October 2021

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Activation 1/10/2021: Assist 7m powerboat in Butterfly Bay

The superb crew and great weather and seas made this activation pleasant with no dramas. Thanks guys – I personally really appreciate what you do – and do well.

VMRW’s 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder and SARCO (Bill Harrison) rang me (Fin) at 10 am organising a crew to assist a 7m Powerboat, 2POB, in Butterfly Bay with possible flat batteries?

Coral Sea Marina VMR1 left at 10.30 am and with Wade on the helm, arriving at the vessel at 11.55am. We immediately took him alongside to do the paper work. Problem – the owner had the info in the ‘wallet’ in his phone – but there was no phone reception. The other POB had the necessary info on them so theirs was used. We then tried jump starting his batteries – and with some minor hassles we managed to start the motors.

He was happy for us to leave him, so we left him there and made our own way back to CSM. Once back, we carried out all the necessary shut down procedures and a short debrief, and we left the boat at 1 pm.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Grant Ford, Wade Fisher
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 2/10/2021: Assist a 5.7m hire boat with 4 pob, broken down at Black Island

The call from Debbie in the radio room came in about 1320 – a boat hire company was asking for us to assist one of their vessels (that had been serviced the week before) broken down near Black Island, opposite Hayman. Lunch will have to wait. I made my way in while Debbie put a crew together, and we set off in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 1330. Conditions were good, with a 10-15 knot N/NW and a rising tide, with just enough chop to create a bit of a jiggle. Another beautiful day in Paradise.

By 1415 we were alongside our target which was exactly where they said they would be – that is not always the case! After transferring the two ladies onto VMR1, we soon had the tow underway at about 18 knots, then back to the ramp at Coral Sea Marina, depositing them at the ramp at 1540. We then refuelled before making our way back to our berth, and by the time we completed the paperwork, washdown and secured the boat it was 1615 before we could head home – in my case, for a very late lunch.

Good work by the crew, and Louise completed her first activation, commenting that the real thing was a bit different to training and was looking forward to the next one.

Crew: Ron McCall, David Richter, Louise Keepa
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 2/10/2021: Towing Two at once. A double header.

I (Ken) had a call from Debbie in the VMR radio room around 14:45. ” We have a broken down tinny at the southern end of Whitehaven beach, 2 POB. We also have a jet ski broken down and on the beach towards the Northern end of Whitehaven”.

Well, its a great day for a trip to Whitehaven. Where is VMR 1? She is on her way back from Black Island with a vessel in tow. OK, we will take Whale Song VMR2. Ask Paul and Stewart if they would like to assist.

15:25 we departed Coral Sea Marina en-route to Whitehaven Beach. With the northerly blowing there were a few rather large holes in our part of the sea. I decided to run down the inside of South Molle and then cut across to Fitzalan passage. The sea conditions were much better with the protection from South Molle.

16:45 we arrived at Whitehaven. Debbie was on the radio to give Paul the co-ordinates for both our targets. After Paul plotted their positions, I noticed that both vessels were very close to one another. He double checked the positions and yes. Stewart, our crew member could see the jet ski on the beach. We approached the tinny, which turned out to be an 8.5 metre fibreglass cabin cruiser. This will be interesting, VMR2 is only 6.7 metres. I spoke to the owner and explained that we also had the jet ski on the beach that was apparently taking water and the crew needed rescuing.
After talking to the jet ski skipper, she confirmed that it was not taking water and was safe to tow.

Now we have two vessels to tow. The jet ski to Hamilton island and the cruiser to Port of Airlie. So, Paul and Stewart hooked up the jet ski, towed it to the cruiser, where after a little knot training by yours truly the jet ski was secured astern of the cruiser. Paul and Stewart now set up our tow line and we were off to Hamilton island at 17:20. This part of the journey was very slow as this ski did not have a water shut-off valve.

We arrived Hamilton Island at 19:20 The crew set up both vessels for our entry to the harbour. VMR 2 had the cruiser on our starboard side the jet ski on our port. We were to drop the jet ski at a ski dock in the back corner of the harbour, it was now very dark. This was interesting as I had never been in this part of Hamilton Island. The planning could not have been better, Stewart used the spot-light to locate the dock. It required a turn to port followed by a hard turn to starboard to lay the ski gently against the dock. There were many supporters for the ski crew with lots of laughter. We continued our turn to starboard, back the way we had come.

