Gladstone sailor rows for his life

Steve Richmond was rowing for Middle Percy Island when rescued
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What do you do after you've just watched your prized sailing boat and only home sink to the ocean floor? You start rowing.

That was Steven Richmond's only choice after his 11-metre catamaran, Felix, hit a submerged object and began to take on water near the Percy Island Group about 10am on Saturday.

'I would have been about 15 (nautical) miles away from the island when I hit something,' the 61-year-old Gladstone man said yesterday.

'I started pumping the water out with bilge pumps... at around 12pm I cancelled a rescue call because I thought I was going to beat it.

'My batteries went flat after a while and at around 3pm she really started to sink... I couldn't call out a May Day because my batteries were flat so I activated my EPIRB.'

RACQ-CQ Rescue crews received the call from the emergency beacon and flew to Hannah Rock, about 80 nautical miles south-east of Mackay.

In the meantime Steve had started rowing his dinghy toward Percy Island.

'I wasn't too concerned when I was in the dinghy because the sea wasn't too rough,' he said. 'I did see a remora though, and I know they are the sort of fish that associate with big sharks.'

Steve had been rowing for about two hours when he was rescued and estimates he would have had another four hours to row.

'The CQ-Rescue team did a fantastic job,' he said. 'The chopper flew over me and they lowered a man into the boat and winched me up.

'The down wind from the chopper was incredible and I was worried it might capsize my dinghy, but it didn't... they did a great job.'

Steve was flown to Middle Percy Island where he was assessed by his rescuers and is now staying with friends.

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