April 2022


Activation 03/04/2022: Assist an 11 m catamaran with 6 pob, steering problem on way to Daydream Island.

If our systems and manuals to see if he wanted to come with us, a quick “ye was just about to get out of bed anyway when 24/7 phone holder Bill rang about 6:45. A catamaran was having steering problems and we had been requested to assist, and he said he was a member. “Okay, on my way”, but before I left home I rang Ray to call Tom who was here for some revalidation os please!” was the response.

By 0720 we were all ready to go, but two things were standing out
If it was a cat why could he not get home using the engines for steering, and….there is no such thing as 148 Degrees and 82 minutes longitude as provided to Bill! Might have to question them on the way for a better idea of where they are.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was manoeuvred alongside them at 0750 after we had their position locked in, between South Molle and Long Island, a bit further from Daydream than we thought initially. After completion of the necessary paperwork we passed them a tow line while the owner worked on trying to straighten his rudders. Our earlier question was answered as it was a cat/trimaran with a single engine mounted between the hulls, and the hydraulic steering had gone on strike. We started to take the strain to tow them but soon saw that was not going to work as they promptly turned hard to starboard, so moved back alongside on their starboard side with lots of fenders in between for a slow haul back to Coral Sea Marina at 6-8 knots. Tom noted that our bow wave worked in our favour, pushing their bow to port while they were close alongside.

As we got closer to the Beak at Shute we saw Seaflight – a very big ferry going to the outer reef – coming the other way, and they graciously slowed down to reduce their wake while we had our target alongside. Just before that the owner thought he had moved the rudders, so it was try again using the tow line, but with the same result. Back alongside again for what turned out to be a near 2 hour tow in total, side by side, before we deposited them at 1000 on a vacant berth on the end of a pier, after discussing best various options with Coral Sea Marina.

After the usual refuel and return to our berth for washdown and paperwork, it was 1030 before we had finished and Tom could start on his review. Fair to say I think he liked VMR1 with its flybridge, wide side decks and big grunty diesels! Nice work by the crew, more coming alongside practice than usual though!

Crew: Ray Lewis, Paul Bloomfield, Laura Oates plus Tom Hudson, VMRA Trainer and Assessor, who was here to check on VMR1 and VMR2.
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 03/04/2022: Tow from Nara Inlet

We had our day planned, be at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 by 0800 hrs to demonstrate our emergency drills, validate our training and go home to enjoy a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Well, that was the plan! Our skipper for the day, Ken, called around 0730 hrs, VMR1 was out on activation attending to a disabled catamaran in the vicinity of Long Island. Ok, we still may be able to do the demonstration, just a little later.

I was already at the base on another task, the expected delay gave me time to visit the Radio room and visit with the on duty radio operator, in this case Lee. As we spoke, a phone call from a distressed boat owner, broken down at Nara Inlet, “ok, we have a ready crew available, Ken, Shane and myself, we can take Whale Song VMR2 and be back quick smart”…. at least, that was my thinking. Lee contacted the Search and Rescue Co-ordinator (SARCO) for permission to launch VMR2 on this activation. A quick call to Ken and Shane and we were set!

I was soon at Coral Sea marina and busy preparing VMR2 for departure with Ken, Shane arrived in short measure. A quick look around, we set off for Nara Inlet.

The tide was almost full, the wind was from the southeast and rain clouds were clearly visible. We took the direct route, somehow avoiding the ever present rain squalls; Ken dislikes getting wet, particularly on a windy day, so we were lucky on the outward journey, only a few wayward drops finding our screen. I have been past Nara Inlet many times, but this was to be my first time venturing into the inlet, exciting stuff!

Rounding the marker indicating safe passage, we soon found our target. 3 persons on board, controls for the transmission were malfunctioning, no neutral equals no engine start. Not a quick fix! The 6.5m runabout was stoutly constructed, try as we may, we couldn’t get her up on the plane, a slow and lumpy return journey was at hand. Paperwork completed we quickly got the tow hook attached, played out the tow line, several turns of the tow lie around the Samson post and 3 loops over said post, we were on our way.

