Five people, including an 11-year-old girl, have been plucked from the ocean at Jurien Bay, hours after their yacht struck a reef and disintegrated.
Three adults were rescued about two-and-a-half hours after an EPIRB strapped to the body of one of the women was activated, when their vessel struck trouble about 11.45am on Sunday.
It took a further two hours to find another man and his 11-year-old daughter, who had drifted away from the group.
Jurien Bay Marine Rescue deputy commander Wayne Harston said the man had swum about five nautical miles [9.2km] with the girl towards shore.
“A father and daughter had drifted from the other three and we actually found them [after] someone on the beach actually saw them about 300 metres off Jurien Bay,” he said.
“The little girl and the father weren’t in a very good condition. They’ve been taken to hospital in the RAC helicopter.”
The three others who had been in the water for a shorter period were treated for shock and hypothermia.
Yacht ‘smashed up’
Mr Harston described the conditions as “treacherous”, with a strong wind warning at 30-35 knots and a 4-5 metre swell.
“The yacht must have hit the reef outside of Jurien here and the boat sank,” he said.
“It was smashed up, there was lots of debris in the water so the boat actually disintegrated.”
All five on board the yacht were wearing life jackets.
Mr Hartson said the weather was so bad, they had been forced to turn back to shore in the marine rescue vessel and board a larger Department of Fisheries boat to continue the search.
He praised all involved in the search, including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the RAC rescue helicopter.
“We’re very lucky we’ve got a great community here, we had two charter boats out there with us, two cray boats, plus the Fisheries boat,” he said.
The yacht was en route from Rottnest Island to Exmouth when it ran into trouble.