Activation Reports brought to you by Fish d’Vine
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(OK, so this first one is from November, but it didn’t get to me in time for the last issue. As it was Gary’s first activation as skipper, we will forgive his tardiness this time!)
Skipper: Gary Nicol
Senior Crew: Rod Wilson
Crew: Will Kamsteeg & Roger Wodson
Task: Medivac from Hayman Island
Wind north 10 kt, sea smooth, 30° C, clear skies, it’s 11am and I am on VMR1 near pioneer rocks with 6 students onboard doing a navigation practical, all on their way to becoming coxswains when the phone rang.
Bill Harrison informed me that we had an activation, a medivac from Hayman, and VMR1 needed to be at the fuel dock at Able Point to pick up a paramedic at 1215hr.
An activation on a schedule, OK, that’s a new one.
The new batch of coxswains hurried through their sight and radar ranges with little persuasion from me (thanks lads), we arrived back at the dock at 1145 to drop off the coxswains and pick up our crew and the paramedic bound for Hayman.
After months of stiff south easterlies, in the calm weather at this time of year it’s just magic to be out on the briny. So the run over to Hayman, though having a serious side, a non-urgent evacuation of a patient, certainly helped to the upbeat mood on board.
I reflected on my last trip to Hayman, a 4year old with a fractured skull onboard in the middle of the night whom we delivered to be choppered out. The tension was palpable that night, so different to today.
By 1430 we were back snuggled up in our pen, my first activation as a VMR Whitsunday Skipper, with our patient on his way to Proserpine Hospital.
Thanks to the lads Rod, Will and Roger for making it easy for me.
Time on job: 2¼ hours Fuel used: 159 litres
Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Norm Fraser, Bill Harrison & Greg Walker
Task: 4.4m open Tinny ex Toowoomba, broken down at Nari’s Beach
Bill phoned pm on the 30th Nov to say there was a tinny with engine problems (the owner had just had it serviced!!!) at Nari’s (immediately south of Cid).
No panic as the owner would stay the night on the beach and we could get him the following morning when the tide filled in a bit.
We left APM at 10.00 with a very light northerly and flat seas. We arrived at Nari’s, launched the tender for Norm and Bill to go ashore then stood off for ¼ hour waiting for a little more tide to help the tinny float off.
We departed Nari’s with the owner on VMR1 doing the paperwork, heading for Shute Harbour. We dropped them off on the fishing pontoon without dramas then headed for Abell Point Marina, arriving back at 12.15.
Time on job: 2¼ hrs Fuel used: 166 litres
Skipper: Craig Verrall
Senior Crew: Gary Nicol
Comms Officer: Roger Wodson
Tow master: Michel Del Aguila
Task: Tow, Battery Issues – Whitehaven Beach
I was just finishing off the days office work and thinking about a beer and my upcoming Ribs dinner when emergency phone holder Bill H called me at 4:15pm and asked if I would be a skipper for an activation, to assist a VMR Whitsundays member in a 19ft Haines Hunter Half cabin power boat with battery problems at Whitehaven Beach, with 2 persons on board.
Owning a Haines Hunter myself, and hearing the words “Whitehaven Beach”, the thoughts of rib dinner and beer quickly left my mind.
However, being a virgin VMR skipper, I agreed as long as I had another skipper or very experienced crew member to come along to cover all my bases. I knew that what seems like a simple job could always become more complex very easily- if it wasn’t just a flat battery it would become a long tow in the dark, and towing is the one area I have less experience with.
Shortly after my arriving at the boat Roger Wodson turned up; perfect, no need for me to worry about not getting the paperwork right, no one knows this area better than Roger.
Then Gary Nicol, our second newest VMR skipper arrived at the boat; excellent, a very experienced skipper in his own right even if only new as a skipper with VMR, another bonus for me.
Michel Del Aguila arrived not long after; Michel and I have done a lot of activations together and have developed a great working rapport together, so I was feeling very happy to leave the marina at 1645 knowing I had an excellent crew with me.
Light easterlies and a tide just into the first phase of ebb, a little bit of chop in the passage but otherwise smooth seas gave us a great run to the south of Whitehaven via Hook Passage in around 80 minutes.
Roger made contact with the Haines Hunter via ch16, they informed us that they were rafted up alongside a 40ft Roberts ketch; there were only two yachts at the south of Whitehaven so they weren’t hard to find in the failing daylight.
We came alongside the yachts port side, the Haines Hunter was on the starboard side of the yacht which was owned by a young cruising family heading south for summer. They had kindly ‘entertained’ and looked after our members while they waited for us to arrive.
Gary attempted to start their vessel with our battery pack, but it quickly became apparent that there were more issues than just battery problems. It would be a tow back for sure.
Just for something different, while we were still rafted up to the yacht, we attached the towline with Toms Hook to the motor boats bow, then untied the motorboat from the yacht and let it drift back a way behind the yacht before we then detached from the yacht also and commenced the tow.
The Haines hunter was riding the towline like a dream (Haines Hunters ride like a dream anyway, says this biased owner), so we incrementally sped up until a ‘comfortable for all’ cruising speed of around 14 knots was achieved.
We arrived back at Abell Point boat ramp with no incidents, the Haines Hunter was smoothly transitioned to the boat ramp and not much more than 30 seconds later we were in the fuel dock refuelling.
