September 2020


Activation 5/9/20: Another Double-Header!

No 1: It was late in the afternoon when I ( Ken ) received a call from Paul who was taking a shift in the VMR radio room. “We have a 4.5 meter vessel broken down on Henning Island. It’ll probably be dark by the time you get there.” Hmmm…there goes the relaxing pre-dinner drinks and an early night! “OK,” I said, “Get a crew together please….I’m on my way.”

I decided to take Whale Song VMR2 to keep our costs at a minimum, and also because VMR2 is the perfect craft for this type of rescue. Michel, David and I departed CSM and with the superior speed of this vessel we were very soon approaching Henning Island. The conditions were not good….about as rough as we would have liked for this trip.

Nevertheless, we located our target vessel and organised the tow, taking the crew on board VMR2 for a safe trip to the parent vessel which was some 3nm away, near CID Island. All the paperwork done we headed back to Coral Sea Marina.

No 2: Still time for that (reasonably) early night? Yeah…right. AS TO BE EXPECTED we were called immediately for another activation. So we turned around and headed to a new lat/ long to find our next vessel requiring rescue, this time a sailing vessel of 44 foot /14 metres.

That’s OK as our 6.7 meter Whale Song VMR2 can easily handle this. Michel soon located the position and we were along side very quickly. While David organised the paperwork once again, I instructed the skipper of the vessel regarding how we would proceed. All went exceedingly well and we were soon heading for Port of Airlie . One a half hours later, everyone was safe and sound.

Time to head back to our base and FINALLY home for some dinner. Thank you to the crew as back to back activations take a particularly serious effort

Crew: Michel del Aguila and David Richter
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Activation 7/9/20: Medivac from Hammo with a surprise guest crew member

It was 1025 hours and my phone rang (Marti). It was Roger (our Secretary and rostered phone holder) on the other end. Another medivac was required from to Hamilton Island. Roger explained that QAS were requesting a departure time from the Coral Sea Marina at 1100 hours. I accepted the job and left Roger to rustle up the rest of the crew while I made my way to the marina.

I got down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 by 1045 hours to find the crew already carrying out pre-start checks. To my surprise though, I found we had a guest crew member aboard….Life Member Tom Manning was going to join us. Tom has recently moved to Mackay with his wife Heather to be closer to their family, but he has been a member of VMRW for many years and his knowledge and experience has been invaluable to us. “A pleasure to have you come along for the ride mate!” I said.

The QAS paramedic arrived next and we were underway at 1101 hours. The wind forecast was 24 knots SE with an incoming 2.51m tide (tide against wind) and it was going to prove a bit of a challenge, particularly crossing the passage. Rounding Almora Islet we got the first sample of the wind strength which in my judgement was a little more than 24 knots. I kept Chris on the flybridge next to me, to keep watch on the FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red camera).

Approaching Daydream we slowed the vessel to maintain comfort levels for crew and passengers and also minimise stress levels on the vessel. Rounding Roma Point we again slowed down a notch and again passing South Head (Northern end of Long Island)as we enter the passage proper. Progressively slowing down as we met the passage waves and wind, we established about 13 knots to achieve reasonable comfort until we reached the northern end of Dent Island. It took 20 minutes to traverse this part of the journey. Finally we reached our destination, the Hamilton Island Marina Fuel dock by 1210 hours. The trip over took 1 hour and 10 minutes…on a nice day it would be 50 minutes.

We collected our patient plus 2 other persons and made preparation for the return journey; passenger briefing, life jackets on and patient comfort organised within the cabin. At 1220 hours we departed Hamilton Island Marina and made way for CSM, finding a much smoother ride going home, thankfully….around 19 knots crossing the passage.

On arrival back we waited for all passengers to disembark then refuelled, washed down and filled in the paperwork. We deserved a beer but the unfortunately the Gardens Bar was not open. Big thanks to the crew.

Senior Crew : Michel Del Aguila
Comms: Shane Newell
Crew: Chris Williams
Guest Crew: Tom Manning
Skipper: Marti Davy

Activation 9/9/20: A medivac on a dark and windy night (plus some facts about medivacs)

There I(Ken) was…. nicely snuggled up in bed for a good night’s sleep when I vaguely heard a phone ringing. Sure enough, it was Roger on the line,one of our dedicated 24hr emergency phone holders. He announced, “We have a Medivac from Hamilton island.” “OK” I said as I heaved myself out of bed, “I am on my way.”

