Man "circled by sharks" rescued from inflatable canoe

A MAN in an inflatable canoe has been rescued in waters off Abell Point, after reports he was being "circled by sharks".

Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays president Mal Priday said they had been activated by police to rescue a person in an inflatable canoe about 5.45pm on Friday.

Initial reports to VMR suggested the man was being circled by sharks and that the inflatable canoe was north of Pigeon Island.

However, the Abell Point Marina VMR1 had been in Bowen for a community event that day, so Mars Charters Whitsundays was called in to assist.

Mr Priday, a skipper and a crew member headed for Pigeon Island just after 6pm, but upon arrival found nothing.

"By this time I was in communication with the Water Police who were in turn talking to our target, and we were told to look for a light from a phone as that was our man," he said.

"Other Police had gone to the Whisper Bay Ramp near the VMR base trying to get a ride out to look for the target, without success.

"It was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack in the near darkness, but after a search we sighted the faint light from what looked like a phone and found our man - without sharks - about ¾ of a mile west of Pigeon Island."

Rescuers got as close to inflatable canoe as possible and had the man paddle to them.

They transferred him and his fishing gear onto the boat for a trip back to Abell Point.

Luckily, a happy ending , but it could have been very different in a canoe that was easily blown around even in the light winds prevailing at the time, and in one that looked like it was difficult to paddle as well," Mr Priday said.

"Luckily we don't see these very often... he took a risk going out there and lucky we managed to get him, that's the main thing."

The man, who was uninjured, was not wearing a life jacket.