S.A. Pair Marooned On Barren Island
MELBOURNE, September 18.
Cast away on barren Curtis Island, in Bass Strait, for three and a half weeks, after their yacht had been wrecked in a storm, an Adelaide businessman and his
woman companion Here rescued by fisher men yesterday afternoon.
The couple were:—Alex ander Hay, 47 of the Bri tish Hotel, Port Adelaide, shipowner and wholesale fish merchant, and Miss Thelma Bennett, 35, of Pros pect, Adelaide. While cast away they lived , in a rock cave, keeping alive chiefly on penguin and mut ton bird meat, and signalling vainly to passing deep-sea ships and aircraft. On August 16, four days after leaving Port Adelaide in the 22 ton auxiliary ketch Miss Evelyn bound for Sydney and a Pacific Islands cruise, they ran into a severe storm which wrecked the vessel. They put off from the sinking ketch in a dinghy, rowed for 26 hours in high seas and landed
on Curtis Island, about 30 miles away, with a week's hard ra tions, water, matches, clothes and flares. Mr. Hay and Miss Bennet were sighted early yesterday morning from the fishing craft Loch Lomond, out of Port Welshpool. The coxswain (Mr Edward Ryan) saw green and red flares being lit on the island shorty before dawn. He called the skipper (Capt. Peter Locke) who pulled the fishing boat as close as be dared to the shore and asked the castaways if they were in trouble. They told him they were marooned, and were near star vation. At 2 p.m. Capt. Locke put a dinghy over the side, and two of his crew made the dan gerous approach to the high rocky coast.
Boots Torn To Pieces
They found Mr. Hay and Miss Bennett tired, dirty and haggard, and suffering badly from exposure. Mr. Hay's boots had been torn to pieces by the sharp rocks. A three-inch beard covered his face, and his hands were calloused and bleeding from many cuts. Miss Bennett was barefooted, dressed in slacks and an old army greatcoat. Her feet and hair were in the same state as Mr. Hay's.
The couple were transferred to the Loch Lomond, and came on tonight to Melbourne, where they will rest for several days. Mr. Hay said that he had lost two stone while on the island and Miss Bennett had also lost a great deal of weight. "I don't think we could have lasted another week," he added. "We were able to walk about, but we were very weak. 'The hard rations ran out after about two weeks, and from then on we lived entirely on penguin and mutton bird meat. We also found a few grubs in the undergrowth. "We sighted many big ships, but they were too far away to see our signals. It was mad dening.
"Last Wednesday week an Air Force plane flew overhead, and we tried to signal with the fire, but it did not make any impression. Mr. Hay said that when he sailed from Port Adelaide he had cleared the customs. He had intended to call at Beach port, South Australia, Port Fairy, Victoria, Port Welshpool and then Sydney. Police in Adelaide were un able last night to ascertain whether another person apart from Mr. Hay and Miss Ben nett sailed in the ketch from Port Adelaide on August 12. Nobody appears to have seen the ketch leave the port, but it is thought that it left in the early hours of the morning. Hay was reported to have re ceived a clearance from the Customs Department and he and Miss Bennett also had pass ports.
Mr. Hay's wife, who lives at Kent Town, said last night that she understood her husband had proposed taking two busi nessmen from Melbourne with him, but she did not know their names.
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