June 2022


Activation 01/06/2022: Assist a vessel reported aground at Cockatoo Point, opposite Hayman. Oops!

The “help” ringtone was set off by phone holder Ray just before 1400 – a bareboat had run aground, reportedly at Cockatoo Point, opposite Hayman. We had been asked to disembark the guests and return them to the marina, and to drop off one of the bareboat company staff at the same time. Hopefully he could bring the boat back when the tide floated her off in another 3 or 4 hours.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed at 1425 with the bareboat staffer on board, and with winds of less than 10 knots and an almost perfect sea it was a comfortable trip across. As we approached Stonehaven we could not see any sign of a vessel near Cockatoo, and then noticed a mono on our port side, high and almost dry on the southern side of Langford Reef. It had fallen into the trap of steering to clear the south cardinal beacon at the southern side of the reef, but had missed the fact that the reef protruded a long way past the beacon to beacon transit, with the inevitable result. Not a good thing to happen on the first day of your holiday!

By 1515 we held station off the edge of the reef, and as their tender was still afloat they transferred two in the first trip and took the bareboat chap across to help get the other person and all their gear off. At the same time he had a quick look around and was a bit concerned that the rudder may have been jammed, but I understand that he was able to get it back to CSM safely overnight after the tide turned.

With all of the boat crew and their gear onboard, we were underway again about 20 minutes later, and let them off at the marina about 1620 before refuelling and returning to our berth for paperwork and washdown, and were just about to shut everything down when the Help ringtone went again! Ray advised that we had been tasked to do a medivac from Hamilton! Ray offered to skipper as he was going away the next day and that would leave me free to do any late night callouts, so that was agreed. As we passed each other on the way to/from VMR1 he handed me the 24/7 phone for couple of days.

Ron, Terry and Louise offered to stay on for the medivac – it was another beautiful day in paradise, after all! Nice work, team.

Crew: Ron McCall, Terry Clarke, Louise Keepa
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 01/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

I had been monitoring Coral Sea Marina VMR1 on Marine Traffic while it was out on an activation to Langford reef and saw that it had just arrived back in Coral Sea Marina. Just then the 24/7 emergency phone rang with QAS on the line requesting a medivac to Hamilton island. I rang Mal – the skipper on VMR1 to give him the good news.

After a discussion I decided to skipper the medivac so that Mal could have a break, as he was the only skipper logged on to our MEC call out system. Mal asked the crew if they would volunteer to go out again as I packed my kit and proceeded down to the Marina to join them. The QAS officer arrived and we departed CSM at 1710 hrs just as it was getting dark.

An uneventful trip across the passage with a 10 minute turnaround to pick up a walk on patient. We were then on our way home just as there was the slight sliver of a new moon above the western horizon but this soon dropped below the horizon to give us a dark night. Back in the marina to drop off our passengers then refuel, berth and wash down VMR1.

A big thanks to Louise, Ron and Terry for doing back to back activations.

Crew: Ron McCall, Terry Clarke, Louise Keepa
Skipper: Ray Lewis


Activation 02/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

Oh the joy of being the duty skipper; sitting in the VMR Training room, discussing matters of importance to our squadron and planning for the immediate and foreseeable future. The emergency tone sounded, a moment of confusion, yours truely had neglected to put his night availability on our emergency crew application, oops! Giving my apologies, exit stage right! A quick trip back to Coral Sea marina, seeing my crew gathering filled me with pride, dedicated men and women, Well done!

Once our paramedic arrived, greeted by 3 of our crew to help carry all his equipment to Coral Sea Marina VMR1, we releasing lines and set off into a gentle breeze and a flooding tide. As darkness descended we were rounding Pioneer Point bound for Unsafe Passage, the seas were with us! It was so dark, how dark you ask? Black as a ducks innards! I was taken by surprise as we headed towards Hamilton Island marina, the seas had developed a nasty habit of rolling heavy weather in our direction. Soon we were through the worst of it, knowing full well our return journey will be much calmer.

We docked. And our patient and mother arrived forthwith. We were underway in less than 10 minutes. Just checking with the record keepers, yes, a RECORD! James asked to have the helm on our return voyage, yes, of course! Handing over the helm I watched as he set course on the auto pilot, sat back and kept a weather eye on the plotter as I surveyed the the radar screen. I could have done that! I fought the weather and tide to lay a fairly straight track to be followed, oh well, next time.

