Friends of an American sailor, whose body was found off the Sunshine Coast, have told how they watched his yacht edge closer to the shoreline before it ran aground at a popular tourist beach near Mooloolaba on Monday.
The 57-year-old sailor, whose identity is yet to be confirmed by police, fell from the 10-metre yacht in waters off Maroochydore, after he sailed to Australia from Hawaii via the Marshall Islands.
Water Police, the Coastguard and Surf Lifesavers on jetskis found the man about one kilometre offshore and authorities later confirmed his death.
Fellow American yachtsman John Juliano and his partner Jennifer Severin were friends with the yachtsman and in regular contact with him as he ventured into Australian waters.
They monitored his yacht Alcobri as it approached the shoreline, then tried to contact the sailor before eventually learning there had been a tragic end to his ocean-crossing journey.
Mr Juliano said at first they thought their friend had simply reached land and had kept his satellite tracker in his pocket.
They also understood that he had not sought prior permission to enter Australia, and wondered if authorities had taken him into custody or confiscated the vessel.
Among his final messages to Ms Severin, the sailor wrote, “I know it was a big gamble coming here right now, but hopefully it works out.”
“It might not be the right way, but it keeps it interesting,” he said.
When asked about the prospect of facing a possible stint in isolation he joked, “I guess that’d be alright, I could certainly use the sleep.”
Mr Juliano said his friend was not a reckless sailor, and that he felt heartbroken over the man’s death.
“He’s too young,” he said.
“You want to die an old man in a bed surrounded by family.
“One of the ironies is that it happened within sight of land.
“He wasn’t run down by a cargo ship, it wasn’t a storm or any of the things we expect are the risks we are taking.
“It’s like driving home after a cross-country trip and having your car run over you in the driveway.
“It’s a tragedy and it’s hard to comprehend.”
Search called off for fisherman
Police have confirmed the search has been called off for another man who also went overboard from a fishing trawler yesterday.
The crew on board the trawler Kay Vern called for help at about 3:45am on Monday after the man fell overboard.
They circled back hoping to find the man but could not locate him.
The trawler is believed to be based out of Tin Can Bay.