CYCLONE UPDATE - Sunken boats could have been saved with higher pylons

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Questions over Port Hinchinbrook Marina

CYCLONE UPDATE - Sunken boats could have been saved with higher pylons
NEWS — Massive salvage operation underway at Port Hinchinbrook

"I'm very pissed off," Peter Craw told local media after his boat
was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in Port Hinchinbrook Marina. Now a group of Port Hinchinbrook Marina boaters says Cyclone Yasi would not have sunk their boats earlier this month if the marina’s pylons had been higher.

"(The boat owners) have talked about extending the pylons because in Cyclone Larry we didn't have far until the boats floated off. If they were another metre or 2m (higher) we would have been safe," Craw told the Courier Mail.

Cyclone Larry was Category Four and made landfall at nearby Innisfail in March 2006 with wind speeds of 240kmh. Cyclone Yasi was a Category Five with 290kmh winds and bigger seas.

Leading Australian pleasureboat insurer Club Marine was heading the two-weeks of salvage operations. National Claims Manager, Phil Johnson said at least 50 of the 130-plus wrecked Port Hinchinbrook vessels were insured with Club Marine.

He scoffed at reports that the wrecked vessels were valued at $30 million. Club Marine instead said initial estimates of claims for its members’ vessels had only just passed the $3.9m mark and it was too early to estimate the damage.

"There’s a fair bit to do. We’re starting at one end and chipping our way along. It’s all go from sunrise to sunset," said Johnson.

"There are large boats just stacked one on top of the other piled up on the shore. They were swept up with the marina pontoons still attached.

"We’ve also been approached by other insurance companies looking for help to recover boats and we’re happy to be able to oblige where we can.

"What we’re faced with is an enormous game of ‘pick up sticks’," he explained.

Bill Shannon, mayor of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, told the Courier Mail: "Clearly the pontoons floated off the top, so I guess if they were higher that might not have happened, there's no doubt about that,"

A spokesperson for the Infrastructure and Planning Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe said the pylon-height question was being investigated: "The Department of Infrastructure and Planning will be working with council and the relevant government agencies to determine what happened at Port Hinchinbrook."

Ben Williams, son of developer Keith, runs the marina and was reported as saying every marina in the area would have had the "exact same occurrence" if it had been hit by the cyclone.

"The pylons were positioned and were of a height that was designed by engineers and our jetty construction company," Williams told the Courier Mail. – John Panozzo

Photos: Damaged yachts, pleasure craft and tourist vessels are left in a pile after being slammed against the houses and jetties at Port Hinchinbrook Marina after Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasi hit Northern Queensland. (Photos 1, 2, 3 & 4
by Rob Maccoll © Newspix); A damaged yacht is left sinking after being slammed against the houses and jetties at Port Hinchinbrook Marina (Photo
5 by Rob Maccoll © Newspix); Michael Robson surveys the damage to his yacht, which was left stranded in a front yard property at Port Hinchinbrook Marina. (Photo 6 by Lyndon Mechielsen
© Newspix); Clean-up underway.


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