AUTHORITIES have described a tourist as extremely foolish after he was rescued off Portland on Monday night in a kayak without adequate safety gear.
The 54-year-old Inglewood man had no telephone, radio or emergency equipment other than a buoyancy vest and had been out on his catamaran since early morning.
He was reported missing by his worried wife about 7pm. There had been an unconfirmed report that a commercial vessel had struck a boat at sea.
Water Police, Portland Coast Guard and local charter operator Rob Davies launched a search and a helicopter was called in to assist.
Thermal sensing equipment was used to locate the sailor about 9pm west of Lawrence Rocks, unharmed but relieved.
Coast Guard commander Michael Krause said yesterday the sailor was taken aboard and his boat towed back to the harbour, reaching port about 11pm.
The Coast Guard said it was a 16-foot (4.8 metres) hobie cat, but Water Police said it was more like a “kayak with a sail”.
“A lot of man hours and money were involved in this search,” Mr Krause said.
“What he did was stupid and very foolish — out for too long in a little boat at sea, ill-prepared.
“Fortunately the wind kept him fairly close to the shore.
“If he had been outside two kilometres of the coast he would have copped heavy fines because he didn’t have safety equipment.”
Transport Safety Victoria officer Paul Corkill also slammed the sailor’s actions.
“He didn’t have a mobile phone, marine radio or distress beacon,” Mr Corkill said.
“You shouldn’t attempt to go out alone without leaving your trip route intentions and any change in plans should be conveyed.
“If you fall out the cold water can quickly affect your decision-making ability. We urge commonsense. The search was quite extensive and expensive.”
Mr Krause said the sailing boat had been spotted as far as Cape Nelson earlier in the day and off Cape Grant.
He advised boaters to use a new mobile phone app called Safetrx which records voyage plans and scheduled arrival times.
TSV also offers free waterproof pouches for mobile phones.