September 16

HawkesBoatyardActivation Reports brought to you by Hawkes Boatyard
Major contributors to VMR Whitsundays

Activation 05/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Tom Manning

Crew: Michel Del Aguila & Norm Fraser

Trainee: Jim Dunn

Task: Breakdown – Stonehaven, Hook Island

Bill (24/7 Phone Holder) rang at 1055 to advise a VMRW member needed assistance and he was putting together a crew.

The crew were all aboard by 1130 and we were on our way shortly after. The wind was approx 20 to 30 knots, the seas 1½ to 2m and wind against tide (conditions that Geoff Smith seems to like to go out in) so for us mere mortals the trip was slower than usual, reaching the vessel after 70 minutes at 1240. This would normally take about 40 minutes on a good day.

The 35ft sailing vessel was having battery problems, so we used our jump start gear to get his motor going. We then waited for him to come off his anchor and be safely underway, before we headed back for the slow, rough trip back to APM.

We were refuelled, washed down and safely back in our pen by 1415 hrs (and informed Bill of our safe return).

My thanks to all involved – another job well done.

Time on job: 2¾ hours

Activation 09/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Roger Wodson

Crew: Michel Del Aguila & Norm Fraser

Task: Medivac – Hayman Island

Bill (one of the two 24/7 Phone Holders for VMRW) was busy organising a crew when he rang at 2.55 am.

By the time I got to VMR1, Roger was already on board doing some pre departure checks. When the checks were complete and the other two crew were present, we proceeded to pick up Chris, the paramedic, and all of his gear. We departed APM at 0330 hrs.

activation 09092019.jpgIt was pitch black, but the seas were reasonable, so we were able to be in Hayman’s Marina by 0415. The patient was assessed by the paramedic and was made comfortable on a bed aboard.  He was accompanied back by another passenger when we left at 0450.

On the return trip we saw one a Cruise ship, all lit up, just off Hayman making its way to Airlie for the day, and a trawler, also all lit up, close to us as we crossed Molle Passage; it is rare to see other vessels active during night hours. The first rays of dawn are also pleasant to experience anywhere, but especially in our magic area of the world.

We were unloaded, and signed off with Hay Point VTS and our 24/7 phone holder and back in our pen by 6 am – a day’s work already done.

Thanks again to all involved (directly or indirectly) in this call out.

Time on job: 2½ hours

Activation 14/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Roger Wodson

Crew: Jock Main & Norm Fraser

Task: Breakdown – False Nara, Hook Island

Bill (24/7/Phone Holder) advised us that a VMR member’s 7m Runabout was broken down and drifting with 2 adults and 2 children onboard.  He called at 1120 and we were leaving APM by 1155. The day was picture perfect Whitsundays and the sea was well less than half a metre – almost glass.

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Why are we flying this flag?  🙂

We got to the vessel at 1235 and after assessing the situation and finding we could not jump start it, we took it in tow by 1250 and advised the people to sit back and enjoy the superb surroundings of whales, picture perfect views, 28 degrees C and other people enjoying the unbelievable Whitsundays in their boats.

We travelled back at 12 knots, at 3900 rpm, using 120 litres/hr, arriving back in APM where we put them on the public jetty. We were refuelled and back in our pen at 1425 after having advised Bill and Hay Point VTS of our return.

Many thanks to all those concerned in this activation.

Time on job: 2½ hours

Activation 17/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Ron Roberts & Mick Evans

Task: Breakdown – Bait Reef

Received an early morning call that a vessel with 3 persons on board had broken down near Bait Reef so we departed APM at 0730.

With a moderate sea we made it out the vessel and towed them back to the APM boat ramp.

As we were refueling we handed VMR1 over to another crew for another activation at 1230 hours.

Time on job: 5 hours

Activation 17/09/16

Skipper: Paul Catts

Crew: Fin Forbes, Jim Dunn & Tim Hearn

Task: Breakdown – Hook Reef, changed to ENE off Abbott Point

A crew was activated around 11 am for a vessel with engine trouble at Hook Reef, a fair hike away; approximately 40 NM. The vessel was at anchor inside the reef, in good weather so there was no immediate danger. By chance the A Team of Fin Forbes, Jim Dunn and Tim Hearn were available.

