Yacht skipper found dead

A yachtsman found dead in waters off Badger Island west of Flinders Island yesterday had also run into trouble 10 days earlier.

A police helicopter located the body of Donald Joseph Marshall, 78, about two kilometres east of the island at 1pm yesterday.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of Mr Marshall’s death and why he left his vessel, which still had its life raft attached.

Mr Marshall made a mayday call before 2am yesterday.

Police found his unoccupied vessel partially submerged about 5.45am.

The 21-foot yacht had run aground on the southern side of Badger Island and was damaged.

Tasmania Police Inspector John King said Mr Marshall was an experienced yachtsman who had been living at sea for about three decades on and off.

The yachtsman had ties to Queensland and South Australia and was attempting a circumnavigation of Australia.

Initial confusion about the location of missing yachtsman Donald Marshall did not cause long-term delays in finding his body, Inspector King said.

Inspector King said authorities initially received two calls in the early hours of yesterday morning about a vessel hitting some rocks in the Furneaux Group of islands.

“Both were on opposite sides of the Furneaux Group,” Inspector King said.

“Some quick investigations showed it was the same incident.

“Mr Marshall thought he was on the east side but he was on the west side.”

Authorities are unaware how long Mr Marshall had been in the water for.

There were swells of a metre to 1.5 metres overnight between Monday and Tuesday and mist had affected visibility.

Inspector King said it appeared that Mr Marshall had not used a rescue craft, but he was found “quite close” to shore.

“We are unsure if Mr Marshall had left his vessel deliberately or by accident,” he said.

Inspector King said police had no information about what Mr Marshall had done before running aground, but the skipper had told authorities if he was going to leave his vessel he would activate his EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).

Mr Marshall also called authorities for help on May 26, when a wave struck his yacht and he was injured.

He was about nine kilometres offshore from Stanley and two local fishermen rescued him.

A police image of the submerged yacht.

Tasmania Police Inspector John King checks a map for the location of Donald Marshall’s stricken yacht. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

A police hand-out of the yacht.

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