A rather heavy pattern of rain clouds marked our transit, the wind had not abated, Ken was now sporting a heavy weather jacket, but did complain that his shorts were getting wet; having been on the weather side of VMR2 many times I decided that I was far better off manning the helm! Sorry Ken. Shane was keeping a close watch on the towed vessel and it’s occupants, all of which were dressed in their most unfamiliar life jackets. It is a safety consideration often overlooked by many boaters; know how to don your life jacket before you need it’s buoyancy! Please!

We arrived at the public ramp at Port of Airlie. We needed to dock, but a jetski was tied up precisely where we needed to go, after a quick hale, the offending jetski was relocated!

We returned to Coral Sea marina to refuel and put VMR2 up onto her floating dock and complete the vessel log and associated paperwork. Our morning gone, time to go home. A big thank you to Ken and Shane for their efforts.

Crew: Ken Bryce (Senior crew) and Shane Newell (Comms).
Skipper: Paul Martin


Activation 04/04/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

A phone call just before 11 am from Bill Harrison – SARCO and 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder. Another medivac from Hamilton Island – and another possible Marine stinger incident.

We also had a paramedic on board both ways – and a very unwell female patient, for our return trip.

We left CSM at approx. 11.30am – and were back in our pen in CSM by 2.15 pm (late lunch) – 2 ¾ hours.

The crew were great (as per usual). Thanks – your calm competence and efficiency make it all seem simple. No drama.

Crew: Michel del Aguila (Snr Crewman and relief helmsperson) and Debbie Simpson (Crew and Comms for the day – and helmsperson).
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 6/04/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

An early evening call (19.34) from Bill had us on the way to Hamilton Island in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 for a medivac.

2 paramedics, myself, a seasoned crewmember and 3 of our regular team.

15 knots of S/E breeze on a fairly flat tide led to a moderately choppy sea, and an excellent opportunity for Nathalie to drive us to Hamilton Harbour.

Collecting our patient and her carer, then delivering them safely to the waiting ambulance at Coral Sea Marina was quiet and uneventful, as were the usual procedures to prepare VMR1 for her next activation.

The crew all did an excellent job once again, and we left the boat at 23.00

Crew: Bill Hopton, Ross Vlismas, Nathalie Hartman and Louise Keepa.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 9/04/2022: Medivac from vessel

It was 22:15, I (Ken) received an emergency phone call from Bill, our 24 hour phone holder. “We have a young girl suffering a seizure on board a vessel”. Bill gave me the Lat Long of the vessel. 20deg 24′.562.

When the paramedic arrived I asked if they had any info to add. They had an updated position of 20 deg 34′. 456. Well, this was going to be interesting as these positions are many miles apart. Shane plotted these positions on the Plotter and sent them up to me on the bridge. One was at Low Islet near Earlando and the other was the other side of Gloucester.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 set off at 23:10 for Low Islet, arriving at 00:30. Nothing to be seen. Okay, back on the phone to Bill for any updates. Nothing was the reply. Precious time was slipping by. Part of the phone call between Bill and the mother of the patient mentioned Woodwark bay. This was 13 miles from the closest Latitude that was given.

I decided to go to Woodwark and have a look. As we turned into the bay there were 5 other vessels we could see on this blackest night. Could it be one of them? Sure enough, a light started to flash. Lat. 20 deg 11. 271 Long 148 deg 40.189

Many questions on my mind. They made a phone call to 000 and we were activated. Why did they not monitor their phone? We tried many times to call via VHF and phone. No response. Why so many different positions?
We rafted along side and the Paramedic immediately attended to the patient. Meanwhile I asked a few questions. It was obvious from the answers that they gave us the position of the cursor. As I scrolled it across the screen the master agreed, yes that is the position. No, that is not your position. Your GPS is not working either. Probably the same problem as your VHF and phone. It’s called lack of attention to pertinent details. Which could very easily have cost a life because of the delay in finding you.

