Activation 7/10/18: Assist 40ft catamaran at Monte’s Resort
We all know a story that succumbed to ‘chinese whispers’, where the story changes during the telling. So, here is another one. 😋
It was 06.50 on a beautiful Sunday morning when I (Ron) got a call from VMR. I love a good day on the water, so why not! The story I was told was that there was a 40ft catamaran in the shallows at Monte’s Resort and the owner on board has been advised to put out an anchor to prevent drifting further in. High tide was going to happen around 09.00 so we needed to make haste! It was do-able, just, given that Abell Point Marina VMR1 could get there pretty fast at 28 knots.
To save time, while I concentrated on getting us there as fast as we could the crew prepared the tender for a speedy deployment carrying heaving lines, big towing bridle and long tow line as time would not be on our side on this activation. Hurry, hurry!
As we rounded the shore-line the reality set in as we were presented with a catamaran which was high, dry, fully aground and broadside on to the receding water. 😲 So that will be a negative on the tow! Clearly the story had changed somewhere along the communication lines!
I phoned the the vessel (better to go straight to the source) and was told that the new owner was taking her to Bowen and that the wind and tide had been too much. “Do you have a tide chart to read to us as ours has gotten wet.”
Hmmm…okay, we do what we can for our fellow boaties, so after the paper-work was completed on the beach and our stricken vessel owner had agreed to pay the necessary costs as a non-member, we brought him aboard for the trip back to Abell Point Marina. Sadly the next tide for a possible float off won’t be until mid November so this may be a delayed or expensive maiden voyage.
Thanks to our crew of Michel and Marti and our fine vessel VMR1 we were back in our berth and ready for our next activation by 11.00.
Crew: Michel del Aguila, Marti Davy
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 8/10/18: Medivac from Hamilton Island for QAS
Sometimes our VMR activations are full of excitement….and sometimes they’re not. 😁 This was one of those.
It was 1650 hrs on a Monday afternoon, and I (Fin) was just lazing around as I had been tasked to ‘pick up the wife at 5pm’ so there was little point in starting something. My phone rang and it was Celia Smith…one of our 24/7 Emergency Phone Holders. Would I like to take do a Medivac run out to Hammo? Sure…why not. It did mean that I couldn’t pick up the wife but she’s used to it and reacted with resignation when I phoned her. 😉
It wasn’t an emergency apparently so I made my way to Abell Point Marina VMR1 to find crew members preparing for departure. We were joined by a member of the Police force and a Paramedic. All very calm and organised. The weather wasn’t even a factor to mention as it was quite clear with a 10 knot NE breeze, seas were calm to moderate. We left the marina at 1720 hrs.
It was a completely uneventful trip over to Hamilton Marina…not even a bit of sea life to report on. We arrived at 1805 hrs and the female patient was assisted on board. By 1815 hrs we were already heading for home and were back in our pen at 1920 hrs.
All aspects of this activation were handled in a calm, efficient, professional manner and I thank all concerned for this…but gee, we do get activations that everyone likes to talk about, but sometimes they can be as exciting as a bus run to Proserpine! 🤣
Crew: Jim Dunn, Ryan Cunningham
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Activation 9/10/18: Assist non-members in small boat
It could have been worse for them. They had a failed motor, no radio, no torch, failing mobile phone, a boisterous breeze in the pitch dark blowing them directly onto a very close rocky shore line and in a bay at the end of a very long walk through a National Park.There were 5 people on board, crammed into a 5 metre boat full of ‘stuff’ which was bouncing around in the short sharp choppy seas.
But that was all okay because they had no real concept of the danger they were in! 😲At least they knew enough to be a bit worried and miserable…and I (Ron) knew enough to be a bit worried for them, and I was skippering VMR1.
We didn’t have much time before this was all going to go very pear-shaped, so with the crew prepared on the foredeck with heaving line and light tow-line attached we gingerly nosed in toward the boat and beach. The FLIR unit had found them and the forward looking sonar was giving me valuable information as the first throw of the heaving line was successful.
They spoke very little English so our next problem was miming the ‘pull in the rope and attach it to your boat’ kinda message. 😃 Unfortunately, none of their crew had any idea of what to do, or seemed to understand what we were saying, so some quite interesting (read…nerve-wracking) minutes later we managed to manoeuvre astern and drag them out of immediate danger. The little fiberglass vessel was a bit flimsy and two of her cleats fell off during this process. We also had to temporarily put one of our crew aboard her to properly attach the towing line. All very interesting, not to mention a bit challenging! 🤨
During all this we were also in communication with the local Water-Police as they wanted to ‘talk’ with the vessel occupants on our return to Abell Point Marina. So, vessel on tow, paper-work in hand and at 5 knots boat speed we headed for home.
