February 2022

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Activation 01/02/2022: 44’ Ketch broken down at Bait Reef.

Ray, one of our emergency phone holders, called at 06.46 whilst I was out walking the dog. Inevitably, we were at the furthest point away from home. OK, re-organise the day on the way home and get to the boat. When I arrived Ray and our crew were getting Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready for sea and Ray had very thoughtfully got us a pie each for lunch as it was going to be a long day.

We got away at 07.30 with a flat sea, very little wind, little cloud, a flooding tide and James driving. Perfect. We had a position which proved to be accurate, just outside the entrance to Bait Reef Lagoon.

The ketch was anchored in 40m and his tender was in davits on the stern, with the outboard to port and his engine exhausts also exiting to port. Shane elected to go alongside starboard side to starboard side. That proved to be a bit tricky as we didn’t realise the tide was running as hard as it was. However, Shane coped.

After completing the paperwork, and having morning tea, our customer started to get his anchor up. We assisted as it was a 40m lift of heavy chain holding us both in a good tide run. When they had their anchor off the bottom, I noted that we were drifting at 2.5 knots!

Off to CSM 33nm away, at 09.45, towing at 8.5 knots, fortified with the coffee and lamingtons from our customer and Ray’s meat pies as we passed Blue Pearl Bay. As we progressed the tide turned and our speed slowly dropped to 6.5 knots finally arriving out the front to get our customer alongside VMR1 for the trip into the Marina at 15.15.

Off to refuel then back to the pen. A long, hot trip. No dramas, great crew, good trip. Thanks to Ray for his foresight. Shane and James for driving and comms. David, great to see you back.

Crew: Shane Newell, James Roberts, David Spiteri.
Skipper: Geoff Smith.

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Activation 09/02/2022: Back to back activations – a Medivac from Hayman Island, then a quick turn around to assist a 50 foot yacht.

Ray our 24 hour emergency phone holder called at around 16:40. “We have a medivac from Hayman, can you assist?” “Yes, I (Ken) am on my way”.
17:35 Shane N, Paul B and I had completed all pre-checks and the Paramedic was boarding at that time.

Smooth seas saw us arrive at Hayman at 18:30. Our patient and partner, (just married) had a Jet Ski accident. He was suffering severe back pain.
After a very careful loading of the patient we were given the okay to depart at 18:49.

With Shane on the helm for the return trip, I noticed in Pioneer Bay a sailing vessel flashing lights as if trying to attract some attention.
I said to Shane, slow down let’s see if they require help, as there was no wind. Just then there was a radio call.

The vessel required a jump start. Not a problem we can do that. However you will have to wait as we have a medical case on board that has priority. You are not in any danger. Are you a member? No, was the answer. Call VMR by phone and they will give me instructions regarding your situation.

We unloaded the Medivac at 19:49. Ray had already called regarding the yacht. So a quick turn around and off we went.

A quick scan of the Radar and yes there was our target, a 50 foot Yacht. We came along side and tried to jump start. This did not work. While Shane was completing the paper work Paul and I set up for an along side tow into Coral Sea Marina to Berth in “W.” Shane produced the berthing plan and we located “W.”

A tight little spot for manoeuvring. I had two excellent crew. This would not be an issue. 21:00 we cast off the yacht and headed to refuel, wash down and complete all the paper work.

Thankyou to the crew. Every thing went very smoothly.

Crew: Shane Newell and Paul Bloomfield
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation (1) 11/02/2022: Tow jetski from the northeastern tip of North Molle Island.

Thinking about my fortnightly grocery expedition I had parked in the Woollies car park in Airlie Beach. En route to the store I met my former neighbours from Proserpine, what a lovely surprise! As we chattered my phone chimed the Phone Holders tone… Activation!!! As much as I love my former neighbours, the opportunity for an activation was overpowering; I have not participated in an activation since January 17th! A quick goodbye, and off I went! A detour via home to change apparel and off to Coral Sea Marina.

Our Phone Holder,Ray gave me a quick synopsis of the situation, a broken-down jetSki at the northeastern tip of North Molle Island needing a tow back to the mainland. Just the job for Whalesong VMR2; our 6.7 metre Niad. Fortunately Paul B. was preparing VMR2 for launch (she is special and sits on a floating dock!). A quick check of essential systems, notification of our impending departure to interested parties and off we went into that turbulent washtub known as the Molle Channel.