Arriving back at Coral Sea marina we discharged out patient, his carer and the paramedic. Bravo to our paramedic, he was called out to do this trip after a 14 hour shift, well done Sir!

My crew did an exceptional job, keeping us informed on what information was incoming, on the condition of our patient. Service of the hot chocolate was not forthcoming, how disappointing, it was cool on the fly bridge. But I digress, the crew were like a gentle hand, taking care of all that arose making the journey a delight.

Thank you to the crew:
Crew: Senior crew – Michel Del Aguila, Communications – James Roberts, Deck crew – Donna Deegan and Laura Oates
Skipper: Paul Martin


Activation 03/06/2022: Towing one of our Sponsors

My phone was ringing, not the emergency tone. So who could this be on a Friday at 17:10. It was Mal our VMR President. “One of our major sponsors has broken down. Marti one of our skippers is onboard. Can you help?” Yes, was my reply. I (Ken) was rostered on from 18:00 for the night duty anyway.

17:30 with the crew we departed in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 for 19 Deg 59 minutes, 148 Deg 48 minutes. Paul plotted this position on the plotter and then we set a course directly to our target vessel.

What fabulous conditions we are having in the Whitsundays. This was another glorious sunset as we skimmed through the flat seas. 18:40 we approached our target vessel. At first I was inclined to raft up to secure the tow line. This proved to not be a good idea as our target was rolling and we were soon drifting apart. The decision was made to heave the tow line to Marti who was on the foredeck. Excellent throw and catch.

18:45 we were ready to head for Port of Airlie. Let’s see how this very beautiful vessel tows. After a little speed adjustment we found the sweet spot. 11 knots was what she liked. In relatively flat seas with just a sliver of moon, the stars were amazing. Imagine if someone paid us money to do this. It would not be right to have so much enjoyment while working.

20:40 we dropped the tow and rafted up outside POA. With Marti telling us where the berth was we slowly headed for it. 20:50 with the crew tending the mooring lines I edged the Vessels into the pen. Marti slid ashore and secured his Vessel.

As we were going astern many thanks were ringing out. It was our pleasure to assist. 21:10 we were refuelling. James then took VMR1 back to her pen and we were all ready for our dinner.

Thankyou to my crew, well done as usual.

Crew: James Roberts (Senior crew), Paul Bloomfield (Comms)
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 03/06/2022: Assist 5.5 m vessel broken down near Planton Island, 2 pob

I knew that Coral Sea Marina VMR1 had gone out earlier to assist a vessel north of Double Cone, so when phone holder Bill set off the ‘Help” ringtone just before 1800 I had a rough idea that it was to be another activation and I would be taking out Whale Song VMR2. Sure enough, a member had broken down near Planton Island, just off South Molle and was requesting assistance back to port. I met Shane and Michel at VMR2 and we did the prep for night time operation, launched her off the floating dock, and set off for the coordinates they had given Bill at 1825. We had a flat sea and light winds, with virtually no moon.

VMR2 was at the given location, between Planton and South Molle, by 1900 and found – nothing but islands all round! A phone call later and we were given another coordinate, this time on the outside of Planton and further south, so we headed around towards the new location – and found them tucked in close to shore about halfway before we got to the new spot – probably another “curser” position”. After trying without success to get their boat started with our jump-starter we took them in tow and headed back to Shute at 19 knots, took them alongside off the marine terminal, and had them on the weird boat ramp at Shute at 2000 before heading back to the marina, going past VMR1 on the way as it was taking its target vessel alongside to take them into Port of Airlie.

It was 2100 before we had refuelled, put Whale Song back on the dock, and completed the shutdown, wash down and paperwork. Thanks to Michel and Shane for their usual competent assistance.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Shane Newell.
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 05/06/2022: Break down near Dent Island.

My emergency phone was ringing. It was Keran one of our radio operators at the base. We have a 25 foot Bertram broken down and drifting near Dent island. Keran sent all the details to my phone and arranged for my crew.

The crew assembled and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was on the way at 14:05, with Ron on the helm. As Keran had sent all the details to my phone it was a simple job for the crew (Bill) filling out most of the paperwork en route. Fantastic weather and great sea conditions. We arrived at the target vessel at 15:00.

I new this vessel as I had towed it from the reef a while back. Ron slowly manoeuvred along side while Bill and Dick secured her fore and aft. Paper work completed. One of the children opted to travel on VMR1. She could not leave the parent vessel without her e-reader/ tablet. Dick was in charge of our little passenger.