01:38 we dispatched the patient and mother along with the paramedic. They were now in good hands. 2:10 we had refuelled, completed all the paperwork and headed for home.

Thankyou to the crew for handling all of the tasks in a professional manner.

Crew: Shane Newell, James Roberts.
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 10/04/2022: Double Header – Carry out a medivac from Hamilton Island for a patient with abdominal pains in the early morning – and another with chest pains, with a search to follow!.

24/7 phone holder Bill woke me a bit after 0330, we had been requested to do a medivac and as the boat had just returned from a medivac from a vessel at Woodwark, could I do the next one? Okay, on my way. Michel beat me to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and had started on the prestarts so I did the same on the flybridge and Ron arrived to finish things off – the paramedic (same one that did the Woodwark job) was already on board. We set off at 0415 into what was showing as an E/SE wind of 12-13 knots but that soon changed as we punched into a strong S/SE of 26-29 knots and rough seas with wind against tide.

It was a slow, rough trip and we did not tie up at Hamilton until just before 0530 and loaded our first patient soon after, and were then advised that we might have patient number 2 as well. That was confirmed after a wait slightly longer than usual, but by 0610 we were under way again for a much more comfortable ride back running with the seas on our port aft corner.

We were alongside CSM at 0710 where our paramedic was joined by another to help her and her patients back to the waiting ambulance, with assistance up the ramp from Michel. Then to the fuel dock and had almost got back to our berth when the Help ringtone went off again – it was Dave in the now open radio room saying that we had been asked by the Water Police to assist in a search for a person reported overdue. Geoff came and took over as skipper, Michel and Ron stayed on. Report to follow.

Thanks to Michel and Ron, nice job as usual.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Ron McCall
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 10/04/2022: Police activated SAR (search & rescue) for a 3-4m tinny overdue from a fishing trip by 2 days. No destination known. 1 male & 1 small dog on board.

The radio room called at 07.30 with a police activation and gave us the Water Police contact numbers so we could speak to the co-ordinator. Once on the boat we learned that the fisherman had left his Holiday Accommodation Thursday afternoon and hadn’t been heard of since. The police wanted us to search the western side of Pioneer Bay then the Islands out to Double Cone.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed at 08.07 and headed for Northerlies as a starting point. The weather was a little overcast, drizzly, but fortunately, flattish seas and little wind. The tide was a 3m high at 06.40 and the previous 3 day’s highs were down to 2.8m. we had a 1m Low at 13.30, so luckily it was only a 2m range and ebbing.

Then, with Shane driving, we headed north along the shoreline looking for anything that could give us a clue as to what may have happened to our fisherman and dog. After a short while we saw a red container, but with the rocky shore and the seas and the fact it was above the 4m tide line we noted the position and carried on. As we headed north, we saw another 2 red fuel? containers, several large fenders and sundry other items, all above the tide line and dotted occasionally along the shore. Shane took us into all the bays, as far as our draught would let us go, until we got to Earlando then we broke off and took in Grassy Island before heading north again.

Just south of George Head we turned back to take in Olden, Gumbrell, Armit and Double Cone with Ron on the wheel. The Police called and said they had spoken to people who knew our fisherman and had learned he liked to fish around Bird, Langford and Hayman. So off we went.

The seas were up now, and the winds were in the 20-25’s so it was quite uncomfortable until we got in the lee of Hook Island. After Bird and Langford reef we went through the Narrows, around the north of Hayman then Arkwright and Langford before heading back to CSM. We arrived at 14.40 to refuel, then back to the pen for a big wash down and off home.

Thanks to a great crew (all of them had been out on activations either during the night or early that morning). Great effort and dedication to the Whitsundays Community fellas.

Crew: Shane Newell, Michel del Aguila, Ron McCall
Skipper: Geoff Smith


Activation 11/04/2022: SAR Missing person

Bill Harrison our 24 hour emergency phone holder called me regarding a Police Search and Rescue for Monday morning. Okay, let’s put a crew together.

