local knowledge


The biggest flood since 1942 has hit Queensland and Bundaberg on New Year’s Eve – a place where most of the cruisers that have made their way across the South Pacific with all their belongings on their backs to Australia leave their boats for the cyclone season to fly home for the holidays in the US and Europe…

"An emotional roller coaster on New Year’s Eve for us and finding a picture of my Albin Vega 27 ‘ISIS’ by chance on the internet (when NO ONE) including VMR volunteer river rescue service could find her for two days on their extensive lists of sunk, lost and missing boats..

ISIS (just one of ONLY five) of 80 yachts some odd yachts that were at the Mid-Town Marina eight miles up the river from the ocean (and above) the roof of Mid-Town Marina office is my faithful ISIS – floating eight meters above normal parallel with the roof of the two-story marina office – again just one of five boats visible left in pictures (the whole area in Queensland which is the size of Germany and Texas has been declared a disaster zone)

Here is a description from a boat ‘Maranatha’ that was on a mooring in back of ISIS:

"The last day of the year — lots of drama!! We thought No. 15 would be the last update for the year but not to be. Bundaberg has just had its biggest flood since 1942. Parts of the town are flooded, the river is raging at up to 15 knots (that’s almost 28 km/hour) tossing logs, wharves, wrecked boats and tons of debris everywhere. The marina where we were moored has virtually disappeared (their fuel wharf with 30,000 litres of fuel ended up in a paddock several miles downstream) and most of their buildings have gone. Up to 30 or more yachts (the actual figure is unknown) have been lost — some sunk in the river, some washed up into the mangroves where it will be impossible to retrieve them, some washed out to sea, some just disappeared. Wreckage has been found on the beaches as far north as the Town of 1770, 40 nautical miles up the coast. The water was flowing five metres deep over the spillway of the Paradise Dam upstream from Bundaberg.

Having said all that, we arrived here yesterday afternoon after waiting until the highways were open but couldn’t get to the boat as that part of Bundaberg was flooded. We eventually got to it this morning after wading part of the way through the mud and then getting a dinghy ride down the street to where the boat was. After breaking free of the last mooring holding her, Maranatha had drifted down the river dragging her anchor and the mooring buoy and come to rest in the front yard of the fishing trawlers’ unloading complex. It had actually floated over the trawler wharf and was between the wharf and the buildings, with the davits at the back having succumbed to a couple of trees on the way.

The immediate problem was that we only had an hour or two to get it back over the wharf as the river was falling. If we had failed then it would have been impossible to get it back as there was no access for a crane. Phil and Clayton, another yachtie friend, went on board and with the help of a local with his 60 HP dinghy they were able to get it back over the wharf and into the river. They had to cut the anchor chain as it was jammed under the wharf we think. They then catapulted downstream at a great rate of knots and finally made it to the small harbour near the river mouth and rafted up to Clayton’s boat on the public wharf.

We have some damage — the davits which hold the solar panels and the dinghy are wrecked where they hit the tree. The inflatable dinghy is wrecked and the hull has a big dent on the port side just above the waterline where part of the marina wharf hit it as it (the wharf) was heading downstream. There may be other damage underwater but this won’t be known until it is slipped. One thing is for sure — if it had been a fibre glass vessel it would have been wrecked.

We are very grateful that we still have a boat but it is going to be a while before it is shipshape again. We look like being in Bundaberg for some time now. (As I sit here typing this I keep reminding myself that we were supposed to be on our friend’s yacht in Sydney watching the fireworks tonight. Such is life!!)

Thank you for all those that prayed for us. There were many “coincidences” where if they hadn’t happened the boat would have been lost and a number of people have commented that it was a “miracle” that they happened that way and not the way that they should have happened. For more visit their blog at: http://yachtmaranatha.wordpress.com/contact-us/"

– Pam & Phil
SV – Maranatha