January 2018


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Activation 5/1/18: Assist a member with a fouled anchor

At around 13.00 VMR contacted me for a member callout, a fouled anchor, all chain, at Mid Molle Island. I was dismantling an excavator at the time so I jumped at the opportunity. 20 minutes later with a battery powered grinder in hand I arrived at Abell Point Marina VMR1 to find the crew had the boat ready to go. Just a quick detail check and we slipped our lines. Clear conditions with lite winds and low sea-state looked good but the target vessel info was sketchy with the new owner/skipper unsure of which side of Mid Molle Island he was on or what his boat’s name was.

We located him quickly and collected the necessary details but our efforts to free his plow anchor and maybe 30 metres of chain were in vain. Buoying his chain and cutting him free was our remaining option which occurred quickly and neatly with the consent of the owner.

The assisted vessel fired up his motor and moved clear then indicated he needed no further help from us so we returned to our berth at Abell Point Marina, secured and tidied VMR1 and logged off at 15.05.

Thanks to the crew for another successful task.

Crew: Richard Atkinson, Steve Norton, Ken Bryce, David Burgess-Orton
Skipper: Ron Roberts

Activation 7/1/18: Vessel Aground on Hardy Reef

It was late on a lazy Sunday afternoon when a call came in of a Police activation for a steel 11.5m yacht aground on Hardy Reef. We had a GPS position for the vessel (which later proved to be very accurate) and with approval to proceed, set off on ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ at 3.20pm in a 15knot East/South East breeze with a little swell.

Additional communication then revealed that there were two persons in the water and that a helicopter was on it’s way as well….so we ramped up the speed!!!

As we approached the reef systems the breeze, swell and tidal influences built up and we were extremely grateful for the improved handling characteristics of our new vessel as it would have been quite a bit more challenging on the ‘old’ boat.

Updated information provided the news that all crew were safely back on board the grounded vessel, that she had a 15 degree list at the bottom of the tide, but was intact and had an anchor deployed. She had drifted into the lagoon area over the reef proper so we would be unable to reach her until daylight and a better tide. We were still 30 minutes away but police were still requesting us to attend, assess and assist if needed.

Once at the scene we established that the vessel and all onboard were safe and that they had created a plan to try to kedge off at the next high tide in the early morning if possible or wait until the higher tide Monday afternoon.

It was agreed between the vessel, Hay Point VTS and the police that our presence was no longer required so we headed back to base and were refuelled and tied up by 12.30am. Thanks to the crew and complements on great information gathering by all concerned.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Ken Bryce, Michel del Aguila
Skipper: Ron Roberts

Activation 15/1/18: Assist a broken down vessel in Macona Inlet (Curlew Beach)

The day was ‘perfect Whitsundays’ and by 7:40am the crew were all aboard ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’, with all pre-departure checks completed. We had received information that the vessel requiring assistance was 6.6m with 6 people on board…and the skipper was a non-VMRW member. Hmmm….the holiday may be turning out a little more expensive than originally planned. 😉

Michel took the helm on the way to Macona Inlet and we arrived at Curlew Beach at 8:15am. On arrival we found that the boat was anchored in water less than 1.5 metres which meant we needed to use our tender to collect them and bring them to APM VMR1. Senior Crew member Tom was the man for the job, executing the task perfectly. We took the opportunity to complete the paperwork while rafted up alongside and while bringing our tender back aboard, but by 8:50am we were towing and heading back home.

We reached the VMR boatramp (where they wished to be dropped off) at 10:00am. We can’t usually drop off at the VMR ramp due to the fact that it is not an all tide ramp, however at this time the tide was high so we could get in there….great timing!  We were refuelled and back in our berth by 10:25am (after signing off with Bill, our Activation Coordinator and Hay Point VTS). Just in time for a mid-morning coffee!

Thanks to a great crew.
Crew:Tom Manning & Michel del Aguila
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation (sort of) 16/1/18: Convey media to meet Clipper Yacht Race finishers

I (Mal) received a phone call at 1:00pm from the manager of Abell Point Marina, with a short notice request to use ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ to take some media personnel out to meet the Clipper Yacht Race finishers as they raced to the finish line off Abell Point. As the leaders had already rounded Hook Island and were on their last run to the finish I rang Bill (phone holder) and asked him to get me one more crew member at short notice – about 30 minutes. I had already asked Ray who had agreed to come. By the time I got to the boat Michel had already started pre-departure checks, then Ray arrived and the three of us get ready to go.

When our passengers arrived on board Ray was stood down as he had another commitment later in the day, so after a safety briefing Michel and I took our guests out into Pioneer Bay at 2:00pm and headed out to take photos and videos of the fleet as they came in headed by Seattle. Conditions were quite sloppy with 15-20 knot seas and a decent chop, but Abell Point Marina VMR1 handled the seas with ease.
After a bit of chasing and close quarters (and a lot of good shots) we headed back, secured and cleaned the boat, and were finished by about 4:30pm.
Thanks to Michel for his usual competent crewing… and best wishes to the Clipper fleet for the rest of their journey!