It was raining and blowing a gale…just perfect for a trip to Hammo. NOT!

By the time I arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1, the crew had already completed the startup procedures. With the paramedic onboard we departed Coral Sea Marina at 00:30 into a dark and dismal night. The passage was rough, however at least it was not raining.

We arrived at Hamilton island at 1:40 and the crew had us secure alongside and ready for our patient to board. Departing Hammo at 01:55 we were looking forward to the journey home with the wind from behind. Still no rain…amazing. We were back in our berth by 02:58. The crew assisted the Paramedic up the steep ramp to the waiting Ambulance.

The two crew were very professional in every aspect. A very big thank you to you both.

Senior Crew (Acting): Ron Roberts
Crew & Comms: Shane Newell
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Activation 10/9/20: Assist a vessel with a prop wrap and possible prop/shaft/rudder damage at Tongue Bay

Our 24/7 phone holder Roger set off my ‘Help’ ringtone about 1330. A 43ft Maritimo was requesting assistance and a possible tow after a prop wrap incident at tongue Bay. Okay, the stuff I (Mal) was doing around the house will have to wait, but this was not going to be a pleasure trip with S/SE winds gusting 20 knots plus on an incoming tide…a sure recipe for rough conditions in the Passage.

After pre-start checks were completed, Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed the Marina at 1400, bound initially for Hamilton Island to pick up a diver. This had been arranged by the boat owner so it did not sound like it was going to be an easy fix by all accounts.

Conditions were as bad as expected en route, and after picking up the diver and his gear we departed Hamilton just after 1500 for the trip through Fitzalan and a slow run in rough seas to Solway Passage, past Whitehaven (a lot of boats there) to Tongue Bay, arriving at 1600.

We tied up alongside, expecting to have to take pressure off the mooring line around the prop while the diver freed it, but both boats started to move downwind pretty soon after the diver went in – apparently it came off with 3 easy turns of the shaft. Even better, there was apparently no evidence of damage to the props or rudders.

We were not looking forward to a slow tow back to Hamilton Island. To make sure all was functioning as it should be, we held them clear of other boats while they started their engines so they could pick up the mooring under their own power, then cast them off and stood by while they moored, and were given the thumbs up by the owner that all was operating as it should – good stuff!

After dropping the diver back at Hamilton we made our way back home in conditions that had improved markedly with the turn of the tide, and after refuelling, finishing the paperwork, cleaning and securing the boat we stepped off at 1830 – another 4 ½ hour run in the Whitsundays. Nice job by all crew.

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Paul Martin, Dave Richter
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 12/9/20: Daytime Medivac in rough conditions…number 28 for the year!

Radio operator Alan called me (Mal) around 10 am as I was writing an article for the local paper…which coincidentally was about medivacs! This time we had been tasked by QAS to do a medivac from Hamilton for a patient with a fractured leg. Okay, the article will have to wait.

I reached the marina just after crew member Bill, and as he went to help the paramedic bring her gear down to the boat I headed down and started to get Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready for what was likely going to be a rough trip – the wind at Hamo was blowing 28-33 knots. At least the tide was running out, but that was no guarantee of a smooth trip as eddies in the Passage can create pretty uncomfortable conditions.

A VMR Member from Victoria Point in Brisbane, Dave Paylor, who looks after all of VMRAQ’s technology and IT requirements had arrived in town on a holiday and had expressed a keen interest in going out with us on an activation to experience our boat in action. This was going to be a good test of VMR1’s capabilities for sure so he jumped at the chance, and helped Tony and Bill prepare for departure.

VMR1 departed at 1025 for a trip that can be done in 45 minutes in the right conditions, but today the best we could do was an hour and 5 minutes, arriving at 1130 after having to take a wider route at reduced speed. We were looking for smoother water at an angle across the seas to try and minimise the wave action as much as we could, down to 15 knots at times instead of our usual 23-24 knot cruise speed.

By the time the patient was transferred to our on-board QAS stretcher, and given some medication to ease his pain, it was already 1155 when we departed from Hamilton Island. Conditions on the way back were much better with the wind now behind us, but still far from perfect. We had to reduce speed to about 18 knots for a period to keep the trip comfortable for our patient, arriving back at our berth at the marina at 1300 where another paramedic was waiting with a stretcher.

After helping the paramedics get our patient and their gear up to the waiting ambulance, we then moved to the fuel berth to refuel, then back to our own berth to wash down (it was covered in salt top to bottom), complete the paperwork and secure the vessel. We stepped off at 1325.

