January 2021


Activation 1/1/21 – Medivac from Daydream Island

Roger called me (Geoff S) at 17.37 to say that we had possible double medivacs from Daydream and Hammo. The QUAS Headquarters in Rockhampton were sorting it out and we could expect a paramedic to meet us on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 in 45mins. Roger suggested we should be on standby until he called again which happened 10 mins later. OK…we only had to do Daydream…good-o!

As VMR1 is now located at the end of L arm. Bill went to the carpark to help the Paramedic with all her gear. We got away at 18.30 and ploughed through the rain and 30 knot winds towards Pioneer Point. Visibility was down to 100m (a guess) at times so it was reassuring when we saw Almora Islet where it was supposed to be.

We found Daydream a bit later and were alongside at 19.00. The patient was in a lot of pain and it took a bit of time to get her aboard and comfortable, but we departed at 19.20 with the conditions slightly better. Arrived back at 19.55 and dropped the paramedic, patient and carer off at our old berth to reduce the trek to the carpark, and the lads gave them a hand up the ramp.

Thanks to everyone for turning out in such foul conditions. We should get double time for rotten weather.

Crew: Shane Newell Comms & Snr Crew, Bill Hopton & Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Geoff Smith

Activation 4/1/21: Medivac Hamilton Island in the middle of the night – again 😉

Luckily I had gone to bed early after driving back from Brisbane and Rocky over the last couple of days – the Help ringtone woke me just before 1130 at night. Phone holder Ray told me that we had been tasked by QAS to do a medivac from Hamilton Island for a lady with injuries, and that she would be able to walk onto the boat. While Ray put a crew together I managed to get myself awake and dressed, and headed in.

Dave, Terry and Nick beat me in and had started to go through the pre-departure check list, and while Nick went up to meet our paramedic the rest of us got ready to hit the water. With paramedic on board, Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed just after midnight into a 12-14 knot easterly on a rising tide, with a nice moon to help us see. Nice conditions in fact, which makes a pleasant change to some of the other medivacs we get tasked to do.

After confirming our berth at the marina on Hamilton, we tied up just before 0100, and waited while the paramedic got our patient prepared for the trip back. Unfortunately it turned out that the patient was not a walk on, and was obviously in a fair bit of pain as she was assisted onto our stretcher.

We were underway again just after 0115 , and with Dave at the helm we had a pretty comfortable trip back, tying up alongside at CSM at 0210. The paramedic went back to her chariot to bring down her stretcher – she thought we had a walk on as well – and we then had to lift the patient off VMR1 on our stretcher and put it alongside the paramedic’s stretcher, then wait while the patient was given some more medication so she could move very gingerly to the other stretcher.

While Nick helped the paramedic wheel the patient to the waiting ambulance, we moved to the fuel berth and refuelled before going to our own temporary berth at the end of the arm. We were all finished with cleaning, paperwork and shutdown by 0300 before heading home to try and catch some more shuteye. Nice work by Dave, Terry and Nick.

Crew: Dave Richter, Terry Clarke, Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 5/1/21: Medivac from Hamilton Island for QAS

We left CSM on VMR1 at 2040 hrs with one Paramedic onboard and were tied up in Hamilton Island Marina (G arm) by 2130 hrs. We waited for the patient to be transported from Linderman Island and once they arrived he (and one carer) were transferred to VMR1.

After all necessary information was exchanged between the Paramedics, we departed Hamilton Island Marina at 2210 hrs for the return trip to CSM. We unloaded the patient, his carer and the Paramedic at the berth adjacent to the fuel wharf and then proceeded to that wharf to refuel.

Once completed, we proceeded back to our designated berth at L8. We let ‘nature’ wash the boat down. All other shut down procedures were completed – including advising Ray and Whitsunday VTS of our safe completion of our task by 2325 hrs.

Crew: Bill Hopton, (Comms), Michael McQueeney & Nick Beescroft
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 5/1/21: Cid Harbour breakdown

Our 24/7 phone holder, Ray called me (Geoff S) at 14.48. It seems that a 5.5m plate boat with 2 pob had broken down at the southern end of Cid Harbour, and needed a tow. Unfortunately he was a non-member so probably regretting that little error of omission. “No problem, let’s go and get them,” I said.