Monday at 07:45 we all assembled on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 with Food and water for what would be a very long day. We were to meet up with VMR Bowen and VMR Midge Point. Together we would conduct a search pattern stretching far to the North. 08:05 VMR1 departed Coral Sea Marina to rendezvous with the other two VMR vessels.

I had been sent four co-ordinates by the Water Police. These along with a chart picture I printed out so that I could distribute to the other skippers, if required. 09:10 with all vessels rafted along side VMR1, instructions were given. VMR1 was the lead vessel. So we setup our SAR pattern on the plotter. With lots of input from James and Paul, while I steered on our predetermined heading. The pattern was up and running. Rescue Bowen, we advised to take up position off our starboard side and VMR Midge Point – off Rescue Bowen’s starboard.

We were running at 10 knots and adjusting our spacing to co-ordinate with our search pattern. After some time we increased boat speed to between 12 and 13 knots depending on direction of travel. Water line length is certainly nice. I was feeling sorry for VMR Midge Point. The conditions were rough when heading to weather.

All looked good, except, where had VMR Midge Point gone? Debbie on comms said they have an engine issue and were returning to CSM. Meanwhile, we continued our search with all eyes to port and starboard. I had issued heading and space details and so we were proceeding along our predetermined track.

VMR Midge Point returned, having installed another starter motor.
We were now all travelling parallel along our SAR course.

During this search we travelled 240 plus nautical miles and used 808 litres of fuel. 19:50 we were back in our pen and definitely ready for home.

This was a very big effort from the team, as they rotated positions on VMR1. Very well done by all.

Crew: Paul Martin, James Roberts, Debbie Simpson, Terry Clark
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 11/04/2022: VMR2 – Shoreline search for items possibly from missing fisherman

On the first day of the search for a fisherman overdue from Airlie Beach, VMR Bowen had spotted some items on the shore on the eastern side of Gloucester Island, but were unable to retrieve them or get close enough for a better look. So Whale Song VMR2 was tasked with going to have a closer look, if possible. Condition were still SE up to about 20 knots, so we would be on the weather side, so caution would be the order of the day.

Ron and I set out at 0945 for the 30 mile trip to Gloucester, and en route went alongside Rescue Bowen who were doing a search pattern with Coral Sea Marina VMR1 so we could get another couple of GPS position for material they had seen. Ron had offered to wear his swimmers in case we were able to get one of us on shore, and that is what we were able to do – very carefully deposit him in shallow water down the steps onto slippery rocks while VMR2 backed off into deeper water, some tight manoeuvring was the order of the day as we retrieved some items that may be of interest to the Water Police coordinating the big search effort.

By 1250 we were at the northern tip of Gloucester, and we headed for home on what was a very uncomfortable return trip until we got a bit of shelter from the odd island and headland, and we had both agreed on the way back that the best route back was not the shortest in a direct line – far from it.

We reached CSM at 1440 after a 60 mile round trip of over 5 hours, refuelled, and put Whale Song back to bed before taking some of our items to the Police to show to the family the next day. Unfortunately, it transpired that none were from the missing vessel, and the search continues.

Thanks for being the shoreman, Ronnie, much appreciated and well done mate.

Skippers: Mal Priday, Ron Roberts


Activation 12/04/2022: Police SAR

After the previous days very long SAR. Bill was once again calling me.
The Police would like Coral Sea Marina VMR1 to search from Fitzalan passage to Langford reef and all bays in between. Then on completion of that. Search the east coast of Hook Island.

Another big day on the water. With a slightly altered crew we assembled at 05:45 on VMR1. We departed Coral Sea Marina at 06:20 heading directly to Fitzalan Passage. On arrival, Shane and James where dispatched in our tender to search Dugong inlet. Meanwhile, with Paul on the helm VMR1 proceeded to search Fitzalan Passage.

As the day passed, searching many small coves was an excellent local knowledge event, for many of the crew. I called a halt to the search, while we had lunch on a steady platform at Langford Reef. After this, we were to go outside of Hook Island and this was a lee shore with 20 plus knots and numerous dangers. With James on the helm, we carefully scoured this coast heading down towards Hook Passage.

