January 2020

Activation 1/1/20: Assist a 6.5m vessel , 4 pob, with engine problems north of Bait Reef

I thought New Year’s Day was supposed to be a day of rest! It had been coming along nicely until 24/7 phone holder Celia Smith rang me (Mal) at 1545 – Trevor from Whitsunday Escape had picked up a radio call from a vessel that was having engine troubles near Fairey Reef, about 38 miles due north of Airlie Beach.

Shane G, Chris and Shane N had started getting Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready by the time I got to the boat, and after getting a GPS position and other details from Celia we departed the marina at 1620. Conditions were a little lumpy as we cleared the islands, about 20 knots of ESE wind and some wind against tide as we got further out, but VMR1 handled the conditions very well.

Shane G managed to get an updated position from our target using our Satphone, and they now had their engine going but only at idle speed of about 3 knots as they headed towards us on a reciprocal course. We had them on radar at about 4 ½ miles range and had them in sight at about 4 miles, a bit closer than their original position.

By 1755 we were beside them but it was too rolly to go alongside, so we passed close on their port side and Shane G was able to pass across Tom’s Hook attached to the towline, and we were on our way back due south for the 32 mile return journey. Sea conditions had eased a little and we had a better angle, so with VMR1 knocking the top off the waves for them we towed them comfortably in our wake at 18-19 knots.

We took them alongside off Coral Sea Marina, and manoeuvred them inside where we untied them and stood by while they made their own way to the boat ramp pontoon just before 2000. By the time we refuelled, moved to our own berth, completed paperwork, washed and secured the boat it was nearly 2030, about a 4 hour total activation covering the best part of 65 miles..

Nice work by the crew, on what was our first job for the new decade.📅

Crew: Shane Gosselink, Chris Williamson, Shane Newell
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 2/1/20: Quick tow  with VMR2

A 7am wake up call wasn’t the most welcome thing whilst on my last week of holidays but a quick chat with our 24hr phone holder (Celia) had me (Ryan) out the door on the way to Coral Sea Marina.

A quick tow” Celia had promised, and although I was a little dubious (I’ve heard it before) this proved an accurate description of the task at hand. A member’s 28 foot cruiser was having some engine issues and he just needed help getting to the public launch ramp.

This was a job for Whale Song VMR2 so together with Lance and Stuart, we quickly launched and headed out to find our member waiting just outside the marina wall. Easy job. A skillful raft up and some line work and we were underway in just minutes.

Our new boat made it very easy to manoeuvre the vessel directly to to the ramp and secure them to the jetty. Before Stuart had the paperwork completed we had VMR2 back on the dock and mostly shut down. Loving VMR2’s response time and ease of use…it’s already proving to be a great asset. 😀

Crew: Lance Robins & Stuart Applegate
Skipper: Ryan Cunningham

Activation 10/1/20: Assist an 8m vessel stranded at Whitehaven Beach

It was 1158 Hours and I (Marti) had just finished lunch and was enjoying a cup of tea, contemplating what I should do for the rest of the day. The grass is growing now with the recent rains so I was thinking I should get the mower out…. but…….. that was when the phone rang.  VMR’s 24/7 phone holder, Bill with a mission to carry out a tow of an 8m fibreglass half cabin runabout with 6 POB from Whitehaven Beach. Would I accept it? Hell yeah!!!  😎

Down at the marina, Terry and Murray were already onboard Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and carrying out the pre-start checks when Michel and I arrived. I found Michel hanging around the cafe looking for some pre-made sangers for the journey…obviously he hadn’t had lunch. Alas no sangers available. 😕

We departed at 1230 Hours with conditions slightly less than favourable as we had an ESE 20Kn wind and a sea to 1m out in the passage. We managed to achieve about 18-19 knots which wasn’t bad considering the conditions in the passage, but lost some speed as we rounded the point at the top of Hook Passage and met the sea and wind head on.

It was 1405 Hours when we arrived at Whitehaven Beach to find our vessel actually at the location they had provided to Bill. That was handy. We called them on the radio and confirmed their position then proceeded with the task of recovery.

Initially, we towed the vessel out to deeper water and rafted up to do the paperwork. Good work by the crew in securing the tow line so efficiently given the wind and sea conditions! All 6 occupants elected to stay onboard their vessel so we got underway for the journey back and setup a longish tow at 15 knots.

The return journey was without incident.  The wind and sea had dropped by the time we reached the passage and although it was still a bit blowy in Pioneer bay, we rafted up again and delivered the vessel to their berth at Coral Sea Marina.