Our crew arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 promptly, and we were able to escape CSM at 15.27. Conditions were excellent, little tide, no wind, flat seas and no rain so we arrived at Joes Beach by 16.15. A quick raft up for the paperwork then off to Muddy Bay (Port of Airlie) at 16.26.

We couldn’t do anything for the target as they had major electrical problems but were still able to use their VHF. A dead easy tow had them alongside the Port of Airlie boat ramp at 17.32 and we were at the CSM fuel dock at 17.50.

All that was left was to finalise paperwork and give VMR1 a quick wash down. Everything went boringly smoothly because of the great crew work. Thanks, guys, for the company.

Crew: Dave Richter (Comms), Paul Martin (Snr Crew) & Ron McCall (nice bloke) 😋
Skipper: Geoff Smith.

Activation 7/1/21: Assist vessel broken down in South Stonehaven

It was right on 1330 when emergency phone holder Ray called me (Geoff S). He was looking for crew to do a tow from Stonehaven as apparently a 26’ Bayliner inboard had broken down with 4 POB.

Our hero crew arrived and had Coral Sea Marina VMR1 sorted out promptly so we could depart at 14.05. It was a bit bumpy with the left-over slop from the northerlies, but little wind. Approaching Stonehaven, Ryan spotted a likely boat which turned out to be our target. A quick raft up for the paperwork and we learned they had low oil pressure and overheating problems.

On our way back we had the seas with us making it very pleasant and allowing us to do 16 knots. We brought them alongside outside of CSM, and dropped them at the ramp wharf. Then it was just refuelling and we were back into our pen for 18.00. Thanks to the very competent crew we had no problems at all.

Crew: Shane Newell, Paul Martin & Ryan Cunningham
Skipper: Geoff Smith.

Activation 9/1/21: Medivac…this time from Hayman Island

The day was drawing to a close when at 1706 hours, Ray called me (Marti) for an activation to Hayman for a medivac. By the time I got down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1, Shane and Nick were already there and carrying out the usual pre- departure checks. Not long after, Ron Mc joined in, along with the paramedic.

We set off for a 50 minute journey to Hayman Island. With the sea moderate and the wind 10 knots SE a direct route to Hayman was selected. On arrival at the Hayman Island Marina we were greeted by one the island staff and waved to our berth. The paramedic disembarked and went to assist the patient in preparing for the journey to Airlie Beach.

It was only about 30 minutes later that we had our patient on board and were starting our return journey. On the return leg I decided we travel south on the lee of Hook Island to stay out of the chop as much as possible.

Crossing the passage was bumpy so the speed was reduced to 13 knots at one stage to avoid the thumping of the hull …. being mindful of the patient onboard. Interesting to note that even though it was only 10 knots SE the sea in the passage did not match the relative calmish wind. The night came early as well with the low dark rain clouds.

At 2020 hours we arrived at CSM and took up our old old berth to disembark our patient and paramedic. We were thanked by our patient for our service. Nice. After refuelling we returned to our ‘real’ berth ‘ and were off the boat just after 2100 hours. A job well done by the crew. Everything went smoothly.

Crew: Ron McCall (Snr Crew), Shane Newell (Comms) & Nick Beecroft (Crew)
Skipper: MartiDavy

Activation 15/1/21: Assist 30ft half-cabin with fuel problems, outside Hook Passage, a moving target

The call from 24/7 phone holder Ray Lewis came just before 0930 – a boat reported as a 30ft half cabin had made a Pan Pan call that had been picked up by Whitsunday VTS. It was anchored on the eastern side of Hook Passage in line with Border Island, and was requesting assistance because of fuel problems. Another vessel had stopped to render assistance, and it appeared as if our target was having radio issues.

By the time I got to the marina Lance and John were waiting along with Ray, and we prepared Coral Sea Marina VMR1 for departure. When Ron arrived we departed into a moderate sea and 16-18 knots of ESE wind.

