaran and home, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, with Marc and Katarzyna along for the ride.

Mr Wright hadn’t seen his son for seven years. “Gee, I’m nearly 70 but I still see him as a kid that needs a clip under the ear,” he said.

The trio were supposed to moor at Red Bluff but, after having some issues with the boat’s drive shaft, they hoisted their sails and ended up anchoring at Digby Point on Bernier Island instead.

Lee Wright on his sailboat home.
Camera IconLee Wright on his sailboat home. Credit: Supplied

Lee set everything up perfectly and they decided to stay put for a while. But the next night was cold and wet, and they could hear their clothes flapping in the wind.

Lee looked under the cab and saw their anchor rope had snapped. They were heading for the island and had no way to turn around.

“If we had drifted 20m to the right we would have ended up on the rocks at the cliff face,” Marc recalled of the chilling moment.

The boat started taking on water, and they called Marine Rescue. Marc and Lee agreed Carnarvon Marine Rescue’s efforts were heroic.

“They spent five hours (trying to rescue us) but it felt like five days ... I kept thinking they had left but then I’d just see them coming around the side of the cliff,” Marc said.

The boat started taking on water, so the three on board called off the mission and, with their dry bags containing first aid gear, water and a bit of food, jumped overboard, swimming to shore.

Marc said if it weren’t for the waves, he wouldn’t even have known which way the land was.

“For a second, I thought ‘this might be it’, but then I thought, ‘she’ll be right, let’s give her a crack,” he said.

For a second, I thought ‘this might be it’, but then I thought, ‘she’ll be right, let’s give her a crack’

- Marc Wright.
The sailors set up the night they spent sleeping in the dunes.
Camera IconThe sailors set up the night they spent sleeping in the dunes. Credit: Supplied

They spent the night cuddled up together, with some wet pillows and blankets, safe on the dunes. A friend with a big boat came to the rescue on April 20.

Lee left his home Goodbye Ruby Tuesday behind, along with most of his belongings.

Both men said the incident — through tears, fear, adventure and loss — had brought them back together as father and son.

What happened next reminded Lee why he calls Carnarvon home. Lee worked at the hospital for decades, and his son says he is a staple of the community.

In return, his friends and acquaintances in Carnarvon have helped him find somewhere to live, risked their lives trying to save him from the sea, and donated more than $1000 to the GoFundMe page Marc set up to help his dad get back on his feet.

“Whatever you write, just thank the Carnarvon community for me,” Lee said through tears.

To help him get back on his feet, donate here.

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