There was a shout from Paul. He had spotted something on the shore. We came to a halt, as this was investigated with various binoculars. It was agreed that it appeared to be an upturned dinghy. As this was a lee shore and breaking seas among many reef outcrops, I decided that Paul (Assistant skipper) would keep an eye out with James so that VMR1 was safe. Whilst Shane and I proceeded to negotiate our way to the shore in our small dinghy.

I soon had us in behind the breakers with Shane having elected to wade ashore to investigate. Shane returned, this vessel was not what we were looking for. Okay, climb aboard and we will head for VMR1. She was standing off shore giving us protection to board on her lee side.

All safe, we headed into Hook passage for the return trip to CSM
15:15 we were in our berth with some weary crew. Unfortunately there was no news of the missing mariner.

Another excellent team effort. Everyone taking on various activities.

Crew: Shane Newell, Michel del Aguila, James Roberts
Assistant Skipper: Paul Martin
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 12/04/2022: We are still looking for you, fellow mariner.

Early morning on the 12th, and Whale Song VMR2 was once again tasked by the police to continue the search for our missing fisherman.

Being designed and built with shallow water and bouncy beach landings in mind, we were once again sent in to do the shallow bays and mangrove areas as well as close searching inside fringing reefs where possible. Today was a mainland range from Mandalay Point south down through Shute Harbour to the bottom end of Long Island, carefully checking each of the many bays along the way for any sight or sound of man, beast or wreckage which would give us a lead.

I teemed up with Mal again today, and as a bonus we also had Ron M. on board. He had spent the previous day on VMR1 doing open-water and island shore searches. My turn to skipper into a 10-15 knot S/E breeze as we set off at 09.00

Sadly we found nothing significant, so the search will continue tomorrow.

Thanks to Mal and Ron for their hours of strained eyes and spray soaked clothes as we rounded headlands sometimes so close to the rocks we could almost touch them.

Crew: Ron McCall
Skippers: Mal Priday, Ron Roberts


Activation 12/04/2022: Medivac for patient with suspected stroke symptoms

I was thinking seriously about bed when 24/7 phone holder Bill put paid to that with a call about 2045 for a medivac for a patient on Hamilton Island displaying symptoms of a stroke – the chopper was unavailable, so it was up to us to transport the paramedics and pick up the patient. A lot of our crew had been out on the water for most of the day searching for a missing fisherman, so I was joined by Bill and David for the journey.

With paramedics on board Coral Sea Marina VMR1 set off at 2110 into an E/SE wind of 22-26 knots but the seas were luckily reduced but the dropping tide, so while it was a bit lumpy it was not as bad as expected, and we tied up at Hamilton at 2200 after a faster trip than usual due to the urgency.

The ambulance was already waiting for us, and after a set-up of our stretcher and the patient transfer we were on our way back 20 minutes later once the paramedics had him stabilised and comfortable. We elected to go through Fitzalan and Unsafe to get a better angle on the waves for the comfort of our patient, and pulled into CSM 55 minutes later at 2315. 5 minutes later he was on his way to hospital, we refuelled and returned to our berth and after the usual paperwork and washdown we headed home for some kip at midnight.

Thank you Bill and David for stepping up, the patient’s wife was very appreciative of our support.

Crew: Bill Harrison, David Spiteri
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 13/04/2022: SAR continues VMR1 from Grimston Point to Georges Point

Bill Harrison – Take a bow. You must have had almost no sleep for the last 5 days – organising medivacs, tows and the complex middle-man in the recent Search and Rescue scenario. Bill, yesterday afternoon, organised Coral Sea Marina VMR1 – and my team, to start at 6.30am this morning and Search from Grimston Point to Georges Point (Near Dingo Beach) for any sign of the missing fisherman. Bill was even at the boat waiting for us at 6.15 – to give any other necessary info. we might need.