Just after we cleared North Molle we heard the other assisting boat calling VTS to advise that our target had managed to get his engine running and was heading slowly towards Hook Passage. That was good news so we reduced speed a little, waiting to hear more information. A couple of minutes later we heard them calling our target to advise him that if he got into trouble again to use his V Sheet! That did not sound good. We contacted them and were advised that the target was getting further away from them and they were not sure if he was moving – not good. At this stage we went to fast cruise mode at 27 knots, hoping that the target was ok and not in danger of grounding on the island.

As we passed through the eastern opening of Hook Passage we were looking for a 30ft half cabin, but the only boat that was coming towards us, and moving very slowly, was about 30ft but a two story displacement cruiser – a tad bigger than a half cabin! He was making slow progress, but it was quite rolly outside the passage and we wanted to wait until he got into the sheltered water to go alongside, and guide him into the area of less current.

As he moved into much smoother but still not perfect water he signalled that his motor had stopped again. We had prepared our lines and fenders in advance so we were able to get alongside and secured reasonably quickly as the tide started to push us out of the smoother water. We then continued along the passage with his boat alongside while we prepared the towing bridle and completed the paperwork.

By 1130 we were under way for a slow tow at 6.5 to 7 knots back to the Port of Airlie, arriving at 1355 after taking him alongside off the channel entrance. Five minutes later we had deposited him on the WSC marina and were on our way back to Coral Sea to refuel, wash and secure VMR1, finishing a longish job of over 4.5 hours by 1440. Thanks crew, well done.

NOTE: He was lucky he was a current financial member and the bulk of his 4.5 hour assistance was covered under the 4 hour free annual assist in his VMRW membership – otherwise it would have cost him $1453! You can join online. The $80 membership is cheap insurance!

Crew: Ron McCall, Lance Robins, John Caldwell
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 23/1/21: Urgent medivac from Chalkies Beach

When the phone rings with that tone at 04.00 you know it must be a VMR callout. I think Ray, our 24 hour emergency phone holder must have the worst job in this volunteer rescue team!

So, this morning we have a patient having a severe asthma attack on a 38 foot catamaran at Chalkies Beach. No time for coffee, this one could be very time critical.

I arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at the same time as our Paramedic, and as the crew had almost completed the pre-start checks we were on our way asap.

A rising tide with a 15knot East/South-east breeze made it a bit lumpy, but we were in a hurry and this is what VMR1 was built to take on. A light rain shower through Hook Passage and then a cloudy sun-rise glow as we approached our target vessel on it’s mooring amongst several others at Chalkies Beach on Hazlewood Island. Their GPS position as given was very precise.

Once our patient was aboard and looking better, and with the go-ahead from the medic we headed back to our berth at Airlie Beach. A much smoother ride, and the patient and his mother were escorted up the marina ramp to the waiting ambulance. Time now to move to refuel, and back to our berth for a washdown and the necessary paperwork.

One of our crew (thanks Michael) now had 10 minutes to get to his work-place! Also thanks to Paul M. and Terry C. for another job well done. 4 hours all up, and ready for the next callout.

Skipper: Ron Roberts
Crew: Paul, Terry and Michael

Activation 25/1/21: Assist a 14.5m Yacht from Pioneer Bay

My mower was causing me problems, so I (Geoff F) was in Proserpine getting parts for it, when Ray rang at 1300. A 14.5m yacht with transmission problems was needing a tow into Coral Sea Marina. “No worries,” I said “I’m on my way.”

I drove back to Airlie and got down to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 to find the crew had almost completed the pre start checks. Excellent! We left the marina, heading for North Molle. It didn’t take long before we found our target vessel, under sail, and entering Pioneer Bay.

The crew set up our towline and we towed the vessel back to CSM without problems. Rafted up & completed the paperwork, then transferred the vessel to their berth. Back to our berth & tidied up. We were off home by 1500.

