Lucky trawlerman keeps his promise to wife

A PROMISE to his wife not to die at sea helped trawler-sinking survivor Dave Richardson stay afloat on his bamboo pole. The 36-year-old Tweed Heads father of three has also revealed he was at the end of his endurance when he was eventually rescued by a recreational fisherman off Point Danger on Sunday after drifting almost 35 hours through more than 100km of shark-infested waters. Mr Richardson is physically drained and grieving the loss of his 68-year-old father George, who has not been seen since their trawler sank off Moreton Island early on Saturday. An air and sea search was called off yesterday as Mr Richardson returned to the empty dock at Tweed Heads and was consoled by colleagues. "He's weak of course and very sunburnt, very sore. He's withdrawn," fisherman Ron Ible said. But Mr Richardson was well enough to speak with police and revealed he was determined not to break a promise to his wife Kim. "He made a promise to his wife that he would never be killed at sea," Gold Coast Inspector Tony Marks said. "And he was frightened of his wife of course, as we all are," he added. "That seemed to be very much uppermost in his mind. He was determined to do everything he could to survive." The trawler Sea Mist 2 was dragged over when nets and gear on board either tangled or became snagged on a rock. In the water, Mr Richardson found a five-metre-long bamboo pole and a basket which he used for buoyancy as he was swept by currents along the coastline.

He took off his trousers, shoes and jacket so he could stay afloat, but kept a T-shirt and underwear to combat sunburn and exposure.

On several occasions he came tantalisingly close to shore.

"He was so close he did try to paddle inwards but there was no-one on the beach and it became quite frustrating," Insp Marks said.

"He knows the sea and accepted the fact the tides would take him back out again and reverted to trying to attract attention from other vessels."

When a trawler steered towards him during the night he let go of the basket to use both arms to paddle the bamboo pole for help, but the boat motored by without stopping.

"He is an old marine man and had a pretty good understanding of how long he could survive and he was of the opinion that he didn't have a hell of a lot of time left when he did get picked up," Insp Marks said.

Insp Marks said there were lessons for anyone who encountered adversity.

"Don't give up. You never know your luck. This is an extreme case, but it demonstrates the possibili- ties." - AAP

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