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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Man clinging to kayak for hours before rescue

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ALS Lifeguards rescued a man who was found clinging to an overturned semi-submerged kayak off Tallow beach yesterday afternoon after his mate, who was wearing a lifejacket, swam to shore to raise the alarm.

The male tourists in their fifties left on a trip from The Pass to Julian Rocks, a popular route for kayakers, when they got into difficulty.

The Australian Lifeguard Service reports that conditions were relatively benign when the pair departed at around 8am, with the men expected to return from their trip by 11am.

When they hadn’t arrived back, the partner of one of the kayakers alerted police.

A search was launched involving lifeguards, police, and the volunteer callout team. The Queensland Police helicopter was placed on standby, but was ultimately not required.

But the kayak had drifted south significantly and at around 2.45pm one of the missing men walked ashore on Suffolk Park Beach.

He told rescuers that he had swum to shore, and had last seen his mate about an hour before, clinging to their kayak, which had taken on water, about a kilometre out to sea.

The search area was then moved south and the kayak was located shortly before 3pm The lone kayaker was brought to Suffolk Park Beach on the back of a Byron Bay Jet Ski.

Both men were assessed by paramedics and given a clean bill of health.

ALS Northern Coordinator Scott McCartney said that the incident was a timely reminder of the importance of being prepared when heading out on the water.

‘This rescue highlights how quickly conditions can change while out on the ocean. Although conditions were pretty calm this morning the wind and choppy swell has obviously caused difficulty for these two kayakers,’ McCartney said yesterday.

‘It was fortunate that the men told their relatives when they expected to be back as it helped escalate the search.’

Mr McCartney praised lifeguards, lifesavers, and the police for their team effort, which resulted in the successful outcome, but did have a word of warning for those heading out to enjoy the coast.

‘When out on open water we strongly encourage the wearing of a lifejacket, and please always keep an eye on the conditions. The ocean is a dynamic environment, and it needs to be respected,’ he said.


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