August 2021

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Activation 5/8/202: Middle of night run to Hamilton Island

At 2211 hours I (Marti) got the call, Bill (on the emergency phone) explaining “it’s a Hamilton Island medivac estimated to depart at 2305 hours, that is when the paramedics should arrive at Coral Sea Marina”. Ok, I have time for a cuppa before I leave.

Arriving at CSM I find all 3 crew onboard carrying out the prestart checks on Coral Sea Marina VMR1. Around 2330 we had the 2 paramedics onboard and departed soon after. A starry night with no moon was very spectacular with a slight wind from the SSE yet there was a slight chill in the air.

An easy arrival at Hamilton was followed by a quick turn around as the island paramedics were ready and waiting when we arrived. So was the marina night manager there to greet us. Seems a forewarning of our arrival has help things along, maybe.

With patient loaded and secured we were underway at 0050 hours. The night air was getting cooler as we entered the wee hours of the next day but when we turned our final turn for the CSM channel well after Pioneer point, Shane and I were greeted with very cool air which seemed to be emanating from the Cannon Valley, from the west! Could this be a Katabatic wind? It was really chilly. But we were brave and zipped up our jackets in response. I noticed Shane had a woolly scarf around his neck which was tucked nicely into his jacket.

On arrival we disembarked patient and paramedics. Chris helped the guys wheel the patient up the ramp while proceeded to refuel. With Chris back and VMR1 refuelled we slid back to our berth tidied up, checked and signed off on the paperwork. Off the vessel at 0230 hours. A smooth operation thanks to:

Crew: Shane Newell (Senior Crew), Grant Ford (Communications Officer), Chris Rienbolt (Trainee Crew)
Skipper: Marti Davy

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Activation 7/8/202: Big boats or little boats, far or near, VMR to the rescue. And we made it back in time to join in the fun of the Reef Festival Parade on Saturday afternoon.

I (Ken) had a call from the radio room around 09:15. “We have a member broken down off Mandalay Point in a 4.2 metre tinny 3POB, can you assist?” I am on my way, we will take Whale Song VMR2.

When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find James and Wade on the vessel completing the start up procedure. 09:30 we were underway to Mandalay Point. 09:45 we had the target tinny along side and paper work commenced.

Whale Song VMR2 was soon heading to Whisper Bay boat ramp. This is not a problem as she has twin outboards that can be tilted for shallow water. 10:30 we were along side the dock. The rescued crew were very happy to be ashore. Our medical kit came in handy. Why? You might ask.

Well, prior to calling VMR they had attempted to paddle to the Mandalay shore. Both paddles had broken in the fresh breeze. Then having reached land, the occupants had tried to scramble along the rocky shore line. Not much fun. After a few abrasions and the odd cut. This was abandoned. Back in the tinny with the anchor safely set. Why not call VMR and wait to be rescued.

Now there was a good idea and that is what we did. Happy to be of service.

Thank you to the crew, you both handled the tow very well indeed.

Crew: Wade Fisher & James Roberts
Skipper : Ken Bryce

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Activation 9/8/202: Jetski broken down Woodwark Bay.

The people of the Whitsundays are very lucky having people willing to help them in time of need,- like the 2 crew I had on todays activation (and crew on all my other activations). Shane N and Michael went way beyond the call of duty to help 2 people who had problems with their Jetski in Woodwark Bay. They used their considerable knowledge and competent practical skills to help – but also went out of their way to go ‘the extra mile’ to render assistance in any way possible.

Our 24/7 Phone Holder, Bill Harrison, rang just before 1pm advising he was organising a crew to assist a Jetski broken down in Woodwark Bay. 2 POB.

The ‘team’ of three – Shane – Snr Crewman , Michael – crewman and Comms Officer for this activation, and myself (Fin), headed out on Coral Sea Marina VMR1, arriving near the jetski (at the pontoon) in Woodwark Bay at 2.05 pm – but because of near low tide, VMR1 could only get to within approx. 100m of the jetski before almost running out of water.

Shane and Michael then proceeded in our tender to collect the 2 people and the jet ski and bring it back to VMR1. They then spent at least 20 minutes trying to ready the jetski for towing. The agent of the jetski manufacturer (on the phone) advised that the normal procedures for doing this did not apply for this particular model – and advised to simply tow it back at 7 knots – and take it to the appropriate agent before any attempt is made to start its motor again.

