An international investigation is underway, looking into why a fit, healthy woman, in calm seas, would suddenly vanish without a trace from a yacht in the middle of the night.
Dr. Gerry Goeden, a prominent marine biologist, is a very unlucky man – this is the second partner he has lost to accidental death. His first wife, Ellen Goeden, died from a "tragic accident" in January 1984. A newspaper report at the time said a 37 year old woman was walking in the Barron Gorge, north of Cairns, when she slipped while crossing a waterfall and fell 10 metres to her death. Now his current partner, Carmel Brookes 60, has mysteriously disappeared from her yacht, the 14m Moondancer 2, as they sailed from Langkawi to Phuket.
The couple were taking turns steering the yacht and Dr Goeden told police he got up to take over the night watch at 1.30 am and found her gone He told her brother Bill Heang that two bean bags in the life raft were missing, plus the boat hook, so he believed she fell in while trying to retrieve them. They were red bean bags and would float but they haven’t been found. Her brother said the Australian Consular officials could do no more because no official report had been made to Thai police about her disappearance so he reported her missing himself to police in Brisbane.
Dr Goeden said he searched the area for almost a week before sailing to the Thai resort island of Krabi yesterday. The couple were living in Penang, Malaysia and were on their “dream trip.” Ms Brookes and Dr Goeden had part-owned a sailing business in the Whitsunday Islands before selling up and moving to Penang. Dr Goeden is an Australian citizen, formerly from the United States.
Ms Brookes, a dancer, once toured with the production “Cats” and was incredibly fit and a very experienced sailor. Whitsunday Escape owner Trevor Rees, a former business partner of Dr Goeden and Ms Brookes said she was a very cautious person.
Dr Goeden sent an email to Ms Brookes’ ex-husband saying “I’m very sorry, she was a great girl and I know I’ll miss her. All I can say is that I know she loved being here and that the last few weeks were wonderful for her.”
Missing Persons Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell said “We are assisting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Interpol in their investigations.”