Only task left was to refuel, return to our berth and give the ol girl a wash down. All done by 1635hrs – an excellent outcome and thanks to the professionalism of the crew all aspects of the activation were carried out in a safe manner.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila (Comms), Murray Story (Senior crew), Terry Brown (Crew)
Skipper: Marti Davy

Activation 11/1/20: Transport and position the Clipper Media crew with the approaching Clipper “Seattle” for photos

It was 1650 Hours when I (Marti) and the crew welcomed and briefed the Clipper Media crew (4) onboard Coral Sea Marina VMR1. After completing our prestart checks we departed the marina, aiming for some close-up pics and videos of “Seattle” approaching and crossing the finish line in Pioneer Bay. Fantastic sight!

All was completed and we were back at our berth within the hour with no incidents to report.

Crew: Ryan Cunningham (comms), Ron McCall (Briefing and Liaison), Terry Brown (Crew) and Gay Bowden (Guest crew).
Skipper: Marti Davey

NB: “Seattle” photo’s courtesy Gay Bowden. Thanks Gay.

Activation 11/1/20: Recover 5.5m vessel broken down in Pioneer Bay

Sometimes the timing is just a little bit off. I (Ken) had just arrived home after inducting 4 new crew members on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 & Whale Song VMR2, when the phone rang and I was informed that there was a vessel broken down in Pioneer Bay. [sigh] OK….back to the boat!

While a crew was being rustled up, I started getting VMR 2 ready but Roger and Shane N arrived quickly so they took over the start up procedures and we were soon on our way to rescue the 5.5 m power vessel.

Roger and Shane set up the tow line as we came along side.  Then with the tow line safely connected and Roger looking after the paper work it was time to tow this vessel to Coral Sea Marina boat ramp.

The conditions for the tow were perfect with a 15 knot ESE wind.  After dropping the rescued vessel at the dock, I returned VMR2 to the dry dock at her berth. Thank you to both crew, efficient job well done.

This rescue was to assist a non-member…but it’s so easy to become a member. 🙂

Cew: Roger Wodson & Shane Newell.
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Activation 18/1/20: Medivac from Hammo

Talk about perfect timing!  Our 24/7 phone holder Bill Harrison called just as I (Ken) was putting the last piece of steak in my mouth.  Normally you would get the call to duty as you were savouring the beautiful aroma of a roast and would then have to walk out on it. Oh, the sacrifices we make! 🙂
Whilst Bill organised a crew I headed to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 to commence the start-up procedures. The crew soon arrived and we had everything up and running while we waited for the Ambulance officer.
Departed CSM at 19.50hrs on route  to Hamilton island.  The seas were perfect for a fishing trip. We arrived at our destination to find the patient and Ambulance personnel waiting for us.
With everything secure and our passenger comfortable, we turned for home.  Didn’t take long to get back and before long we were escorting our passengers ashore and fuelling up, ready to put VMR1 to bed.
By the time shutdown was completed it was 22.15hrs and time to head home. The crew, as usual made the trip a pleasure.
Crew: Roger Wodson, Bill Hopton, Terry Brown
Skipper: Ken Bryce

19/1/20 (1): Community event & another Medivac to Hamilton

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 & Whale Song VMR2 were stationed at the community event held on the beach adjacent to the Pub. Along with regular crew, we also had new trainees on board. The radio monitoring and the traffic from various sources and frequencies was at times interesting. VMR1 had her dinghy deployed as part of our training exercises. VMR2 had the best vantage point with her shallow draft, and was ably handled by Ryan, Terry B and trainee Dave. On board VMR1 we had Paul M,(helmsman) Shane N, Dominique, trainee Pat. and one passenger.

Just to add a little extra to the event and the radio traffic, we had 24/7 phone holder Bill calling on VHF 16 with an activation for another medivac (our third to Hamilton in two days). Timing was perfect as the community event had just closed. I (Ken) advised Ryan on VMR2 that we had an activation, so both boats returned to our pens to sort out crew and await the arrival of two Ambulance officers.

An hour later whilst we were waiting the list of patients grew from one to three! VMR1 departed Coral Sea Marina approximately 1930hrs for Hamilton island. With Ryan on the helm the rest of the crew were busy stowing all the medical equipment. On arrival at Hamilton we were met by three patients and two passengers. Walking, wheel chair and stretcher. We had the works!

The paramedics decided who was sitting and who was laying down. The stretcher was stowed. We were soon on our way in perfect sea conditions back to to Coral Sea Marina, arriving at 2215 hrs before we disembarked all medical staff and the trio of patients. That ended what was a busy and rewarding day (well, it ended after refuelling and moving to our berth to clean and secure the boat anyway.) Everyone would have learned something from that day. Many thanks to all who attended the Community event on board VMR1 & VMR2 and the crew that did double duty with the medivac.

To the crew on the medivac, well done, love your work.