15:15 we were headed for Port of Airlie. This vessel towed beautifully at 19knots in the flat sea conditions. 16:25 I took over the helm as we laid her on the public boat ramp.

17:10 we were back at our pen having refuelled, cleaned up and ready for home. Great work by all involved made this a very tidy rescue.

Crew: Senior – Ron McCall, Comms – Bill Hopton, Trainee – Dick Filewood.
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 07/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island:

Sleeping in peaceful repose, not a care in the world, luxury! My dream shattered by the toning of my phone; Roger, the emergency phone holder, Ray’s backup, calling to advise a medical evacuation was requested from Hamilton Island. Roger assured me he would gather a crew for this evening’s voyage. My crew arrived in good time, Donna, Barry and Shane completed the VMR contingent, and our paramedic arrived right on their heels.

Off we went into the well known darkness, nary a star to be seen, could not see the clouds and no moon. The darkness seemed to absorb the light, dimming its’ brilliance. It was a First quarter moon phase, not off to a glowing start! Winds were Southeasterly at less than 10 knots and a flooding tide, making a pleasant ride for the bleary eyed crew aboard Coral Sea Marina VMR1. Both Molle Channel and Whitsunday Passage were in a pleasant mood, no anger to be unleashed upon unsuspecting sailors.

Arrival at Hamilton Island marina in 57 minutes, a good time and not even pushing the engines! Our patient arrived as we docked, escorted to our awaiting vessel by our paramedic, and as quick as that we were off again, destination, Coral Sea marina. Shane had the helm and displayed his skills in manoeuvring in close quarters and docking, well done! Donna kept VTS Whitsunday informed of our departures and arrivals, well done and Barry went about his duties with confidence.

Our return journey was good, calm seas, not a star appearing yet and, still no moon. All was completed by 0320 hours, not bad at all! Well done to the crew.

Crew: Senior crew – Shane Newell, Communications – Donna Deegan, Deck – Barry Lake.
Skipper: Paul Martin.


Activation 07/06/2022: Medivac from Daydream Island for person with dislocated knee.

All was quiet and I was thinking about bed, but phone holder Roger put an end to that idea with a phone call before 2100 – we had been asked by QAS to do a medivac from Daydream Island for a person with a dislocated knee – ouch! Roger put a crew together while I made my way in to the boat, and after prestart checks and dimming down all the instruments – there are a few – Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was under way with trainee skipper Shane on the helm at 2115 with the QAS paramedic on board, into a very dark but clear night, with S/SE winds of about 20 knots and a bit of chop.

By 2150 we were tied up at Daydream, and the paramedic went on shore to see what he could do for the patient. He was back with the patient by 2215, and he had managed to get the dislocation back in to place, and with the patient helped on board and making full use of the green whistle we were under way again on our way back to the Marina.

Shane had us alongside at 2250 to rendezvous with another paramedic bringing a stretcher down to the boat, and pretty soon we had the patient transferred to the waiting ambulance and on her way to hospital while we refuelled and moved to our own berth. By 2325 we had finished the paperwork, and cleaned and secured VMR1 ready for the next activation, and were on or way home for a well-deserved kip.

Good to see the expected professional job well done as usual by Shane, Michel and James, each one a committed member of our team of dedicated volunteers.

Crew: Shane Newell, Michel del Aguila, James Roberts
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 11/06/2022: Medivac from Hayman Island

14:30 my emergency phone was ringing. This was Jonny from our radio base.
We have a medivac from Hayman island. Okay I am on my way. Jonny called the crew while I headed to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 to commence the start up procedures.

15:10 we departed Coral Sea Marina. The sea conditions were good as the wind and sea was on our stern starboard quarter. Which meant the return trip would be a little rougher. We arrived at Hayman at 16:02. The crew of Michel and Paul B had us secured along side very nicely.

16:20 with the patient on board we departed for CSM. Sea conditions not so good. That’s what happens when you head into a southerly in the Whitsunday passage.

17:15 we were docked in CSM, paramedic and patient off to the waiting ambulance with Paul B assisting with all the medical equipment. Michel and I transferred to the fuel dock as Paul was returning. Perfect timing please take the stern line. 17:40 we were back in our Pen and ready for home. It was rather fresh out there. I am not looking forward to the inevitable 3:00 am call to duty.

