Rough weather is hampering the search for six fisherman missing off Central Queensland, as hopes fade for their survival. One of their colleagues was rescued after hours in the water clinging to the capsized trawler.

Claire Boughey reports.


Intermittent heavy rain and strong winds aren’t helping.

But emergency services say they won’t give up.

Insp. Darren Somerville, Queensland Police: “We are holding out hope, a lot of hope, um, we are still within our time uh a time that if they are in the water we hope to find them, uh, however given the conditions, that is rapidly deteriorating.”

Family and friends say the skipper, Ben Leahy who is still missing was safety conscious and didn’t take risks.

He ran what they called a dry boat without alcohol aboard and trained his crew to survive dangerous conditions.

Brian Guthrie, RACQ Life Flight: “I went to school with Ben so my thoughts are with his family and we’ve got a lot of hope and Ben’s been around boats all his life, ever since I’ve known him, so he’s very experienced.”

The commercial trawler capsized in rough seas on Monday night in Bustard Bay, north of 1770.

Ruben McDornan, the seventh man on board, was rescued by a skipper of a passing yacht on Tuesday morning.

Searchers have found debris, but no sign of the other six men.

Most were beneath deck when it capsized.

Insp. Darren Somerville, Queensland Police: “This has potential to be, uh, one of the worst commercial vessel tragedy we’ve had in this area in the time that I’ve served here.”

The search will be called off as night falls, but is expected to resume again at daybreak.

Claire Boughey, QUT News.