May 2019

Activation 4/5/19 #1: Assist a member with fuel problems

It was one of those pale pink Airlie mornings. I (Ray) was woken early by the 24/7 emergency phone holder who advised that a member had broken down because of fuel problems. No time for coffee at home so I hoped there was some on the boat as I rushed to meet up with the rest of the crew.

Wendy, Ryan and Ron were there when I arrived, busily preparing Abell Point Marina VMR1 ready for departure. We left at 0705 and headed out in 15 knots of wind and a moderate sea to rendezvous with the distressed vessel.

It was located just north of Daydream island and had dropped his anchor, so we rafted up with the vessel and the owner came on board to fill out the paperwork and come back with us. We then deposited them off at the Port of Airlie and returned to our berth at APM and were finished at 0845. Thanks to the team for an early morning run.

Crew: Wendy Davidson, Ryan Cunningham and Ron McCall
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 4/5/19 #2: Family of 5 stuck out near Grimston Point

I (Ray) had just finished an early morning activation (see above). I was leaving the marina when I received a call from the radio base that a family of five had broken down near Grimston point and needed our assistance. Here we go again!

I called Wendy Davidson who had just left the marina moment before…”Guess what!” I said. She immediately turned around and came back. Meanwhile the radio base contacted Stuart Applegate who was happy to help out as well.

With the three of us on board we departed on Abell Point Marina VMR1 at 0930 and headed over to Grimston Point. We found a couple of fishing boats but not the particular boat that we were looking for. New information came in just then that the boat had drifted a fair way out, so we looked further afield.

Sure enough, we could see them at a distance away. We rafted up beside the vessel and completed the paperwork before towing them in to the boat ramp at APM and then refuelled and berthed VMR1. Thanks to the crew. Let’s hope that’s it for the day!

Crew: Wendy Davidson, Stuart Applegate
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 6/5/19: Capsized Cat and Activated EPIRB

I (Mal) was just looking forward to lunch when 24/7 phone holder Roger set off the “Help” ringtone about 1250. Townsville VTS had called him to say that a vessel had relayed to them a request for assistance from a catamaran that had capsized in Double Bay, but that the boat had been towed to shore and everyone was okay. And then the Police had called and asked us to respond to an EPIRB activation in the same area. Same vessel? Was the catamaran a sailing or power vessel? Only one way to find out.

The crew had the boat almost ready to go when I got to the marina, and Abell Point Marina VMR1 departed for Double Bay at 1320. Ryan informed me that he had seen the Police RHIB heading out about 10 minutes earlier and we presumed they were investigating the EPIRB as well. As we approached the location at 1350 the Police boat was just leaving the shore, where we could see two boats up on the beach and a V-sheet on a tree on shore.

The Police informed us that the two boats were indeed the vessels that had requested assistance and activated the EPIRB, and as well as towing the power cat back (it had been refloated by this time) we had to tow the other tinny back as well, as it had broken down. The EPIRB had been turned off. We do not know the cause of the initial capsize.

We launched our tender to bring both boats out from the beach, and after a bit of manoeuvring we had them both alongside preparing for the tow. At that stage we heard a helicopter overhead, Rescue 5 from Townsville had been deployed for the EPIRB activation as well. They were advised that all was in hand, and that nobody required medical treatment, and they headed back north while we departed Double Bay at 1410 feeling a bit like mother duck with two ducklings close behind.

Both boats were taken alongside VMR1 outside the marina, and they were deposited on the Abell Point Boat Ramp jetty at 1540 after a slowish tow back due to the choppy sea and a heavily laden double tow behind us. Then it was back to our own berth to clean up and do the paperwork before securing the boat at 1550.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, Steve Norton, Bill Hopton
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 8/5/19: Assist a yacht into the marina

The call came mid-morning while I (Ray) was on Abell Point Marina VMR1…how convenient! We had been working through the monthly maintenance checklist for VMR1 and were just finishing off, so it was great timing.

Apparently a sailing vessel had lost forward gear and was on its way to Abell Point Marina, so they required assistance to enter the marina for repairs. Another stroke of luck was that two of the people working with me on the maintenance were crew members Ryan Cunningham and John Walton, so we had sufficient crew to activate immediately.

We departed APM at 1025 and met up with the vessel about a mile from the marina and rafted up beside it to complete the paperwork. As it was calm we proceeded to the marina with the vessel beside us to place it in a berth. We then returned to our berth and were finished at 1110.