Well done to my Crew

Crew: Michel del Aguila (Senior), Paul Bloomfield (Comms)
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 12/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

It is a long time since I have seen the air so clear. (Yes I know you can’t see clear air but you know what I mean). As we neared Pioneer Point on our way to Hamilton Island we could make out individual lights on Hayman island, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

17.34 and my phone alerted me to a VMR callout from Bill, our current 24-hour phone holder. “Are you available for a medivac from Hammo?”, I sure am Bill.

Down at the marina on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 I was met by James and Ron. While we were doing our pre-departure checks our Paramedic arrived with all his kit so we set of into 10-15 Knots of S/E breeze. Not too lumpy, but with a chill factor to be reckoned with. Note to self, I should have packed my beanie.

James did the entire activation as driver, so when I wasn’t watching the instruments I was on the lookout for whales, yes they are back. I could also enjoy the crystal clear cold air which was hitting me at about 40 knots since we were heading into the 20 knot breeze. James had his beanie on.

Our journey was otherwise unremarkable. We had docked at Hamilton Island and had our patient aboard and settled by 19.35 and our return to Coral Sea Marina took less than an hour.

With our patient ashore, we moved to the re-fuelling jetty then back to our normal berth for paperwork, washdown and tidy up ready for the next call.

Thanks again to the crew of James and Ron for making my job easier, and for a very professional effort, we made our way to our land bases at 21.10

Crew: James Roberts and Ron McCall
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 15/06/2022: Broken down yacht on a mooring in Tongue Bay

It was the morning of my annual First Aid course and in the process of dressing, the VMR 24hr ringtone at 8.30 got my attention. “Okay, I can do my course later, so what have we got, Bill”.

A broken down yacht on a mooring in Tongue Bay, okay I’ll meet the crew on the boat, but will change shirts first. Michel, Dick and Ron Mc were my crew and off we jolly well went. Not as cool today, but a bit lumpier across Whitsunday Passage, and today I get to drive.

We made good time to our waiting broken vessel and rafted along-side for paperwork and planning. Their problem was that the propellor shaft had separated from the gear-box, that’s interesting, so we had to constantly monitor for the entire shaft leaving the vessel while we towed.

All set on board and we set of on our return journey to Coral Sea Marina. We travelled home at 9 knots so took longer than our outbound trip at 23 knots. Our following travelers had a lovely lunch at sea.

The docking manoeuvres at Coral Sea Marina involved a 180 degree turnaround and reversing them into their appointed berth. All handled very expertly by the crew. So then it was over to re-fuel then back to our normal berth for paperwork, washdown and tidy up ready for our next activation. We stepped of at 14.15.

Thank you to the crew once again for doing an excellent job and volunteering your time and skills.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Ron McCall and Dick Filewood.
Until next time, your Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 15/06/2022: Not so simple jump start job….

It was around 1730 and I was settling down for the news when the 24/7 emergency phone rang advising me what the phone holder thought was a simple jump start job. A 42 foot yacht was sailing towards Airlie and had flat batteries. So I headed to Coral Sea Marina to join Senior crew James and crew member Ross prepare Coral Sea Marina VMR1. We departed at 1800hrs.

It was very dark but light winds and a smooth sea. After contacting them on the phone we found them anchored about 2 nautical miles from the marina where we rafted up beside the vessel and passed our small jump starter over with instructions on how to use it but unfortunately it did not start the motor. The owner told me that he had 3 house batteries and a set of jumper leads but that did not start the motor either. So being a diesel fitter I went on board to see if things were connected up correctly.

They told me that the vessel is kept in the Port of Airlie marina and they live on the Sunshine Coast. They had just arrived for a holiday so they must have a charging issue. This also affected the electric anchor winch so James assisted the owner to pull the anchor and chain on board. James is doing his Coxswain’s course and asked if he could take the vessels into the marina which is good training for him.

James brought the vessel into an open double berth in a very smooth operation. We remained rafted up while James completed the paperwork with the owner, then brought VMR1 back into our berth at Coral Sea Marina and we were finished at 20.00 hrs

Thanks to crew James and Ross for a smooth activation.

Crew: James Roberts and Ross Vlismas.
Skipper: Ray Lewis


Activation 16/06/2022: Part 1 – Missing 71 foot sailing Vessel presumed stolen!

It was 15:10 on Training night. I (Ken) was onboard VMR1 setting up for 19 crew who were to attend training at 16:30.

