The ill-fated boat trip off Sydney Harbor which led to the death of a high-profile art expert and presumed death of a tech guru has raised several questions that remain unanswered.
No explanation is at hand for why Andrew Findlay, 51, and Indigenous art dealer Tim Klingender, 59, went out fishing in dangerous seas at 7.30am last Thursday when a southerly swell was smashing the shores of the Eastern Suburbs.
The 7.85-metre Brig Eagle inflatable fishing boat they set out in was hit by 5m waves and smashed into rocks at The Gap in Watsons Bay about 10am.
Mr Klingender’s naked body – clad only in socks – was found among debris scattered among the rocks below Jacobs Ladder at South Head.
Lingering dangerous conditions through the weekend prevented police from recovering evidence from the vessel, and tragically the search for Mr Findlay was scaled back.
Questions linger about why art supremo Tim Klingender (above, with his wife Skye McCardle)) and his friend went out in rough seas without life jackets and smashed into rocks leaving the Indigenous expert’s naked body to be found and Andrew Findlay still missing
Tech entrepreneur Andrew Findlay, 51, is still missing after the fateful trip on a rough surf day out in a fishing boat which ended up capsizing on the rocks off Watsons Bay
Mr Klingender is the father of two children with wife Skye McCardle Klingender, while Mr Findlay has three children with his former partner Lizzie Kemp, who was once married to cricket legend Brett Lee.
Mr Findlay socialized in celebrity circles in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and is close friends with model and Home and Away star Erika Heynatz and her husband Andrew Kingston, artist Daimon Downey and husband and wife musicians Angus McDonald and Connie Mitchel.
The friends are said to be ‘rocked to the core’ by Mr Findlay’s disappearance and presumed death.
Comedian Magda Szubanksi led the tributes for Mr Klingender – who is credited with helping propel artists like Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Rover Thomas to international star status – by saying she ‘greatly admired his incredible work promoting Indigenous art’.
Mr Klingender’s wife, Skye McCardle, is believed to have been traveling in Nepal and was due back home around the time that tragedy struck.
These are the major questions that need to be answered leading up to an eventual NSW Coroner’s inquest into the fatal accident:
Tim Klingender (above with Wik artists from Aurukun last December in Sydney) is credited with helping propel Indigenous artists like Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Rover Thomas to international star status
Why did they go out?
Police would later describe the waters off Bondi and Watsons Bay on Thursday morning as ‘violent sea conditions’. The July water temperature was too cold for anyone who went overboard to survive more than a day.
So why did the pair take such a risk to go out in such high saves when warnings and cautions were issued for surfers and boaties alike?
Police search the waters off Watsons Bay late last week after the boating accident in high seas on Thursday ended in the probable demise of Tim Klingender and Andrew Findlay
How did the accident happen?
The men’s 7.8-metre inflatable vessel, which weighs over a tonne, was said to be traveling too close to the Watsons Bay cliff face.
Their trip began about 7.30am, heading south from Bondi towards Watsons Bay when they began encountering large waves lashing the cliffs.
It’s understood the men were too close to the cliffs for the conditions in which they were trolling; a fishing method that involves trailing lines behind the vessel.
Superintendent Joe McNulty of Marine Area Command said waves up to five meters high pushed the vessel into the rocks.
Tech entrepreneur, Andrew Findlay, above on Sydney Harbor wearing a life jacket, inexplicably did not have one on when he went out fishing with his mate, art dealer Time Klingender last Thursday
‘It appears they’ve … been swept by a large wave that possibly capsized the vessel and [has] thrown both men into the ocean,’ Supt. McNulty said.
‘It was violent sea conditions and a violent accident that occurred.
Rescuers believe the boat struck a treacherous hidden underwater rock ledge as it was pounded by the huge surf.
In the aftermath, the boat remained tightly lodged against the rocks under the cliffs at South Head.
Why didn’t they wear life jackets?
Neither man was wearing a life jacket, and it is uncertain why as their fishing rods were launched from the rear while the boat kept traveling ahead.
Because both men appear to have been thrown into the ocean by the vessel capsizing, and life jackets could have helped them remain buoyant in the treacherous conditions after their boat was upturned.
What stripped Mr Klingender of his clothes and swept away Mr Findlay’s body?
Dangerous ocean rips closed Eastern Suburbs beaches last Thursday, meaning that once both men were in the water they were at the mercy of the conditions.
Both or either man could have been injured in the boat’s capsize leaving them to be tossed around in violent seas.
Their boat was found overturned and broken up at the base of The Gap in Watsons Bay.
The men’s 7.8m boat was found wedged into the rocks below The Gap at Watsons Bay, and Tim Klingender’s body was found in the debris, but there was no sign of Andrew Findlay
Why did they call off the search?
Marine command wrapped up the search on Saturday, a day after ‘the timeframe for survival, taking into account the temperatures of the water in July … lapsed’.
Once they had been tipped into the roiling seas, both men would have been tossed around in conditions that saw surfers warned it was ‘definitely not a day for anyone other than fit and experienced riders. Solid south swell smashing the magnets this morning.’
Caves and cliff faces around the area were searched with a PolAir helicopter hovering above the coast attempting to locate more of the boat and Mr Findlay.
Supt McNulty said the operation had spanned more than 20km on Saturday, from South Head to Cape Solander near Botany Bay.
Marine command police will still look for tech contractor Andrew Findlay’s body, but called off teh large-scale search after three days because by then he was presumed to be dead
Will Andrew Findlay ever be found?
The discovery of Tim Klingender’s remains have rocked the Australian art world and, as art dealer Michael Reid said, caused ‘unimaginable and devastating loss to his family’.
But however terrible their irreplaceable loss, the torment for Andrew Findlay’s loved ones will be even more acute, with many in such situations saying they would rather know conclusively how it ended rather than be left wondering.
Supt McNulty said at the weekend after a large-scale three-day water and air search, ‘We’ll continue to search, but looking at a much lower scale for that second body because we presume now that he is deceased.’