I have very high praise for the skill levels shown by my crew. This was by no means a simple activation and what we had to do carried unexpected multiple risk levels which were all overcome in a very safe, professional and timely manner… well done men.
So with their vessel safely tied up and Police in attendance, we berthed and washed down VMR1 ready for our next little assignment. I’m sure there will be a next time. 😉
Crew: Bill Hopton, Rick Brown
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 10/10/2018 (#1): Assist a member broken down in Butterfly Bay
I (Ray) was running around town getting organised for an upcoming holiday when I received a call from Celia (one of our 24/7 phone holders) that a member had engine issues and was located at Butterfly Bay. No problem, so with crew members Jim and Murray we departed on Abell Point Marina VMR1 at 1645…and ran straight into the Wednesday Twilight Races! ⛵️⛵️⛵️ We did our best to weave our way through the sailing yachts and before long we were heading across the channel.
We had a 14 knot north easterly breeze and the water was quite flat so we made good time and arrived at the Langford Reef area at a low, low tide. It was surprising how much reef and rock was visible out of the water! We arrived at Butterfly bay to contact the 7 metre vessel on a mooring well into the bay, but luckily enough they could run their engine long enough to motor out to our vessel. The family of four had towed their boat all the way up from Melbourne and had only joined VMRW two days before ….great decision! 😊
After completing the paper work and taking the family on board our vessel we towed their boat back to Port of Airlie Marina.
That should be the end of the story but as we were nearing the marina we received a call from Celia that we were required for a Medivac. Read on……
Crew: Jim Dunn and Murray Story
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Activation 10/10/2018 (#2): Medivac from South Molle Island
OK….so… back to the story! We were towing a vessel to Port of Airlie and when we were not far from the marina we received a call from Celia, a 24/7 emergency phone holder, that we were required for a Medivac at Sandy Bay on South Molle Island. After dropping off the boat and family at Port of Airlie, we returned to Abell Point Marina to collect two QAS officers and departed the marina at 1930 hrs.
It was a fairly quick run around to Sandy Bay but it was in total darkness as their was no moon. No dramas though and we collected the patient and returned to Abell Point Marina to deposit the QAS team, fuel up, berth and wash our vessel by 2100 hours.
Thanks to crew Jim Dunn and Murray Story for two efficient activations.
Crew: Jim Dunn and Murray Story
Skipper: Ray Lewis
Activation 13/10/18: Assist Mackay member broken down…somewhere 😀
It was a bad day for yacht racing with little breeze and sloppy seas from the North, so I (Ron) did a rescue tow instead – it was a great day for a tow! We headed out on Abell Point Marina VMR1 at 11.00 with good visibility and not much tide, so all we have to do is find the vessel in question. You’d think that was a simple thing…but….
His GPS fix gave us a point just West of the Northern end of Dent Island but his verbal description was “closer to Long Island than Hamilton Island.” We eventually found him much closer to Cape Conway than anywhere. 😀 You have to love the cursor position, but as they say, ‘it were a luvly day fort motor’. (Ed Note: I have no idea what that means.) 🤔
The couple on board the 10 metre displacement cruiser were very appreciative of our help. They were members of Mackay VMR up on extended holiday and had engine problems, so it was agreed that we would tow them back to Airlie Beach so they could sort the mechanical issues and continue on.
After a comfortable tow at around 7 knots and the tourist trip up inside Long Island for the tidal assistance, we had them dropping their anchor outside Abell Point Marina at 15.30. We had VMR1 refuelled, home and hosed by 16.00.
Many thanks to the volunteer crew of Stuart and Jim for another job well done.
Crew: Stuart Applegate and Jim Dunn
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 14/10/18: Assist a brand new member in trouble
It was about 15.30 which is a common time to get a call for an activation. Sure enough, the phone rang right then! 🤣 I (Ron) was given the details…apparently a 15 metre vessel was stuck in Shute Harbour with engine failure, and was requesting a tow back to Abell Point Marina. No major drama. The owner had only just joined VMR as a member so I bet he was thinking it was a very good decision!
As we departed our berth in Abell Point Marina VMR1, we noted the coordinates we had been given showed the vessel was on top of a hill. 😀 Okay…. here we go with the cursor problem again. A quick call secured a verbal description of a position relative to moored vessels, so we figured we had a good fix. Our approach was hindered slightly as identifying the now 5 metre runabout caused a little confusion…but all was well.