Bill Harrison our dedicated 24 hour emergency phone holder came on board to announce we have a call out. A vessel belonging to one of our members has disappeared from its mooring.

The Police were to be involved and would be coming on Coral Sea Marina VMR1. The owner of the missing vessel was also onboard. Some (lucky) trainee crew arrived very early for Training. I invited them on board for the experience of “a real live mission”.

16:10 we departed Coral Sea Marina heading for the last known position.
Fortunately the missing vessel was equipped with AIS (Automatic Identification System). VTS Whitsunday (Vessel Tracking Service) had advised us of the Latitude and Longitude. This was the last known position as the AIS had since been turned off! This made things even more intriguing for us, the searchers. By turning off the AIS, the vessel was no longer visible by name or identification number. I had completed a total search of all AIS equipped vessels within our area all the way to Bowen. This vessel had disappeared.

With my crew each armed with binoculars they were searching the horizon. Meanwhile we were scanning with the Radar. We were near Double Cone when Paul spotted a sail far on the horizon. Could this be the fugitive vessel?

I immediately headed in that direction at full speed. The fugitive looked like it was heading for Gloucester passage. 17:10 we were along side the sailing vessel. I asked the person on board to “heave to” so we could have a talk. A call from the Police officer to obey my instruction brought results. The Water Police were also on the way to join us in their own vessel.

After a discussion with the Police, the current owner and apparently future owner (on the fugitive vessel), I was advised there was nothing more to be accomplished at this time.

Return to base was next on our list of priorities. 18:25 we were at the fuel dock. 19:30 we were washed down and paperwork complete ready for dinner.

This was one of those situations, do not hand over the keys until you have been paid in full.

Thankyou to all the crew. I had 2 Skippers and 4 trainee crew on board and all contributed to this activation.

Skippers: Ray Lewis and Paul Martin
Crew: Comms – Donna Deegan, Trainees – Dick Filewood, Brodie Reynolds and Ashley Roberts
Senior Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 18/06/2022: Part 2, Guess Who?

Well, the 71 footer is once again our target vessel. After Thursday’s drama, of the chase to find the missing Yacht (which we found at Gloucester Island en route to somewhere). The future buyer was unsure where he would go for the night. Well fortunately the owner kept an eye out for his property. We, VMR had a call that the vessel had suffered damage to her rudders, motor and required a tow back to Airlie Beach the following day.

09:35 Mal called me (Ken) with the news. “Can you assist in this matter?” A crew was organised and we were ready to depart. 09:50 the wind was from the South East at 25 knots and was likely to increase. With Bill, James and Pauline joining me for this mission, Coral Sea Marina VMR1 set off for Shag Islet where our target was apparently on anchor.

With the wind behind us and a following sea, we surfed our way to Gloucester Passage with James on the helm. Once through the passage, I took the helm and we spotted our target off the end of Shag Islet.

As the vessel did not have any engine power we hooked on a tow line to hold the vessel as they retrieved their anchor. Normally this would be considered the bow of a vessel, where the anchor is. Well not on this one. The bow on her is dependant on which way the Boom is laying. The Boom can rotate 180 Degrees so the bow changes with that. Now that we had the anchor up, we had to transfer the tow line to the other end of the vessel as it was now going to be the dedicated bow. I hope you are following all this 😄

We offered the target our Towing Bridle. The reply was ” We have our own” No thankyou, we will give you our “special bridle” as it is indestructible. That settled Bill and Pauline organised the transfer as we made ready for the long haul home to Airlie Beach. “Please take up any dagger boards as we will be going through some rather shallow water”. Once through the shallows, the dagger board was lowered to give extra stability to the vessel.

The owner suggested that 20 knots would be a comfortable speed for the return trip. Did he understand that we would be going head to wind into a 25 plus knot South Easter. Plus, being towed not sailing! A very big difference.

We commenced the tow at 8 knots, had a look at them and slowly increased to 9.8 to 10 maximum. At this speed their helmsman, perched completely in the open, right near the bow, was getting a thorough drenching every thirty seconds. This is not my idea of fun.

The conditions were deteriorating, so we slowed to around 9 knots. Just to give you an idea of how rough it was. VMR1 was taking green water over the top of our fly-bridge. Our fly-bridge front window was open. Pauline, James and I were watching our towed vessel copping a dousing, when a big wave just poured in on to all of us! Too late to close it now. It was James on the helm so we chose to blame him.

