March 2020

Activation 2/03/2020: Assist vessel with engine problems

Task. – assist a 6.5m powered vessel, anchored 300m off VMRW boat ramp, 2POB, Overheating engine problems, Non Member.

Time of contact. – 1653 hrs Conditions. – Weather. – Clear, Wind. SE – 5 to 10 knots, Seas. – below half a metre, Visibility. – 10nm, Tides. – H@ 1748 of 2.3m, L@ 2353 of 1.26m, B.P. steady

We left CSM at 1725 hrs and were rafted alongside target vessel 8 minutes later. They wished to go to VMR boat ramp – but the water depth (again) would not allow this – so we took them to the CSM public jetty and took the boat owner to their car at VMR – after completing all paperwork and informing Bill of the completion of the task at 1755 hrs.

Crew: Michel del Aquila (Snr Crew), Bill Hopton (Crew and activation Comms officer)
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 9/3/20: Assist QAS with a Medivac from Hamilton Island

Conditions.      – Weather. – overcast, Wind. – 5 to 10 knots SSE,  Seas. – less than a metre, Tides. -L@ 0352 of 0.26m, H@ 1030 of 4.28m, Visibility. – night 100m, day 10nm.

We left CSM at 0440 hrs with 2 Paramedics on board. Arriving at Hamilton Islands wharf at 0530. We loaded 2 patients aboard and left Hamilton Marina at 0537 hrs. We were unloaded, refuelled, washed down and back in our pen in CSM at 0640 hrs.  Whitsunday VTS and Bill were advised of our safely completed task.

The crew are a great example of dedicated professionals, volunteering their time and skills, for the benefit of our community.

Crew: Snr Crew – Ron McCall, Crew – Bill Hopton (also acting as Comms Officer) and Shane Newell,  
Skipper: Fin Forbes.

ACTIVATION 21/3/2020: Medivac from Hayman Island

It was right on 0925 hours when Alan called me (Marti) from the radio room – a medical evacuation was needed from Hayman Island. Righty-O!

Arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 0945 hours and met the rest of the crew. After 15 minutes the vessel checks were completed and the ambulance people on board so we let go the lines and departed the dock. Our designated Comms person, Shane G made our departure calls to VTS Whitsunday and the radio room officer, Alan whilst underway in the marina.

Once out of the marina channel the throttles were opened to 2550 revs with a cruising speed of 21.9 knots heading for Pioneer Point initially. Once clear of Pioneer Point we proceeded to track toward the north end of North Molle and whilst the sea was almost beam on in the Molle channel it was manageable and going to be nothing compared to the sea in the main passage. From North Molle we turned to port to track almost directly to Hayman Island and thus with a better angle on the sea we maintained our cruising speed less maybe a knot or so.

On arrival at the Hayman Island channel, the wind picked up and it started to rain making conditions less than desirable on entry. Without incident though at 1055 hours we docked at the marina and the ambulance people disembarked to retrieve their patient.

At 1105 hours with all onboard, we departed Hayman Island Marina for a slower but possibly a more interesting way home with patient and passenger comfort in mind.
Once we cleared the channel we turned to port to skirt the western side of Hook Island to stay in the calmer waters for as long as required to get a good angle on the sea going across the passage. Almost at False Nara Inlet we turned to starboard and headed for the north end of North Molle Island. Not long after this though the vessel was slowed to 14 knots and had to alter our heading more to starboard to maintain reasonable comfort for the patient.

Once we cleared north of North Molle we were able to increase our speed and progressively get back to 20-21 knots as we approached the north side of Pioneer Rocks.
We arrived in the Coral Sea Marina at 1212 hours where the patient and ambulance officers disembarked. Thanks were bestowed upon us for the safe journey as we went about our business of refueling and wash and tidy.

A job well done by all with no incidents.

Crew: Snr Crew: Ron McCall, Comms Officer: Shane Gosselink, Crew: Shane Newell
Skipper: Marti Davy

Activation 27/3/20: Assist a 25ft Yacht stranded at Bauer Bay, South Molle Island

24/7 phone holder Celia rang me (Mal) at about 9:30 – we had been asked to assist a 25 foot yacht which was on a delivery run from Cairns to the Sunshine Coast. It had been taken to a mooring by Water police a couple of days ago after having engine problems and having to cut their anchor free.

The crew had preparations well in hand by the time I got to the boat, and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed at 10:10 after pre-departure checks were completed. Conditions were a fresh south-easterly of 17-20 knots on an incoming tide producing a moderate sea, with occasional showers.

We were alongside them by 10:35, and after asking the now mandatory questions about coronavirus and being satisfied with the responses (they had been at sea for 3 weeks apart from a stop in Townsville), we asked the obvious “why can’t you sail back?” We were told they had issues with the headsail and with no motor and no engine they did not want to take the risk.

Fair enough, so we got them under tow for the slow tow back to a mooring off Airlie Beach. On arrival, and with some delicate manoeuvering on our part, they were able to pick up the mooring and discard our towline. We then took them and their inflatable tender to the marina so they could get parts for their motor.

By the time we cleaned and secured VMR1 it was 1300. Nice work by the crew.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Shane Newell, Dave Richter
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 29/3/20: Assist stricken vessel with 2 POB off Armit Island

Nothing better than saving lives. I ( Ken )was just about to go out with my wife on a late morning walk when the phone rang. It was Paul Martin from the radio room. I explained to my wife, “I have an activation.” She immediately said (with a suspicious tone in her voice), “That was not your phone’s emergency tone. What are you two up to?” Apparently she doesn’t trust me. 😋

Anyway, that is how it all started. At 0925 I met Michel at the ramp and we walked down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and we were soon joined by Shane G and Shane N. The crew we planned to rescue were on the phone to the base, and were apparently talking about abandoning the vessel. They were instructed to stay with the vessel as VMR1 was on the way with arrival expected in 30-40 minutes. They agreed to hold on so we quickly got underway.

