Activation Reports brought to you by Fish d’Vine
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Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Tom Manning, Norbert Gross & Roger Wodson
Task: Tow near Lindeman Island
John had received the phone call from the skipper of a 4.5m tinny with shot electrics (hence no radio) but the position given was a little confusing: Vale Island (which couldn’t be found), near Pentecost.
The latitude and longitude given was well off the Smith Group way to the south of Pentecost so after a phone call to the skipper we had Cole Island, just north of Lindeman, as the destination.
Departing APM at 10.20 with a 10 knot breeze from the north, we arrived at Cole 11.25.
The tinny with 2 persons on board was anchored off the NE corner, close to the reef. They’d spent the time fishing while they waited for us, with little luck
After Tom jumped ship and tried a few things it became obvious that the electrics really were shot and a tow to Shute was required.
We put the 2 passengers on VMR1 for a faster tow and took off at 11.45 into a slightly building, choppy sea and 15 knots from the north.
We swapped the passengers onto their boat in Shute and dropped them off at the fishing pontoon from which they swam their tinny to the ramp.
We departed Shute at 13.10 and arrived at the APM fuel dock for 13.55 to refuel and were back on the pen at 14.10.
Thanks to all for an easy trip, we even dodged the rain which had been threatening all morning.
Time on job: 3¾ hours Fuel Used: 285 litres
Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Keith Milliken, Tom Manning & Rod Wilson
Task: Medivac, Shute Harbour
A man living aboard a boat in Shute had a bad back and couldn’t move. The paramedics wanted us to take them to the boat, then transfer them and the patient ashore.
We left APM at 9.25 arriving at the Shute fishing pontoon at 9.52. There was a 15-20 knot northerly with a short chop building.
We transferred the Paramedics to the boat out in the bay and stayed alongside whilst they did their thing. We left the boat at 10.30 and dropped them and the patient off at the Shute Terminal, departing at 10.45.
The seas were up a bit now and we had a bumpy ride back to APM, taking it quite easy round Pioneer Point, arriving at the fuel dock 11.45 to refuel and back in the pen by 11.55.
A quite straightforward trip, good crew work all round, and a nice first activation logged for Keith’s VMR career.
Thank you Tom and Rod for looking after Keith.
Time on job: 2½ hours Fuel Used: 105 litres
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Crew: Tom, John F., Richard and Alan
Task: Search and Rescue, APM to Shute Harbour
John (24/7 Phone Holder) rang at 0730 – the Water Police were requiring our assistance on a Search and Rescue – a person with a possible medical condition had not returned from a boating trip.
We were tasked to search the shoreline between APM and Shute Harbour and if nothing was found then we were to continue a shoreline search of Daydream and South Molle Islands.
We left APM at 0810 – the conditions for conducting a SaR were perfect – smooth seas, good visibility and no wind. About an hour later, we were in the little bays just north of Shute Harbour when we got communication that the vessel we were looking for had reported they were NE of Double Cone. The Water Police asked us to return to APM and remain on standby in case they needed our further assistance.
Just as we arrived back at APM at 0935 we were advised to proceed to approximately 2nm NE of Double Cone and rendezvous with the Water Police vessel and the 5m tinny that was involved.
We arrived at the location (20 03.307 S 148 46.626 E) at 1015 and the Water Police had the person on their boat and asked us to tow the 5m tinny back to their pontoons at their base.
We were towing by 1025, travelled back at 18 knots, completed our task and were refuelled and back in our pen at 1125. We advised Hay Point VTS and John of our task completion and return.
A job well done by the crew and a good result.
Time on job = 3¼ hrs
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Crew: Rod, Michel and Norbert -Thanks to them for ‘answering the call’
Task: Medivac, Daydream Island
At 2210 the QAS rang wanting our services to medivac a 2 year old little girl from Daydream Island.
The crew were ready to rock and roll by approx 2300 but the Paramedics were having a busy night and we didn’t have them on board and us leaving APM until 2350.
The weather was warm but raining and with a strong Sou – Easter. Pitch black.
We were at Daydream and the Paramedic doing his assessment by 0020. The little girl and her mother were taken aboard with one little ‘incident’ – she dropped her dummy in the water while being transferred aboard. Michel was the hero of the night, retrieving it from the water – a happier little girl.
We left Daydream at 0035 and were unloaded and refuelled and back in our pen by 0120.
The ‘thank you’ from the little girl at 0120 in the morning makes this ‘job’ worthwhile.
Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Gary Nicol, John Fearnley
Passenger: 1 Paramedic
Task: Sunken boat in Solway passage, one person on beach, one missing.
Tom called just before 08.00 so I grabbed my breakfast and headed for the boat. When I arrived, Steve the Paramedic was waiting so we boarded and started pre departure checks. Gary and John arrived soon after and we were under way at 8.22.