Thank you to Tony, Bill and Dave for your assistance, and I think it is fair to say that Dave was impressed with the design and capabilities of VMR1 being perfect for the conditions we encounter in the Whitsundays.

Crew: Tony McNeill, Bill Hopton, Dave Paylor (VMR Victoria Point, Brisbane)
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 19/9/20: Assist a 7.5m vessel broken down in Port of Airlie channel (and activations move into triple figures for the year)

I (Mal) was trying not to be awake. It was just after 6 am (my eyes were still closed so time was a little hazy) when phone holder Bill set off the “Help” ringtone and informed me that a 7.5m vessel had broken down and needed assistance back to the Port of Airlie ramp…a perfect job for Whale Song.

The sleep in was put on hold, and I met Paul and Bill at Whale Song VMR2 and together we did all the pre-start checks for what would be VMR Whitsundays 100th activation for the year, 15 more than the same period last year which was a record year in itself.

VMR2 was under way by 0645, and en route Bill contacted our target vessel, who confirmed that they were just off the end of the channel. Ten minutes later we were alongside, and found a nice mum and dad and granddad with a lovely 4 year old and a cute 3 week old newborn.

Apparently the gearbox had given up on the stern drive, and we could see that they were taking water as their bilge pump was kicking in and out to get rid of the inflow. Luckily the gearbox had given up the ghost on the way out or it could have been a very long day for them.

Ten minutes later, with the necessary paperwork completed, we had them under town and on the way back to the Port of Airlie ramp, putting them alongside at 0715.

Then it was back to Coral Sea Marina to refuel, put Whale Song back onto the drive on dock, and tidy it up ready for the next activation. Documentation completed, we could head back home at 0745. Thanks to Paul and Bill…not every activation is as easy and straightforward as this one.

Crew: Paul Martin, Bill Hopton
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 22/9/20: Three in a row! Definitely not bored!

It was 10 am when I (Ken) heard the emergency tone on my phone. Our 24/7 phone holder was on the line. “Ken” he said, “We have a call out to Tongue Bay. Can you assist?” “I am on my way”, I responded.

We were to assist a 50.5 foot sailing vessel, which had the mooring line wrapped around their drop down Bow thruster. Awkward. Bill, Michel, David and I departed on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 10:30, arriving at Tongue Bay at 11:30. The conditions were picture perfect and it was a gorgeous day to be out on the water.

As soon as we arrived the tender was launched so crew member Bill and I could inspect the mooring. After a discussion with the vessel owner it was decided that we had to cut the mooring. That done, the owner decided that he could return to CSM under his own power.

VMR 1 departed Tongue Bay at 12:00, heading for home.


Just before we arrived back we got another call. “Can you proceed to 20-15.540S 148-43.145E and take in tow a 45 foot Sailing Vessel with 2 pob that has lost its prop shaft”.

OK, this was a relatively quick job and we took the boat in tow and got them into their berth in Coral Sea Marina and then we headed for the fuel dock to refuel. We were all looking forward to a rest and a late lunch.


While we were refueling I was listening in to some radio chatter. It was apparent that we were about to be activated for the THIRD time today! Sure enough, the phone went off just as we finished refuelling. White Haven Beach this time, where a 4 metre runabout was stranded with 2 on board…..and a puppy.

We did not need VMR1 with near 1000HP for this activation so I decided to take Whale Song VMR2 out for this one. It also meant I could manage with less crew. The volunteer crew had been doing rescues since 10am. It was now 14:35 and would likely be after 18:00 before we returned.

Michel opted to take a break and get some lunch. While Bill, David and I prepared VMR2, Michel washed down VMR1. We departed CSM at 14:35 heading for Whitehaven Beach. Conditions were a little rougher in the smaller VMR2, but still better than some of our recent trips out in 30k winds!

Having arrived at our target vessel at 15:35 we found the 4 metre runabout secured to the stern of a multi-million dollar white boat. NOT sure why they wanted to be rescued. I thought they were in Heaven. ROFL

Anyway we took them in tow and headed for Port of Airlie arriving at 17:10. The crew were happy to be secure and the puppy wasted no time in leaping ashore. VTS Whitsunday were obviously concerned about the puppy as they enquired re it’s safety.