19:25 We were on our way to Port of Airlie. Whale Song VMR 2, did a great job. She managed to get the 8.5 metre cruiser moving along at between 10 to 13 knots. We arrived at Port of Airlie at 21:20 where a boat-hand was waiting to assist the stricken vessel. Amazing people, they were so thankful for the assistance of VMR.

21:50 we were back at our berth to commence all the paper work for dual activations. Vessel to be washed down and everything secure, 22:25 time for home.

Thankyou to the, crew. Multiple tow lines, rafting port and starboard. Nil incidents. Well done!

Crew: Paul Martin (Senior crew) and Stewart Scarborough
Skipper: Ken Bryce

Under our reciprocal rights arrangements, the owner of the cabin cruiser is able to claim a partial refund from VMR Bowen (as he is one of their members) for the tow back to Airlie.

The boat owner also thanked VMRW for their assistance:
“Very appreciative of the tow on Saturday, guys were very professional and patient, please share our thanks for them giving up their time getting us home safe late at night”.


Activation 3/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island for a young lad with a broken wrist, and never mind the grand final!

It is lucky the crew were not Panthers or Rabbitohs supporters! I was just settling in to watch what I thought was going to be a good game when 24/7 phone holder Bill rang asking me if I was duty skipper for the night – yes, so goodbye footie! We had Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready to go by 1815, and left with our paramedic on board right on kick-off at 1830. It was a very dark night, with no moon, and a northerly of 10-15 knots on a rising tide.

Approaching Pioneer Rocks we could see the lights of another vessel and also had it on radar, coming straight towards us. We slowed down and altered course to starboard towards land, and the other vessel went past us at high speed very close to our port side! Not sure if he did not see us (doubt that) or did not know the rules, but he was very close. The close call was discussed with the Water Police the next day. Every boatie needs to know the rules and collision regulations for their own safety and the safety of everyone else on the water.

Soon after passing Pioneer, as we were transiting the Molle Channel, we had a radar image on the bow, but no lights. The boat was not visible to the naked eye as it was as dark as the inside of a cow, but Shane saw that it was a vessel under sail using our FLIR, so we slowed down again and moved up to it, giving a couple of blasts on our horn. After the second blast and a shouted word of advice, his nav lights came on, and we set course again for Hamilton wondering what else the night had in store for us.

Fortunately there were no more dramas, we berthed at Hamilton at 1930 and were underway with the young lad and his father 10 minutes later, depositing them at Coral Sae Marina at 2045 before refuelling and returning to our own berth for the usual washdown and paperwork, before heading for home at 2120.
When I called my wife she rubbed salt into the wound, saying that we had missed a really good game of footie!

This was medivac 87 for the year so far, more than three times where we were at the same time last year.

Crew: Shane Newell, Nick Beecroft
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 5/10/2021: 42’ Ketch broken down in Puritan Bay (north of Cape Conway) 2 POB

Bill Harrison the 24 hr Emergency Phone Holder called at 07.40. A call had come in via VTS, a member’s 42’ Ketch had an engine problem in Puritan Bay and needed to get to Airlie.

I was about to start breakfast so as they were anchored, I thought I could finish my breakfast. We got away in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 08.20 and arrived at our target at 09.20.

They were quite close in but as it was the top of the tide, we rafted up to do the paperwork. When we finished, I noticed we were a bit closer in than when we started and asked if they had been dragging. Oh yes, they replied, we have been sitting on the bottom as well.

Right, in gear, lets get some sea room. I was worried we would have a problem getting the anchor up, but it wasn’t a problem at all. The ketches crew member was able to lift it easily as, luckily, it only had a couple of metres of light chain attached to an equally light anchor that would have been perfect for a 5-6m tinny.

A little later we discovered our 42’ ketch weighed 20 tons. Probably a conservative estimate for a ferro hull whose momentum carried her forever.
Anyway, we got underway, heading to a mooring off the sailing club. Our tow seemed happy at 8 knots although even with a lot of tow line out, our tow line rarely touched the water.

We got to the mooring at 12.23, dropped the skipper off at another mooring to pick up his tender and headed for CSM. Next to the fuel dock and then our pen at 13.00 for a wash and tidy.