The ‘Search’ part of ‘Search and Rescue’ is difficult for a variety of reasons. And it must be done right – which my team did for the whole 4 ¼ hours. My genuine thanks to: Michel (Snr Crew and Acting helmsman for much of the search), Debbie (Crewperson and Comms for the day- her ‘work’ on all the vital Communications involved today was absolutely superb – special thanks), Paul (crewman – and helmsperson on the way back to base).
Bruce Dahl was also at the base in the radio room – assisting with any other communications that may arise. Thanks – appreciated.

During the search, several items of possible interest were observed, and their position and description were recorded, and handed to the Water Police at the end of the activation.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Debbie Simpson, Paul Bloomfield,
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 13/04/2022: Continuation of Search. VMR2 from Pioneer Bay to Grimston Point, and Shute Harbour.

Another early start, leaving Coral Sea Marina at 0640 looking for any trace of the missing fisherman in the bays and creeks and mangroves between Pigeon Island and Grimston Point, and then checking the islands at Shute Harbour after a reported sighting of a tinny in the area. We changed helmsman a few times as we poked our way as far as we could into the creeks on the rising tide, but were not able to locate anything in the creeks or along the shoreline that may have been linked to the missing person.

We had reached Grimston by 0910 and were then re-tasked by the Water Police to check out around the islands at Shute after a resident reported seeing a man in a tinny going to and from the islands, but we were able to get in very close to each island on the high tide and did not see anything of interest, and were asked to return to CSM.

After refuelling James put Whale Song back on the dock very nicely and we were able to head off at 1120. Thank you James, and we hope something turns up to resolve the search.

Crew : James Roberts
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 14/04/2022: Hayman Medivac

The emergency ring tone set up my afternoon when Bill asked if I could do a medivac from Hayman Island. “Certainly Bill, I’ll put on the uniform and head down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1”.

With my crew of Ray, Paul B. and Ross the pre-departure checks were a breeze, and it wasn’t long before we set out into 20 knots with the paramedic asking if it was going to be rough.

“Of course not, if you hang on”.

The trip across was actually quite reasonable, and Paul drove that leg, great training.

With patient aboard and settled at Hayman, we opted for a smoother trip home and hugged the shore of Hook Island for some protection before tracking back across to Airlie Beach with Ross doing driving duty this time.

Our patient safely ashore we proceeded with the usual refuel, berthing and washdown followed by the ever present paperwork.

This run was excellent vessel control training for the crew, who handled the job well. Thanks to all of you for volunteering your time and abilities.

We were on board at 10.00 and stepped off at 13.00.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Paul Bloomfield and Ross Vlismas.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 15/04/2022: Tinny broken down in Hook Passage

Good Friday – a great family day for everyone. Well not quite – Some people are dedicated to helping their community – Ray Lewis (acting as SARCO and radio operator for the day) rang at 3.30 pm from the radio room – A tinny is broken down in Hook Passage, and is at anchor with 5 people on board – 3 of which are young kids.

My team left CSM on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 4.pm and arrived at the vessel at 4.50 pm. It was an uncomplicated tow and we were back in our pen in CSM by 7.30 pm. Home for a late tea with our families.

My team today was Shane Newell (Snr Crew), Debbie Simpson (Comms Officer) and Tony Bell – General ‘All Rounder”. Many thanks to the crew – your calm competence and professionalism is very comforting – You make it all look easy.

Time on the job = 3 ½ hours.

Crew: Shane Newell, Debbie Simpson, Tony Bell
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 17/04/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island for an elderly person with breathing difficulties and abdominal pains.

Medivac from Hamilton Island for an elderly person with breathing difficulties and abdominal pains.

Another middle of the night job started with a call from 24/7 phone holder Bill just after 2130, and I was soon on my way in to meet Michel and Paul at the boat to get ready for the paramedic to arrive. By 2205 Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was on its way into an E/SE wind of about 20 knots, almost on top of the tide.