Back to CSM at 17:50 to refuel…again. Many thanks to the dedicated VMR crew for hanging in on a very busy day. Rescuing people non-stop is not to be taken lightly. Great job all.

VMR1 Crew: Michel del Aguila, Bill Hopton, David Richter
Skipper: Ken Bryce

VMR2 Crew: Bill Hopton, David Richter
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Activation 23/9/20: Ummm….where did you say you were?

It was another great day in paradise and I (Ken) was enjoying the sunshine when I heard the emergency tone on my phone going off. Oh well….relaxation is overrated anyway. Our 24/7 phone holder gave me the low down. “We have a vessel out of fuel with 4 on board.” “No problem” I replied, “What is their position?

I decided to take Whale Song VMR2 on this simple little outing, so together with Paul and Shane, we set off in the direction of the position given. I think Paul was the first one to show suspicion as while we were en-route, he decided to plot the position. He reported to me that the numbers given put the vessel on top of Hook Island.

I’m sorry…VMR2 is a motor vessel and while up to most tasks, it is not capable of climbing mountains.

Shane was our Comms Officer so he called the vessel and asked for an updated position, explaining that they are probably looking at their cursor position and NOT where they actually are.

They got back to us with a new position. Ah-ha! This time it put them on top of Gloucester Island. Let’s have another go. “Can you tell us what you can see? Oh! You think you are approximately 8 miles from Hayman.

Shane looked at me with a “What can we do about this” sort of look. LOL I said “Perhaps we’ll just guess that they are somewhere in between these points, and do our best to locate them.

We had the Radar running while we scanned the area. Suddenly we noticed two blips, with the closest to the North West. “Lets try that one,” I said.

In a short time we saw a light flashing. Fantastic! This must be them. We were soon along side and I complimented the Skipper. “Thank you for using the light as we would have never have seen you with your black hull”. He replied, “What light?

The youngster of the crew then announced “That was me!” Well done young fella….you saved us a lot of time. Time was of the essence too as it turned out that the skipper was not a member. Apparently he meant to join, but forgot. Unfortunately that little error was costing him $325 per hour to try and locate him and get him back to shore.

Anyway, paper work all done we took the vessel in tow and headed for Coral Sea Marina. This vessel was a plate boat and as such was very heavy. Whale Song had her work cut out getting the towed vessel on the plane however we have means and ways and had her up and running in short time.

It was Wednesday which meant Twilight sailing with many yachts cutting back and forth across our track. We took a wide manouver and got back at 17:45. The rescued crew were very happy and enjoyed the tow. We were all ready to head for home when….yep you guessed it…..we were told there was a Medivac plus another tow to perform.

Turned out that the medivac was cancelled at the last moment, however the tow was still on. My crew decided to stay onboard and complete this last mission as it was only a quick tow from near Port of Airlie to Coral Sea Marina.

Great job by the crew, awesome as usual.

Senior Crew: Paul Martin
Crew: Shane Newell
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Activation 26/9/20: Activation 26/9/20: Out of fuel but whew!…saved by VMR membership

It was 0940 and I (Geoff F) received a call from our 24/7 phone holder to say that a vessel was stranded off South Molle Island. Apparently they had run out of fuel and required a tow to Port of Airlie. “No problem…I’m on my way.

I met the crew on Whale Song VMR2 and we left the marina at 1020. It was beautiful weather with calm seas…the ideal day to discover that your new ski boat won’t run on fresh air. 😃

We followed the GPS coordinates to Unsafe Passage where we rang the vessel and were told that they were on a mooring at Sandy Bay. Once we had located them, we started on the paperwork and got the tow organised.
Turns out that the owner was a new member as he didn’t yet have his card to show VMR membership, but he did have his receipt. I bet he was thanking himself for joining as otherwise this simple tow would have cost him over $700!!! Definitely $80 well spent.

We proceeded back to Port of Airlie – it was low tide but we managed to get to the ramp. Back to CSM we refueled and washed down and were off home by 1230. Good to work with such great crew.

Crew: Shane and Bill
Skipper: Geoff F

Activation 26/9/20: Assist two family groups (7 people) stranded on South Molle Island

I (Mal) was still an hour away from getting our own boat into Coral Sea Marina for the night, when our new Radio Base Operator Chrissy rang. A group of 7 people who had been camping at Paddle Bay were stranded on the island after the 4.5m boat that had carried them and their gear from the Whisper Bay boat ramp on two trips experienced engine problems and was overheating.

