July 2019


Activation 1/7/19: Medivac from Hayman Island

Bill rang me (Geoff F) at 0950 to ask me to go to Hayman for a medivac. I was sorta busy so I asked him to try someone else. It was a no go….he rang back a few minutes later to say that I was the only Skipper available. It’s heart-warming to feel so special. 😉

I told him that it would probably be 1100 before I could get there though, and he seemed to cope well with this information. Anyway, I managed to get to the boat at 1045, & found the crew had the boat pre-starts well in hand, so all I had to do was climb up and start the engine!

The Ambos arrived and we were on our way by 1110. There was a 20knt S E wind, but, an outgoing tide made sea conditions reasonable…in fact it was a lovely day for a trip out on the water. I wondered what everyone else was doing on a Monday! 😄

We pulled into Hayman right on noon, and then had not much to do while we while the patient was assessed. It was a bit of a wait and tummies were rumbling a bit but finally we saw the Ambos pushing the stretcher toward us, and it was all systems go. Transferring the patient onto our stretcher inside was a delicate job as she was in a lot of pain, however she was soon strapped in and ready for the trip back.

While we were there, we took the opportunity to present a Certificate of Appreciation to a Hayman representative for their recent donation….more about that in the Samson Post. It was a somewhat bumpy ride back but uneventful, and apart from seeing a couple of huge turtles there was nothing to report.

We dropped off the Ambos and their patient, refuelled, and were back to berth for clean up, and then all set to head home by 1415. Thanks to the crew.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Lance Robins, Ron McCall, Murray Story and Marlene Manto
Skipper: Geoff Fitszimmons

Activation 8/7/19: Sailing vessel requiring assistance – motor not working

It was 1015hrs and I was about to put the kettle on for a morning cuppa, when Bill (24/7 Emergency Phone Holder) rang to say that a VMR Member in a 32 ft Sailing vessel was stranded in Woodwark Bay. There were 2 people on board and apparently they couldn’t get the motor started so needed some help.

I turned the kettle off and made my way down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 (note the new name!!) to find Ryan, Lance and Terry busy with the pre-departure checks.

By 1040hrs we were on our way. The weather started off with showers and 20 knot SSE wind, but eventually the wind died down and it was pleasantly partly sunny conditions. A nice morning to be out on the water.

This was a standard ‘locate and tow’ activation. and we successfully found the vessel at 1105 hrs. The crew capably organised the towing lines and we were underway (at 6.7 knots) by 1110 hrs. It was an uneventful trip back and we had our member on his mooring at 1225 hrs.

All that was left then was the necessary paperwork, and were back in our pen, refuelled and washed down by 1255 hrs. The crew functioned as a well- oiled machine – making the task ‘pleasant’.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, Lance Robins and Terry Clarke
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 10/07/2019: Another Medivac from Hayman Island

Breakfast was over and I (Ray) was all set for getting some tasks off my To Do list, when I received a call from Bill our 24/7 phone holder that we were required for a Medivac from Hayman Island. A person had been involved in a fall and was experiencing severe pain in his arm/shoulder.

Obviously the To Do list would have to stay as it is for a while so I headed off to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and met up with Ryan and the two Terry’s, as well as two QAS officers. At 0935 we left the marina behind us and pointed the boat for Hayman. The weather was cloudy with a few showers but the sea was very flat which was going to be good for our patient.

After arriving at the Hayman Island marina we had to wait for our patient to arrive and then he needed some attention from the QAS officers, so it was a short while before we could make our return journey.

After our patient and the QAS officers disembarked, we refuelled, washed down and were finished by 12 midday. Just in time for lunch! Thanks to our crew and the medics.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, Terry Clark, Terry Brown
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 16/7/19: Collect people stranded on Thomas Island

The phone went at 09.43, and I (Geoff S) picked up. It was Bill Harrison, the Emergency Phone Holder on the other end of the line.

Normally this means drop everything and head for the boat, but this time Bill wanted to discuss whether a pick-up of some people from Thomas Island was a commercial job rather than a rescue.

Apparently they had arranged for a pick up but because of a strong wind warning and the fact that their ‘taxi driver’ had an open boat, this was deemed not only unsuitable but likely unsafe.

