July 2018


Activation 5/7/18: Stranded new member, electrical problems

Sometimes things happen in weird and wonderful ways. 😄 The call came into the emergency phone at 14.40. An 8m 4 Winns ½ cabin Mercruiser had electric problems. They were on anchor in Macona Inlet and the starter motor wiring was frizzed. A couple of chaps off a nearby boat had attempted to help but it was all a little terminal.

As Thursday pm is training time and we were scheduled to do towing training (serendipitous!!) I (Geoff) suggested to the owner that if he didn’t mind, we would treat it as an exercise but it meant we wouldn’t be there until 17.30 ish. He was OK with the idea so as soon as the trainees arrived, we set off on Abell Point Marina VMR1 at 16.30.

We had a gentle S, Easterly at first, getting a little brisker, setting up a low chop as we crossed Whitsunday Passage. Thanks to Ray and Karoliina we arrived at the target at 17.15 and despite the chop, managed the paperwork and had him under tow quickly. The new “Toms Hook” was more than strong enough for us to return at 15 knots.

Out the front of Abell Point Marina we got the boat alongside and dropped him off on the ramp finger at 18.45. A quick fuel up then into the pen for 18.59.

A nice straightforward job and a perfect training exercise. Thanks to all the trainees for being a classy crew. 😄

Skipper: Geoff Smith
Crew: Ray Lewis, Geoff Fitzsimmons, Rod Wilson, Will Kamsteeg, Kym Jolly, Ross Garling, Chris Williamson, Steve Norton, Karoliina Kunari

Activation: 6/7/18: Assist a member’s vessel that had broken down at Line Reef, about 50 miles from Airlie Beach

Emergency phone holder Celia Smith received a relayed call for assistance via Whitsunday VTS for a 6.5m half cabin that was having engine problems out at Line Reef, about 50 miles from Airlie Beach. Abell Point Marine VMR1 was duly activated, and departed Abell Point just after noon for the long trip out to the outer reef. Conditions were south east wind of 15-20 knots against an incoming tide, making for a moderate sea with a few lumps, particularly after clearing the Islands.
We were treated to a few whale sightings on the way out, with some spectacular breaches and fin and tail slaps in the area, but too far away for any good photos in the sloppy conditions and spray.
VMR1 took the vessel in tow at about 14:30, with a temporary tow affixed until we could take them slowly into smoother water and attach a stronger towline for the long haul back to Abell Point. That involved bringing them bow to alongside so the crew could attach the tow hook to the winch point, which could not be accessed from the vessel itself. Once that was done it was back to Abell Point at a comfortable 16-18 knots.
Once through the Narrows between Hayman and Hook it was much more comfortable as the tide had turned, and we deposited the vessel safely alongside the boat ramp at Abell Point at 18:30. VMR1 was then refuelled and washed down before being secured fr the night at 19:00, after about a 100 mile return trip and 7 hours for each of the crew. Thanks to them for a long job well done.
Crew: Ray Lewis, Rod Wilson, Kym Jolly

Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 11/6/18: Is there such a thing as a wild goat chase?

Phone holder Celia received a call from a charter yacht in Nara Inlet advising that they had heard what sounded like a call for help from someone on the hills on the eastern side of Nara Inlet, and that it sounded like they required medical assistance. Celia spoke to QAS on 000 and we were requested to proceed to Nara with a Paramedic (Doug) to render assistance and medivac if required. Conditions were SE wind 15-20 knots and moderate seas. It was as dark as the inside of a goat! 😄

Abell Point Marina VMR1 departed Airlie just before 1800, after sunset, and by 1845 was alongside the charter boat to pick up the man who had called so he could direct us to the right area. Our tender was launched and with 2 crew, the paramedic and the caller on board proceeded to the contact point (which was marked with a V-sheet) to try and locate the person(s) requiring assistance.

Access to shore was difficult through mangroves, dense bush and rugged, hilly terrain. While that was going on, FLIR and searchlights on VMR1 were used to scour the bay and hillside. Neither search yielded any results, so VMR1 moved to the mouth of Nara to get back into phone range so the paramedic could contact his controller for further instructions. We went into Macona to check the camping ground near the entrance… again with nothing sighted.

After more phone discussions with QAS and the Water Police, we were instructed to return to base, where we refuelled and stood by for further instructions, eventually being stood down at 2200. Just as I pulled into my driveway the Police called again, requesting the transfer of SES personnel at first light, which Celia duly organised.

Crew: Ken Bryce, Kym Jolly, Ross Garling
Skipper : Mal Priday

Next morning our task was to transfer SES personnel to Nara Inlet for a foot search for a possible missing person.

It was an early start in the morning, and Abell Point Marina VMR1 left Airlie just after 0630, preceded by the Water Police rhib. 1915 saw us in Nara, and the Police boat met us and advised us that we could stand down. After discussions with the caller, the consensus was that he had heard a goat or goats, and VMR1 returned to Abell Point about 0830. After refuelling and washdown, the crew went home for a late breakfast at 0900.

Crew: Ron McCall, Michel del Aguila, Mitchell Edwards
Skipper : Mal Priday

Note: It is important to stress that the caller did absolutely the right thing! He thought he had heard someone in distress and rightly reported it. If in doubt, you are always better off to take the safer option and not just hope everything is okay. Imagine if you were out there, lost and injured, and somebody nearby thought “….nah….probably just a goat.”