My thanks to the crew! It was certainly a better afternoon than doing the mowing. 😉

Crew: Michel del Aguila (Snr Crew), Lance Robins (Comms), Nick Beecroft(Crew)
Skipper: Geoff Fitzsimmons

Activation 27/1/21: Medivac from Hamilton Island for QAS – possible spinal injury

We left CSM with one Paramedic on board at 1515 hrs arriving at G- arm in Hamilton Marina at 1605 hrs. The patient was transferred to our stretcher and brought aboard.

We departed Hamilton Marina at 1630 hrs for CSM, arriving back there at 1720 hrs. The patient, and the paramedic and her gear, were unloaded and we proceeded to the refuelling wharf, and then back to our own berth for a wash down and closing down procedures, including letting Ray and Whitsunday VTS know of the successful completion of our task. We departed the vessel at 1745 hrs.

Crew: Michel del Aquila (Snr Crew), Shane Newell and John Caldwell (crew and acting as Comms officer for this activation)
Skipper: Fin Forbes

Activation 29/1/21: Assist a sinking vessel off Pioneer Point

When 24/7 phone holder Ray called me on Friday afternoon, he said we had been requested to assist a vessel taking water near Pioneer Point. The skipper was the only person on board and he had hitched a ride on another vessel coming back to the marina (thank you Providence!) and was going to meet us at Whale Song VMR2 (Coral Sea Marina VMR1 was in the middle of a medivac). Could I assist?

Just after I said “Yes” the heavens opened. It looked like it was going to be a pretty wet activation. When I got to VMR2, Michael had already started pre-departure checks, and was in phone contact with the other skipper who was about to come into the marina on Providence.

With pre-starts completed and luckily with most of the rain now past, we backed VMR2 off the dock at 1620 and went over to Providence where we found the Water Police getting details from the other skipper. We took him on board VMR2 and headed out towards Pioneer Point where the boat was last seen. Conditions were quite choppy with E/SE winds gusting up to 23 knots, and showers.

At Pioneer Point we found nothing, so allowing for the ebbing tide flowing northwest, we headed in that direction looking for our target, a 6m aluminium tinny with a console. In the distance we could see what looked like a small white object, and a mile later we pulled up beside our target – now completely inverted, and floating bow up.

This had quickly become a salvage job so we contacted a local salvage company at the request of the owner, and they agreed to come out and recover the vessel – thank you, Darren and the team at Whitsunday Moorings and Construction.

We pulled back into Coral Sea Marina about 1740 and deposited the other skipper on the salvage vessel, and pretty soon they were on their way out to do the recovery. (I confirmed the next day that it had been successfully towed back to the marina, righted, pumped out, and put on the owner’s trailer).

We refuelled, put Whale Song back on the floating dock, did our shutdown, paperwork, and cleaned and secured the boat before heading home to dry out at about 1800. Thank you Michael, nice work.

Crew: Michael McQueeney
Skipper: Mal Priday

Activation 30/1/21: Medivac in the darkest hours

These activations may start to read the same, but we can assure you that no two are alike! 😊

The incoming call from Ray, our emergency 24 hour phone holder came at me (Ron) at 01.25. Even at that time of the morning he is always polite and asks if I would do a medivac from Hamilton Island, please. Yes mate, of course.

Coffee went on before the uniform, then I flew out the door and drove to Coral Sea Marina VMR1. With the crew doing prestart checks and Paramedics already on board, I scooted up to the upper steering station and set up the navigation consoles for night-time brilliance, then we are away. 15 to 20 knots of breeze from the E/SE and a dropping tide so we expected it to be a bit bouncy, but had no difficulty.

A near full moon gave us good visibility and the journey to the Island was beautiful and easy with the silver ribbon adding sheen to the scene.

Our arrival was expected and we were met at our docking point by the patient and some Island staff and medics. The patient was transferred aboard and everyone settled back for a quick return to VMR1 home berth.

After the patient and medics were safely ashore, we moved to the fuel dock to top up, then back to our berth for a hose-down and finishing the paper-work. All done by 04.35.

Crew: Shane Newell, Terry Brown and Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Ron Roberts