VMR 1 was still on the way back from an early morning rescue at Bait Reef, near where our activation was, with Ray and his crew and a vessel in tow. We took over VMR 1 from Ray at the fuel dock and got under way heading for Hook Reef.

Not long after departing we started hearing a boat on VHF 16 in distress, taking on water outside the shipping lanes about 27nm ENE off Abbott Point, almost the same due north of Airlie. This situation was serious and the water police directed us to divert from our Hook Reef job, and also activated a rescue helicopter from Mackay.

We raced to their location, with regular position and situation updates on VHF 16 from the vessel, “Yellow Boat”, and VTS Hay Point.  They were concerned about their batteries being flooded and losing communication.  They had lost their engine and were taking on water and their bilge pump had failed.

We located yellow boat in the middle of a whole lot of nothingness about 1350, solely due to the precise GPS coordinates we were getting.  It was very small with 3 concerned fisherman on board with the floor awash.  I suspect they were under an hour away from a swim.

Fin ably set up a pump and we pumped out some of the water, got life jackets on the fisherman, and transferred 2 of their crew onto our vessel.  We rigged a towline and commenced the tow back to the Port of Airlie boat ramp.

We had to stop and pump more water out, and transferred a power source onto Yellow Boat to run the pump whilst towing. The rest of the tow was uneventful putting them alongside at 1650.

Time on job: 4¼ hour

Our original job, at Hook Reef, motored home under his own steam.

Activation 17/09/16

Skipper: Paul Catts

Crew: Fin Forbes, Jim Dunn & Tim Hearn

Task: Breakdown – Gumbrell Island

Whilst refuelling the boat we were made aware that another vessel was in need of assistance. It was drifting north of Gumbrell Island 15nm away with a disabled engine.

Fin navigated the vessel, in excellent conditions to the the vessel in distress coming alongside at 1745.  By 1750 Tim had rigged the towline and we were under way on the way back to Abell Point Marina.

Their trailer was launched at the VMR boat ramp but because of the tidal considerations and access we didn’t attempt a drop off there.

The vessel was heavier and larger than most and the return speed was slower than normal, but they were happily alongside around 1930.

Whilst refuelling VMR 1, for the 3rd time today, we were notified that the vessel was required to take on paramedics, and head to Hamilton Island. Our crew stood down and was replaced with the 3rd crew of the day.

Time on job: 2¾ hours

Activation 17/09/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Bill Harrison & Norm Fraser

Task: Medivac – Hayman Island

It had been a very busy day for VMR. John had called at 10.30 asking for a Skipper to relieve Ray who was returning from Bait reef with a tow and another vessel also had a problem at Bait. I had to go to Cumberland Charter Yachts to do a brief and couldn’t help. During the afternoon I did hear bits of traffic between John at the VMR radio room and others, including VMR1, discussing several other jobs.

Then at 6pm, Bill, the phone holder rang, a chap had parked his jet ski on Cid Island and was waiting for the tide to float him off and he may need a tow/escort back to Airlie. 8pm Bill rang to say the Jet Ski was back OK but there was a Medivac from Hammo, which became Hayman, that needed doing.

We met at the boat, which Fin had kindly left at the fuel dock for us, loaded Boyd the paramedic (4 POB) and departed at 2000. Perfect conditions; little wind, flat seas and a beautiful full moon with Norm the auto pilot in charge.

We got to Hayman 2050, loaded the patient and started back at 2110.

2205 at the APM fuel dock, dropped Boyd and the patient off then returned to the pen 2230.

A lovely night and a good crew, perfect. Thanks everyone.

Time on job: 2½ hours

Activation 18/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Stu Applegate & Gary Sullivan

Task: Breakdown – near Double Cone Island

On Sunday morning I was called regarding a broken down vessel halfway to Double Cone island with 5 persons on board.