Crew: Ryan, Paul, Shane
Skipper: Ken

Activation 19/1/20 (2): Take two! Another medivac from Hammo

Bill, the 24hr Emergency Phone Holder, called me (Geoff S) at 01.25hrs (yes…that’s 1.25 in the wee small hours of the morning). Two Paramedics and 2 Police would meet us at the boat at 02.00 so there was no rush to get there. I heaved myself out of bed as I was awake now anyway, and got to the boat first, after meeting our Paramedic in the car park.

Ron and Shane arrived next followed by Tony. By the time the Police arrived we were ready to go and left at 02.14.  The conditions were excellent although, if we were greedy, a little more moonlight would have made it perfect. 03.08 saw us alongside at Hammo and we started the GenSet to run the cabin Aircon so our patient would be comfortable. Shortly afterwards we had our young chap on board and returned to CSM at 04.23

We pulled into our pen to drop everyone off and help them up to the road, then went to the fuel dock then back to the pen for a wash down and tidy….all done by 04.45.

Thanks to a totally competent crew for making it all so easy.

VMR is blessed to have some very generous volunteers. Whilst tidying up we found a bag belonging to the young chap and Ron offered to drop it off at Prossie Hospital. On the dock we bumped into a chap off one of the boats on our arm whose phone had gone flat and needed to get to Jubilee Pocket, so Shane offered him a lift. Great stuff fellas.  Dragged out of bed in the small hours but rather than rushing back to sleep for what was left of the night, you kept going.  Impressive.

Crew: Ron McCall, Shane Newell, Tony McNeil
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 24/01/2020: 6.5 metre runabout out of fuel off North Molle Island

Déjà vu apparently. As we pulled alongside the anchored craft at the rescue coordinates we had received, their skipper was heard to say “Last time they rescued me they used the big boat.”

But back to the beginning of this little mission. Emergency phone holder Bill rang me (Ron) at around 16.30 to start us rolling. “A 6.5 metre runabout has run out of fuel just off the Northern end of North Molle Island.” he reported. “Oh, and the mariner had issued a mayday at first, then apparently been corrected by a couple of first responding vessels, so had cancelled the mayday call.”

The coordinates given were spot-on so we were looking good. Okay, let’s do it!  A light E/NE breeze and calm waters gave us the go-ahead to utilise our Niaid 6.7, Whale Song VMR2, so with our checks done and crew of Bill H. and Paul M. on board we headed out from our berth at Coral Sea Marina Resort. A swift passage brought us to where you first came into the story, so I will continue from there.

Paperwork next once we had secured alongside, but…oh dear…. “Ahhhh sorry but I don’t have my driver’s licence, VMR card or credit card with me, and neither of the two passengers I have with me have any I.D. But when we get into phone range I can show you a photo of my credit card, and I know my drivers licence number off by heart. Okay?”

Hmmm…. As we were doing the best we could with paperwork, the skipper showed us his big esky with lots of fish in and informed us that they had done over 250 miles that day. I was about to ask him about his passage planning when the lady member of his crew cut short the question with a glance at the aforementioned skipper.

At that point I began to see his reasoning for the mayday. He was worried about himself not making it back to shore without severe wounds! 😁

We don’t leave any-one out there if we can help it, so we began the uneventful tow back to the boat-ramp at Coral Sea Marina. The drop of at the ramp, refuel and hose-down was completed quickly and the crew were away home by 19.00.

That left me with the paperwork to sort. Even the easy ones can be interesting some-times.
Once again a very professional operation by the crew of Bill H. and Paul M. Thank You.
Until next time, safe boating and happy passage planning.
Crew: Bill Hopton & Paul Martin
Skipper: Ron Roberts

Activation 25/1/20: Assist a vessel broken down east of Pioneer Point

As I (Mal) was about to start babysitting the grand-kids, 24/7 phone holder Bill Harrison called at 1750 – a vessel had broken down past Pioneer Point with 3 pob, and was requesting assistance. Great. It was raining (which was nice to see), about 10 knots of nor’easter, so this was going to be a wet one but should be pretty easy.

I met my crew Bill and Shane at the boat, got more details from phone-holder Bill (different people), and we prepared the boat for lift off.  Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed at 1620 for the short trip to Pioneer.

The position given was a little vague, but we spotted them near Almora Islet and passed the tow line across as we moved slowly alongside.  All went well and we had them under tow by 1840.

After we cleared Pioneer Point and a bit of wind against tide, our speed went up to 15-16 knots, and we shortened the tow to take them into the public ramp at Coral Sea Marina, and deposited them on the ramp about 1910. Their original launch point was Port of Airlie, but that is a bit shallow for us at the bottom of the tide so the better option was to take them to CSM and Bill drove them around to pick up their car and trailer.

By the time we shut down and secured the boat, it was 1930 when we stepped off. It was still raining, not that we were complaining. Nice work by the crew.

Crew: Bill Hopton, Shane Newell
Skipper: Mal Priday

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