We were towing at 7 knots by approx. 2.45 pm and dropped them at the CSM public jetty (a long slow trip) then refuelled, washed down and completed all necessary shut down procedures and were safely back in our pen and leaving for home by 4.25 pm. Shane used his own car to take the owner of the jetski to collect his car and trailer – which was parked at Port of Airlie.

Crew: Shane Newell & Michael McQueeney
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation 11/8/202 : (1) Windy Wednesday-1st job a Medivac from a vessel in Tongue Bay.

Bill (24/7 Phone Holder and SARCO) rang me (Fin) at 11.35 am, organising a crew for a Medivac (a female with a back injury) from a commercial vessel in Tongue Bay.

We left CSM at 12.05 pm on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 with 2 Paramedics on board. Once we reached the Eastern side of Hook Passage the conditions meant we needed to be doing only 11 knots. We arrived at the vessel at 1.35 pm and the paramedics assessed and stabilised the patient. We then transferred the patient and one carer to our boat.

When we left Tongue Bay the conditions were better, so we could average 23 knots back to CSM. After arriving back, we were asked if we could assist another vessel drifting in rough seas 15 nm North of Airlie. So we simply unloaded our patient (and her carer) plus the 2 Paramedics and prepared for our next activation.

The crew were superb in all aspects of this activation – my thanks to them.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Tony Bell & Stewart Scarborough
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation 11/8/202: (2) Windy Wednesday was no less windy for our 2nd job – a vessel (with 3 POB) out of fuel and drifting.

The second activation for us today was immediately following the medivac from Tongue Bay.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 headed out at 3.05 pm and travelled to a vessel (3 POB) out of fuel and drifting approx. 15 nm directly North of Airlie (between Hayman and Double Cones). After arriving at the vessel we threw them a line to attach to their boat, so we could tow them back to CSM. We were towing by 3.50 pm and had them outside CSM where we brought them alongside and took them into the Marina while completing all necessary paperwork. We dropped them at the public jetty inside CSM and then proceeded back to our berth at 5.20 pm where another crew (and Paramedic) were waiting to take over VMR1 for another activation – this time to Hamilton Island for a medivac.

Comment must be made about my ‘magic’ crew for the 2 activations. ie. Ray, Tony and Stewart. They acted absolutely competently and professionally at all times on both activations – in sometimes very trying conditions. Remember they had also started their first activation for the day at 12.05 pm and the last meal/ drink they had had was probably at 7 am for breakfast. No complaints were heard – even in jest.

The owner of the vessel involved in this activation showed he was very appreciative of our service.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Tony Bell, Stewart Scarborough
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation 11/8/202: (3) Windy wet Wednesday continues into the night with the 3rd job – a medivac to Hamilton Island.

It was around 16:30 when my (Ken) emergency phone was ringing. Bill Harrison our dedicated 24 hour phone holder was on the line. ” Guess what ? we have a medivac from Hamilton Island. Problem VMR 1 is already on its second emergency today. She should dock at approximately 17:10″ Ok I will be there ready to go.

3 activations in a day for Coral Sea Marina VMR1

Well Coral Sea Marina VMR1 docked at 17:20. We were onboard with the Paramedic and casting off by 17:25. The sea conditions were good considering we were heading into a Sou Easter of 20 knots. Paul was on the helm as we entered Hamilton Island at 18:30.

A paramedic greeted us with the patient and carer. A quick turn around and we were headed out at 18:40. It was the bottom of the tide, so Paul was hugging the deeper water in the Harbour.

The return trip was uneventful. Other than it was as black as the inside of a cow with its tail down. The rain did not help. Negotiating the newly arrived hundred or more Sailing vessels in the black is not a lot of fun. Please anchor well away from the channel entrance and make life easier for us all.

19:45 we were docking at Coral Sea Marina. The Paramedic, patient and family departed. We headed for the fuel dock and then back to our pen. 20:20 we were ready for home. I had left home as the roast Pork and veggies were going into the Cobb. Am I looking forward to that. Yesss!

Thankyou to my dedicated crew. Great job, just like clockwork.

Crew: Paul Martin (Snr), Terry Clarke (Comms) & Wade Fisher

Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 17/8/202: Never fear, VMR are here!😁

Another beautiful Whitsunday day. Perfect for an activation to help two visitors to our magic area, whom had the misfortune of having their 8m powerboat motor breakdown, drifting NE of Daydream Island.