We were alongside at Hamilton an hour later, and after setting up our stretcher and loading our patient, who was obviously in a delicate position and requiring oxygen, we set off for CSM just before 2325 with Paul on the helm, aiming to make the trip as smooth as possible for the patient. 20 minutes after midnight we were alongside at CSM, and after helping patient and paramedic up to the ambulance Paul’s offer to drive the ambulance while the paramedics tended to her patient was gratefully accepted (she drove him back after dropping the patient at the hospital) while Michel and I refuelled, returned to our own berth, cleaned and secured the boat and finished the paperwork, heading for home at 0115. Great job by Michel and Paul, again.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Paul Bloomfield
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 18/04/2022: Medivac from Hamilton

This time it was Ray from the radio room calling just after the base had opened at 0700, we had been asked to do another medivac. Luck of the draw, I was the only skipper available for the job, so I was soon on my way into town to find Shane, James and Ross were well on the way to having the boat ready to go. After a short delay we were joined by the paramedic, and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was on its way just before 0800 with Shane on the helm. The wind was a bit stronger around the 20 knot mark, with a lot more south in it.

Alongside at Hamilton at 0900 and on our way again five minutes later after a quick turnaround, again looking to make the trip as smooth as possible, arriving back at CSM just after 1000. With the paramedic and her patient on their way soon after, we refuelled and returned to our own berth for the shutdown routine, heading off to home at 1040. Thanks crew, well handled.

Crew: Shane Newell, James Roberts, Ross Vlismas
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 20/04/2022: Double Medivac – 1st Hayman Island then on to Hamilton Island.

The medivac started out as a double before we left Coral Sea Marina, this was unusual, even if the original call from Bill was standard call to Hayman Island.

While the crew of James and Debbie were doing our predeparture checks, Bill was on board as well and received the call asking for a second medivac from Hamilton Island.

While our paramedic was checking if he needed a partner for this, the VMR crew unanimously agreed to do both callouts without the need to swap crews. Thank you good people.

So, 20 plus knots of S/E breeze, consistent showers with the occasional good squall thrown in, and off we went across Molle and Whitsunday passages. James drove the first leg while I kept a very watchful eye on our FLIR and radar as looking forward only filled our eyes with rainwater.

Our arrival at Hayman prompted a quick rethink as we were requested to tie up alongside one of their fleet of guest day-boats. Excellent practice at rafting up and securing alongside another vessel.

With our first patient and her carer aboard we set out for the journey to Hamilton Island. This was going to be straight into wind, rain and waves on a pitch black night. Skippers turn to drive as this was more about getting there than training. Our arrival at Hamilton was also a little different as we were advised that our normal berth was available, but on approach we discovered that someone had parked a stray boat in the way. No problem, a quick discussion amongst the crew and we diverted to a better berth while the waiting ambulance followed us.

With our new stretcher patient safely aboard we set out for a much calmer downwind run home. It was just as wet, but that didn’t seem to be important now.

Two more paramedics and a second ambulance were waiting for us as we approached the dock, so our passengers were soon on their way to hospital and the crew set about tidying, fuelling and preparing VMR1 for our next assignment.

From first call at 16.45 it was over 6 hours before I got back home to finish preparing my dinner.

Many thanks again to my crew – great job.

Crew: James Roberts, Debbie Simpson
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation 24/04/2022: Medivac of sick child from Hamilton Island.

It was Sunday afternoon when my emergency phone was ringing. Di from the Radio base gave me the details. There was child that had an anaphylactic reaction and needed urgent medical attention.

The crew of Michel and James were quickly aboard Coral Sea Marina VMR1. The Paramedic arrived as we completed the pre checks.

15:45 We were crashing into an ESE of 20 knots and a very lumpy sea. James seemed to finding a lot of rather large holes in the water. 16:58 – we arrived at Hamilton island. The parents and their little bundle were on the dock with the Paramedic eagerly awaiting our arrival. As we were a little short on crew, Michel did everything – paperwork, Comms, mooring lines and welcome party. James placed VMR1 along side F arm.

