The Pacific Dragon and North Star stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour.
The Pacific Dragon and North Star stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour. Tamera Francis

Generous WA business owner salvages yachts at Shute Harbour

GETTING the job done and helping people is what it's all about for Geographe Marine Salvage Rescue director Luke Purdy.

Forty two tonnes of yacht wreckage was salvaged from the Shute Harbour shoreline, as $80,000 worth of work was completed by the team at Geographe Marine Salvage.

 

The Pacific Dragon and North Star stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour.
The Pacific Dragon and North Star stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour. Tamera Francis

The clean-up operation wasn't a profitable one for Mr Purdy, who trekked back to Western Australia earlier this year with his car and canine companion, Mr Bent.

"I worked flat out for five months so I could come back and help," Mr Purdy said.

After another commute across the country with his dog, Mr Purdy returned to Shute Harbour on Friday.

A love of salvaging boats has driven Mr Purdy to the edge of bankruptcy,.

"I just wanted to do as much as I could for as many people as I could," he said.

Usually contracted through insurance companies, Mr Purdy sought out private funding from a production company so he could continue to help people of the Whitsunday community, at no cost to the boat owners.

Owners of stranded ships such as that of Pacific Dawn and North Star faced hefty fines from Marine Safety Queensland should their vessels have remained stranded on the shores of Shute Harbour.

Proserpine local Stephen Banks helped Mr Purdy through the use of his time and heavy machinery.

"That guy is the ultimate bloke," Mr Purdy said.

 

Luke and his team salvaging The Pacific Dragon and the North Star, stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour.
Luke and his team salvaging The Pacific Dragon and the North Star, stranded on the shores at Shute Harbour. Tamera Francis

To give an idea of the salvage operation's scale, the custom truck Mr Purdy uses cost half-a-million- dollars and burns $500 an hour in diesel.

The most recent salvage operation per boat would usually cost $40,000, but Mr Purdy was funded just $10,000.

"People say I'm absolutely crazy," he said.

"We are helping these people the best we can, with no cost to them."

Edge's Boat Yard was the final destination for the two shipwrecked boats that will now be scrapped.

With the tide against them and darkness closing in on Friday, Mr Purdy and his team set out to salvage both boats on behalf of the thankful owners.

 

Steve Banks assisting the salvage crew.
Steve Banks assisting the salvage crew. Tamera Francis

After overcoming many obstacles the North Star yacht was salvaged from the shore and refloated on Sunday.

Unfortunately the Pacific Dawn was snapped in half and is now destined for landfill.

Pacific Dawn's owners are battling insurance companies who rejected a payout to salvage the boat.

Battered at Bundaberg in a storm five years ago, the Pacific Dawn was repaired and relocated to Shute Harbour by its owners only to be left high and dry by Cyclone Debbie.

Mr Purdy is passionate about helping people and supporting a worthy cause, as he does publicly with the Sea Shepherd organisation and describes the shift from engineering to salvaging boats as a natural progression.

What stood out to Mr Purdy and prompted him to cross the country to help the Whitsundays was "the struggle within the community".

Despite the tough journey, he hoped "somehow it all pays off," so he could continue to do what he loved and help people.

Under eights gear up for big morning out with a difference

Under eights gear up for big morning out with a difference

Language and culture learned by under eights in Whitsunday region.

State pledges six figure sum for Gloucester area boat ramp

State pledges six figure sum for Gloucester area boat ramp

State pledges six figure sum for Gloucester area boat ramp.

Prossie let's talk about DV

Prossie let's talk about DV

Do you know the rate of domestic violence in Proserpine?

Local Partners