Great crew make a skipper look good; thanks Gary, Michel and Roger for a professional and skilful job supporting me.
The member was very happy too; the job would have cost $1275, but he had the foresight to pay the $70 membership fee.
Now I can enjoy that cold beer and cold Rib dinner!
Time on job: 4¼ hours Fuel used: 299 litres
Skipper: Gary Nicol
Senior Crew: Rod Wilson
Crew: Roger Wodson & Wendy Davidson
Task: Recover Jet Ski from Hamilton Island
A jet ski, broken down and sinking, was beached just south of the marina entrance on Hamilton Island.
Although a low risk job, the trip over was a little uncomfortable due to the conditions; SSE winds gusting to 30 knots, flooding tide and a nasty short chop.
While punching into wind on tide at the bottom of South Molle Island, three points of contact while moving about the boat was emphasized; last thing we wanted was a Man Overboard situation!
We found a fringing reef extending 30m out from the beach so it was decided to launch the dinghy and bring one of the 2 jet skiers back to VMR1. The tow rope was then taken to the beach while I held VMR1 off shore nose to wind.
Wendy and Roger, fresh from dinghy training the previous night, did a fantastic job, handled the job with ease and unlike the night before, they managed to stay dry (that’s another story).
With the ski attached to the tow line, Rod brought it in close so it would sit in our clear wake. We then headed home at 20kts.
Roger took the helm after we passed through Unsafe Passage and got to experience first hand two vessels closing with a combined speed of over 40kts (that’s approx 80kph) near Pioneer Rocks. An early and substantial change of course to starboard let the skipper of the other vessel know of our intentions and allowed plenty of room to manoeuvre.
By 1545 we had refueled and were back in the pen.
Thanks to the crew, Rod, Wendy and Roger, good job by all.
Time on job: 3 hours Fuel used: 159 litres
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Crew: Gary, Rod & Wendy
Task: Possible Tow – Engine room fire
At 1604 Bill (24/7 Phone Holder rang) me as a Sarco to OK a simple job – a vessel anchored outside Shute Harbour with engine problems, non VMR member, willing to pay our call out fees, 1 person on board, could not get in contact with other local commercial operators, needed assistance to get into Shute Harbour – simple – no problems and would I be skipper – Yes.
VMR1 was all ready with crew when I got to it (Gary, Rod and Wendy)– they had just got back from an earlier activation.
We left APM 1630 to do this ‘simple’ job, arriving at the vessel at 1655 to find it was a 100 ft, 90 tonne jet powered catamaran that had had a fire and its motors were out of action. It could not raise (or lower) its anchor, the wind was blowing 30 knots and the seas were lumpy and confused.
Upon assessment of what we were dealing with, we could not observe any points we could tow from even if we chose to, and no points we could tie alongside if we were so inclined.
Also the 1 person on board was in no immediate danger (which is our main priority) but we did offer to take him off the vessel if he wished, but he declined. His crew had gone ashore and he was trying to get in contact with someone (on a Friday afternoon) who could rectify his engine/ power problems. To make matters worse his phone was getting low on battery.
But our decision was simple – we could not do anything for him, and even if we tried we would be putting him and ourselves into danger.
We left him at 1715 and were refuelled, washed down and back in our pen at 1745.
Thanks to our crew.
Time on job: 1¼ hours Fuel used: 83 litres
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Crew: Wendy Davidson, John Fearnley & Craig Verrall
Task: Medivac – Hook Passage
Received a call from Bill Harrison at 1845 regarding a person who had a fall on a charter boat which was located in Hook Passage.
With a crew of Wendy Davidson, John Fearnley and Craig Verrall we picked up a QAS paramedic and departed Abell Point Marina at 1920.
Going across Whitsunday Passage, we found that it was blowing over 20 knots and seas were rough.
Arriving at the vessel in Hook Passage, we decided to stand off as the vessel was rather large. The patient was brought over in a large tender and he was examined by the QAS paramedic on VMR1.
The patient did not want to leave the charter boat where there was a party going on but was convinced he had to return to the mainland for observation.
With Wendy at the helm the return trip across the passage was smoother as we were slightly running with the waves and she did an excellent job of taking VMR1 into the fuelling wharf and also our berth.
Thanks to the crew for a good job and we finished at 2145.
Time on job: 2½ hours Fuel used: 157 litres
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Crew: John Fearnley, Will Kamsteeg & Norbert Gross
Task: Medivac – Hayman Island
Received a phone call from Bill Harrison regarding a medivac from Hayman Island where a person was having medical issues and needed to be brought to the mainland.
With a crew of John Fearnley, Will Kamsteeg and Norbert Gross we left the berth at 1900 hrs and proceeded to the fuel wharf to pick up 2 QAS paramedics and a police officer.
With all required personnel on board, we departed Abell Point marina at 1945 hrs for Hayman Island.
The trip over and back was reasonable with south east winds and a moderate sea. We arrived at Hayman Island and were in the process of docking at the western pontoon as per usual, when we noticed a torch being flashed from the eastern pontoon. A speedy turnaround in the marina saw us few minutes later tied up next to the waiting medical staff and patient.
After a quick assessment by the paramedics, the patient came aboard so within 5 minutes we were on our way back to Airlie.
Norbert took the helm back and did an excellent job of berthing at the fuel dock where our passengers disembarked; we fueled up and returned to our berth.
Time on job: 2 hours Fuel used: 202 litres