A flooding tide greeted us as we left Pioneer Bay, the southeasterly breeze grew to a blustery southerly wind, thank you! VMR2 gave us a relatively good ride through the rising tide, a little bumpy, but very nice (just great to be back on the water again!!!!). As we rounded the tip of North Molle there they were, just where they said where they would be; experience has taught me not to put too much trust in the positions given by those needing help. A quick hook up, explained we could not tow faster than 5 knots to prevent flooding the motor with saltwater, never a good thing!

JetSki owners really should ask their dealers how to shut off the seawater flow to the engine to prevent flooding while being towed! Could save a lot of money!! (Not so subtle hint)😉.

We slowly made our way to the public ramp at Port of Airlie, paperwork done (interrupted by another call from Ray, a job at Ratray Island) we headed back to the marina, completed the ships log and sent copies to those who provide our administrative back up; we would be in a horrible mess without these valuable volunteers who keep our accounts straight and ensure we comply with the regulations, well done!

My crew today was Paul B, a good hand with plenty of experience with ocean going vessels and a pleasure to work with.

Crew: Paul Bloomfield
Skipper: Paul Martin

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Activation (2) 11/02/2022: Assist a vessel broken down near the shipping channel, a round trip of about 60 miles over a 6 hour period in the middle of the night

24/7 phone holder Ray rang me just before 1800 to say that he was getting a message relayed from a person on shore that a 5.8 metre power boat had broken down some distance off Rattray Island, and could I come in while he waits for more information on the (hopefully) exact position and puts a crew together for what may be a long job into the night. I contacted him again when I got to the boat and it sounded like they were still under way but only at about 3 knots, heading for Dingo Beach.

By the time Shane, Paul, Laura and I had prepped the boat for night operation it was 1830 when Coral Sea Marina VMR1 got under way. For Paul this was his second activation in a row as he had just stepped off Whale Song VMR2 after towing back a jetski from North Molle Island – great commitment, Paul!

There was a spectacular sunset as we made our way to the target vessel which was about 25 or 26 miles from the marina and making slow progress towards home. Laura, acting as Comms officer, managed to contact the vessel for an updated position and they were still moving, but only just. The position put them near the edge of the shipping lane. We could see a foreign ship moving north towards their position, and using AIS we managed to get the name of the ship and called them to advise that there was a disabled vessel up ahead of them and could they please keep an eye out – no problem after a bit of language difficulty! We had an ESE wind of 15-20 knots on rising tide, so it was a bit sloppy en route.

As we crossed the shipping lane we could just make out a red light some miles ahead of us, had to be our target, and it was. At 2015 the next problem was getting close enough to pass across our tow hook and towline in what was a very rolly sea, it was way too rough to even contemplate going alongside, and we requested that they don their lifejackets. Mission accomplished after some judicious manoeuvring, thankful for the better visibility from our flybridge and the torque of our twin Cummins diesels. By 2025 we had them underway at about 10 knots which we slowly eased up to 15-16 knots as the seas flattened out a bit as we got closer to land.

As we neared Dingo about 2230 we said that we would have to take them in with our tender, the access to the ramp is way too shallow for VMR1, and they advised us that they though that they could still make about 1 knot and were happy to make their own way in. Nah! They had no drive at all, probably a bad propellor bush, so we launched our tender and Shane and Laura took them into the ramp while VMR1 sat off the edge of the large reef area, about a 20-30 minutes exercise. Well done, Shane and Laura!

VMR1 left Dingo at 2300 headed for home, sneaking inside a couple of islands looking for smoother water, pulling up to the fuel dock at 0010. By the time we refuelled, moved to our own berth, shutdown and cleaned VMR1 it was 0045 before we all headed home for some overdue sleep. Thank you crew, nice work on a harder and longer job than usual, about 6.25 hours.

Crew: Shane Newell, Paul Bloomfield, Laura Oates (trainee)
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activation (1) 12/02/2022: Assist a 5 metre centre console broken down at North Molle.

Radio operator Gay at the base set off the Help ringtone just after 1530. A 5 metre centre console with 1 pob was broken down at North Molle (sort of déjà vu as that is where the disabled jetski was the day before) and had requested assistance back to the Whisper Bay boat ramp in front of our base. Gay put a crew together while I made my way in. Michel and Dave had started the checks by the time I got to the boat – this was a job tailor made for Whale Song VMR2, our Naiad 6.7m rhib. Gay said that our target’s mobile was dying, so we hoped he was where he said he was.

