skipper here, I am about to pen a blog that has a sombre tone to it based on our three days at Magnetic Island, I will try and keep it factual and not pen it in any other tone as I do expect that this will probably be read by people I don't know and who were more affected than us.
The owner of the yacht beside us at the marina on magnetic island had an apperent heart attack and died on the Friday night, I say apparent as the post mortem results are not yet done.
His name was Rod, and although we didn't get to know him, he did help us tie up, and we passed the odd pleasant comment across the 4 metres gap between our cockpits.
We did get to meet one of his crew who had just arrived from Sydney to help sail the boat, a Hanse47, back to Sydney.
We suggested dinner in the restaurant at the marina, which to landlubbers may seem strange as we didn't really know either of them, yet we both had yachts from Sydney, sailing in Qld, doing exactly the same thing having the time of our lives on the water.
They were decided to go to the pub at horseshoe bay instead, so we dined in the marina restaurant by ourselves.
A howling southerly/easterly blew up during the night which made it very noisy outside with waves and halyards banging.
then came the distressed banging on evening stars hull at approx 430am on Saturday morning, with loud calls of "mark mark mark" from the crew member who was in a very distressed state. I was a little disorientated, bang around in the dark trying to quickly get on deck to see what was making him so distressed, my thoughts were a broken dock line or similar, I did not expect to have him tell me that his mate Rod was onboard and in need of help, his voice tone did tell me that it was serious.
I climbed onboard and went below, now firmly in autopilot type mode, expecting to have to do some quick first aid, but also to be prepared for a shock, considering the distressed state of the crew member.
Unfortunately, Rod was obviously dead and had been for a while, there was nothing I could do.
I then told the crew member firmly that his mate was dead and that nothing could be done, a very harsh message and one that I think he already knew, but in these circumstances he needed someone else to confirm it, which is why he got me up.
First mate, Kirsty then took over calling 000, and also the marina manager who had over the previous month become good friends with rod.
The entire Saturday became one of police, forensics, detectives, and finally undertakers.
The police were very through, even though they had been up all night with the backpackers half moon festival, as was the young paramedic. They decided to call it a crime scene as there was blood on the deck and wharf.
We were all interviewed by each policeman and detective, and the crew member was, in his distressed state asked a lot more questions.
By the end of the investigations, it appears that the police were happy with a natural causes explanation; in the meantime though we were given a full demonstration of police forensics and the detailed work they do. This the police explained to us was done to remove any doubt as to the cause of death.
By mid afternoon, it was just the marina manager, myself and the two fully suited, older undertakers to get Rod off his yacht. I made sure the undertakers knew his name, it was a sombre sight as they wheeled him away off the marina.
The only commentary I will add is that Rod was feeling off, did complain of chest pains earlier, and this now highlights to me and I hope anyone reading that chest pains means hospital straight away.
I have completed the medical mariners course done out of the CYCA, and even though I didn't use any life saving skills, the knowledge in the course was of benefit.
Rod seemed to be living his dream on his yacht, he has only reiterated to me that we are doing exactly the right thing.
Rod was 47 years old.