October 16

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Activation 02/10/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Senior Crew: Roger Wodson

Crew: Trevor James (1st activation)

Task: Breakdown – Hamilton Island

While I was at the Sunday Music Day I went upstairs to the radio room to check on Tim Hearn who was on his first shift as radio operator.

During our conversation, we received a call from a non member who had broken down offshore from the Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island.  After going through the information gathering process, I volunteered to act as skipper and assisted Tim in ringing around for a crew.

We departed APM at 1600 hrs and had a smooth ride around to Hamilton Island where we found the 5.5 metre centre console with two persons on board.  Apparently the engine had just had the motherboard replaced but it had failed again.

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Hamilton Island Qualia in background – no Pate Foie Gras for us!

We hooked up, completed the paper work and set off at 16 knots.

As we were approaching the Port of Airlie marina, thinking that we would get home to see most of the NRL Grand Final,  Fin contacted us to say that we were required for a Medivac.

Approaching in the Port of Airlie entrance at low tide, we came across an elderly couple whose tender had broken down.  As the vessel that we were assisting had a small electric outboard motor, they volunteered to take them in tow to the boat ramp pontoon.

We waited for them to get clear and then picked up the QAS officers as pre organised at 1815.

Time on job: 2¼ hours

Activation 02/10/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Senior Crew: Roger Wodson

Crew: Trevor James

Task: Medivac – Hayman Island

After completing an activation, we picked up two QAS officers at the Port of Airlie boat ramp and headed to Hayman Island marina

A young girl from a bareboat had been in the water and was subject to a marine poisoning condition. The rescue helicopter from Mackay arrived at the same time as we did and after assessment and treatment from the medics, they decided to take her and her mother to Mackay.

With the QAS officers and the girl’s father on board we headed to Stonehaven Bay to drop him off at his bareboat, and on the way he received a call to say that his daughter’s breathing had improved.

Back at APM fueled up and finished at 2120 hrs.

Time on job: 3 hours

Activation 08/10/16

Skipper: Mal Priday

Crew: Tom Manning, Roger Wodson & Norm Fraser

Task:  Tow – Woodwark Bay

I was about to finish work when I received a call from Gay at the base that a member (an active one) was having overheating problems on his yacht at Woodwark Bay, and had requested a tow back to his mooring off Abell Point Marina.

VMR1 departed Abell Point at 1525 in moderate south east conditions for the relatively short trip to Woodwark, where we passed a line to the vessel and commenced the tow at 7 knots back to his mooring.

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After some delicate manoeuvring we were able to position them right on top of their mooring, then refuelled and returned to our berth about 1730.

A pretty easy and short activation in comparison to some VMR1 has done over the last few weeks.  Thanks to the crew.

Time on job: 2 hours

Activation 09/10/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Roger Wodson, Tim Hearn and David Burgess-Orton

Task:  Flat Battery – Pinnacle Point

Nearing the end of my morning radio room shift, I received a call from a member who had a flat battery 3 Nm NE of Pinnacle Point.

Although Fin was prepared to go, he had done many activations recently, so I called all other skippers to no avail.

In the end, I volunteered to do the activation and Fin could be on standby for later.

I organised a crew  and they had VMR1 ready when I arrived so we departed APM at 1220.

We set off on a very flat sea to arrive at the 5.5 meter vessel with two adults and two children on board.


We used the little battery pack to start the motor and wished them well, then contacted Margo at the radio base only to be told that we were needed elsewhere.

Time on job: 2 hours

Activation 09/10/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Roger Wodson, Tim Hearn and David Burgess-Orton

Task:  Out of Control Boat  – North Molle

After completing an activation near Pinnacle Point, Margo at the radio base informed us that we needed to contact a bareboat company as one of their boats had picked up two persons from the water.

After getting their position we met up with the bareboat about 400 metres east of North Molle Is and took the two young persons on board. From them, we got the details that they had hit the seemingly gentle delayed wash from a passing large vessel and the tinny spun and tossed them into the water.

As they had locked the throttle wide open and were not wearing the engine kill switch lanyard, the tinny had the engine on full steering lock and was wildly going round and round in a small circle.

The bareboat had noticed the tinny doing doughnuts so they went to investigate; the tinny’s crew was extremely lucky that the boat had not run them down. To top it off, neither was wearing a life jacket!

We tried several different methods of throwing rope, dragging rope and a blanket around the tinny hoping to snag the propeller and stall the motor but to no avail as the thrust from the propeller kept pushing the rope etc away. We were at a loss to what to do as we thought that the motor would keep running for some time but then it finally ran out of fuel.

In the meantime, after consulting VTS Mackay, we had issued a Securitay message on channels 16, 81 and 82. We later advised VTS that no further broadcasts were required.

We put 5 litres of fuel into the tinny and then towed them to Pioneer Bay where we let them go under their own power back to Port of Airlie.

We returned to APM fueled up and finished by 1625 hrs.

