February 2021

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Activation 2/2/21 – Assist a 12 metre Trimaran with engine issues

Our twenty four hour phone holder Ray Lewis called me (Ken) with a rescue. “We have a 12 metre Trimaran with engine loss, sailing into Pioneer Bay. Can you assist?” “OK!” I said, “I am on my way.”

I was in my work clothes covered in stainless steel dust, but a quick clean of the hands and I was on my way. The crew were soon at Coral Sea Marina VMR 1 proceeding with the pre start. We departed CSM at 14:00.

Our target was not difficult to find… a lone Tri sailing vessel in Pioneer Bay. As we approached they commenced to drop their sail so we could come along side their vessel. After the paper work was completed and we had a short discussion, we proceeded to Port of Airlie Marina.

We had the Tri alongside VMR 1 and it was 7.5 metres wide. With VMR being around 4.2 metres we were now a wide load in the Port of Airlie channel! David sent out a Securite` and we proceeded slowly in to Port of Airlie Marina. The Tri was placed into her Berth and we were on our way.

The conditions had been fabulous and the owners of the Tri thanked us for our prompt assistance on this fabulous Whitsunday day. We were back in our Berth by 15:15 to complete the shut down. Thankyou to our crew for a great job

Crew: Roger Wodson (Senior), David Richter (Comms) & Nick Beecroft
Skipper : Ken Bryce


Activation 3/2/21: Help out a Tinny with electrics issues

Our 24/7 phone holder Ray rang me (Geoff S) at 0930…..”Could I do a tow from Grimston Point?” “No worries, I’m on my way!

By the time I arrived at Wind Song VMR2 (I don’t live close) the crew had already completed the pre starts, so at 1015 we were on our way. What a fabulous Whitsunday day to be out on the water! There was a light easterly breeze and VMR2 gave us a comfortable ride.

Our target vessel was a 5.5m tinny with no electrics working on their outboardand. We arrived at 1035 and with the paperwork done, we towed them back to CSM at 22knots. Dropped them off at the ramp, refueled VMR2 and were back on our dry dock at 1130.

Thanks to Terry and Lance for their excellent crew work.

Crew: Terry Brown and Lance Robins
Skipper: Geoff Fitzsimmons


Activation 11/2/21: Assist 28’ Mustang sterndrive, 2 pob, broken down in South Stonehaven

Ray Lewis, 24 hr Phone Holder Ray Lewis called me (Geoff S) at the reasonable hour of 8.20. A members Pride and Joy had had serious electrical problems the previous evening and needed a tow back to CSM. They were on a mooring in south Stonehaven and quite safe, so there was no need to rush.

When I arrived Dave and Ray had just about got Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready to go so we were able to depart at 0900 after Ron arrived.

It was close to the top of a 4m tide, steady 10 knots of breeze and a flat sea…perfect conditions for an arrival at 09.55. We found our target where they promised, sorted out the paperwork and left for CSM.

Note to self: When in an area notorious for moorings, don’t just look over your shoulder whilst paying out the tow rope…spend some of the time looking where you are going! We came very close to running over the top of one which would have slowed our day down a little. Luckily I didn’t have to learn the hard way! 😋

By the time we got to CSM the wind had picked up a bit and the different drift rates of Noosa Cats and Mustangs made life a little interesting as we had a couple of goes getting them alongside. We dropped them off at the ramp finger without any dramas though, then fuelled up with 240L and took VMR1 back to the pen for a good wash down.

Thanks, crew, for a lovely mornings run.

Crew: Ron McCall (Snr Crew), Dave Richter (Comms), Ray Lewis
Skipper: Geoff Smith


Activation 11/2/21: Medivac from Hamilton Island, late at night, that turned into a 2 in 1

The Help ringtone went off at the civilised hour of 8:45 pm – phone holder Ray needed a skipper for a medivac from Hamilton Island, with a departure time of 9:30. No problem, I was only watching the tennis and thinking about going to go to bed soon anyway, but I am on my way.