Whale Song VMR2 departed at 1605 into a brisk E/SE of 18-20 knots and a choppy sea with wind doing its thing against the tide, but VMR2 handled the conditions well, and we were alongside our target (exactly where he said he was) 25 minutes later. While Michel was doing the paperwork I asked the occupant to put on his lifejacket – he had obviously never put one on before, and his was in such a tangle we finished up loaning him one of ours for the return trip. He was politely reminded that in a real emergency he would have been in real trouble, it is most important that all boaties know how to don a lifejacket, and preferably wear one on the water – it may be a lifesaver. The inflatable vests that are available now are very comfortable to wear at all times, and we strongly recommend them as the way to go on the water.

After moving his boat around to free his anchor we started the tow at 1645 and were able to maintain an easy cruise of 18 knots running with the seas and the wind mostly on our port aft quarter, and we had him on the ramp at Whisper Bay by 1720 and to complete the paperwork, before refuelling at Port of Airlie, putting Whale Song back on the floating dock at CSM, cleaning and doing the paperwork, all finished by 1815. Nice work by Michel and Dave, makes my job easy.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Dave Richter
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activation (2) 12/02/2022: Medivac Hamilton Island

It was 19:45 My emergency phone was ringing. This was Ray one of our 24 hour emergency phone holders.
We have a medivac from Hamilton Island. “Okay I (Ken) am on my way”.

I met Paul M in the car park. James was escorting the Paramedic to Coral Sea Marina VMR1. 20:15 we departed. It was close to the top of the tide and blowing a South Easter. Sea conditions were a little lumpy. Not an issue for VMR1.

With James on the Helm we arrived at 21:25 at Hamilton Island. The paramedic and patient and carer were there. A quick turn around and we departed at 21:35. In that 10 minutes, Paul and I set up the stretcher and packed away many suit cases and baggage. Pretty good for two young fellows.

With a following sea we were surfing along nicely. 22:50 we were heading into Coral Sea Marina with James on the helm. Refuel, wash down and complete the paper work and it was near Midnight.

What adventure did you have on Saturday night?

Mind you I had just spent two days sailing and relaxing in the Whitsundays on board our yacht.

Crew: Paul M (Senior Crew/Skipper) and James Roberts (Comms). Great company. Thankyou.
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 15/02/2022: Night of wild weather for a medivac from Hamilton Island.

Rain squalls were passing over the region, heavy rain and gusting winds, palm trees copping a flogging and the crashing of water through the neighbour’s creek told of a warning.

I wish I could say that Ray’s phone call roused me from my slumber, yeah, nah. “Yes Ray” was my response to the ringtone, a Medivac from Hamilton Island was the summons. What fun will be had on the water in these conditions. I quickly dressed, told ever faithful beagle, Chloe, I’ll see you soon, her response was predictable, a quick glance and back to sleep.

I arrived Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at the same time as Michel and we commenced preparing her for departure. In short measure Ray, our emergency phone holder arrived as did the paramedic. We departed at the bottom of the tide. No sign of the waxing gibbous moon, successfully hiding above the impenetrable storm clouds. Blackness surrounded us, another night for the radar to be our eyes and the plotter our guide. Once clear of the leads we were making a steady 20 knots, this was not to last long!

Upon entering the Molle Channel we were soon reducing our speed over the ground to a sedate 13 knots as wind, tide and seas were in uproar. As is usual with a southwesterly wind and a rising tide our transit was predictably bumpy. As the squalls approached, the helm became busy. Increasing wind speed tried as it may to alter our course. We were bound for Unsafe Passage, no respite was to be found as we entered Whitsunday Passage, more and more of the same. I headed for Fitzalan Passage, seeking shelter and calmer conditions. We arrived at the Hamilton Island Marina no worse for wear, comfortably dry and suffering little eye strain. It was a brief respite as we moored at the usual place, the patient and accompanying paramedic were ready and waiting for us. A quick conference was held and we were on our way back to Coral Sea Marina.