Time on job: 2 hours

PS: There are two events that I really like to watch on television; the NRL Grand Final and the Bathurst 1000 car race.   I missed both those events held over the previous two Sundays as I was out on activations. 😦

Activation 10/10/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Crew: Michel del Aquila & Jim Dunn

Task:  Medivac  – Daydream Island

Lee (from QAS Co-ordination Centre in Rockhampton) rang at 1725 to ask if we could assist with a medivac from Daydream Island.  As some equipment needed for the medical condition was to be brought from Proserpine, a departure time from APM of 1830 was determined.

As we left APM, we made contact with Hay Point VTS who track our progress. We arrived at Daydream at 1855 and the Paramedic assessed the situation. The patient was on board and we departed Daydream Marina at 1920.

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The evening and sea conditions were perfect, and the view of Airlie from the sea at night is always stunning.

We were unloaded, refuelled and back in our pen at 2000 hrs.

Time on job: 1½ hours

Activation 13/10/16

Skipper: Gary Nicol

Crew: Michel del Aquila, Roger Wodson & Bill Harrison

Task: Tow – Cape Conway

A commercial 12m vessel had lost engine and requested assistance to tow to Abell Point Marina, so we departed APM at 2000 as a rain band approached.

We located the vessel near Cape Conway at 2130 after steaming in torrential rain. It was anchored in 25m of water and his lat & long were spot on.

Without hydraulic power the skipper on the assisted boat was forced to cut the anchor line once our tow line was secure.


Making way back to Airlie was initially challenging with our tow line often being caught on our aft port bollard adversely affecting steerage. However, once the crew set up a pair of lines to retain the tow line inboard, we proceeded without any problems.

Arrived at APM at 0145, fuelled up and shut down in the pen by 0215.

Time on job: 6¼ hours

Activation 16/10/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: David Burgess Orton, Trevor James & Lance Robins (first activation)

Task: Tow – Bluff Bay

I had dropped into the radio room and was having a chat with Bill Falconer when he received a call from a non member who said they had broken down near Airlie.

After some questioning we worked it out that they must be in Bluff Bay so, after getting coordinates, I checked it on Navionics to find that the coordinates that they gave was near Daydream Island!  So I asked them to place the curser on the vessel which confirmed that they were in Bluff Bay.

We departed APM at 1440 and were over at Bluff Bay in a short time to find two adults and a toddler in a 4.8 metre tinny in very shallow water, as it was nearing low tide.  I approached the vessel head on and Trevor slipped the hook under their anchor line and I reversed out bringing their anchor and boat with us.  Once out in deeper water we rafted up to complete the paper work.

I invited the lady to bring the toddler on board VMR1 for the trip back to the VMR boat ramp as there was a little chop on the water.  They had only bought the boat three weeks previously and when I asked the lady to put on her life jacket, the strap on the life jacket just snapped as it had deteriorated.

This is a problem that VMR Burdekin had brought up about life jackets which had been stored for some time where the straps fell apart when needed.

We towed the boat back to the VMR (Whisper Bay) boat ramp and rafted up with the boat on our starboard bow.   As I was about fifteen metres from the pontoon I noticed that our depth gauge showed zero.  However, we were in luck as a jet ski was just departing so we asked him to take the boat in for us while we backed out of there in a hurry.

Thanks to a great crew we were refuelled and finished by 1620.

Time on job: 1¾ hours

Activation 20/10/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Crew: Greg Walker & Norbert Gross

Task: Medivac – Hook Passage

Bill rang at 1830 organising a crew.

We picked up the 2 Paramedics (Pam and Ben) from the fuel wharf and left APM at 1915, and were alongside the 40 ft catamaran at 2010. The Paramedics did their necessary assessment and we transferred the patient and companion to VMR1 and were heading back to Airlie by 2030.

The seas were quite calm, so we made good comfortable progress on the return journey and were unloaded, refuelled, signed off with Hay Point VTS and our 24/7 phone holder and back in our pen by 2115.

Many thanks to all concerned in this activation.

Time on job: 2 hours

Activation 21/10/16

Skipper: Gary Nicol

Crew: Roger Wodson & Rod Wilson

Task: Tow – Grimstone Point

Bill Harrison called – a very nice 36′ yacht with 4 pob required a tow from
north of Grimstone Point.

Fuel issues (turned out to be an empty tank!), a contrary tide and adverse wind combined to call for a tow. We headed out at 1700 as the sun was starting to set.


It wasn’t all bad with a brilliant sunset 🙂

Setting up a tow line took a little while as the yacht still had its main sail up and was making way and we needed to match its speed and leeway to keep on station.

A simple tow and raft had us back at Abell Point Marina around 1930.

Time on job: 2½ hours

Activation 23/10/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Crew: Michel del Aquila & Wendy Davidson

Task: Tow – Pioneer Rocks

The rostered person at the radio room, David Morris, rang at 0820 trying to organise a crew for the boat.