The crew had Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready to go by the time the paramedic came on board…a little earlier than planned. We left at 9:25 into a sou’easter of 17-18 knots and almost on top of the incoming tide. It was a damp and very dark night, like the inside of a cow with its tail down. Making full use of radar and FLIR, we pulled into Hamilton at 10:20.

After boarding our first patient who had suffered a head injury, and putting her on our stretcher, the Hamilton paramedic asked if we could also take a 3 year old with a fever back at the same time, together with her parents. No problem, we have the room. After a short delay waiting for the paramedic to pick up the littlie and her parents, we departed for the trip back to Coral Sea Marina.

We had the patients off by 0015, one transferred to the stretcher brought down by another paramedic, and the other in her mother’s arms. The crew helped get the patient’s and the paramedic’s gear up the ramp to the waiting ambulances.

Then it was a move to the fuel dock to refuel, then back to our own berth to finish documentation, shut down, and wash VMR1 down before heading home to bed at 0045…with a small detour to drop the father of our youngest patient to pick up his car at Shute Harbour before he headed to the hospital to catch up to the rest of his family.

Nice work by the crew on a longer medivac than usual.

Crew: Shane Newell, Michael McQueeney, Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 13/2/21: Tow for a non-member with a few things going against him

This is one of those for the ‘doubters’. It was 16.34 on a Saturday and Alan in the Radio Room calls me (Ron) with a request to do a tow from ‘the resort on Long Island’. Okay! Then I got some background information…the vessel is aground inside the fringing reef, close to the resort, with a broken motor. What else do I need to know?

The skipper is not a VMR member, has a baby and 3 other adults on board, has no licence or credit cards with him and no money in his accounts. Hmmm….anything else I need to consider? It will be low tide by the time we get there …oh, and can we phone him as we are approaching, as his radio isn’t working very well. OK, let’s go and get them. 😄

So, with our prestart checks done and crew aboard, we departed on Coral Sea Marina Resort VMR1 into a 10 knot East/South-East breeze and low tide, having made phone contact and received a lat/long position which was definitely on the beach, no problems.

A smooth, swift trip and our approach and phone call to the vessel gave us a boost. Their skipper had been able to walk their vessel out into a depth where we could send our tender carefully in over the fringing reef towards Happy Valley Resort to tow them out to the waiting VMR1. It didn’t take us long to raft them alongside for the paperwork that we could do while the crew also recovered and secured our tender.

The break-down was caused by the single outboard getting jammed in the fully tilted up position, so I figured the tow back would be an interesting, if slow, tow home with a skittish vessel behind us. We took all but the skipper on board VMR1 for added safety and set off into a now unsettled breeze which flicked into the North-East. At one point we came to a standstill to allow a lengthening of our tow-line for better stability.

Our hoped for destination, Port of Airlie boat-ramp, was already ruled out due to the low tide not allowing us enough depth, so Coral Sea Marina was chosen, and calls made so that we could be met by the skipper’s mate to help bring their trailer around for a pick-up.

The drop-off went well, and after we had refuelled VMR1 and returned to our berth for a tidy up and wash-down, one of our crew met them at the ramp and took down relevant card details for our paperwork. By 19.50 all was secured, thanks to the crew.

Crew: Michael McQueeney., David Richter and Michel del Aguila
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation 14/2/21 Task: – Broken down on Valentine’s Day

Our 25/7 phone holder Ray called me (Geoff S) at 17.20 on Vals Day. A White 5m Plateboat was broken down just SE of the south cardinal in Hook Passage, and they were heading towards Airlie using an electric trolling motor.

I met the crew on Whale Song VMR2, and we set off into rolly seas. We weren’t able to find our target until we were quite close to them because it was getting dark and the reported white boat had miraculously changed to black so was hiding against the black background of Whitsunday Island! 😁

Jesse sorted out the paperwork whilst Regan got the tow ready. Apparently, their fuel filter was full of water which had stopped the engine and despite several draining and re-priming attempts, it refused to go. They were on their way back from the reef so luckily the motor waited till they were close to home before having a fit!

