Lost in the darkness: tragedy as mother drowns off boat
''My heart goes out to them'' … police divers remove the body of the woman who went missing off her boat in Rose Bay. Photo: Nick Moir
IT WAS clear and calm when a northern Sydney family of four sat on their boat anchored at Rose Bay, taking in a direct view of the city skyline early on New Year's Eve morning.
After having some drinks, a 49-year-old woman stayed on the deck of the luxurious 12-metre Riviera 41 past midnight on Monday, while her husband and their son and daughter, aged 14 and 12, went to bed.
The husband called police about 2am when he woke up to discover his wife missing from the boat, named Tornado, which was about 500 metres from shore.
Water police, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and boats from Marine Rescue NSW searched in the dark for the woman, before her body was found under a jetty near Catalina restaurant at 6.30am.
It was one of four deaths in NSW waters on New Year's Eve. The body of a man in his 20s was found near Manly and a bodyboarder died on the south coast.
Also, a body was also pulled from the Murrumbidgee River in southwestern NSW following a police search for a man who fell from a canoe.
Detective Inspector Darren Schott, from Marine Area Command, said the woman was believed to be a competent swimmer. ''We have information the lady was drinking before going missing,'' he said.
''We just want to remind everyone that boating and alcohol do not mix.''
He said police had interviewed people on surrounding boats, but no one saw or heard the woman go into the water.
''The husband is very distraught and he'll be spoken to at a later time,'' Inspector Schott said. ''It's sad at this time of year to lose someone and my heart goes out to them.''
A member of the northern Sydney boating community, who asked not to be named, said the family had bought Tornado about two years ago and had owned another boat years before.
He said Riviera boats were two-cabin vessels, built between 2004 and 2008, and sold new for about $800,000.
The transom, or the raised back of the boat, was usually at least a metre high, he said.
Later on Monday a snorkeler found a man aged in his 20s floating at Delwood Beach, near Manly, police said.
The man, who had been swimming, was brought to shore and taken to Manly Hospital, but could not be revived. Surfers pulled a 32-year-old bodyboarder out of the water after he became unconscious at Inyadda Beach at Bendalong, near Nowra, on Monday morning. A doctor who was on the beach conducted CPR until paramedics arrived, but the man could not be revived.
It is believed he had a heart condition.
And police said the body of a 29-year-old man was recovered on the Murrumbidgee River south of Griffith at about 3pm on Monday but he was yet to be formally identified. A search by police and emergency services crews was launched on Sunday afternoon following reports a canoe had tipped over and a man had fallen into the river near Darlington Point but had not resurfaced.
The Ambulance Service of NSW issued a safety message after the earlier three deaths, warning people not to drink alcohol before swimming, to swim between the flags at beaches and never to swim alone.