Activation Reports brought to you by Abell Point Marina
Major contributors to VMR Whitsundays
Skipper: Paul Catts
Crew: Rod Wilson, Jim Dunn & Mark Wright
Task: Tow – near Grassy Island
We were activated at about 1545 to pick up a 10m yacht experiencing mechanical difficulties. SE winds 15-20 kts and a flood tide made for a bit of a lumpy trip, particularly off Grimston Point, but it wasn’t that far.
We located the yacht immediately as it was sailing nicely. As we approached, the yacht’s crew furled both sails and a towline was passed across easily.
We commenced a tow achieving about 6-7 kts.
Around dusk, outside the leads, we shortened the tow and brought her into the marina. We then came along side and strapped up hard and maneuvered them into a free double berth around the far side of the marina.
All no hassles with excellent communication and crew work.
Refuelled and returned to the berth around 1915.
Time on job: 3 hours
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Crew: Wendy Davidson & John Caldwell
Task: Search for supposed breakdown – near Hayman Island & Pioneer Bay
Received a call late in the afternoon from the radio base that a non member in a 14 ft runabout had broken down between Airlie and Hayman Island so I headed down to VMR1 thinking this will not take long.
After completing some pre-departure checks I called the base to get an update on the incident, and was informed that the person had sent a GPS position from Google Maps (which I thought was a great idea) that showed that he was west of Hook Island.
We departed APM at 1625 and with a reasonably flat sea we were on the scene in good time but could not see a boat anywhere on the horizon.
I phoned the person, whose accent made it a bit hard to understand, and was then informed that he was out from Funnel Bay. We travelled over to Funnel Bay and behold I could not see a boat anywhere!
I called him again to say that we were close to a large two masted vessel anchored off the bay and could he see us to which he replied that he thought so and he was in front of us and to head towards the sunset.
So off towards the sunset we went only to get close to a position between Bluff and Grimston Point and still no boat to be seen!
At this point we started to think that this was a hoax and as it was getting dark I decided that it was a Search and Rescue and tried unsuccessfully to call the Water Police. I then called the Cannonvale Police to report the incident and also called the person to tell him that I was handing it over to the police.
We saw a flashing light and and some navigation lights in the area and checked those out before returning to APM to fuel and berth.
On the way back to APM we received a call from another person to say that they were north of Pioneer Rocks but I had no intentions of running around in the dark so we returned to base.
Wendy and I then went to the Cannonvale Police station and reported the incident and went home expecting a call out later, but after a half hour I received a call from the 24/7 phone holder that the person was safe and sound at the Port of Airlie.
Two hours and 180 litres of fuel wasted on a person who did not know where he was!
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Crew: Geoff Smith
Task: Tow – just outside Abell Point Marina
At 1550hrs Celia (our 24/7 Phone Holder) rang me as SARCO to authorize an activation for a VMRW member who had run out of fuel.
She rang me again 10 minutes later to say she was having difficulty locating a crew. She could only get her husband Geoff (who was already at the marina doing a job), and would I also go. This was a very small job, so I made the decision that two Senior Skippers could handle it easily.
We left the Marina at 1625, and had the 5m tinny with 3 POB in tow using ‘Tom’s Hook’ by 1635.
While doing the paper work, the assisted skipper realised (from his card) that his membership had run out. He fully realised that he now would be charged for the tow. A very good lesson (and timely reminder) for everyone here – ensure you keep your membership up to date. Another lesson is, make sure you have more than enough fuel for your proposed trip.
There was no need to refuel. We were back in our pen by 1655 hrs.
Time on job: ½ hour
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Crew: Roger Wodson, Michel Del Aguila & Norbert Gross
Task: Tow – Whitsunday Passage, near North Molle
Received a late morning call from Tom at the radio base asking if I could attend a vessel in distress. A non member in a 4.8 metre runabout with 4 POB had broken down in the Whitsunday Passage about north of North Molle Is and had provided the Lat and Long for his position.
We departed APM at 1155 and made good time to the location where we took the vessel in tow and returned them to Port of Airlie.
After completing the paper work we returned to APM to fuel and berth at 1415.
A straight forward activation and thanks to the crew for an efficient job.
Time on job: 2½ hours
Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Bill Harrison, Michel Del Aguila & Bob Mansfield
Task: Medivac – Hamilton Island
I got the call from Tony, one of our new, brave, fearless phone holders at 1915 for a medivac of a 12yo patient.
Down to the boat, do the checks (noted a slight hesitation with Stb’d engine starting) and off to the fuel dock to pick up Chris the Paramedic, departing APM at 1940.
A beautiful night, a sliver of moon, little wind or tide and flat seas. The only problem was no radar. We tried shutting down everything several times but no result.
Arriving at Hammo at 2100 we were asked to go alongside the ferry dock. Given the big difference in deck heights, it is a bad pick up place. Trying to transfer injured people and non-agile, overweight companions is difficult.
Getting alongside the dock (luckily there was even less wind at this point) 2 crew threw their dock lines to the same chap on the dock who, though very willing, had absolutely no idea what to do with them. Having lost control of the boat, the crew scrambled to recover and I struggled (given the large audience) to control the expletives. I even ended up with a spring that I hadn’t asked for, or needed.
Chris went ashore to evaluate the patient who not only had a broken arm, but had also lost a considerable amount of bark as a result of a fast, downhill, scooter crash.
Having completed the patient transfer, we went to start the engines and the Stb’d one decided not to play. The starter motor sounded as if it was spinning but not engaging. We had several attempts including bridging batteries in case it was a voltage problem. Oh well, a slow trip back on one engine……
Within a few second of leaving the dock at 2120 a crew member started shouting “Fire, Fire!!” Sure enough, the Stb’d engine was happily burning away and generating a lot of acrid smoke.
Despite several attempts to shut the power off to the motor, including turning the house bank off, there was still the sound of sparking coming from the engine. Then I remembered we still had the battery bridging switch on, bugger.
Bill got the fire out and we restored power to the boat. We had several attempts at getting the dead engine leg up but the electrics are well and truly stuffed leaving no option but to head back on one engine, dragging a leg, managing 9 and a bit knots. The lack of radar was a problem outside Airlie as what moon there was had gone, while the cloud cover and the density of anchored vessels had increased.
We arrived at APM 2330 but rather than muck about with the fuel dock, then the pen, we went straight to the pen. Again, thanks to little wind, we got in OK and unloaded Chris and his patient. A quick wash down got rid of the fire extinguisher’s white powder and off home for midnight.
Time on job: 3¾ hours