On route we heard there were 2 people on a beach, possibly Teague Island, and one missing with no sign of the boat. Conditions were perfect with little wind, although very hot and humid, and the start of the ebb tide.
Going past Catseye Beach on Hamilton we saw the chopper ahead and slightly to the south of our track towards Solway. Shortly afterwards the chopper put out a general call that they were hovering over a person in the water, approx. 2 miles south of Chance bay. We altered course and firewalled it, arriving at 8.55 with a Parks boat and a Cruise Whitsundays Rhib. Even a tender turned up soon after.
The chopper directed us to the person in the water. This was difficult as the chopper was directly overhead and the noise made it very difficult to hear the radio and to understand their directions.
After we had the person aboard Steve was able to confirm that unfortunately there was no chance of resuscitation.
The Police asked us to take the body to the Police dock at APM to meet them and the Coroners people. We arrived at 10.24.
Time on job = 4 hrs
We then learned that there was another body to be recovered from Hamilton Island from
an unrelated event and that as the large Police boat was on the slip, we were “it”.
Crew: Gary Nicol, John Fearnley,
Passengers: 3 Police & 2 Coroner personnel
Task: Collect body from Hamilton Island
We had to wait for 2 more Coroners people to arrive from Bowen as well as 3 policemen finally departing at 11.25. We arrived at Hamilton at 12.19 and unloaded everyone. The Police weren’t sure of the circumstances surrounding the deceased and suggested they may be at least an hour investigating.
They all returned at 13.48 with the deceased. We arrived at the Police dock at 14.38 and returned to the VMR1 pen at 15.00.
Many thanks to Gary and John, great teamwork. Without their input and common-sense the very sad day could have been much, much longer.
Time on job = 3½ hrs
PS: Lesson learned is that communication with the chopper when overhead is difficult because of the noise. When they were giving us directions, they were initially giving them relative to themselves which would be OK if you can see the chopper easily. We couldn’t. Later they switched to giving the instructions relative to us, your 3 o’clock etc., which worked much better. We need to establish this before getting too close with the noise getting in the way.
Skipper: Mal Priday
Crew: Ray Lewis, Michel Del Aguila, Gary Sullivan
Trainees: Jim Dunn, Craig King, Graeme Kain
I was just finishing my shift when John F rang from the radio room at the base to say that a member with a 5.1m Quintrex, 5 pob, was requesting assistance after grounding on Haslewood Island. As John was having trouble rounding up crew I said that about 30 minutes was the best I could do, and by the time I turned up at the boat the rest of the crew was aboard and VMR1 was ready to go.
I indicated to the crew that I was not sure what we could do with a boat that had run aground some time before low tide, but we would go out to see what we could do, and departed Abell Point Marina at 14:15.
Conditions were very good, a light NE wind of less than 10 knots and very calm seas made for a comfortable trip to Haslewood. En route we were able to establish radio contact and obtained a more definitive GPS position, placing them on the edge of Windy Bay.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the sight of the Quintrex high and dry on the beach, at about the mid water mark. As it was now approaching low water, there was little we could do to refloat the vessel until the tide rose in another 2 or 3 hours, but radio contact established that the father requested that we transport his wife and 3 young children back to Airlie, which we agreed to do.
He assured us that he was happy to remain on “Gilligan’s Island” until the tide came in and refloated his boat.
Easier said than done, VMR1 could not get close due to the shallow water so Ray volunteered to take in the tender to pick up our 4 guests. After a few issues with the outboard he was walking them out on the tender, so we raised anchor to try to get in a bit closer to make it easier for him.
Unfortunately we got in too close over the sand bottom, and after some minutes of trying to back off against the current flowing across the beach, even on the by now rising tide, the crew were able to get in the water and cool off while they manhandled us to deeper water.
Thanks guys! Skipper’s first time resting on the bottom in 16 years in the Whitsundays!
Conditions on the way back were as benign on the way out, and after depositing our passengers on the dock and refuelling, VMR1 was back in its berth and secured by 18:45.
Thanks to the crew and our new trainees, just don’t expect to be able to have a cool off in the water on every activation!
Time taken: 4½ hours Fuel Used: 307 litres
PS: Addendum from Michel:
There is one thing you may not know about this activation!
When I last came back on board VMR1 after pushing the boat I lost my left shoe in the murky bottom. I saw my good Keen shoe floating around when we departed. I said a silent goodbye to my lost companion. 😥
The following day I got a phone call from the VMR radio room to tell me the father had walked to the small island, north of where he was stranded, and found my shoe in the water.
A couple of days later Ray came to my house to reunite me with my lost companion. What a good service our dear president provides to VMR members!!!