In attempting to slow his drift he had managed to snag a mooring chain with his reef anchor so we rafted along-side for paperwork and planning. Freeing his anchor was not going to happen, so cutting his anchor rode at the shortest point meant we were free to commence the tow back to the boat-ramp.
VMR1 had the little vessel up on the plane and comfortably towing at 20 knots for the quick trip back to Abell Point Marina – the owner commented later that it was a smoother ride than his vessel normally provides! We aim to please. 😊
Thanks to the crew we were all secure by 17.40.
Crew: Ron McCall, Tony McNeill and Daniel Tretheway
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 17/10/18: Medivac from Hamilton Island
It was approximately 1100 hours and I was just mooching around when the phone rang. It was Bill Harrison, 24/7 phone holder, to tell me that QAS would like help to get to Hamilton island to evacuate 3 persons on a Medivac. No problem.
Headed down to Abell Point Marina VMR 1 and met up with the crew and Paramedic Leigh for the trip over to Hammo. While waiting for the crew to get us ready to go, I chatted to Leigh and found out that he had been a VMR active volunteer a couple of years ago before he moved to Brisbane….but now he was back! We might have another volunteer soon….always good to hear! 😃
By 1250 hrs we were tied up in Hamilton Marina. We waited for the 2 female patients and an accompanying male passenger to be safely aboard then left our dock there at 1320 hrs. We were unloaded, refuelled, washed down and safely back in our pen by 1445 hrs, having informed Whitsunday VTS and Bill of our safe return.
Once again the crew and all other personnel involved (including Leigh) made this activation look easy, due to their efficient, professional and calm team work. I thank all concerned for this.
Crew: Jim Dunn and Ryan Cunningham
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Activation 16/10/18: Assist Police with sinking vessel
How often does assisting an unattended vessel which is sinking on its mooring, lead to a period of deep introspection. Not often, but this one did. 🤔 It was late morning on a calm fine Tuesday when the call came from base. I (Ron) was to pick up Ben from MSQ then go out, check out and pump out a sinking vessel on a mooring at Abell Point. Easy one! This was apparently a Police activation and they had done a brief float past and then called VMR Whitsunday.
Our approach was cautious as the vessel was listing badly to port and very bow down. She also carried stabilizer beam arms which were badly lashed and swinging in the light swell, the heavy plates on chains were also moving freely with one on the bow and one in the water. The anchor had been placed loosely on the foredeck to allow the mooring line to be placed on the samson post and was a danger. There was also an aluminium dinghy pulled up across the aft deck and protruding from both gunwhales, and this did not appear to be lashed down in any way. Easy? Hmmm….maybe not so much. 🤨
Efforts were being made onshore to try and locate the current owner of this no longer registered commercial fishing vessel….but what to do now? Okay, so between myself and our crew of Ryan and Ross and with the capable assistance of Ben from MSQ we discussed and formulated a plan. We would secure VMR1 alongside to stabilize the stricken vessel, tie down (or up or in) all the loose bits for safety. Then we’d break into the boat, pump her out, then work out what to do next. It seemed a reasonable plan so we got started.
Our first access point was a small forward hatch and with limited vision and no other options we lowered in the 12volt submersible pump and commenced emptying the forward section. Ben was satisfied that the water coming out was clean of pollutants, so the pump was left running and the boat slowly rose in the bow and stabilized somewhat.
Next step….is there anybody in there? Access was gained through the main cabin door and a brief inspection followed. Not too bad with batteries submerged but no sign of engine oil or fuel in this section so we kept pumping. Then open the aft deck hatch, a clean area below and good position for the heavy petrol-driven suction pump. This fired up first pull and we soon had the boat sitting much higher in the water and feeling much more stable.
Meanwhile Ben had made contact with the current owner, received permission to tow and a request that the boat be lifted from the water. An urgent lift-out was arranged with Hawkes Boatyard effective immediately. The team then set about securing the pumps, the free-roaming dinghy and the vessel in preparation for slipping the mooring, entering Abell Point Marina close-coupled and sliding our now buoyant charge into the embrace of Hawkes’s lifting straps.
Now, was that easy? When I sat at my desk to write this report I began to think about the huge level of involvement from so many different individuals and groups that all combined seamlessly to bring about the best conclusion to what could have been a badly polluted environment and a vessel sunk at a mooring.