Being familiar with the conditions to be found upon the return journey, we set off at a good pace. The transit was comparatively comfortable; the sun was rising and visibility improving, our only contact was the Police launch heading in the opposite direction as we passed Pioneer Rocks. Discussion soon started about drop off point for our passengers and refuelling. The patient was ambulatory so there was the opportunity to drop him off at L arm, then refuel. We then returned to our pen, washed VMR1 and completed the paperwork. All completed by 0750 hrs.

Many thanks to my crew who did a splendid job:

Crew: Ray Lewis, with the emergency phone in tow and Michel del Aguila
Skipper: Paul Martin

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Activation 16/02/2022: Evacuate 2 persons from a grounded vessel at the southern end of Henning Island

It was a dark, wet and stormy night, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse! But VMR was about to be! 24/7 phone holder Ray woke me in the middle of the night to advise that we had received a call from the duty Police Search Coordinator (SARMC) in Mackay about 10 minutes before midnight. A vessel had run aground at the southern end of Henning Island and we had been tasked to evacuate the 2 people on board. They had made a Mayday call which was picked up by Whitsunday VTS in Mackay. With some doubt over their exact location, VTS asked them to activate their EPIRB to give a better position. VTS called the Police, who activated both ourselves and the Mackay CQ Rescue chopper to respond. Ray put a crew together while I made my way to the marina in very heavy rain and strong winds, it was gusting up to 31 knots at Hamilton from the SE, this was not going to be a joyride by any means.

By 0020 the crew had us prepped and ready to go. Thank goodness for the great navigation gear on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 – plotters, radar and FLIR infrared camera – we put the whole lot to good use on the way. Sea conditions got a bit lumpy on the way around Pioneer Point but not enough to slow us down – but that soon changed as we cleared Bauer Bay on South Molle and began to transit the Whitsunday Passage. We could see very little, but soon were back to 11-12 knots as we fought against the typical short sharp seas in the Passage. Once we got past the middle it settled down a bit and we were able to wind the speed up to over 20 knots again and were off our target at 0125. En route we asked the target to let out more anchor chain so the boat would not drift away and potentially become a hazard to navigation.

Our target – a 15 m charter catamaran – was unable to deploy their tender as the boat was sitting high and dry on its keels, so the crew launched ours and Shane made his way in over the reef while we stayed in deeper water with our lights showing the way. Shane had to ask them to retrieve their EPIRB and strobe so he could get to the boat without fouling his prop while we stood off – way too shallow for us – and lit up the scene. The target were also asked to turn off their EPIRB. While Shane was doing the wet retrievals, the rescue chopper called us to advise that they were on Hamilton and would stand by pending a request from us to assist with the activation if required, which would have been pretty tough in 30 knots of wind – luckily Shane did a great job and transported both passengers safely back to VMR1.

By 0155 VMR1 was under way back to the marina, pulling up at the fuel dock at 0240 to discharge our very thankful passengers, refuel, make our way to our own berth and put VMR1 to bed, hopefully for the night. Great work by Ray, Shane and James. Well done by Shane for the tricky retrieval of the passengers. Off home to bed again at 0315 at last.

Note: The vessel has since been refloated by the charter company and is now safely back in port being assessed for damage, might just be limited to a few scrapes on the keels.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Shane Newell, James Roberts
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activation 17/02/2022: Medivac from Hayman Island

The job we were given today by Ray, our 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder and SARCO, was to assist QAS with a Medivac of a male patient from Hayman Island.

And that was what we did, heading out in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 just before midday (with Terry as helmsman) to Hayman Island, picking up our patient and returning (this time with Tony at the helm). All finished at 2.05pm.

Thanks to my competent team today – for their volunteered time and skilled services provided.

Crew: Terry Clarke and Tony Bell.
Skipper: Fin Forbes

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Activation (1) 20/02/2022: Out of fuel tow from near Grimston Point.

I’m told one of my crew was eating breakfast and the other lunch, as the Radio Operator Mark H made the call to acquire a crew for an activation, such is the schedule of VMR volunteers. When Mark called me, I had finished breakfast some hours ago, farewelled my daughter who was visiting for an overnight and walked Chloe, my ever patient beagle, so I was good to go! A tinny with 3 persons on board have run out of fuel and are drifting in the vicinity of Woodwark Bay. A perfect job for Whale Song VMR 2! I have a crew, I have a location, sort of, and a vessel. What more could this fellow ask for? Well we won’t go into that!!

