Boat still grounded

Richie Cunningham from Luxury Boating.

Emma McBryde and Matthew Pearce

A man who captained a boat for a millionaire linked to the super yacht washed up on Lammermoor Beach said he has been contacted by authorities about the vessel’s operation.

Richie Cunningham from Luxury Boating said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) had asked him if he had information about the vessel’s operation in the past 12 months.

Mr Cunningham said he has not operated the yacht that is still on the beach more than a week after the Yeppoon Coast Guard took the caretaker to shore and it sank.

“They told me there’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.

“AMSA said they could not comment.”

AMSA is the national regulator for commercial vessel safety.

The Yeppoon Coast Guard said the caretaker of the boat was apparently unfamiliar with the operation of the boat.

Mr Cunningham said he was employed by millionaire Jamie McIntyre, who has been widely reported as the yacht’s current owner and is assisting authorities with its removal, on another vessel 11 years ago.

Mr McIntyre has not responded to CQ Today’s request for comment.

However, he has told another media outlet he does not own the yacht.

Mr McIntyre said he had sold the boat, but was helping the current owners with its salvage and removal from Lammermoor Beach.

A local business also said they were aware of an AMSA investigation.

AMSA did not directly respond by deadline when asked whether they were investigating any incidents at all relating to the yacht.

A Yeppoon Coast Guard spokesperson said the yacht’s owners, who are believed to live on the Gold Coast, were expected to salvage the vessel on Friday.

However, Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Kell Dillon were still working with the owner of the vessel, the Queensland Police Service and Livingstone Shire Council to have it removed on Friday.

“MSQ has secured a surveyor to properly assess the condition of the vessel and is actively working with potential contractors with a view to removing it immediately,” Mr Dillon said.

“Ultimately, the salvaging of vessels is always the owner’s responsibility, but MSQ will intervene where required to protect safety of people, property and the environment.”

A salvage contractor from Gladstone said he had assessed the removal of the yacht, but would not say how it would be done or the cost.

Mr Cunningham predicted the price would by upwards of $70,000.

Mr Dillon said the vessel’s registration and insurance status was being investigated, as the boat is not registered in Australia.

The boat was unable to book a berth in Keppel Bay Marina because it did not provide the documents, which are requested by all marinas.

Locals are concerned about the environmental impact of the boat from it being grounded and the debris washing ashore, particularly following Friday’s wet and windy weather.

Life jackets, a life raft and a small boat has been among the debris that has floated ashore and been picked up by residents.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said fuel was clearly leaking from the boat and the “breached boat saga“ had gone on long enough.

“I understand that the owner of the boat has been issued a direction to remove any pollutants aboard the vessel,“ she said.

“It’s disgraceful that locals have had to remove debris from our beaches as a result. Fuel is clearly leaking from the boat which is causing environmental harm to our beaches.

“The owner needs to remove the vessel ASAP, and if they’re not planning to, MSQ should send the bill to the owner, with interest.“

Livingstone Shire Council has asked people to take debris to the Coast Guard to ensure it is returned to the owners.

Mr Dillon said despite being grounded, the vessel was in otherwise good condition.

“There is no pollution from the vessel, which had little or no fuel or other pollutants onboard when it grounded and sank,” he said.

“Pollution booms are on site and ready to be deployed if necessary, but we do not consider there is sufficient risk to the environment to do so at present.”

QPS and the Australian Federal Police said they were not investigating the incident.

The boat was reportedly on Airbnb, but Airbnb did not respond to comment when asked whether vessels are required to have registration, insurance or commercial licences.

See more photos of the boat on page 24.