We discussed it, considering all the facts, we had, and I agreed with Bill’s assessment that it was a commercial job so Bill went back to the people and suggested they try some commercial carriers. End of story? Not quite. :-/

After a short while, Bill called back to report that none of the commercial people wanted to go down to Thomas because of the weather. At this stage we thought that the Police should be involved so Bill returned to the caller with that suggestion. And then…well…it all got a little vague. Apparently the Police had tasked Midge Point who couldn’t go so we were being asked to step in for the rescue. The stranded people were also dehydrated and without food and water.

Righty-o…so OK….this is a necessary rescue. Bill organised a crew and then was kind enough to give me a lift to the boat. In the meantime, I had checked the tides, it was 1/3 rd through the ebb, the wind at Hammo was gusting 30, and MetEye weather said the wind was
forecast to drop in the afternoon. Let’s hope so.

We dropped the lines at 12.55 and Ryan took us down to Thomas Island. It was
quite pleasant until we passed Roma Point when it got decidedly bumpy. Ryan
slowed a little but we still got to the beach at the Western end at 14.30. The
masterful crew launched the tender and Mitch elected to do the ferry service
on his own to make more room for the payload.

It took 4 trips to get the 3 people plus their gear, on board. Good one Mitch you can do the tender training on Thursday now. 🙂 We were able to get away at 14.50 at the bottom of the tide with a flattish sea and a much lighter wind behind us. Much more civilised. The trip home was completely uneventful allowing Bill Hopton, our Comms officer to complete
the paperwork and confer with Roger that we had all the t’s dotted and i’s

We arrived at 16.25 and fuelled up as our passengers bolted to catch a plane! Into the pen by 16.40 for a deserved and needed washdown plus completion of the paperwork.
Thanks fellas for being such a great crew. You did well.

Crew: Bill Hopton, Ryan Cunningham, Mitch Edwards
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 15/7/19: And…back to Hayman for another Medivac 🙂

The VMR Emergency Phone rang, and we (Celia and I) tried to make out what was being said but all we could hear was the occasional muffled sound, never mind an intelligible word! Finally, a garbled text arrived, also from the Emergency Phone, which we guessed might mean there was a medivac.

Hmmm…needed to confirm this so, we called Rocky Ambulance and they confirmed there was indeed a medivac and the Paramedic would be at the boat in half an hour. So woah….need to hurry up and get a crew together!

Celia drove me to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and we were on our way by 13.15. It was gusty with plenty of wind and a sloppy sea all contributing to a rolly ride to Hayman. We got there at the same time as the ferry so they let us in first and we docked at 14.05. After shuffling stretchers we had our customer and his bad back on board for 14.20 and on our way home.

We tried running down the side of Hook for a smooth ride but there was too much South in it and consequently too rough. OK, lets try the direct approach…it was smoother albeit at reduced revs.

After a while the seas seemed to be more regular so we upped the revs gradually till we were at 2550 and all seemed to be good for the patient.

We arrived at Coral Sea Marina at 15.20 and after shuffling stretchers again we unloaded the patient on our berth and helped Nicola, the Paramedic up to the Ambulance with him. Next: off to the fuel dock, then back to our pen again for a wash down.Thanks to a great crew for making it look easy.

Crew: Mitch Edwards, Chris Williamson, Roger Wodson
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 23/07/2019: A quick medivac trip to Hammo

Talk about bad timing! I (Ray) had the fridge door open and a piece of steak in my hand when the phone rang. Surely not.

But yes…it was our 24/7 phone holder Bill who was ringing to say that we were required for a medivac at Hamilton Island. I sighed as I put the (delicious looking) steak back in the fridge and proceeded to Coral Sea Marina to meet up with the rest of the crew and prepare VMR1 for the trip.

Not long to wait until the QAS Paramedics arrived, so with everyone on board we departed the marina at 1315 and headed off across the passage where we encountered a moderate sea and 16 knots of wind.

It was a quick turn around at Hamilton Island so with our patient comfortable we turned for home, arriving back in the marina at 1515.

By the time we had dropped off the medics and patient, and then had to do the refuelling and washing down, it was 1551. My stomach was growling as it was going to be a very late lunch! Perhaps best to grab something on the way home. 😄 Thanks to the crew and the medics.