Thanks to Ryan and John for the their help with the maintenance AND the activation. 🙂

Crew: Ryan Cunningham and John Walton
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Activation 17/5/19: Medivac from Hayman Island

Phone holder Roger called me (Mal) about 1030 – we had been tasked by QAS to do a medical evacuation from Hayman Island. No problem, apart from a strong SE wind gusting over 30 knots and rough sea, but at least the wind and tide were going the same way so it might be a little flatter. The Whitsunday are classed as Partially Smooth Waters, but sometimes – like today – we wonder what part they are talking about!
Abell Point Marina VMR1 departed at 1105 after paramedics Alex and Chris came on board, and we tried to pick the least uncomfortable bits of water as we made our way to Hayman, berthing at 1200. After a short wait we had our patient on board, with another staff member to keep her company, and VMR1 left Hayman at 1215 to make our way up the shoreline of Hook Island in the smoothest water we could find before bearing away towards home. The trip back was slower in deference to our patient, but there was the inevitable rolling from the cross seas and a number of course adjustments looking for the bits the grader had been over until we got into the lee of North Molle and were able to bear away and increase speed.
Patient and paramedics were deposited safely at the marina at 1315 before we refuelled, cleaned and secured the vessel by 1345 for the next activation. Thanks to Ken and Peter, and to Marti who was on the helm for this one. Only the one photo which as usual doesn’t do justice to just how rough and ‘rolly’ it really was.
Crew: Marti Davy, Ken Bryce, Peter Beaumont
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 24/5/19: Medivac from Hayman Island…again

I was glad I had gone to bed early. I will admit that I like Beatles music but when “Help” rings in your ears at 0140 it strains the friendship. 😁 24/7 phone holder Bill Harrison was calling to advise of a medivac from Hayman Island… sort of similar to the one on the 17th except this was in the very small hours, there were rain showers, and you could not see the state of the seas around you. The SSE wind was 20-25 knots.

Abell Point Marina VMR1 departed for Hayman at 0220 after dimming down all instrumentation so it did not impact on our night vision, and made it’s way across the Whitsunday Passage at the top of a quite big tide, so although conditions were better than having an incoming tide, it was still a little rolly.

We were alongside at Hayman by 1510, and as we entered the marina we could confirm that the outer port marker noted as being unlit in a recent Notice to Mariners, is still unlit, so extra caution is still needed entering after dark.

The new nurse at Hayman, Emily, had only arrived on the island the night before and was due to start work in the morning – she did , but a fair bit earlier than she had planned. 😉 Paramedic Chris soon had our patient on board, and we started the return trip 10 minutes later. We opted for the longer return in the lee of Hook Island before crossing the Passage. Conditions were not as bad as they could have been as the tide was now ebbing, no doubt helping to flatten the seas, but speed was reduced to make it as comfortable as possible for our passengers.

Chris and his patient were deposited on the dock at 0415 and were assisted to the waiting ambulance, and we then refuelled, cleaned and secured VMR1 before heading home to hopefully catch up on some sleep at 0450.

Thanks to Michel, Rick and Paul…it was Paul’s first activation as a trainee – a pretty easy start, but they are not always so straightforward!

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Rick Brown, Paul Martin
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 27/5/19: Medivac from Hamilton Island…for a change 

It was 1422 hrs when I (Fin) got a call from Roger Wodson (acting as 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder) that a pregnant woman was having some problems over at Hamilton Island.  I wasn’t doing anything really important so off to rescue a lady in distress!

When I arrived at Abell Point Marina VMR1, Michel, Bill and Terry were all busily engaged in going through the pre-checks so we were soon ready to go.  With Paramedics Rosie and Peter on board, we left the marina at 1500 hrs. with Bill at the helm.

The weather was a lot better than it has been recently, overcast but clear with seas ½ m and a SSE wind 10-15 knots.  Thankfully the rain and wind seems to have passed which made for a much more pleasant trip over to Hamilton Island Marina.  We pull in and tied up at 1555 hrs.

The 2 Hammo paramedics (and security) were waiting with the patient (and one carer) and after a careful transfer to VMR1, we departed their wharf at 1600 hrs.

The helm on the trip back was shared between Bill and Terry – our Snr Crewman Michel was busy with a raft of other duties. We were unloaded, refuelled, washed down and back in our berth by 1700 hrs. A successful ‘rescue’ and thanks to the crew!

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Bill Hopton and Terry Clarke
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 28/5/19: Medivac from a Charter Yacht

I (Ray) received an early morning call from our 24/7 emergency phone holder Roger that a member of the public required a medivac.  Apparently two families were out on a charter vessel and one person was doing some late night fishing.  Unfortunately he did not hear his wife come on deck so when he cast his lure it became embedded into the back of her head. Ouch!

With a crew of Ryan Cunningham, Michel del Aguila and Rick Brown, plus Keely a QAS officer, we departed on Abell Point Marina VMR1 at 1:00am and headed out into calm weather as it was only 4 knots from the south west and a flat sea.

Coming into Chalkie’s Beach, we tied up beside the vessel…. and were surprised when the patient came on board VMR1 with the lure still embedded in her head! We were trying not to look as the QAS officer padded and wrapped the lure to the patient and injected pain killers for the trip to the Proserpine hospital.  It was great for the patient that we had a smooth ride home as this has been the only fair weather that we have had for some time.

We arrived back at APM, unloaded our passengers  then fuelled up and washed our rescue vessel and were finished at 4.30 am.

Thanks to all the crew (and Keely) for their assistance at that time of night.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham, Michel del Aguila, Rick Brown
Skipper: Ray Lewis

Read about these Activations as they happen and see more photos of the unfolding events PLUS read other people’s comments on the incident (or comment yourself).


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