We departed APM at 1100 and with a calm day we were out and back in quick time to drop them off at the boat ramp adjacent to the VMR base.

I was notified off another activation so with a change over off one crew member we were away again.

Time on job: 1¼ hours

Activation 18/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Gary Sullivan & Jim Dunn

Task: Breakdown – Yvonne’s Cove, Whitsunday Island

After a crew member change over, we departed the VMR base at 1215 and headed to Yvonne’s Coves to assist a broken down 8 metre vessel with 4 persons on board.

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With a flat sea, we made good time to retrieve them and tow them back to the VMR base.

A 1500 we were refueling so I thanked my crew of Gary Sullivan and Jim Dunn who were departing but I remained on as crew as Mal Priday and crew arrived for yet another activation.

Time on job: 2¾ hours

Activation 18/09/16

Skipper: Mal Priday

Crew: Ray Lewis, Tom Manning & Rod Wilson

Task: Breakdown – Whitehaven Beach

After seeing the boat out on Saturday for 4 or 5 activations and another 2 Sunday morning, I bravely offered my services in the event of another call out despite looking forward to an afternoon off after a few long days on the job.

Sure enough, a call came in to assist a 5.8 metre half cabin back from Whitehaven.  As VMR1 had just finished another activation on what is surely our busiest weekend ever, it was a case of meet it at the fuel dock and head straight out again, departing Abell Point Marina at 1530.  After crossing the passage in beautiful but hazy conditions, we reached the half-cabin at 1700.

They were in only a meter of water, so it was a case of carefully nosing up to them to pass a line so we could back out into deeper water to complete the documentation and take them in tow.

Making good speed of 17-19 knots in the failing light, we saw that a ferry had slowed down to watch a whale as we neared Pioneer Rocks.  After calling them to advise of our status and give them the inside passage, they very soon called back to advise us that they had seen a small boat waving a light (it was a phone!) with no navigation lights just before the ferry reached Pioneer Rocks.

Interesting situation, and with it getting dark quickly we slowed down, shortened out tow and went back to see if we could offer assistance.  There was another ferry coming up, and they had slowed down for us, then let us know that they had also seen the waving light and passed so close they could ascertain that the small vessel was out of fuel.  It was not out of luck, though, as it could easily have been hit at speed by either ferry.

We took the smaller vessel in tow as well and commenced the slower tow with both vessels at 6 knots back to Port of Airlie.  We dropped the smaller tow and instructed them to anchor while we took our first vessel to the ramp, then returned for the second and set them on the ramp as well.

VMR1 returned to Abell Point and refuelled by 2100, ready for the next job.

Thanks to the crew, some of whom had done multiple activations over the weekend.

Time on job: 5½ hours

Activation 20/09/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Michel Del Aguila & Tom Manning

Task: Breakdown – Cockatoo Beach, North Molle Island

Bill was caught on his way to a meeting so it was a very hurried passing on of details.

All the checks done, we departed for Cockatoo Beach (immediately North of Unsafe Passage) at 1410. Flat seas, little wind and a bit of tide; beautiful conditions.

Arriving at 1440, we soon had them under tow and heading for Sandy Bay on the southwestern end of South Molle.

activation cockatoo bay.jpgThe 6.5 metre tinny was the support vessel, loaned and manned by volunteers, for a bunch of school kids on a kayaking holiday. They still had all their fresh water on board so we had to transfer it ashore.

Next we were off to Shute to get them to their trailer so they could get to Mercury and get the boat fixed again (it had just been serviced in Townsville) then back on duty.

Gary Nicol was on the fishing pontoon so took the boys lines and let us get away quickly at 1555.

APM for fuel at 1620 and into the pen for 1640 with our fearless leader, Ray, catching the lines.

Time on job: 2½ hours

PS: Another week like this and we will have worn the boat out! It’s a good job the new boat is on the horizon.

We need more active volunteers. Get involved.

