YOUNG Rhys Kelly is praying for just one special present for his 12th birthday on Wednesday.
He wants his dad to make it home alive.
He is waiting anxiously at his family’s Gold Coast home for word that his father Gavin has been plucked safely from the wild seas that continue to pound the Queensland coast.
Thousands of kilometres away there is another vigil in Cobden, where Gavin’s mother Helen Kelly and sister Angela Jellie also wait and hope for good news.
Mr Kelly, 39, has been missing since 2am on Friday after being washed overboard from a fishing trawler.
Queensland Police said it was believed the boat, manned by two people, struck a submerged object or became stuck in nets and then overturned.
Mr Kelly, who was working as a deckhand, was washed off the deck when the boat began turning and has not been seen since.
The boat’s skipper remained in the boat for several hours before getting into a life raft and activating an EPIRB as the trawler began to sink.
He was rescued by helicopter 10 hours later and taken to Robina Hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Strong winds, heavy rain and wild seas are hampering search efforts.
Water police combed the 80-square nautical mile area yesterday morning but were forced to call off the search and return to shore as conditions deteriorated.
“Conditions are bad and getting worse,” a police spokesman told The Standard. “There is lots of rain, big seas and no visibility.
“All we can do is reassess it in the morning.”
“We’re still holding out hope because of the water temperatures up here.
“It’s a lot different to down your way, but it’s just terrible at the moment because of the weather.”
Mr Kelly grew up in Cobden but has been living in Queensland with his wife Kellie, daughters Selena, 16, and Jenaya, 14, and Rhys, 11, for the past 10 years.
Brother-in-law Paul Jellie said the news that Mr Kelly was missing still seemed “surreal”.
“You’ve got to be hopeful,” Mr Jellie said.
Mr Jellie, from Warrnambool, said the boat’s skipper had contacted the family yesterday.
“He said there was a big bang and Gavin went up to the deck to check out what it was, but within 10 seconds the boat had capsized,” he said. “We just hope he is clinging to a bit of debris.”
The Kelly family has been hit hard by tragedy.
Helen’s eldest daughter Felicity died at a young age from a brain tumour and her husband Barry died after suffering a heart attack in his early 40s. In December 2009, Gavin’s twin brother, Stephen, was killed in a pearl diving accident off the Northern Territory coast.
Gavin and Kellie, who grew up in Warrnambool, moved to Queensland in search of a better lifestyle for their young family.
A Facebook page has been set up urging people to support the search for Mr Kelly and “put him back to his family where he belongs”.