Marine rescue – Blue Mud Bay

Northern Territory Police have rescued five people whose boat malfunctioned in Blue Mud Bay on the East Arnhem coast over the weekend.

The party – three men and two youths – had departed an outstation on Sunday morning to hunt turtle at Woodah Island. When the group did not return as expected, a Yirralka Ranger drove to the party’s departure point to scan the coastline. Camping there overnight, the ranger raised the alarm on Monday morning.

Officers from Gapuwiyak commenced a marine search and located the party camped on Woodah Island. All were safe and well however the boat had broken down the day before and they had camped on the beach.

The group had run out of fresh water and had constructed a makeshift sail with the plan to attempt to reach the mainland when police arrived. Police towed the party back to the mainland where the community met them with food and water. The boat’s skipper was cautioned about having the right safety equipment.

Senior Sergeant Michael Milde said, “This was an excellent job by Yirralka Rangers and members from Gapuwiyak. While we appreciate the innovative efforts of the party to create makeshift sail to get home, it can’t do the job of an emergency beacon. It is very important that all boaters ensure they have the correct safety gear, especially going into the Wet season when conditions can change suddenly.”

For more information about recreational boat safety please visit

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