The Sunshine Coast RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crew has winched three young tourists from the ocean, off Wide Bay, after they were washed from a yacht this afternoon.
The trio told rescuers they had been on the deck of the vessel, when the skipper steered towards a sand bar, to investigate if they could get through, to dock at a marina.
A large, rogue, wave washed the two females and male, all aged in their 20s, into the ocean.
None of them were wearing life jackets at the time.
The skipper then tried to retrieve the three people, but conditions proved too rough, so he activated an EPIRB and put out a distress call.
The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew flew to the area, to search for the lost swimmers.
A Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Flight Paramedic was the first to spot the trio, clinging to a water container and a fuel container, which had also washed overboard.
An RACQ LifeFlight Rescue swimmer was winched down to the water, with life jackets.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Crew Officer, Rick Harvey, who was operating the winch from inside the helicopter, lowered a rescue basket to the group, so the more distressed woman could be hoisted to safety.
“They were being knocked around in 7 foot waves,” he said.
“The white wash was so big, the people below were disappearing out of sight.”
Once the first female was safely inside the chopper, Mr Harvey lowered the rescue basket again, so the second woman could be brought up.
The rescue basket was then winched down a third time, so the man could be hoisted into the chopper.
He was accompanied by the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue swimmer, who had remained in the water, assisting the tourists for the entire operation.
The trio was then flown to Inskip point, where they were transferred to the care of local QAS Paramedics.
This is the second successful search and rescue operation, the Sunshine Coast RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew has completed today.
Early this morning, two runners were found safe and well, after they became lost in bush land overnight.