Thanks to a good crew.

Crew: Dave Richter, Stuart Scarborough, Grant Ford,
Skipper: Geoff Smith.


Activation 6/10/2021: This activation was a routine ‘go out – locate – retrieve’ one – except it took 7 hours (from approx. 11.30am till 6 .30 pm – no lunch for us ‘workers’ today).

It involved a 23 ft powerboat with a motor problem – 2 POB– located on the NE side of Block Reef – needing a tow back to Port of Airlie.

The highlights were – the beautiful Whitsunday day, sighting a few whales near the reef, and spending a day on the water with pleasant, competent people ie. my crew.

VMRW has many competent, nice people on the crew list, who volunteer their valuable time and skills for the community.

My sincere thanks to todays ‘team’- our Boat Crew, Bill Harrison-our 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder, a vital part of ‘the team’ – (He is VMRW’s contact point for people needing assistance) and also Whitsunday VTS who relayed radio messages between ourselves and the assisted vessel.

Crew: Paul Martin (Snr. Crew), Tony Bell (Comms officer), Stevie and Selina Brooks (Crew)
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 9/10/2021: Triple Header – Assist a member broken down near Bait Reef, then tow a yacht from Pioneer Point into Coral Sea Marina – then do a medivac! A 105 mile day!

The first job came in just before 0700 from 24/7 phone holder Bill on what would turn out to be a 9 hour day on another beautiful day in paradise – a member had used his VHF to call for assistance near Bait Reef (exactly the way it should be done!) and his call had been relayed to Bill by Whitsunday VTS in Mackay for assistance to take him back to Hayman Island – no problem, and I was soon on my way before breakfast.

When I got to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 the crew were in the process of getting her ready to go, and James already had coordinates relayed from the boat to VTS and then to Bill. Only problem was when James and Michel plotted those coordinates it was almost on the outside edge of the reef and it showed a 63 mile trip to get there, twice the distance to Bait Reef. We smelled a rat – another CURSER position? By this time Alan was on duty in the radio room, and he had been in contact with our target and was able to get a revised set of coordinates much closer to Bait Reef, so away we went at 0735.

Conditions were a moderate sea in 10/15 knots of easterly, and we reached our target just over 35 miles later at 0910. We passed across our tow hook – it was too rolly to raft up – and set off towards Hayman at 18-19 knots a few minutes later. By 1040 we had him into the Hayman Marina and were delighted when the skipper – a senior manager at the resort – arranged four cappuccinos for the crew! Nice, and they were much appreciated.

We were soon on or way back to CSM but en route we were diverted to assist a 45ft yacht with engine problems that needed a tow into Coral Sea Marina. By 1110 we were alongside, and set up the bridle for the tow which was at 7-8 knots. Approaching Coral Sea Marina we took them alongside and took our turn to enter as a couple of big vessels were on their way out. Once inside we took him to his allocated berth on the outside of one of the jetties, which involved doing a 180 with the yacht tied alongside so we could put him on the jetty where one of the friendly CSM staff was waiting to assist with his lines. Task completed we had just let our lines off when we heard a voice from inside the yacht saying “wait, wait, I am cooking you lunch!”. It was his lovely partner, but as we had already cast off the CSM staff member brought our very nice lunch across to the fuel berth, which was our next stop at 1320.

On the way to the fuel dock the phone went again – Gay was now on duty in the radio room, and could we do a medivac from Hamilton? Dave had another commitment but the other crew all stayed on, and while we were refuelling we were joined by Ray. After refuelling we moved around to the other side of the main arm, and were soon joined by our paramedic and on our way to Hamilton to help a lady with a leg injury, departing at 1325. VMR1 was berthed at Hamilton at 1435 and was under way again a few minutes later, and had our patient, her carer and the paramedic disembarked and helped up the ramp to the waiting ambulance by 1545. It was then about a 20 minute wait to get on to the fuel berth again during their busy period, then back to our own berth to clean and secure the boat and do all of the necessary paperwork, heading for home at 1630 – a 9 hour day.

Great commitment by all concerned, made a bit easier with the coffees at Hayman and the lunch from our second target – much appreciated by the crew!
(And the meat pies and cold drinks Ray brought along, also hit the spot)😋

Crew: Michel del Aguila, Dave Richter, James Roberts, Ray Lewis
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 12/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island

My normal ringtone went off at 0253 hours, it was Mal (our president). “I’m filling in for Bill and you have a medivac (heart patient) from Hammo right now”. No problem I replied, a 3am start is much easier for the rest of the day than a midnight run I thought to myself.