We quickly prepared VMR2 for departure, engines running as advertised, plotter up, and crew switched on, good to go! I might add, this was the first time I was lucky enough to have 2 senior crewmen on board! Top of the tide, southwesterly wind strong enough to quell the predicted swell of 1.5m, and daylight, a definite bonus. We set off from Coral Sea marina at a sedate 6 knots, once clear of the leads, 23 knots, go baby, go! The transit was a little bumpy, but exactly what VMR2 was designed for, little splash, but all on board were dry, this will not last long! As we rounded Grimston Point I could see something dead ahead, not drifting, but at anchor. Funny place to anchor thought I, maybe worthy of further investigation. As we neared I could make out 3 persons, this fitted the profile, a tinny, so too, this fitted the profile of the disabled vessel. As we motored up to the vessel, the smiles of relief confirmed, without a doubt, this was our target!!

Quickly passing the tow hook attached to the tow lie, the tow was underway. The wind was blustery, determined to push us off course, and the swell was finding it’s feet once more to detract from the good humour of the crew. Ok, the tow will be slow, 6 knots until we get further inshore and out of the wind. I boasted earlier of keeping my crew dry on the outward journey, not so for the return journey; Shane was speaking to me and his glasses had developed watery lumps, meaning obviously so was the rest of Shane! Sorry mate! Michel was hiding behind Shane and was relatively dry. For my part, I was unscathed (it’s good to be the skipper)!

We married the vessels up to complete our task, dropping our beleaguered mariners to the public dock at Whisper Bay. Paperwork almost complete and off to the fuel dock at Coral Sea Marina.

My crew did an excellent job, making mine very easy, everything ran like clockwork. The information passed by Mark H was spot on and allowed me to find the stranded vessel without fuss.

I love my job!

Crew: Michel del Aguila and Shane Newell
Skipper: Paul Martin

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Activation (2) 20/02/2022: 5.5m tinny broken down at Daydream Island

Alan Winch at the Radio Room called at 08.50. A 5.5m tinny was broken down at the southern end of Daydream, just off the workers quarters.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 got away at 09.30 with the crew doing it all perfectly. Ross was driving and we had a flooding tide with a brisk Sou’easter putting up a short chop. He got us to South Daydream at 10.00. Our target was a small tinny anchored just on the eastern edge of the reef. They had had a few problems and finally had to call us for help. They had a tow a year ago and had decided to become members but hadn’t got round to it. They did say they wouldn’t be putting it off this time though!

We got to Shute at 10.35 and I now understand what Paul was talking about a couple of weeks ago. It is tight for a small boat because you have to dogleg behind the fishing pontoon. When you have a 40’ cat with a boat alongside, it is a lot tighter. There is a row of poles down the west side of the ramp between the ramp and the walkway. The tide runs across the ramp quite quickly and without the poles to lean the boats on, so helping the crews, boats could easily get into difficulties. I’m guessing the fast tide flow is the reason they didn’t go for a floating ramp finger.

We got away at 10.40 and back to CSM for refuelling and then to our pen for a good washdown and tidy.
Thanks again to an excellent crew, they make it all look easy.

Crew: Shane Newell, Debbie Simpson, Ross Vlismas.
Skipper: Geoff Smith.

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Activation (3) 20/02/2022: Medivac from Hayman Island

Sunday afternoon. I (Ken), was having a great day. I had finished sanding some fibreglass and moved on to cutting down some rather large Golden Canes. 16:00 The emergency phone started ringing so I stopped cutting. It was Mark H, our base radio operator ” Medivac from Hayman, can you assist?”
“Yes, a change of scenery was welcome”. A quick call to James, a crew member. Can you pick me up? With that arranged I had time for a quick shower.

16:30 we were on board Coral Sea Marina VMR1 with Paul B, Pauline and Ross. The paramedic had also arrived, so we set off for Hayman with Ross on the helm. Conditions were 20 to 25 knots South East, approaching the bottom of the tide.

After a bumpy passage we were along side a blow-on berth in Hayman. By 17:32 with the patient settled, it was time to leave.

James asked if he could extract VMR1 from this berth. After a brief discussion, James took the helm. Paul B was in control of the deck crew and doing a great job. I listened as he explained to the crew how James was to manoeuvre VMR1 and what he needed them to do. Pauline and Ross did a great job.