After being on our boat for a few days I was a grotty yachty looking forward to a hot shower when I got to the marina, but that had would have to go on the back burner (I apologised to my crew when I got to VMR1!).

Ordinarily that size boat would have made the use of our 6.7 m Whale Song VMR2 the obvious choice, but with that many people and a few nights camping equipment to transport, it was decided that Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was the way to go – the right choice in the end. By the time I had parked my own boat and walked to VMR1, Michel and Shane had her all ready to go, and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed for Paddle Bay at 1140 for the 20 minute trip in lovely conditions.

Their boat was in water too shallow for us to get close, so we launched our tender and Shane went in to transfer some of the people still on shore to VMR1 (not enough room on the 4.5), and once they were on board the skipper of the other boat was able to motor slowly out alongside VMR1 so we could get 6 of the 7 on board while the skipper stayed on his boat for the tow. All of that took about half an hour before we started the tow back to Whisper Bay.

It was a very low tide when we stopped short of the rock wall in shallow water, and as the skipper of the other boat was happy to motor slowly into the ramp with his mate, so that is what they did while we took the rest of the party to Coral Sea Marina to be picked up later by the boys.

By 1310 we had finished washing the boat and had completed the paperwork. Nice work by Michel and Shane, and gorgeous weather for it was a bonus.

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

Activation 26/9/20: Assist an expensive sailing boat, limping toward Coral Sea Marina

It was right on 1417 hours and I (Marti) had just finished pulling out my boss’s boat from the CSM boat ramp, when Roger our Secretary and phone holder called to say that a tow and subsequent berth placement at CSM was imminent. “Expect to be called to duty around 1600 hours”, Roger said. “The vessel in question has issues with the motor overheating and is currently making its own way with a headsail around Pioneer Point. They should be nearing the CSM channel around 4pm.

Roger organised the crew in advance and I got the call to go at 1527 hours. The sailing vessel was making good time and was now rounding Pioneer Point. Ron McCall was the first to arrive so he began the prestart checks then Bill and I arrived with Michael not long after.

We had everything prepared when Roger called to say that the vessel was currently crossing Funnel Bay, so to expect a call to assist shortly. We remained tied up for 15 more minutes. It seemed like the vessel was slowing down against the incoming tide. “Lines off” I called, “Lets get out into Funnel Bay and check what’s happening.”

Clearing the CSM channel we headed east toward Pioneer Point to find our struggling vessel still distant but this side of Pioneer Rocks and heading our way. Bill picked up the ID of the vessel with the AIS on the plotter screen as our attempts to contact the vessel by phone and radio had failed.

We picked up speed to meet them and slowly came around and along side. With the headsail down we secured a bow line first and then the stern followed by springs. In a lumpy sea with 20 knot winds abeam Michael, Bill and Ron wrestled with fenders and lines, adjusting and deploying more fenders until they were satisfied that we had a secure and safe vessel alongside.

Once secured and underway Ron jumped onto the yacht to carry out the necessary paperwork with the owner whilst we made way at 6 knots, nice and steady. Closer to the CSM channel Bill made an “Securitee Call” on channel 16 warning others of our restricted manoeuverability and intentions to enter CSM with a vessel in tow.

Once in the marina and out of the wind we repositioned the vessel more forward so that we could poke the bow into the berth where Roger was waiting on the dock to catch lines and to help secure the vessel. On a blowoff berth with another vessel in the adjacent berth it was quite a challenge! Gently…gently… and…done!

We bade farewell to our relieved and thankful Boat owner. With only 1 hour of engine time and 66 litres of fuel used we bypassed the fuel dock and put VMR1 straight to bed – we were home and hosed by 1730 hours.

For a short trip it was pretty busy given the less than ideal conditions out there in Pioneer Bay and I commend the crew on the excellent hand work and alertness as we progressed through the operation. Well done blokes! You made it look all too easy.

Crew: Michael McQueeney
Senior Crew: Ron McCall
Comms Officer: Bill Hopton
Skipper: Marti Davy

Editor’s Note: We would like to humbly mention that the owner of the yacht was effusive in his praise and described the crew and VMR Whitsunday overall as “international class”. He said that he found it hard to believe how professional the crew were and particularly mentioned the rafting up process and putting him on his blow-off berth in windy conditions.

Activation 27/9/20: Assist hire boat stranded at Whitehaven

A local hire boat company had called VMR to advise that they had used a vessel location program to determine that one of their boats was apparently high and dry on Whitehaven Beach, and they were concerned that the inexperienced hirers would have difficulty negotiating their way safely back to the marina at night. Could we please assist?