Crew: Murray Story, Shane Gosselink and Rick Brown
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 27/07/2019: Pick up stranded jet-skiers

I received a call after lunch (a fabulously reasonable time 😉) from David, our radio room operator, that two jet skiers had broken down in the Whitsunday Passage approximately in line with North Molle and Hayman Islands.

Made my way to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and met up with my crew members Ryan, Michel and Chris who were busily engaged in getting the prestart checks completed. We departed at 1415 and headed out into a reasonably calm sea and a gloriously sunny afternoon. A nice day to be out on the water.

We located the jet skis at the coordinates that they had given….always a bonus! First task was to hitch the two jet skis inline, and then we had the riders come on board VMR1 to complete the paperwork before heading back.

We motored in to the boat ramp near the VMR base where we launched our tender to take everyone into the jetty. While this was happening I manoeuvered around to Coral Sea Marina to fuel up…and then we only needed to reattach our tender when Ryan arrived back with it.

Last job was the wash down and we were done and dusted by 1610 with time for a beer at the Garden Bar.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, Michel del Aguila and Chris Williamson
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 30/07/19: Medivac from Hayman Island for QAS

It was exactly 10:55am and I (Fin) was enjoying a morning cuppa out on the deck when the phone rang. It was Bill, our long-term (and much appreciated) 24/7 emergency phone holder who was looking for a Skipper to take a QAS officer over to Hayman.

Coincidentally VMR is a tad short of Skippers at the moment because everyone seemed to time their holidays at the same time 😄 so I said “Sure…I’m on my way!”

Conditions out on the water were clear and the visibility was really good (except where the smoke from the Island burn off was happening).  Seas were less than a metre with wind ESE  10 to 20 knots.  A lovely day out on the water.

It was a completely uneventful trip to Hayman, as they usually are.  We had three crew and one Paramedic on Board, leaving Coral Sea Marina at 1140 hrs and getting to Hayman Marina at 1225 hrs. We did see a whale, which caused a moment of excitement for everyone on board. 😲

By 1240 hrs we had the patient aboard so started our return trip, getting back in our pen by 1340 hrs.  My thanks to the crew for their professional, efficient, obliging handling of all aspects of this activation.

Crew: Lance Robins, John Walton and Terry Brown
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 29/07/2019: Hayman Island Medivac…again 😃

I (Ray) received a call from the 24/7 emergency phone holder that VMR was required for an activation at Hayman Island.  I was prepping for my own trip away but…oh, alright…one more time. 😃

By the time I arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1, the crew of Ryan Cunningham, John Walton and Ron McCall had the pre-start checks almost completed so we only had to wait for the QAS officer before departing Coral Sea Marina at 12.15.

On the way over the QAS officer told me that we were picking up an ill patient, but as we were approaching the island he received a call that somebody else on the island had fallen and had incurred an injury. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but hey…good timing!

We picked up both of the patients and returned to Coral Sea Marina where we dropped of the patients, refueled and washed down and were finished by 1430.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, John Walton and Ron McCall
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation  31/07/19: Medivac from a vessel near Shaw Island

It was almost 10pm (2148hrs) and I was about to call it a night and head off to bed when the phone rang. It was Roger Wodson (acting as 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder) who quickly informed me that we had received a request from QAS to get them out to a vessel near Shaw Island.

At least I didn’t have the PJ’s on yet so I grabbed the car keys and set off to meet up with the rest of the crew (Michel, Terry and Paul) on Coral Sea Marina VMR1. All pre-checks done and with one Paramedic on board, we headed out onto the night sea at 2225hrs.

Conditions were clear but dark with no moon, and the wind was SE 10 to 20 knots.   It was a bit of a trek down to Shaw Island but we found the vessel who had requested assistance, arriving at 0010hrs.

After that it was just a case of transferring the patient to our vessel so it was only 5 minutes later that we turned back for home.  By 0155hrs we were unloaded, refuelled and washed down, and yawning, we all headed for home and our beds.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Terry Brown and Paul Martin
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Read about these activations soon after they happen….and see more photos taken from VMR1… PLUS read other people’s comments on the incident (or comment yourself).


Here is your direct link to the SAMSON POST NEWSLETTER. Be in the know! 😃