Activation 16/7/18: Commercial vessel broken down in Whitsunday Passage

I (Ray) received a call late in the afternoon that a commercial vessel with 8 people on board had broken down in the Whitsunday Passage north east of North Molle Island. At 18:16 with crew Karoliina, Andrew and Jim, Abell Point Marina VMR1 headed out to the coordinates that we were given. The skipper had set a drogue out so we located them right on the waypoint. Easy stuff.

We transferred everyone onto VMR1 for the trip home, and with good conditions we were back at the Marina in a short time. We deposited the vessel and skipper on to the boat ramp jetty, and then took the passengers over to our normal berth to disembark. The activation finished at 1930 …thanks to all crew.

Crew: Karoliina Kunnari, Andrew Grey and Jim Dunn
Skipper : Ray Lewis

Activation No.2 16/7/18: Search for a Kayak

As we were preparing the vessel to go out on the previous activation we received a call that the police were activating us to search for a kayak that was noticed by a departing cruise ship in the vicinity of Ratray Island.  We finished the smaller activation first (see above) but then headed off to the coordinates that we were given.
There was very little moon to light up the area and as there was low wind and it happened over little tide movement, we hoped that the kayak had not drifted far.  A few miles before the waypoint we turned on the spotlights.  We also had the radar and the FLIR (infrared sensing camera) on as we approached the waypoint and travelled over it before commencing an expanding square search pattern.  After some time searching we decided that the area was getting to large for night time searching and returned to base after advising authorities of this decision. Thanks to the crew for a big effort.
Crew: Karoliina Kunnari, Andrew Gray and Jim Dunn

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 20/7/18: Members small ½ cabin broken down

I (Geoff) got the first call from phone-holder Bill at 09.50, I was a bit tied up so asked if I could be the backup. Bill called again at 10.10…not only was I “it” there were no registered crew however Andrew, one of the trainees, was on his way and Bill volunteered to be senior crew. By the time I had got to the boat, Andrew had it almost ready to go. Bill then arrived and told us that Rick, Sam and Graeme had called back and were also on the way. From not enough to a crowd! 😄

We were able to get away at 10.55 with a waypoint plotted to the co-ordinates we had been given which was on the Eastern side of Hook Island. Conditions were spectacular; warm, flat, no wind and the bottom of a small tide so we went across in conservation mode, 18 knots so we didn’t disturb the glassy seas too much.

Had a small task to do on our way….we had been asked to check out the mooring rope on a small trawler in Muddy Bay. The owner of a nearby boat was worried that the
undersized rope would fail in a breeze. We agreed with him and notified the
Mackay Harbourmaster.

We arrived at the target, thankfully exactly where it was supposed to be, at
11.12. The owner came aboard to do the paperwork and we discovered that
his camshaft drive belt had failed. There are no quick fixes for that one. 😕 Had him under tow by 11.25 heading for Whisper Bay and still in perfect conditions.

The vessels radio had also failed so we loaned them one of ours. About 200m from the Whisper Bay ramp we were down to 200mm under us so the intrepid Andrew and Bill launched the tender and towed the vessel the last 300 metres home. Whilst they were doing that we headed for Abell Point Marina to re-fuel at 14.10 and back in the pen for 14.20. Thanks to a great crew for taking on the challenge, even with a lack of experience. Well done.

Crew: Bill Harrison, Andrew Gray, Rick Brown, Sam Collins, Graeme Jay,
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 27/7/18: Medivac from Hamilton Island for QAS.

Was loudly woken at 2:30am by Bill (24/7 Emergency phone holder), who quickly informed me (Fin) that Abell Point Marina VMR was needed for an urgent Medivac.

With a crew gathered (although yawning), we left the Marina at 0305 hrs with two Paramedics on board (Brian and Carol – both new to our boat). The sea was calm, with no wind, and a full moon – a perfect night to be out on the water…who needs to be in bed. 😁

Pulled into Hamilton Island @ 0400 and had the people on board and heading home by 0425 hrs….very quick work. We were unloaded, refuelled and back in our pen by 0535 hrs, after signing off with Bill and Hay Point VTS.

My thanks to the crew – they make it look easy. 🙂

Crew: Marti Davy, (Snr Crew), Chris Williamson & Jon Bulmer (trainees)
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 30/7/18: Medivac from a vessel moored at the NW end of Black Island

Bill (acting as SARCO and 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder) rang me (Fin) at 1225hrs putting together a crew for a 1300 rendezvous with 2 Paramedics at Abell Point Marina VMR1. Chris had been on our vessel before but it was a new experience for Paramedic Keely, and first day on the job here in Airlie!

The weather was perfect…clear, calm and 23 degrees. We arrived at the vessel at 1340 and after transferring the patient and two family members, we were away again by 1342 hrs leaving the paramedics to ensure that our patient was comfortable and her supporters kept informed about what was going to happen when we returned.

We were unloaded, refuelled, washed down and safely back in our pen by 1445 hrs. One of our crew offered to drive the family members back to their car at Port of Airlie, and we left Ray on board. He had only ‘come along for the ride’ because he was already on the boat carrying out maintenance tasks when the activation was called. So…back to it for him  – no rest for the ‘wicked’. 🙂

Time on job = 1 ¾ hrs. Fuel used = 215 litres
Crew: Michel del Aguila, Marti Davy, Dewi Hughes, Marlene Manto…plus Ray Lewis
Skipper: Fin Forbes