By the time I got to the boat, Michel already had most of the pre departure checks completed, which allowed us to depart APM at 0845.

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The day was ‘Whitsunday Perfect’ with glassy seas, no wind and approx 28 °.

We arrived at the vessel at 0905 and were towing him back to Port of Airlie within minutes.

We had him dropped off at the public jetty at 0920 and we were back in our pen in APM at 0945.

Time on job: 1 hour

Activation 23/10/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Crew: Michel del Aquila & Norbert Gross

Task: Tow – Hook Passage, near the old observatory

David (at the base) rang at 1125 in the process of organising a crew to assist a member in his 4.5 m tinny with 4 pob.

Due to a variety of reasons we didn’t get away from APM until 1220. The seas were (still) flat so we made good time, reaching the tinny at 1300.

We first manoeuvred them into deeper water and then transferred two of their crew onto VMR1, but still had them under tow by 1315.

As the steering on their boat was not functioning, to keep them tracking behind us well was not always easy, but we still made reasonable safe progress, arriving back in APM and dropping them off at the boat ramp there and refuelling by 1420.

Time on job: 2 hours

While our job was progressing we were made aware of another vessel needing our assistance at Hill Inlet. We organised (via the VMR base) to have a replacement crew ready to take over VMR1 for the next activation. The crew swap seamlessly took place while we were at the fuel dock.

Activation 23/10/16

Skipper: Mal Priday

Crew: Dewi Hughes, Lance Robins & Trev James

Task: Tow – Hill Inlet

I was just finishing work when I got the call from the base: VMR1 was just returning from an activation to Hook Passage, and we had just received a call from a member requesting a tow back from Hill Inlet in a 23ft Mustang with gearbox problems. Of course, I did not really want to watch the V8s and MotoGp, did I? 😕

I just had time to get home, change and grab a bite to eat before heading down to meet VMR1 at the fuel dock for yet another “hot” crew change. The outgoing crew said the rain that had just started was just in Airlie and that conditions were very smooth. Yeah, right!

VMR1 was underway again at 1510 in about 10 knots of south easter, with a few showers and some chop with the usual wind against tide.

Once through Hook Passage conditions began to deteriorate, wind up to 15-20 knots and seas building quickly so it was not until 1635 that we reached Hill Inlet at reduced speed to find our target vessel just off Betty’s Beach and bouncing around in waves over half a metre. Their actual position was nowhere near the GPS position given, which had put them out near Harold Island – must have been a cursor position and not the vessel position.

It was far too rough to go alongside so we managed to throw a line across and took the strain so they could raise their anchor and we travelled slowly into the windy but flatter seas in Tongue Bay so we could go alongside, complete the documentation and pass a more permanent tow line using Tom’s Hook. The tow started in earnest just after 5 pm. After initially trying without luck to get them on the plane we settled down to a more sedate 8-9 knots rate and made our way back through Hook Passage and set course for home.

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By this time conditions had deteriorated further and we had gusts of over 30 knots and short, sharp seas of over a metre. And it was raining – lots! After initially steering for the northern end of North Molle, not that it could be seen with visibility now down to about a mile, I altered course for Unsafe Passage as the waves would be more on the bow and we would not be rolling anywhere near as much – a couple of times the port engine cavitated as we rolled! Boat speed was down to 5 to 6 knots and it was very rough, very uncomfortable, and very wet.

Eventually we could make out the loom of the lights at South Molle and then Daydream and once the seas flattened a bit in the relatively calmer conditions in the lee of South Molle we altered course through Unsafe and were then able to get speed up to 8-9 knots again. Off Abell Point Marina we took the other vessel alongside and after talking to Abell Point Security put them alongside the main dock near the fuel dock, then refuelled and washed down VMR1 before signing off with VTS Hay Point and returning to our berth at 2125.

A long activation in some of the worst conditions I have been in during my 15 years of VMR. Many thanks to the crew who did a great job in very trying and difficult conditions.

Time on job: 6¼ hours

Editors note:  The difference in the conditions of these three activations on the same day clearly shows just how quickly weather conditions can deteriorate in the Whitsundays.  You really gotta be prepared for this if you plan to go out in your boat!

Activation 23/10/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Crew: Tom Manning, Dewi Hughes & Jim Dunn

Task: Medivac – Hamilton Island, no Paramedics required on board

Our hard working 24/7 Phone Holder Bill rang at 2105 to get a crew together for the task (I was walking my dog at the time).

VMR1 left APM at 2140 with the seas and wind reasonable but a pitch black night. It took 50 minutes to get to Hamilton Island’s Marina, where the patient was waiting with Hamilton Island’s paramedics.

We were heading back to the mainland by 2240 and back in APM by 2325 where paramedics collected the patient.

We refuelled and were signed off with Hay Point VTS and Bill and back in our pen by 2340.

Thanks to all concerned with this activation

Time on job: 2 hours

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