Time from call-out to satisfactory completion was just under 4 hours. To the crew plus the on-board assistance of Ben…very well done.
Crew: Ross Garling and Ross Cunningham
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 20/10/18: A Double Whammy…no….wait…..
Sometimes you can’t help bad luck. An engine break-down meant that on Saturday morning a yachty needed his boat moved from the Public Jetty at Abell Point Marina into a berth. The task was straight forward, but limited maneuvering ability in confined waters made the choice of berth important. Several options were available and talking with Robyn and Ambi at the Marina office soon gave us the best choice. Thank you ladies for being so helpful. A simple raft-up and a trouble free transfer saw our mate safely secured in his berth. 👌
Apparently the universe decided that it was all a bit too easy for us though. Just as we were releasing our lines from this activation, the VMR base called and tasked us to assist a broken down vessel in Whitsunday Passage. So…Abell Point Marina VMR1 set off for the second time. Talk about rapid deployment!
We had a GPS fix and good contact details so as we left the marina we powered up for a short ride in smooth seas. As stated in the brief we received, the vessel was anchored in 40 meters of water in exactly the stated position. Sensational….love it when that happens! 🤗
We had them weigh anchor and paperwork was completed while we prepared the tow. It was a broken oil feed line which had put a halt to their game-fishing contest for the day. Another lot of bad luck being dished out. Then the deja-vu moment, again. Just as we were about to tension up the tow-line for the trip to back Abell Point, we received a third call for an activation. Sheesh! This time it was a Mayday/ MOB search activation in the Bowen area….but more about that later.
A quick check and all the current crew were good to stay on for the next activation. We would need to return to base to refuel and pick up extra crew so the vessel under tow was advised that our speed would increase. With an all good from them, we powered up for a very smooth, swift trip home. An uneventful drop off at the ramp pontoon saw them there in time to get to the local Mercruiser agent and we refueled and were ready for the extra crew and our next task.
Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Ross Garling and Murray Story
Skipper: Ron Roberts
20/10/18: Task #3 for the day: Police activated search off Bowen
I (Mal) was on duty in the radio room, and had activated Abell Point VMR1 with Ron, Michel, Ross and Murray for the first activation of the day – which turned into a back to back for another activation. Just as things were settling down again the Water Police called, requesting our assistance for a search off Bowen. The previous day they had attended to a brief, garbled mayday man overboard call, but found nothing.
After calling Alan Corney to come in and take over from me at the radio room (thanks Alan), I went to the Water Police office for a briefing before making my way to the fuel berth to wait for Abell Point Marina VMR1 to return from the previous activation. On the way I turned caterer to sort out some lunch for the crew, as this could turn out to be a long one.
As soon as VMR1 was refuelled and the crew briefed on the task, we were underway at noon, heading for the start of our search area at the northern end of Gloucester Island, about 21.5 miles away. Many thanks to the previous crew who all elected to stay on board – more sets of eyes are a good thing on a search! Conditions were an easterly wind of 15-20 knots and an outgoing tide in our favour – that changed a bit on the way back, though.
VMR1 was on station for the start of the search within an hour and we headed northwest and started to search Edgecumbe Bay towards Cape Edgecumbe to the north of Bowen, then south along the shoreline to Stone Island, before turning back to the southern end of Gloucester Island.
We were about to make another run across the Bay when the Water Police called and as it had now been determined that the object on the beach had not in fact come in from the sea they asked us to make our way to the VMR Bowen Base to pick up two Police Officers from Bowen and transport them to Stone Island. They were wanting us to take them ashore in our tender so they could ask the people at the homestead if they had seen or heard anything that may have helped the operation. The answer was no, and so VMR1 was stood down after returning the officers to the VMR Base. We departed for the 33 mile return trip to Abell Point Marina just on 1615.
Conditions across Edgecumbe Bay were not too bad, but as VMR1 reached the eastern end of the Passage we were slowed to less than 10 knots in the short, sharp seas generated by the now incoming tide against the 15-20 knot easterly, and it was pretty uncomfortable until we were able bear away once we had cleared George Point. We returned to Abell Point about 1815, and had refuelled, cleaned and secured the boat by 1830.
A big day, especially for the crew from activations 1 and 2. Thanks to all of the crew, great commitment by the whole team.
Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Ross Garling, Ryan Cunningham, Murray Story, Steve Raine, Chris Williamson
Skippers: Mal Priday, Ronnie Roberts
Activation 21/10/18: Assist a vessel out of fuel in Funnel Bay
Skipper: Mal Priday
Activation 23/10/18: Assist member broken down at Whitehaven
A very considerate member broke down on Monday evening, but said that he was okay overnighting at anchor at Whitehaven Beach…but could we please come and tow him on Tuesday morning. I liked this man already. 🙂
These were my (Ron) immediate thoughts when I was tasked with skippering Abell Point Marina VMR1 out to get him, and so it was Tuesday morning at 07.00 when VMR1 departed in perfect conditions for a glorious destination. Dodging charter boats, fishing boats and myriad schools of fish we were beside the stricken vessel just after 08.00 and completed the paperwork in record time.
Most of our conversation with the boat owner centered around just how beautiful this entire area was. Then, as we departed for the tow back to his home port of Hamilton Island our anchoring spot was taken over by a landing sea-plane, simply stunning.
The journey to Hamilton Island was uneventful, just the usual multitude of yachts, fish and beautiful islands to be aware of and then we handed our charge over to one of the work-boats from the marina which assisted the vessel back to its berth. Crew member Terry Clarke did some splicing during the trip back to Abell Point Marina and with the assistance of Mal Priday we had VMR1 re-fueled, hosed down and secured in her berth by 10.20.
Any day on these waters can be a good day, but this was a diamond.
Crew: Mal Priday, Terry Clarke
Skipper: Ron Roberts
Activation 27/10/18: Transfer 3 QFES personnel to Thomas Island to deal with possible chemical contamination
Possible chemical contamination in the Marine Park is not something to sneeze at, so when we got a call from QFES in Brisbane on Friday afternoon requesting our assistance to take 3 personnel to Thomas Island on Saturday to deal with a possible chemical contamination we set a departure time of 0800, and put a crew together for the nearly 70 mile round trip. A container holding pellets had been reported on a beach on the southwestern side. This was possibly another one of a number that had fallen overboard some years ago, and had finally made landfall. The pellets were apparently used for rodent control on ships, and were potentially extremely toxic to humans as well as rodents.
After loading the firies gear and the 3 firies, Abell Point Marina VMR1 departed the Marina just after 0800. Conditions were good on the way south, with about 10 knots of northerly wind and an incoming tide behind us all the way to Thomas, arriving at 0935. We were told not to anchor too close and not directly downwind of the beach due to possible fume production in the neutralisation process, which involved the use of an acid and water. Our passengers and their gear, including respiration equipment, were taken to the beach in two trips in our tender, and we were told that if they all fell over not to go to the beach!
They gave the all clear to pick them up after about an hour – apparently the pellets had already been exposed to water and were no longer a danger. With everyone back on board with their gear and the offending container in a sealed bin, and with the tender safely stowed and secured, we headed back to Abell Point. The return trip was a bit different as the tide was on the turn but the wind had picked up to over 20 knots from all over the place, West to Northwest to North, creating a bit of chop with wind against tide, and meaning a longer trip as we headed back inside Long Island for a bit more shelter.
The QFES crew were dropped back at the fuel dock at 1245, and VMR1 was refuelled, returned to her own berth, cleaned and secured a little after 1300. A nice easy activation over 5 hours, which makes a pleasant change from some of the others! But we were very glad they did not all fall over on the beach. 😉 Well done to firies and crew.
Crew: Bill Hopton, Clayton Earl, Jim Dunn, Daniel Trethewey
Skipper: Mal Priday
Activation 28/10/18: Medivac from Hammo in the wee small hours
Skipper: Geoff Fitzsimmons
Activation 31/10/18: Medivac from Hammo…a daytime visit this time
It was a beautiful day for a boat trip to Hamilton Island. I (Ray) received a call from Bill (one of our 24/7 emergency phone holders) that VMR was required for a medivac at Hamilton Island and that the QAS officers would be down at the boat at 11am. Once the QAS staff arrived and Abell Point Marina VMR1 was all prepped and ready, we set off for Hammo.
We had about 10 knots of wind and a moderate sea for the round trip and arrived at Hamilton Island at 1200 and departed at 1215 with the patient on board. It was a quick trip home and we were fuelled up and finished by 1325.
Thanks to the crew for a smooth activation.
Crew: Rick Brown, Murray Story and Jon Bulmer
Skipper: Ray Lewis
That’s it for this month’s Activations…quite a variety of different tasks, wouldn’t you agree? Have you read the Newsletter yet? You’ll be missing out on all the latest news and important information if you don’t. 😋 Here’s a direct link to go…..