Activation 20/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Ray Lewis

Crew: Michel Del Aguila & David Burge

Task: Medivac – Hayman Island

All TV networks were treating their viewers as if they are total morons – so there was nothing to watch on TV – so I was just considering what to have for an evening meal, when Bill (our 24/7 Phone Holder) rang at 1823 to advise the Ambulance service needed VMRW’s services.

We left APM with Chris, the paramedic, on board at 1900 hrs. The sea was almost calm and it was a cloudless night, but no moon. We advised Hay Point VTS of our intentions as we exited APM.

We were tied up in Hayman’s Marina at 1955 and the patient was loaded and medical assessments were done by Chris.

We left Hayman at 2010 and were unloaded and refuelled and back in our pen at APM by 2115.

Thanks again to all involved in this activation.

Time on job:  2¼ hrs

Activation 21/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Ray Lewis

Crew: Tom Manning

Trainee: Jim Dunn

Task: Breakdown – Luncheon Bay, Hook Island

On a perfect Whitsunday day, the prospect of helping one of our appreciative members was a pleasant task to envisage, when Bill rang just after lunch to
inform us that our assistance was required. Our member was having engine problems on his 23ft motor vessel and had 3 adults and 4 children aboard.

We were at Luncheon Bay at 1420 after an enjoyable 40 minute trip from APM. There are a lot of boats and people enjoying our bit of Paradise at the moment, so just locating the vessel took a little time to start with.

Once alongside, we transferred the children to VMR1, and started back to the mainland with the vessel in tow.

Outside the Whisper Bay VMR boat ramp we transferred the children back onto their own boat and placed it on the end of the pontoon.

We were refuelled and back in our own pen at APM at 1710 hrs.

Time on job: 3½ hrs

Activation 22/09/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Stu Applegate & Fin Forbes

Task: Breakdown – near Knuckle Reef

We got the call from Bill just before 2pm (I was supposed to be having a day off from training).  The story was all very garbled.  A chopper ferrying a pilot to a ship in the preferred channel heard a call from a small runabout with a stuffed main motor, position approx 19-33, 149-12.  They were using a trolling motor to try to get closer to Knuckle Reef so they could anchor.

VTS Hay Point were trying to raise them without luck.  Another chopper and pilot had just left the mainland and were also trying to contact them, again without luck.

Meanwhile we were sitting in the pen waiting for someone to say go.  It was a long way to travel without a definitive request for assistance.

Finally, Seaflight, at the reef pontoon got through to them, got an updated position and situation report.  Then the local Water Police got involved and gave us the go ahead.  We departed at 1500, light winds, sunny, flat seas, 50 or so miles to go and a long tow back.

We went out at 4,200 rpm burning 110 l/hr.  Abeam of Bait Reef we got through to the boat and their updated position was 19.36, 149.09, 10 miles closer.  The nor’easter was helping us, pushing them straight down our track.

We got alongside at 1730 and on our way back at 1745.  15 knots at 4,300 rpm, burning 140 l/hr.

activation 22092019.jpg

A quick call to VTS advising we were about to cross the preferred shipping channel and we were advised a southbound could be a problem.  Not to be as we passed well ahead of them. The AIS worked well as did the RADAR.

Next thing, we arrived at APM 2105.  We dropped the boat and the fellas off at the ramp finger then loaded a bunch of fuel, but not as much as we thought it would have been.  The 10 miles less distance had made a big difference to our comfort level.

Into the pen for 2130, a quick tidy up and off to beddy-byes.

6½ hrs plus an hour in the pen, waiting, makes for a long trip.

Time on job: 6½ hrs

Activation 24/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Tom Manning

Crew: Michel del Aguila

Trainee: Jim Dunn

Task: Breakdown – east of Black Reef

I was still in bed when Celia rang from the radio room looking for a crew to assist a VMR member, who had been at anchor overnight with major engine problems.

To give others an opportunity I asked Celia to ring all other skippers and only come back to me if no one else volunteered; obviously no one else was available. 😕

As it was at least 57 NM to the vessel, we knew it would at the absolute limit of our fuel range, so we topped up our tanks to the max before leaving APM at 0920


Time to relax on the way out

Michel immediately took on the vital job of monitoring fuel, and we ensured the fuel use per hour was at its optimum.