The tow back took a while as getting our tow onto the plane in the conditions was challenging. By this stage it was very dark but we made it back to CSM Ok and left them alongside the ramp finger.

Thanks crew for persevering in trying conditions.

Crew: Jesse Sage (Comms), Regan Paul (Crew)
Skipper: Geoff Smith


Activation 18/2/21: Retrieval of a deceased person for QPS 😢

It was 2330 when phone holder Ray Lewis called me (Fin). A deceased person needed to be transported back to the mainland, and would I assist. I said yes, I would help. (see note below)

At 0020 we left on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 with 3 Police personnel onboard. It was a slower trip than expected due to some bigger seas which slowed us down.

On arrival, the Police carried out their formalities and when all was in order, we started our return to CSM. The Funeral Directors were waiting at our berth and together with Police, took charge of our important cargo.

I want to thank my crew for their time, consideration and the respect they showed in their handling of this sad situation – A first for this type of activation for the three crewmen.

Crew: Paul Martin (Snr Crewman), Shane Newell (Comms), Nick Beecroft (Crew)
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Ed’s Note: As all VMR crew are volunteers, they are not required to assist in situations such as this one. The decision is up to each individual and on receiving the activation call, it would have been made clear that they could opt out if it wasn’t for them.


Activation 19/2/21: Medivac from Yacht at Cockatoo Point

It was early afternoon and Ray called me (Ron) from the emergency VMR phone. He said “A private yacht has called with an ill passenger. They have been advised to contact Ambulance/Police first, but we can expect the call at any time.”

“All good Ray,” I replied, “I will head to the boat anyway.” That was a good decision as confirmation of the activation came very shortly afterwards. I arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 to find the pre-start checks done and the Paramedic on board, so we departed for Cockatoo Point to get to person on a yacht who was apparently not at all well.

Perfect conditions gave us a smooth, quick ride and we were soon rafted beside our target vessel and transferring the patient and his partner aboard for a speedy trip to the hospital.

An equally smooth return journey had our passengers dockside, then we crossed to refuel and back to home berth for the paperwork and hose-down. Just over 3 hours on a spectacular Whitsunday day, and another activation completed. Thanks crew!

Crew: Dave Richter, Paul Martin and Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation 22/2/21: Out in the night to help someone in pain

It was around 22.20 and I was just getting into bed when Ray called me (Ron) on the VMR emergency phone. It is not surprising he was awarded the Volunteer of the year as he always seems to be doing something to help somebody.

This time it was a guest with abdominal troubles over on Hamilton Island. “I’m on my way!” I said, threw on the VMR shirt and grabbed the car keys.

The Paramedic arrived at Coral Sea Resort Marina VMR1 just as we finished our pre-start checks, so we departed into a mixed bag of wind directions and strengths. Forecast was West North West at 10 knots(17klm/hr) .

Departing the marina close to low tide we had 15 knots from the North East with BoM observations showing gusts to 22 knots from the South East at Hamilton Island Airport, which gave us a very confused sea state with short choppy waves from all directions. VMR1 being a kindly sea boat still gave us a stable ride at 25 knots to the marina at Hamilton Island and our waiting patient.

With the patient and carer safely below in the airconditioned cabin, and the word to proceed from our paramedic, we set out for a slower journey home, trying to avoid the worst wave action points in the circling wind conditions. I was aiming for patient comfort rather than the shortest journey.

Once back within the marina walls we went into our well-rehearsed routine of docking in our normal berth to disembark our passengers, then moving across to the fuel dock to top up our tanks, then move back to our berth for the washdown, paperwork and shut down. Another faultless crewing display from Michel D., Shane N. and newcomer Jeramie S. Thanks team. We were all done by 01.45.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Shane Newell and Jeramie Scarborough
Skipper: Ron Roberts


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