Crossing Pioneer Bay was a pleasure, the big sea had left us. Now to deal with the traffic. We had to find a mooring that the owner said was red. Other than that what else could I possibly require.

Wandering around the mooring field with a 71 foot Multi hull on a very short tow line was not exactly an ideal situation. Eventually the correct mooring was located. After 4 or 5 attempts at picking up a mooring it was decided that this was only going to work if I had them strapped along side. We passed over our boat hook so when they hooked the mooring they would not loose it.

At last on the mooring.

All safe, we headed back to hand over VMR1 for a medivac. The paramedic and crew were awaiting our arrival. 15:40

Six hours of concentrated effort from my crew. Adjusting the tow line. Ensuring the line was clear of our propellers at all times. Great team work. Well done by all.

Some of the crew also joined the medivac.

Crew: Senior Crew: James Roberts, Assistant Senior Crew: Bill Hopton, Comms: Pauline Vlismas
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 18/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island for lady with broken arm and leg injury – back to back after the previous 5½ hour job.:

I had been following the progress of Coral Sea Marina VMR1 on AIS as it went to Gloucester to assist a member’s vessel back to the marina, and when Bernd called me from the radio room for a medivac from Hamilton Island I could see that VMR1 would be back in the marina soon after a 5½ hour activation. While I was on the way in I rang the incoming skipper Ken to see if any of the crew wished to stay on for the medivac, and Pauline was keen. In the meantime Bernd had chased up Michel and Ross, so when VMR1 tied up at the marina it was left running while the crew swapped over onto the very salty boat, and we were underway with the paramedic at 1550.

It was a bit breezy (20+) and cool (by tropical standards) but the outgoing tide had flattened the seas a bit, and we tied up at Hamilton at 1655. After using our new split backboard to transfer the patient from the Hamilton paramedic’s stretcher to our own on-board one, we were underway again at 1710 for a pretty comfortable run back to Coral Sea, tying up at 1805 as a second paramedic arrived with another stretcher. After using the split backboard again to transfer our patient to the onshore stretcher and helping them up the ramp to the waiting ambulance and refuelling, it was 1900 by the time VMR1 was in her berth and was turned off, cleaned and put to bed after 9 hours on the go – and a nice sunset on the way back.

Thanks Michel, Pauline and Ross, nice work again.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Pauline Vlismas, Ross Vlismas
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 19/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island

My emergency phone was ringing. I had just made an omelette. Mark, one of our dedicated radio operators was on the line. We have a person suffering a seizure on Hamilton island, can you assist. “Yes, I am on my way, please call in the crew”. The omelette was devoured and I was off to Coral Sea Marina VMR1. Bill joined me with the start up procedures, while Dick prepared the vessel.

Change of plan we were to meet the Paramedic on the island.

Okay. 14:45 we departed in to Pioneer Bay with Bill telling me, it is supposed to be very rough. The bay was almost perfect. Near to the top of the tide with 25 plus from the SE. These conditions will not last.

As we headed towards Unsafe Passage, with Bill on the helm, he said, “Shall I go around the bottom of South Molle”? There were only the three of us on board to consider comfort. “Yes, why not”, was my reply.
Cobia was well ahead of us as we entered the passage. We were closing on her rapidly, then the sea state changed for the worse. We were crawling along as best we could do. I hope Dick is sitting down in the lower helm station.

15:45 we were along side, Paramedic and patient loaded by 15:47 and we departed for Coral Sea marina. With the wind and sea behind VMR 1, she was surfing beautifully.

We arrived 16:42, patient and paramedic off to the waiting ambulance.
We gave VMR1 a complete bath of Salt-Away, rinsed her off and headed for home 17:30.

Thankyou to the crew, another great job.

Crew: Bill Hopton (Senior Crew), Dick Filewood (Crew/ Comms)
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 19/06/2022: Assist CSM Operations Manager to take pumping gear to their barge at Shute, reportedly sinking.

I had a call from Mark at the base on Sunday about 1600 saying that a person at Shute had called to advise that a “dumb” barge at Shute was apparently taking water and sinking. I advised him to call CSM as I thought that the only barge fitting that description belonged to them. I also called their Operations Manager Trent direct as he was probably not on the job on Sunday, and said that our pumps were on VMR1 which was doing a medivac, but I could take him and some of their own pumping equipment around to Shute on Whale Song VMR2 – he gratefully accepted as he had just been sent a photo of a very nose down barge!.