We reached the 7.2 m vessel with 4 POB at 1220 and transferred as much weight as we could from their vessel to ours, this being achieved mainly by transferring heavy esky and two of their people.  We were towing them by 1300 but could only manage approx 13 knots at 4000 rpm and fuel use rate of 134 litres per hour.

We were 22 NM from Hook passage when we got a call to ask if we could assist at Cataran Bay with a medical emergency but unfortunately we were in no position to render any assistance.

By the time we got to Hook Passage we knew the fuel situation was going to be extremely tight so we took the opportunity to put the fuel from the tender and the spare fuel for our portable pump into our tanks while we were in the calm waters of the passage.

As we got outside APM, we shortened our towline and brought them into the marina and then brought them alongside (in the calm waters) to do the necessary paperwork and transfer the two crew and their heavy esky.  We then deposited them on the public jetty.

When we fuelled up we had used 1006 litres – and as we have a 1000 capacity we were obviously running on fumes.  We would have definitely run out if we had not used our fuel from the tender and portable pump.

Special mention must go to the crew, they were all superb and worked brilliantly.  A good crew is a huge asset.  Many thanks.

We were back in our pen by 1820 – all very weary – no late night partying for us.

Time on job: 9 hrs

Activation 25/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Gary Sullivan, Rod Wilson & Norbert Gross

Task:  Breakdown – Knuckle Reef

Early Sunday morning I received a call from the base that a 6 metre vessel with 2 POB had broken down 60 NM out past Knuckle Reef.

As a similar activation the previous day highlighted the limit of our fuel endurance, Tom provided us with some certified fuel containers.

We departed APM at 0850 and arrived at the vessel at 1230, after some rough going in the passage between the reefs.  We towed them back inside the reef to calmer water where we completed the paper work and topped up our fuel tanks.
From there we were lucky enough to get them on the plane and with consuming 150 litres/hour I calculated that we would just have enough fuel to return to APM.
We arrived at 1645 hrs, dropped the boat off, refueled and were back in the pen at 1720.
Time on job: 8½ hrs

Activation 26/09/16

Skipper: Fin Forbes

Senior Crew: Roger Wodson

Crew: Bill Harrison

Task:  Medivac – Hayman Island

It was good to see Bill on board for this activation – he is one of our 24/7
Phone Holders – and so is busy at any time of the day and night, receiving
calls for help, and organising crew (ie, organising the whole activation) –
but seldom gets the opportunity to actually get out there and be on the
boat.  Without him, VMRW does not operate – simple as that!!  He is the
first contact with VMRW for most people, for 6¼ days out of 7.

Bill called me at 1145 looking for crew.  We collected the paramedic from the
fuel wharf (which was very busy today as there was a Cruise Ship in) and
departed APM at 1205.  The weather and sea was ‘Whitsunday Perfect’ – this
place sells itself to the tourists.

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We were tied up at Hayman Marina at 1315 and the patient was assessed and
carried aboard and made comfortable on the floor inside (it was determined
that was the best position for him).  We left Hayman Marina at 1345.

On our way back we were contacted to see if we could assist with a vessel at
Whitehaven.  A replacement crew was organised to be at the fuel wharf to take
over VMR1 if this new activation eventuated.

We were unloaded and refuelled and took VMR1 and the replacement crew back to our pen by 1500 hrs.  The replacement crew then waited to see what transpired.

Time on job: 3 hrs

Activation 26/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Stu Applegate & Norbert Gross

Task:  Breakdown – Whitehaven Beach

VMR1 had returned from a medivac to Hayman Island and was on standby for another one so I volunteered to go as skipper.

A commercial vessel had broken down at Whitehaven  Beach, and was weighing up his options, but eventually he did ask VMR to come to his assistance, so we departed APM at 1540.