Ray (one of our 24 hour emergency phone holders) rang me (Fin) at 10.28 am to organise a crew. We left CSM on Coral Sea Marina VMR1, arriving alongside them at 11.20 am (they were on anchor by then). We did the necessary paperwork and organised the tow. We dropped them back to CSM public jetty and then proceeded to do the necessary shut down procedures and left VMR1 in its berth at 12.40 pm.

My thanks to Michel, Terry and Tony – all practical, competent and great to work with on any activation.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Terry Clarke, Tony Bell
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation 19/8/202:Assist a 24 metre, 43 tonne maxi yacht from Cid Harbour to Hamilton Island – with a few whales on the way back.

When 24/7 phone holder Ray rang me around 1130 he got my attention pretty quickly – a maxi yacht that I used to skipper in the Whitsundays was experiencing engine problems and had requested a tow from Cid Harbour to Hamilton Island. I was soon on my way to VMR1 while Ray sorted out a crew, and this was going to be a challenging one – getting a boat that is twice as long as Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and 3 ½ times as heavy into a marina berth at Hamilton Island in winds gusting up to 25 knots and at the bottom of a very low tide with a 4.3 metre draft! A quick call to the Hamilton Island Marina confirmed that the berth had the depth required, so away we went at 1200.

It was not hard to find the only 24 metre long yacht with a 30 metre mast in Cid Harbour, and we tied up alongside at 1250. After sorting the paperwork we took the strain while their crew raised the anchor – luckily the batteries were up to it. Then we started for Hamilton going inside Cid Island at about 7 knots, but we could see pretty sloppy conditions ahead of us as we entered the Whitsunday Passage so we slowed down and let out more tow line as a precaution. Conditions were not the best to say the least, and they did not improve until we were alongside Henning Island in the Fitzalan Passage. Once well clear of Plum Pudding we eased back and went alongside on her port side with springs fore and aft – she would have a lot of way on as we slowed down, and we needed to keep her in tight while we manoeuvred in the marina. Then came the tricky bit.

We slowly made our way into the marina with absolute minimal way on, and then had to rotate her to starboard to get her lined up to back her into her berth on her starboard side, then slowly ease her back while they got lines to the dock with the assistance of marina staff. Slow and steady was the order of the day, and we were all very glad that we had 960 hp and shaft drives to do it! Mission accomplished by 1430, we headed for home with Shane on the helm and a we had a pleasant surprise in store.

Coming across the Passage I could see whales near the southern end of South Molle! As we got closer we could see about 5 or six slowly heading east, a real bonus for us, as any whale sighting is always a thrill.

We had VMR1 back at 1545 in time for the regular training session, both VMR1 and VMR2 were full for the drills for fire, collision and flooding – but hope we do not need to do them in real life incident!

Great job by the crew in handling such a big assist, it worked very well.

Crew: Shane Newell, Terry Clarke, Michael McQueeney
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activation 20/8/202: Assist and tow a 60+ foot yacht.

The task for the activation today was to raft alongside a 60+ foot (60+ tonne) yacht – which was at anchor outside the leads of Port of Airlie with 2 POB. It had a major engine problem. We needed to prepare to tow it alongside (which included cutting and dropping its anchor chain, with float attached to pick up at a later date). Then to tow the vessel to its allocated berth inside Port of Airlie. The task started on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 7.55am – and we stepped off our boat back at our berth (after completing all necessary shut down procedures) at 9.40 am.

Obviously a lot easier said than done !!! Especially as the wind was trying its best to make everything difficult every step of the way.

But my superb crew today made it all look like a Sunday afternoon walk in the park – no drama whatsoever. Quiet competence ensures that. Thanks heaps fellas. Take a bow !!

Crew: Michel del Aguila (Snr Crewman), Ray Lewis (Comms Officer), Shane Newell and Lance Robbins
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation 21/8/202: Tow 30 tonne sailing boat from Earlando to Port of Airlie in lumpy seas.

Ray, one of our 24 hour emergency phone holders called with an Activation.
Would I (Ken), be available at 07:30 Saturday morning? “Any time,” was the answer. So there we were, crew assembled making ready for a trip to Earlando in Coral Sea Marina VMR 1.