19:00 we had refueled, washed down and completed all paper work. Time for dinner.

Well done by all. I saw Pauline throw her mooring line on more than one occasion with the utmost accuracy. This is why we at VMRW train continuously.

Crew: James Roberts (Senior), Paul Bloomfield (Comms), Pauline Vlismas and Ross Vlismas
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation (4) 20/02/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island in the middle of the night for a young lady with severe abdominal pain – but wait, there is more!

Emergency phone holder Ray called me just before 2300 with a QAS activation from Hamilton Island. Ray and Chris had us almost ready to go while I went looking for the paramedic. I had seen the ambulance but he had not come to our berth. Found him on the way down. We were soon underway at 2325 on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 into a brisk SE wind gusting almost to 30 knots at times with a bit of wind against tide slop, but able to maintain normal cruise speed all the way with pretty good comfort despite the slop. This was the 4th activation for VMRW for the day – and the 5th in 24 hours was just around the corner.

We were at our usual berth away from home at Hamilton by 0020, and 30 minutes later we were on our way back with out patient, obviously in great discomfort and pain. We sidestepped a heavy rain squall between Henning and Gulnare by opting to go around the southern end of South Molle and through the Molle Channel, tying up at CSM at 0130. Chris helped the paramedic get the patient to the waiting ambulance, then it was refuel – and then at 0200 as we were getting ready to head off the emergency phone rang again!

We had been tasked to go back to Hamilton for another medivac! As I had a medical appointment in Mackay in the morning, Ray was able to rustle Ken out of bed to take my place on the next medivac while I headed off for a bit of sleep – many thanks, Ken, much appreciated, meant I could sleep at home for a few hours and not fall asleep in the car.

The medivac we had just completed was our 17th this year, the next number 18. At the same time last year we had done 11! Thanks to Ray and Chris for their help on what has become a pretty routine activation.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Chris Reinbott
Skipper: Mal Priday

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Activation 21/02/2022: Two in a row – 2nd Medivac for the night from Hamilton Island

There I (Ken) was, enjoying my bed. At 03:00 Monday morning I was woken by the words “Ray needs a skipper” This can’t be right. I am not on call.
Mal was on duty Sunday night.

As it turned out Mal had already completed a medivac to Hamilton Island. He also had to drive to Mackay this very day. As a volunteer this is what we do. Day or night. “Okay, I am on my way”. 03:30 with the paramedic, Ray and Chris R on board Coral Sea Marina VMR1 we headed to Hamilton Island.

The sea conditions were moderately rough, nothing that VMR1 cannot handle.
04:25 we were along side in Hamilton Island. Loading the patient and settling him in took a while. 04:49 we departed for Coral Sea Marina arriving at 05:45. By the time we off loaded the paramedic and patient, refuelled and washed down it was 06:15

This was a run of the mill medivac, on a black night with rain. I cannot complain the temperature was beautiful.
The crew just make everything easy, Thankyou.

Crew: Ray Lewis and Chris Reinbott
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 22/02/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

What can be said for the 2.00am phone ringing, not a blessed thing that can be printed. Ray was on the phone, our sleep deprived emergency phone holder, “Medivac from Hamilton Island, I’ll get a crew”. Enough said. Quickly I dressed in darkness lest I awaken the snoring beast at the foot of my bed, my best girl Chloe. Shortly I was en route to Coral Sea Marina, upon arrival I was shocked to see an ambulance parked there, our paramedic was already there! This was a first!

We made our way to Coral Sea Marina VMR1, she was slumbering in the darkness, all snug and secure at our mooring. I started filling in the ships log, then disappeared to the fly bridge to awaken the instrumentation and secured the forward clears, it was not raining and the breeze was balmy. Ray and Michel completed the start up checks, my plotter and radar were up and running and so too were our engines, off we went into a star studded night and a gentle swell. For some reason all the other vessels were still at their moorings? The hull had been recently cleaned, and the improvement in speed over the ground has been considerably enhanced.

Our transit to Hamilton Island was a little bumpy, but nothing to cause concern. On such a clear night the lights were easily identified; around Pioneer Point, down to Unsafe Passage then the final sprint to Hamilton Island marina. Earlier I mentioned it being a balmy night, not so as we entered the Hamilton Island Leeds, rain began pelting us, making my glasses absolutely useless. Ray and Michel had donned foul weather jackets, I alone braved the short deluge sans rain gear. We quickly moored, our paramedic disembarked to assume custody of the patient and his partner.