As we neared Macona Inlet we met the vessel in question as he had managed to get it started (kill switch problem), so we returned to APM refueled and were finished at 1720.

Time on job: 1¾ hrs

Activation 27/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Rod Wilson, Norbert Gross & Stu Applegate

Task: Search – Missing person from beach, Pioneer Bay

I received a call at 0630 that a person was missing and we needed to have VMR1 mobile at 0730 so at least I had time for breakfast.

The crew had VMR1 ready when I arrived and after receiving instructions from the Water Police we departed APM for Grimston Point. Our instructions was to start a search pattern from there across to Pioneer Rock back towards Airlie Beach.

The water was flat and we had great visibility, so we were able to travel at a good speed to cover a larger area in a limited time.

At 0820 we received information that the person had been found on land so we returned to APM to fuel up and were finished at 0850.

Time on job: 1¼ hrs

Activation 27/09/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Ray Lewis, Fin Forbes & Stu Applegate

Task:  Grounding – Hayman Reef

Bill called at 1730, just as the top was coming off a beer and tea was about to be served. Rats.

A 45’ cruiser with 6 POB inc 3 kids was on the Hayman Reef and the owner was worried that as the tide came in, he would sink.  As he was doing 25 knots when he hit, it was a distinct possibility.

Off to VMR1 (at least we don’t need to warm the engines up any more) and bumped into Ray at the Marina, he was having a chat with Deano.  Ray kindly offered to come along, then Stu and Fin arrived.  What a crew.

Bill gave us a position on the Eastern side of the reef, close to the Narrows and we departed at 1800 in perfect conditions.  On the way Wings 3 contacted us to say they and New Horizon had got the 45’ Fairline off the reef, she was floating OK and gave us a position. Later New Horizon heard us trying to contact the Fairline and told us she was at anchor now at the Northern end of Black Island.  That’s where we found her at 1855.

Conditions were still perfect so we rafted up for a chat and the paperwork.  The boat was taking water through a rudder bearing but it was manageable and had both props badly mangled.  1915 we set off for APM at 8-9 knots using 130 l/hr and rafted up again out the front.  We had a bit of a fiddle getting them into their pen as they had to go in stern first. But, perfect conditions again, gently, gently and Stu, using their tender as a pusher, we got them home.

Onto the fuel berth at 2140, fuelled up and into the pen at 2200.

Magic night and crew, thanks guys.

Time on job: 4 hrs

Activation 30/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Roger Wodson & Jim Dunn

Task: Grounding – Hayman Reef (yep, another one!)

While having a meeting with Roger Wodson, our secretary, I received a call from Fin that a charter vessel with 22 passengers had run onto the reef near Hayman Island.

So with a crew of Roger and Jim Dunn we departed Abell Point Marina at 1300 and with a flat sea we made good speed to the scene. On arrival one of the Hayman Island tenders had removed 7 of the passengers and placed them on Langford Reef.

After a discussion with the skipper of the vessel to ascertain if there was any damage or if the vessel was taking on water, we made an attempt to pull the vessel off the reef. Unfortunately we could not move it so the skipper decided that he and two crew members would stay on board and wait for the rising tide.

The vessel’s crew transferred 7 of the passengers to VMR1 and with the assistance of another Hayman Island vessel, we transported all passengers to the Hayman Island Marina where they would be transferred back to Airlie Beach on the Hayman Island ferry.

My thanks to my crew and the Hayman Island staff for the assistance provided.

Time on job: 1½ hrs

Activation 27/09/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Roger Wodson & Jim Dunn

Task: Breakdown – near South Molle Island

As we were unloading passengers off at Hayman island from the previous activation, we received a call that a 30ft sloop with 4 POB had broken down.

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It was attempting to sail back to it’s mooring at Shute Harbour but had insufficient wind to make it so we departed Hayman Island Marina at 1430 hrs and caught up to the vessel near South Molle Island.

We took it under tow back to its mooring at Shute Harbour, and after completing the paper work, we returned to APM to fuel up and were finished by 1715.

Time on job: 2¾ hrs

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