Crew: Michel del Aguila
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 16/1/18: Task: Medivac – suspected Irukandji sting

Got a call at about 12:45pm from phone-holder Bill, for a medivac from a commercial vessel at Langford Reef, near Hayman Island. A person was suffering from a suspected Irukandji sting.
After meeting the rest of the crew and our paramedic at ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’, we departed at 1:15pm for the trip across to Langford Reef. Conditions were 20 knot plus southeaster on a dropping tide, so things were a bit choppy and ‘rolly’ en route …but the boat handled it well. 🙂 We arrived at our target vessel about 2:00pm.
The patient, who was apparently feeling a bit better by this time, and his girlfriend, were brought across to ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ by tender to be assessed and treated by the paramedic. VMR1 was underway again in a couple of minutes and kept in the lee of Hook Island until we had a better angle on the chop and swell before turning for home.
It took a bit longer than expected however, as between North Molle and Pioneer Rocks the paramedic asked us to reduce speed to allow her to give the patient a painkilling injection….so it was back to idle and head downwind to keep things smooth while that was carried out and the patient made comfortable.
We were soon under way again though, and pulled into Abell Point Marina about 3:00pm to discharge the passengers and refuel before returning to our own berth. After securing and cleaning the vessel, we finished the activation about 3:30pm.
Thanks to the crew for a prompt response and well done on the activation.
Crew: Bill Harrison, Rod Wilson, Jim Dunn. Trainee: Dave
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation: 21/1/18 – Assist a non-member with engine problems

Six VMRW members were manning a stand at the Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Sailing Expo and were just about to have a change of shift when Mal received a call from the radio base. Information received was that a non-member on a Quintrex 500 with 4 people on board was experiencing engine issues near Pinnacle Point at the top end of Hook Island. With the radio out of action and no mobile phone coverage in that area, he had relayed the message through a nearby vessel.

Stu, Tom and myself (Ray) volunteered to assist and set off down to the marina where at 12:15pm we departed Abell Point Marina and set off across the passage, We were experiencing 15 knots of wind and a small chop so we picked up the vessel and towed it around the corner to a sheltered bay where we had the owner put the engine down and tie off the steering wheel. Everyone climbed aboard ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ for the trip home.

In conversation, we found out that they had been camping at Luncheon Bay so they were going to have to get their boat repaired and return to collect their equipment. With the fringing reef, the time involved and their boat out of action we unfortunately could not help them collect their equipment.

Their boat trailer was at Shute Harbour so we initially headed there however Stu suggested that we change direction for Abell Point Marina because it would be quicker for us and cheaper for them as Stu offered to drive them to Shute Harbour to collect their trailer. We did a small dogleg and deposited them at the Abell Point Marina boat ramp, refuelled, berthed and washed the boat by 3:15pm making it a three hour activation.

Crew: Tom Manning, Stu Applegate
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 25/1/18: Medivac/Police – Ill person to be removed from Hamilton Island.

I (Geoff ) got the call from Bill Harrison at 1.50pm to meet a Paramedic and 2 Police officers at the boat at 2.10pm to pick up an ill person for transfer to Hospital. Bill was having a problem finding enough crew however we got away at 2.25pm, into a brisk south-easterly.

The trip across was bumpy because of wind against tide but nothing the mighty ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ couldn’t handle easily! 😉 On arrival at Hamilton Island we found that staff there were well organised, and delivered the patient to us as we were tying up, making it a fast turn round.

After necessary patient checks we were able to get away at 3.35pm, and with the wind now behind us it was a nice run home, pulling into Abell Point Marina at 4.40pm….almost time for beer’o’clock! 😀

A delightful trip made easy by a good crew.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Tom Manning
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 27/1/18: Medivac from Hamilton Island

Just after 11:00am I (Mal) received a call from David on radio duty at the base advising me that we had been activated for a medivac from Hamilton Island. I caught up with the crew at ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ just as the team at Perfection Plus Cleaning, who had been tasked with cleaning and waxing the boat, were finishing….looking good! With the paramedic Ash on board we departed Abell Point Marina at 11:36am. Conditions en route to Hamilton Island were not ideal, with 20 plus knots of east to south-east wind and a resultant chop all the way, but the boat handled the conditions very well.

We entered Hamilton Island Marina at about 12:20pm, and immediately started the air conditioner in the saloon as it was hot and humid and we needed to get our patient and her husband on board and comfortable. Our new vessel makes this soooo much more possible! 🙂

The trip back was a bit slower to make it as comfortable as possible for our patient, but as the tide was just about dead low the sea conditions were not too bad as we ran downwind with wind and tide in our favour.

VMR1 was alongide at Abell Point about 1:45pm, and after helping our patient onto the waiting stretcher we refuelled, returned to our own berth and gave the boat a good wash down to get rid of the salt spray, and signed off around 2:20pm. Thanks to the crew for their capable assistance, as usual.

Crew: Tom Manning, Rod Wilson
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 29/1/18: Convey media to follow Clipper Race Fleet Parade and Inshore Race

Technically not an activation but part of our community duties. We had been asked to use ‘Abell Point Marina VMR1’ to carry out media duties for the Clipper Fleet departure and…hey…happy to oblige! 🙂 We gathered at the boat around 12:00pm for the expected departure, just a little bit excited about being involved in this event.

We left the marina at 12:40pm and got into position for the Parade of Sails and a salute by each Clipper crew as they passed us on the way to shore and back…and an impressive sight it was indeed! Next, the 70 footers made their way to Bluff Point for the start of a one lap burn around Pioneer Bay. The skippers apparently said this one did not count for much, but they all looked to be trying pretty hard as finishing positions were to count for the Le Mans start of the race proper, from Hydrographers Passage to China.

The media crew we had onboard included a drone operator, who successfully launched and retrieved his drone about 3 or 4 times from the cockpit in winds gusting up to 20 odd knots. Might be a future option for VMR for searches, perhaps?

After the last finisher crossed the line we returned to Abell Point Marina, disembarked our guests, and moved the boat to its temporary berth on O5 for a couple of months while wharf repairs are competed on our usual berth. After a wash down the boat was secured for the day, and we finished about 4:15pm.

An interesting day watching the Clipper 70s getting all powered up in brisk conditions, and we wish them well for the rest of their journey. Thanks to Michel for some great photos.

Crew: Ray, Michel
Skipper: Mal