We arrived at the stricken vessel at 10.05 and were pretty pleased with the fact that this was a fast trip accross the passage to Armit island. The sea was up with the wind blowing at 20+ knots. VMR 1 handled these conditions beautifully, with the wind and sea slightly aft of the beam.

The vessel in question was on an anchor, only five meters off the rocks. The sea was crashing onto the huge rocks and the 5.3 metre Poly craft was bouncing like a cork. Her crew were in their life jackets and clearly very anxious for our assistance. With careful maneuvering we made a very cautious approach until VMR crew could toss the heaving line. Once the tow was secured we took up the slack tow line and moved slowly ahead to allow the vessel’s crew to retrieve their anchor. We noted that they had no chain and only a light line attached, and found out later that they had previously lost the main anchor and chain earlier that day. It really wasn’t a good day for them.

VMR1 was taking the seas over the bow and the decks were awash as we proceeded to pull the boat to safety. At last clear of the rocks, some deep breaths were taken as we headed to Port of Airlie. The return trip was very slow as we pounded into the seas. The conditions, while fine onboard VMR1, were not so nice on the other vessel.

We arrived outside Port of Airlie in relatively calm conditions. All the necessary paper work was completed. After a jump start the little boat was once again under her own power. With profuse thanks for the fantastic effort, we left them to it and VMR1 headed for Coral Sea Marina. We refueled, washed down and completed the shut down at 12:26.

Thank you to the crew for a calm professional approach, particularly during some of the hairy moments of this rescue. 😁

Crew: Michel De Aguila, Shane Gosselink, Shane Newell
Skipper: Ken Bryce

ACTIVATION 31/3/20: Assist sunken 5.5m vessel north of Cid Island

Celia has been at it again. Give this girl the emergency phone and the activations are sure to start. Love your work! 😀

I (Ken) received the call and listened carefully to Celia’s details…a 5.5 metre vessel had sunk, stranding the two occupants on a beach 2nm North of Cid island. The initial call, lucky for us was a heads up on the situation, otherwise it would have been a late night operation into rather shallow, inadequately surveyed waters.

Instead, the rescue was timed so we could use the tides to assist this operation. Celia had discussed this with those on the stranded boat and was assured that they had food and water, and were happy to camp on the beach and await our arrival on an appropriate tide.

I selected my crew (Paul, Ryan, Shane G & Shane N) and picked up a heavy duty stainless steel turning block. Everyone was to meet at Coral Sea Marina VMR 1 at 10:00 which would give us an early arrival at the stricken vessel and allow preparation time before the incoming tide. As it turned out, the vessel was quite a bit further away than advised which meant travelling further across the unserved water. Following is a detailed description of how we actually did this. Skip to the end if you just want to know how it all turned out. 😋

Anyway, as we approached I had Ryan watching the Navionics chart and Paul reading out the Forward Looking Sonar Information (FLIR). The info from both sources was fantastic and the Sonar accurately told the story of what was ahead of us while I was motoring carefully at 5 knots as there were many coral heads in front of VMR1. Shane N had the owner on the phone to assist with final directions. We had left a track on our plotter to make our return trip a lot easier.

So far, so good. I handed the helm over to Ryan and discussed with the crew what we hoped to do. This was Paul’s first activation as Senior crew….talk about a trial by fire! Shane G and myself took the tender over to the stricken vessel to ascertain exactly what we were dealing with. Meanwhile Paul and Shane N arranged the towing line and equipment that we thought we would need.

Back on shore, we talked to the owner and his passenger (from a distance). Shane G (in his diving suit) took a look under the sunken vessel. Thankfully there were no holes to be seen. Shane N (wearing appropriate PPE) completed all the paperwork then we all returned to VMR1. Shane G and I collected all the towing equipment that Paul had assembled for us including the ss turning block and then the two of us returned to shore to rig up our system for the retrieval of the boat.

The vessel was laying on its side bow towards the sea. We needed to turn it 180 degrees and then drag it up the beach allowing the deck water to drain through the open transom. We achieved this by attaching a line to the bow towing point under water. Shane G. easily completed this while I selected the biggest rock on shore as our anchor point. We then rigged the turning block on to VMR’s Dyneema tow line and returned this to Paul and Shane N who were ready to commence the tow. All this time Ryan had VMR held on station safely away from the coral heads.

We had to join many lines together to make the distance. Paul, using his training on knots tied all these various lines together using double sheet bends. I was very impressed! Shane G and myself returned to shore to direct the operation via VHF Radio. It was now up to Ryan to maneuver VMR 1 and apply the appropriate thrust required to complete the 180 degree turn of the stricken vessel. It worked!

This completed, we set about pumping out the vessel using our brand new de-watering pump. During this operation we noticed water entering from the bow. The owner had stowed his galvanized anchor on the aluminum plate and this corroded through the plate in several places. We sealed these holes with twigs from the beach. Leaving Shane G with the owner and the de watering pump on board I took the tender and the passenger back to VMR1. Are you keeping up here? 😆

Ryan took up the slack in the tow and we were off to Port of Airlie following our track. The return trip was uneventful with Shane G having to pump out the vessel only once on route. On arrival outside Port of Airlie all our equipment and their equipment was transferred. I then took their vessel to the boat ramp and we headed to fuel up wash up and secure our vessel, finishing off at 15:45.

Everyone on the team did a fabulous job considering the number of challenging situations. Our rescuees thanked us profusely and praised all for the skill that the team showed.

Crew: Paul Martin, Shane Newell, Shane Gosselink
Skippers: Ken Bryce & Ryan Cunningham


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