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Australian floods bring yacht devastation in the Brisbane River

by Sail-World Cruising on 13 Jan 2011
Australia's flooding has not spared the yachting community. Dozens of boats have been torn from their moorings to be swept down Queensland's raging Brisbane River towards its outlet into the sea, Moreton Bay. This morning many had collided with the bank or other debris and been damaged. Empty yachts can be seen careening down the river.

A number of other boats still moored in the river are disabled and can't be moved and water police are helping owners secure their vessels and get to shore safely.

Only experienced skippers are now being allowed to move their boats from the river to safe moorings in Moreton Bay, a police spokesperson says.

'There have been no emergency situations and everyone is being very cooperative with water police,' she said.

'The river is flowing very, very rapidly now so they're only letting experienced skippers attempt to move their boats to safe areas in Moreton Bay.

'Water police have six vessels working in the Brisbane River and they have more boats coming up from the Tweed Coast to assist.'

Police say that if the boats and pontoons which have been torn from their moorings don't wash up on rocks or become trapped under bridges, they'll end up floating free in Moreton Bay.

The Brisbane River has long been a popular stopping point for long range cruising sailors, who tie their yachts to mooring posts in the heart of Brisbane, near the Botanical Gardens.

Liz and Alan Leys are one of these cruising couples, and yesterday afternoon could only watch as the raging Brisbane River tried to tear their beloved yacht from its increasingly perilous-looking mooring.

The couple have spent the past 24 years travelling the world on the small vessel, named Ayla, and stopped in Brisbane recently to house-sit for friends.

'We didn't realise how bad it was going to be and there's was nothing we could do by the time we got down here,' Mr Leys told AAP on Wednesday morning.

Nothing is known of the whereabouts of the yacht this morning.

Police say that if the boats and pontoons which have been torn from their moorings don't wash up on rocks or become trapped under bridges, they'll end up floating free in Moreton Bay.

Entire sections of large metal pontoons have been torn off and carried away, some with small power boats and jet skis still tied to them.

For those who are able to move their yachts, both the Scarborough Yacht Club and the Moreton Bay Yacht Club, both situated out of harms way on the nearby coastline, have offered free berthing to non-commercial vessels.
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