It seems that the occupants had fallen victim to the change in profile to the beach caused during Cyclone Debbie. The cyclone pulled out the first sand dune into the bay and the previous profile with a low tide drop-away has now been turned into a much longer and flatter profile. (Beware everyone! Anchor your boat WELL off the beach or risk being grounded by the water’s fast retreat in a falling tide.)

I (Mal) had just returned to shore after mooring our own boat when I got the call, so after dropping my tender and trailer off at home I headed into the marina to meet the crew. By the time I got to Coral Sea Marina VMR1, Michel, Shane and Dave had her pretty well all ready to go. We had advised the company that by the time we got to Whitehaven the vessel would probably be afloat, but they wanted us to proceed anyway, to ensure the safety of the hirers.

With an ESE wind of 20-25 knots against a rising tide, it was going to be a bit choppy for what could have been the 1.5 hour trip in the approaching dark, and we departed at 1720. We had transited through Hook Passage and a couple of minutes after turning south towards Whitehaven we spotted what could have been our target coming the other way. Sure enough, they had floated off and were making their way back to the marina as things were getting darker. They were very glad to see us. 🙂

We asked them to follow us around the corner into Hook Passage so we could transfer them to VMR1 while commercial skipper Dave hopped onto their boat to drive it back to the marina. By 1825 we were on our way back with Dave following.

Dave’s ride was not as comfortable as ours so we had to slow down for him as we got near the marina. By 1935 we had dropped the hirers at our berth, and Dave put the hire boat on the fuel dock. We did the same to refuel, then moved back to our berth to finish the paperwork, and clean and secure VMR1 ready for the next activation, stepping off at 2000. Great job by Michel, Shane and power boatie (temporary) Dave.

The boat rental owner called us later and requested us to pass on to our crew her personal thanks for the professional manner which was adopted in uncertain conditions. She said “We recognise the excellent job that VMR do for safety to boating in the Whitsundays” and “The people that you [VMR] assisted last night asked me to pass on their personal thanks for the way the crew went about bringing the rental boat back to Airlie Beach“.

Our heads are swelling with all the recent praise! Good to know everyone is safe though….that’s what we’re all about.

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

29/9/20 NON activation: Because sometimes NOT doing the job is the best solution

At 6.05 am 24 hour phone holder Roger was just starting breakfast when the bat phone went off. On the line was a very calm lady who needed VMR to come to the East coast of Gloucester Island. This is technically in VMR Bowen’s territory but they called Whitsunday as they wanted to return to Airlie Beach. She and her partner were OK and they waited until daybreak to make their call (bless them!). 😇

There were strong winds during the night and the mast on their 45 foot sailing catamaran had snapped and the complete structure with sails deployed and rigging was in the water. They had only bought the boat recently and dearly wanted to salvage the whole system.

We had a few dilemmas……

the people on board had anchored, the wind had dropped and they were safe. No one was in danger and thus could be classified as a salvage job. (bearing in mind that VMR is not permitted to undertake commercial salvage work by its insurers and this could also affect VMR’s Tax Deductible charity status).

Boats with rigging and sails washing around in the water are a skipper’s nightmare – keeping our props clear so we don’t damage our own boat.

Did we have the necessary tools? Could we physically handle the job?

It would probably be a 5 or 6 hour job to travel to Gloucester, untangle/recover etc and tow the displacement vessel to Airlie Beach.

It was low on fuel.

So it was Captain Ronnie to the fore, a builder and long-time yachtie who had the necessary knowledge and probably most of the tools required.

We had not assembled a crew yet because Ronnie needed to talk to the skipper on the catamaran.

After a long chat, he weighed up the situation, alternatives, difficulties and risks, and the two skippers mutually agreed that the catamaran skipper would contact local resorts and salvage operator alternatives from nearby Bowen. Ron researched the contact details and relayed them to the vessel.

We stood down from the activation at 7.05 am and assumed that we would hear no more.

But… 2 days later…Captain Ronnie received a text from the owner of the boat advising that they had recovered the sails and refuelled and thanked him for following their problem through. They also called Ronnie personally to particularly thank him for helping them to avoid what would have been a big VMR assistance cost.

As a goodwill gesture they intend to join as members when they reach Airlie, even though they are heading South, out of the area. 🙂