By 1640 James and I had VMR2 in the water and had the marina’s pumping gear, hoses and fuel, and Trent on board, and were on our way to Shute at best speed – about 32 knots in pretty choppy conditions, but Whale Song handled it very well and just 20 minutes later we were alongside the barge, which was very much down by the bow. Trent and James got the pump going while I hung off the back, it was too choppy to stay alongside. 45 minutes later we headed to the RentaYacht jetty so Trent could get a ride back to bring their own much slower boat around with more gear, and he also took James back while I parked VMR2 on the jetty until morning, having advised phone holder Bill that I would take it back the next day.

I could see lights on the barge well into the night as Trent continued with the pumping, and it was still afloat and looking much happier the next morning while I took VMR2 home at a much more sedate speed than the outward journey. By 0900 she had been refuelled, put back on the dock, and hosed down.

Thanks for your competent help James, much appreciated by me and our main sponsor!

Crew: James Roberts
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 21/06/2022: Medivac from Hamilton Island for a ailing 4yo on the longest night of the year – except if you are VMR crew!

What was supposed to be the longest night of the year turned out not to be for us – emergency phone holder Bill set off the Help ringtone about 2145 as I was contemplating bed – and I was soon on my way in to meet up with the crew and paramedic.

By 2215 Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was on its way into a very dark night with winds 20+ on a sometimes bumpy sea with the outgoing tide. As we approached Pioneer Rocks the heavens opened big time – it was pouring down! I had to leave the upper helm and go to the lower (dry) helm. We were soon underway again, relying on the plotter and radar (and a bit of local knowledge!), and chose to take the Molle Channel looking for a better angle on the seas to get across the Whitsunday Passage to Hamilton. Even so we had to reduce speed at one stage to about 18 knots and bear away a few degrees for a more comfortable ride until we got in the lee of Dent, and tied up at Hamilton at 2320.

After boarding the wee lad and his parents James had us on our way back 10 minutes later, and we made the trip as comfortable as we could by running with the waves at a slightly lower speed than normal, through Unsafe Passage, and were on the dock by 0025, and the paramedic and his patient and carers were soon on the way up to the ambulance and hospital.

After refuelling James took us back to our berth while I sorted the paperwork, and it was 0100 by the time we had shut down, cleaned and secured VMR1 ready for the next activation. Off home to make the most of what was left of the longest night of the year.

Crew: James Roberts, Laura Oates
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 23/06/2022: All in a day…Training to Medivac from Hamilton Island and back to training.

What a great day to be out on the water; providing a training activity for the Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre. All was going well with the man overboard drills and navigation until the ship’s phone rang! Donna was on communications, “Medivac from Hammo” was the message. Alas this spelt the end of the training for the WMTC, a quick about face and back to Coral Sea marina to discharge our passengers and pick up a senior crewman and paramedic. Word travels fast in the VMR. Ken, our senior skipper was calling my phone (which was safely encased within my backpack) to no avail, then calling the ship’s phone as Donna was trying to call him wanting to know when we will be back? (A quick 20 minutes back to the marina, pick up the paramedic and Michel, our senior crewman, an hour to Hamilton Island, pick up the patient and back to Coral Sea marina) – approximately 2hours and 5 minutes. We will call 15 minutes prior to arrival.

The wind was blowing a brisk 25 -30 knots, ebbing tide! Oh goody, this will be a fun ride! Passing through Unsafe Passage, a quick transit across towards Cid Island, turn south and make for Fitzlan Passage then to Hamilton Island marina to pick up the patient and return.

We arrived at Hamilton Island marina at the bottom of the tide; seemed as though every vessel was heading in the same direction, we joined the cue to enter the marina. Our patient was awaiting us, a quick transfer of information between the paramedics, patient aboard, and off we go, back to Coral Sea marina.

The return journey was very pleasant, wind at our back, seas abating, smooth sailing, rounding Pioneer Rocks, a quick call to Ken, as promised 15 minutes out. We berthed at our usual spot, discharged our paramedic and patient and handed VMR1 over to Ken who was to continue the training of the WMTC personnel.

Many thanks to my crew; Michel for his efforts on securing the bow of Coral Sea Marina VMR1 in an ugly blow off circumstance and filling out the ship’s log and Donna for keeping me informed of what was going on below and passing concise messages.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Donna Deegan
Skipper: Paul Martin