We were to rendezvous with a steel motor sailor with engine problems.
08:30 we were along side a very substantial Vessel of approximately 30 tonnes. While Ray commenced the paper work, the crew set up the tow line and were also kept busy adjusting fenders. There were various obstructions along the side of this vessel.

This was to be a slow bumpy trip, directly into the lumpy sea so I shared the helm with Paul. A decision was eventually made as to where we were actually taking this vessel. Port of Airlie was our destination. 10:50 we were along side the selected berth. Now to refuel and then back to our pen for a wash down. All complete 11:30

Grant, James and Ray did a great job of securing this heavy vessel along side. That makes manoeuvring so much easier.

Thankyou to all involved

Crew: Paul Martin, Grant Ford, James Roberts and Ray Lewis.
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 28/8/202: Jet-ski broken down off Grimston Point and whale watching on the way home.

11.00 on a beautiful Saturday morning and the VMR emergency ringtone reverberates from my (Ron’s) mobile. We have a member with a broken-down jet-ski just off Grimston point. Am I available to go out and tow him home? Certainly.

A change of shirt and a quick drive down to Coral Sea Marina Resort where I find todays crew of Michel and James already busy doing predeparture checks on Whalesong VMR 2. A light Easterly breeze, flat seas and a perfect day gave us a 20 minute trip to find our broken-down vessel gently nudging the sand where he had been towed to the beach by a friendly passing boaty.

5 minutes of mechanical inspection and a quick attempt to get him started was not productive, so we did the paperwork on the beach and commenced a slow (5 knot) tow back to the Whisper Bay boat ramp.

James on the helm and 500 metres out from the moored vessels a change of course and idle speed were needed to avoid a mother whale and her calf asleep just below the surface. As we turned to clear them they rose to the surface to let us know they were there and waited until we were past before quietly submerging again in the same place. What a beautiful sight on a stunning Airlie Beach day.

The rest of the tow was a bit of an anticlimax. A quiet ramp made bringing the jetski to the pontoon simple, and our two passengers farewelled us with many thanks for the tow and whale show.

Great work from the crew of Michel and James, we were back on our floating dock, refuelled, paperwork done and hosed down ready to go again by 14.20.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila and James Roberts
Skipper: Ron Roberts

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Activation 29/8/202: Sunday Triple Header – back to back to back……Tasks 1 and 2 and 3: respond to Pan Pan call from vessel taking water, assist a jet ski and throw in a medivac for good measure..

24/7 phone holder Ray set off the Help ringtone just before 0800 when I was about to have breakfast. A 12m power cat at Whitehaven had made a Pan Pan call advising that they were taking water and needed some help with pumping it out. Breakfast was on the back burner as I headed in to the boat, where the crew and I prepared Coral Sea Marina VMR1 for a quick trip to Whitehaven. We departed at 0830, and soon after we were advised that our target was now beached and that all on board were safe, but still required our assistance.

VMR1 was alongside them at 0945, and we were told that with the assistance of a couple of other boaties the water ingress had been stopped by sealing a seacock, and that the water had all been pumped out with the assistance of a pump from one of the other boats. And no, water had not got into the engine room so they were still mobile, but they asked us to escort them back to CSM, no problem.

15 minutes later we were underway, with them following us at 14-15 knots as we made our way through Hook passage. As we were abeam of North Molle at 1130 the Help ringtone went off again, as a jet ski had broken down near Baird Point on Hook Island and required assistance, after checking with our first customer that they were okay to get back to Coral Sea Marina without our services, we made our way to the stricken jet ski. That was a task tailor made for Whale Song VMR2, but they were already part way through recovering a vessel broken down between Hayman and Airlie.

The jet ski was where they said, and after doing paperwork we commenced the tow back to Whisper Bay/VMR at 1200, at about 13 knots as requested by the owner. At 1245 the phone went again – a vessel off Herald Island had broken down and needed a tow back. While seeing if we could get VMR2 to come out and take over the tow (they had just finished another activation) the phone went again, this time for a medivac from Hamilton Island. Okay, plan B – we continue to drop off the jetski at Coral Sea Marina before doing the medivac, and VMR2 was tasked with the Herald Island job and what was probably going to be a long slow tow, but the medivac had to be the priority.

