A distressed teenage girl and her father who survived an overturned catamaran that killed three people in “messy” seas off Newcastle are set to be released from hospital.
The 16-year-old and 50-year-old man were found clinging for their lives when authorities reached the boat about 13 nautical miles off Stockton Beach on Thursday morning.
They were winched from the water and taken to John Hunter Hospital to be treated for hypothermia.
The girl’s 78-year-old grandmother and grandfather, from Glenhaven in Sydney’s north west, did not survive. Their male friend, who was living on the Central Coast, also died.
The three bodies were eventually retrieved by Marine Rescue.
Authorities were alerted when an emergency beacon was activated from the boat at 10.10am on Thursday.
NSW Ambulance inspector Luke Wiseman said rescuers faced a “very confronting scene” when they arrived at the boat.
“The two people that they retrieved from the water were actually clutching on to the overturned vessel,” Ambulance NSW Inspector Luke Wiseman said.
The rescue mission was complicated by high seas, strong winds and debris in the water, he said.
Authorities say all five people were wearing life jackets.
The 11.7-metre catamaran had left Shoal Bay earlier on Thursday morning and was heading south toward Ettalong Beach on the Central Coast.
Detective Acting Superintendent Grant Healey said it was unclear how the boat capsized, with police yet to speak to the two survivors.
“The conditions were difficult,” he said.
“We had 25 to 30-knot westerly winds with the sea at one to two metres coming the other way. So it was fairly messy out there,” he said.
Authorities have not yet been able to recover the overturned catamaran, which is drifting out to sea.
“As soon as there is favourable sea conditions there will be an attempt to salvage the vessel,” Acting Superintendent Healy said.
“But whilst the weather is like it is, all we can do is let the boating community know where it is.”
A strong wind warning is in place along the NSW coast, from the Hunter down to Eden.
Roads and Maritime Services are urging fishers and boaties to be extra cautious, with choppy conditions expected on exposed bays as well as dangerously rough conditions offshore.