Once the patient was settled and the passenger briefing completed we set off for Coral Sea marina. The wind was at our backs and the clean hull allowed us to surf our way back to the marina, a very smooth passage with a gentle assist from the swell saw us steaming at 24 knots. Once at the marina we discharged our paramedic, patient and partner and headed for the fuel dock and off to our pen for completion of the paperwork.

My thanks to the crew who did a great job:

Crew: Ray Lewis as Senior Crew and Michel del Aguila who covered the communications and deck.
Skipper: Paul Martin

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Activation 25/02/2022: Interesting night skies on a Medivac from Hamilton Island

22:25 Friday night. My (Ken) emergency phone was ringing. It was Ray, one of our emergency 24 hour phone holders. Medivac from Hamilton Island. James one of my crew, picked me up on the way. When we arrived Bill was on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 carrying out the pre-start checks. We moved VMR1 to the usual pickup point and the two Paramedics boarded.

I was immediately informed that we needed to hurry as this was a child with breathing difficulties. Luckily we had VMR1 hauled out by Hawkes Boat Yard earlier that morning. I had scraped the hull to improve our boat speed. This turned out to be very helpful. 23:00 We departed Coral Sea Marina. Sea conditions were perfect. The sky was brilliant. It was a balmy night. Just as well we do not get paid. I would feel like a thief on a night like this.

23:30 as we dashed along with James on the helm, there in the sky off to my starboard were two burning objects. I initially thought it may have been a plane in great difficulty. The objects appeared so close and lasted for several minutes. Never have we seen anything like this up close. Apparently it was a Satellite.

23:52 we were along side Hamilton Island dock. Excellent work by the Paramedics saw the child stabilised. We took Mum and baby onboard and departed at 24:00. The return trip was picture perfect with the sky full of stars.

We arrived at Coral Sea Marina 1:05. Disembarked the Paramedics, Mum and baby to the waiting ambulance. Refuelling complete, back to our pen and time for bed.

Well done Bill and James. Great team work and company. Most happy to share the night.

Crew: James Roberts and Bill Hopton
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 26/2/2022: Medivac Hamilton Island

22:25 Saturday night Just finished a movie. The emergency phone was requiring my attention. It was Ray, “We have a Medivac from Hamilton Island” Okay I am on my way.

With Ron Mc, Paul B and myself (Ken) we had all the start up completed on Coral Sea Marina VMR1, while we waited for the Paramedic to arrive. 23:10 with Paramedic onboard (apparently a very busy night for QAS) we departed for Hamilton Island.

Sea conditions, moderate. Ebbing tide, wind from the South East. Ron was on the helm for this wet Saturday night passage. Vision was not helped by the passing dark clouds. We arrived Hamilton Island 00:11.

Our Patient had fallen on a wet edge pool and suffered spinal injuries along with multiple abrasions. The team worked closely with the Paramedics to settle the patient on board. It was 00:34 when we departed heading for Coral Sea Marina and the waiting ambulance.

With this type of injury it takes a lot of precision in handling the patient. Moving between Back board and the Stryker Stretcher.
The ambulance did arrive direct from a return trip from Mackay.

It was now time for VMR crew to refuel wash down and head for home. 02:35
Thankyou to my Crew.

Crew: Paul Bloomfield your deck work and Comms is greatly appreciated. Ron McCall well done.
Skipper: Ken Bryce

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Activation 27/2/2022: 6m Runabout, 6POB, broken down in Peter Bay.

Dave Burge in the radio room called at 11.30 with a member broken down in Peter Bay.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 left at midday in beautiful conditions and got to Peter Bay an hour later. 10 mins later after doing the paperwork, we were on our way back.

The target wanted to go to Whisper Bay but our arrival there would have coincided with low tide and VMR1 needs a bit of water under her, so our target agreed to CSM.

CSM at 14.40 for a drop off on the ramp finger, then the fuel dock, then to the pen for a washdown and finalise the paperwork at 14.55.
All very easy because of a first-rate crew and perfect conditions.

Crew: Tony Bell, David Richter
Skipper: Geoff Smith.

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