By 1320 we had dropped off the jetski and its very grateful owner, then moved to pick up the paramedic. Grant’s wife was good enough to meet us and give us some food that was very much appreciated, and we set off for Hamilton at 1325 at a faster than normal rate at the request of the paramedic. 50 minutes later we were at Hamilton, picked up the patient and her partner, and were on our way again by 1425 and had them back to CSM at 1515. While Grant helped the paramedic and the patient up to the waiting ambulance, we waited for our turn to get to the fuel dock in a busy time, finally getting back to our berth to clean the boat and finish all the paperwork for the day, stepping off at 1600.

A long day for our very committed crew – but that is what we are here for.

PS: That was our 70th medivac for the year, in just under 8 months. In 2020 we had done 62, which was a record in itself.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Grant Ford, Wade Fisher
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activations 29/8/2021: 2 tows in a row for VMR2. First from Langford Reef and then a slow tow from outside of Edward Island.

Sunday, and I’m in the last day of preparation to sail my little yacht up to Townsville for a week of racing when the emergency call comes in from the VMR radio room. A quick trip to Langford Reef to tow home a member with a broken motor. Manageable, so okay.

Down to CSMR and prepare Whalesong VMR 2. With crew on board we set out to the supplied GPS coordinates and arrived to find empty sea. Phoned the man in trouble, ‘oh, you went straight past me 15 minutes ago’ Hmmm! A quick lesson in placing the cursor on the boat before reading the position.
Then a simple paperwork and tow back to CSMR, refuel and put VMR 2 back on her floating dock.

Not so fast people! A very busy day was in progress for VMR Whitsundays, 5 activations before 12.00, VMR 1 was still bringing in a jet-ski and had a medi-vac next from Hamilton Island and we now have a tow, a members Bayliner 7.4m, from 8 nautical miles outside of Edward Island. This fellow is outside the outer main shipping route.

So, there goes my prep day, I guess I’ll be sailing North on Tuesday.
2 hours motoring at 25 knots and we were beside our target who was very close to the position given and paperwork would have to wait as it was quite boisterous out there.

Let the tow begin, back towards Airlie Beach at 6.5 to 7 knots. This was quite a heavy tow for two outboards on a 7 metre Niaid. We eventually got back to our berth, refuelled,put the workhorse up on her dock and washed down by 21.00

Quite a marathon effort just 2 crew on a small rescue vessel, but certainly not beyond the capabilities of vessel or crew. A sterling effort by crew member Paul, and top marks to Whalesong, VMR 2.
Until next time, I’m going yacht racing, Ron.

Crew: Paul Martin
Skipper: Ron Roberts

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Activation 30/8/2021: What would you rather do on in the middle of a dark and rainy night – snuggle up in a warm bed or a boat trip to Hamilton Island for a Medivac?

It would have been nice night to snuggle up in bed and listen to the rain and wind and slowly drop off into dreamworld oblivion, which I did. Unfortunately the dream came to end 2 hours later when at 2300 hours the VMR ringtone on my phone announced itself. Roger on the other end filed his instructions; Hamilton Island Medivac go when ready. Rain in august? That’s a new one!

I (Marti) arrived at Coral Sea Marina to find Shane, Bill and Chris onboard finalising predeparture checks, settings and documentation. 2330 hours ready to go but no paramedics as yet. 1 hour later they arrive, they had to attend another job before us. Oh well you get that on the big jobs.
Looked very black out there, rain and no stars, wind 10-15 knots SE visibility reduced. We departed in Coral Sea Marna VMR1 at 0035 hours, and tracked for Hamilton Island via Unsafe Passage and directly into the marina via the north end of Dent. Arrival 0135 hours.

Berthed on the F dock north, not in the usual spot which made it interesting squeezing in between 2 vessels. 25 minutes later we departed Hamilton Marina with 2 patients and 2 others and made way the return voyage.

This time once clearing Dent Island we tracked westerly for Molle channel using the cardinals of Low Rock as the visual cue until Roma Point was past abeam and then straight up the channel for Almora Islet and around Pioneer Point and onto home (CSM). Arrival CSM at 0255 hours L dock (adjacent to the fuel dock) where our patient and paramedics disembarked.
Refueled and returned our berth and shut down.

Thanks to the crews’ skills and experience the activation went smoothly without any hitches, except where required. LOL 😁

Crew: Shane Newell-Senior Crew, Bill Hopton-Comms and Chris Reinbott.
Skipper: Marti Davy.

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