With everyone loaded, we were off to Coral Sea Marina at 17:07. We were trying to dodge the rain and find a smoother ride. So we headed for Roma point. Three other vessels also had the same idea. VMR1 was the Starboard most vessel as we all rounded the point together. Visibility was atrocious. Michel came up on the bridge just to make sure we were aware of all of these vessels.

18:05 we were docked in CSM, unloading all to the waiting ambulance.
Many thanks from the parents and Paramedic. Whilst James assisted the family, Michel and I went to the fuel dock and commenced refuelling. Paperwork completed and we were all off home by 18:40.

Well done in trying conditions.

Crew: Michel del Aguila and James Roberts
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 28 – 29/04/2022: Police activation to Hamilton Island

Ray had the 24hr emergency phone last night and called me around 22.30 asking if I could do a police carry across to Hamilton Island departing around 23.30. “No problem, that gives me time to make myself a giant coffee to take on the trip”

With the crew of skipper Paul and Ross and 3 police as passengers, we departed Coral Sea Marina a little late, but surrounded by a storm of leaping prawns, very pretty and proof that this is a very healthy marina environment.

With forecast S/E winds of 20knots and a fairly big but dropping tide we weren’t sure what to expect from the passage, so we were pleasantly surprised to find fairly flat seas with crystal clear air and light showers occasionally.

Our quick and easy trip to Hamilton Island was followed by a 2 hour wait in the marina there while the officers did what they needed to do before we could bring our extra passenger aboard and depart for another surprisingly swift trip back to Coral Sea Marina.

We needed to spend some extra time on paperwork once we had docked, but that done we set about our usual tasks of refuelling, washdown and tidy up ready for our next callout. Over-all a long night, from initial call to closing up VMR1 was just under 6 hours.

Many thanks again to the crew of Paul and Ross, as well as the rest of the VMRW team.

Crew: Paul Martin, Ross Vlismas
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 30/04/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

I was happily watching a movie, interrupted by Ken, our senior skipper, “Can you do a Medivac to Hammo?” Yes, on my way. As the crew arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1, I briefed them that our paramedic is awaiting us at Hamilton Island, pre departure checks done, off we went.

Our passage to Hamilton Island was thankfully uneventful, southeasterly winds at 15-20 knots, tide ebbing, seas moderate. As we arrived at the Hamilton Island marina we were advised to dock at our usual spot. Except….vessels of all descriptions were moored where we usually transfer patients, go to Plan B, moor on “F” arm and await our paramedic, patient and carer. They arrived in short measure and were soon aboard once our stretcher was readied and secured.

Our paramedic asked for a smooth transit as her patient had spinal issues. Honestly, I could not guarantee a smooth ride but assured her we would do our best…challenge accepted! As we cleared the marina leads, Brie, our trainee, requested to take the helm; she has considerable experience with smaller vessels. The old adage “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, rang true, Brie did an outstanding job at the helm.

As we approached Pioneer Rocks, Michel came to me and prefaced his message with “you’re not going to like this”. WHAT???? He has never said that to me before, go ahead; our paramedic requested we dock at Port of Airlie. I considered this request, bottom of the tide, need to get permission from the marina to dock, where to dock, access to and from the marina. My initial response was no. As this was relayed, further information was forthcoming – the ambulance is parked there! Goodness me, now I have no choice, graciously I steered for the Port of Airlie leads. As we entered the leads, Michel again came to the upper helm, “change of plan, go back to Plan A”. I change course and headed for Coral Sea marina.

We docked at “L” arm and awaited the arrival of the wayward ambulance. The patient was eventually transferred to another stretcher; the ramp leading to the commercial area of the marina was very steep, we were approached to help with the stretcher and help carry equipment to the ambulance. I applaud the paramedics, the amount of equipment they carry over some pretty long distances is extraordinary, and manoeuvre a patient on a stretcher at the same time would be a super human effort.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila (Senior Crew), Tony Bell (Communications), Brie Sherow (Deck crew).
Skipper: Paul Martin.