by BW Media
Its engine was still running, a laptop computer was found switched on, the men's clothing was found in neat piles on the rear deck and the sail was shredded.
Kaz II drifting and water police boat, photo by Brisbane Courier Mail
THE inquest into the mysterious disappearance and suspected deaths last year of three men from the catamaran Kaz II while it continued to drift off the eastern Australian coast has been announced to begin in August.
The three crew were missing from the Kaz II when it was spotted off the eastern Australian coast by a Coastwatch aircraft, drifting about 80 nautical miles north east of Townsville in North Queensland in April last year.
A wide search was initiated by the coastguard and aircraft, but no sign of the men was ever found.
It is thought that the three friends, who were on their way back to Western Australia, disappeared only hours after they left the popular holiday port of Airlie Beach on the Whitsundays coast on April 15. Then the boat sailed on unmanned for three days, being observed by passing fishermen, before the alarm was raised by the Coastwatch aircraft.
Many theories have been canvassed as to how the three went missing, from the tragic to the fantastic - from going for a swim together and not being able to get back on board; pushing the vessel off a sand bank only to have it sail away; escaping Australia illegally on another waiting vessel; or the possibility that they suffered foul play by persons unknown.
However there are unexplained mysteries, even about the time of their disappearance. After the search was called off, it was discovered that a Volunteer Marine Rescue radio operator had had radio contact with the Kaz II between 6pm and 7pm on April 15, hours after they were supposed to have disappeared.
State Coroner Michael Barnes will examine where and how the men went overboard, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, whether they are dead and whether the search for the missing men was adequate.
With the amount of evidence available, however, the liklihood of any answers that would satisfy family members is unlikely.