A LOOK BACK: How one woman survived an open-sea ordeal

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IT WOULD be unbelievable if it weren't for her shining smile. Sue Docker, upright in a hospital bed, grinning for the camera after an open-sea ordeal most people wouldn't survive.

Sue was 28 when, in 1983, she went missing during a spear-fishing competition in the reefs located off the coast of Tannum Sands.

A strong current swept the Sydney woman away from other competitors.

She had nothing but a bright orange buoy, flippers, a snorkel and her formidable talent as an experienced skin diver.

Two days later she was found alive and well on Erskine Island.

Her story played out on the pages of The Gladstone Observer, and in national newspapers, for the agonising time it took rescuers to find her.

The Observer captured the jubilance in the city when it reported on her eventual rescue in its January 6 edition.

"Sue Docker's remarkable story is one of cool-headedness in a frightening situation but it is also one of incredible bad luck," the report read.

"While floating, clinging to her bright orange diving buoy for almost two days, she drifted past rescue boats, saw helicopters pass overhead and was even passed her by eventual rescuer on Erskine Island yesterday morning."

On the second day at sea, Sue had to survive in two and a half metre swells that made spotting her from the air difficult.

She told the Observer after her rescue how she watched the helicopters fly over in their search.

"When the helicopter flew over I leaned back from the float with my ....

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