#SOS #Mystery – Police discover amazing story behind mysterious SOS message : On May 25 the police asked for help to identify the person who made the SOS sign in the Swift Bay area of the Kimberley, the northernmost of nine regions in WA.
WA Police spread the story on its Facebook page and it was picked up by media outlets.
A person read the story on the BBC in London and contacted Kalumburu Police with information.
They believed they knew the person who created the SOS message after being stranded on Swift Bay in 2013.
“Further inquiries by Kalumburu Police confirmed that the sign was made by a man in June 2013 and his story is quite amazing,” WA Police posted on Facebook.
“The man and a friend were sailing a yacht in the Kimberley and using an inflatable dinghy, went ashore in Swift Bay, Montague Sound, to look for a freshwater spring and Aboriginal rock art.
“They tied the dinghy to a rock and when they saw a 3.5 metre crocodile swimming towards them, they got out of the dinghy and scrambled onto the rock as the crocodile took a large bite out of the dinghy.
“The dinghy deflated and they were stranded with the crocodile remaining in the area. They managed to climb further up the rocks where they remained huddled all night.”
The crocodile was still stalking them the next day, and was between them and the man’s yacht, which was anchored about 600 metres out in the middle of the bay.
Their survival skills kicked in and they built a rock shelter and getting food, water and help were their top priorities.
“They ended up spending seven days there,” the police said.
“After a couple of days they saw there was a second, smaller crocodile. The two crocodiles appeared to set a line between them and the boat.
“They made a cross out of the oars and a large SOS with white quartz rocks on the plateau and tied up the hull of the dinghy by the bow above the high water mark, which to a sailor would look ‘wrong’ and that is what saved them.”
After being shipwrecked for a week, a motor yacht came to the bay and the man and his friend got the sailor’s attention. They were rescued and were suffering for mild hypothermia and weight loss.
“This is an important reminder to anyone travelling, sailing and exploring the remote areas of Australia to always ensure you have access to an EPIRB or sat phone at all times,” police said.
“Thank you to everyone who passed the story on and helped Kalumburu Police solve the mystery of the SOS.”