Pulling into the carpark at Coral Sea Marina I could see the QAS paramedic unloading all her gear from the ambulance. That was good timing and I helped her with the gear to the boat, Coral Sea Marina VMR1.

Bill and Chris were already onboard preparing our vessel for departure and not long after Shane turned up to help complete our checks.

0330 hours we departed the marina for blissful ride to Hamilton Island, no bumps, no wind and neap high tide what more could you want? Yes, a bright moon but not tonight, it set before midnight. Visibility was excellent and there were a few stars out amongst the clouds.

Arrived Hamilton Island Marina 0430 hours and with some shuffling around we squeezed onto our regular pickup berth. The marina work pontoon was moved a few meters so we could fit in finally. Good line work by the crew. No sooner we had tied up our patience and resident paramedic had arrived. Our patient walked onto the vessel without any fuss and got comfortable on our stretcher in the cabin.

0445 hours we departed Hamilton Island for a smooth ride home. As we cleared Titan Island and those 2 lateral markers north of Dent Island we could see clear as, the cardinals of Low Rock at Shute Harbour and of course the sector beacon on the Beak, nice. I think if the moon was out it would have washed out the clarity of those distant lights.

0540 hours back at Coral Sea Marina, dock L. Our patient walked off VMR1 and reloaded onto the QAS stretcher on the dock. Chris helped with getting the patient and gear to the ambulance while we moved over to the fuel dock before returning to our berth.

Washed down, shore power on and paperwork completed we disembarked 0630 hours.

The operation went very smoothly thanks to the competent crew.

Crew: Shane Newell, Bill Hopton, Chris Reinbott
Skipper: Marti Davy


Activation 12/10/2021: Tow 50ft yacht to anchorage.

Bill rang at about 2.30 p.m. with an unusual task – to tow a 50ft (25 tonne) yacht out of CSM to an anchorage outside of Port of Airlie. The owner had only recently purchased it and it needed some repairs done at Edges Boatyard.

Getting him out of his berth was ‘interesting’ as there was a large vessel beside him, so we simply tied our bow to the pylon on the outside of the berth and slid him out of his berth and along our port side and secured him there.

It was a slow tow at 2 to 3 knots for the 300 m or so from CSM to his anchorage, due to the rollie seas as a result of the Northerly winds. After his vessel was safely anchored, we returned the owner to CSM.

In the meantime, Bill had advised us of another vessel that needed our assistance.

Crew: Ray Lewis (Snr Crew) and Chris Reinbott (Crew & Comms Officer)
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 12/10/2021: Tow powerboat with engine problems from Solway Passage to CSM.

Whilst on our first activation for the afternoon, Bill (our trusty 24/7 emergency phone holder) advised that a VMRW member with his 23ft power boat, with engine problems, 4 POB, required a tow from Solway Passage back to CSM.

We left CSM at 4.30 p.m. and arrived at the said vessel at 5.30 p.m. We transferred two of their passengers to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and we were towing by 5.45 p.m. Towing speeds ranged from 18 knots down to 9 knots – depending on the sea conditions due to the Northerly winds.

We shortened the tow line to bring him into CSM but our towing hook disengaged (it sometimes will do this at slow speeds and a following sea), so we rafted him alongside and towed him into the Marina and dropped him off at the public boat ramp – after transferring the passengers back to their boat.

We were back in our pen at 7.45 p.m. after completing all necessary shut down procedures.

The owner of the vessel was very appreciative of our assistance.

Again, I must thank ‘my team’ for their efforts for VMRW and the boating community..

Crew: Ray Lewis and Chris Reinbott
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation 15/10/2021: Move a 50’ Ketch in Muddy Bay

Ray the 24 hr Emergency Phone Holder called at 12.03. A vessel we had moved from CSM, earlier in the week, to Muddy Bay, near the Edges Boat Yard channel, was to be moved further North in the bay.

We left CSM at 12.40 and were alongside our target at 12.50. The vessels motor did not work and because of electrical problems couldn’t use his anchor winch. We have had success in the past in this situation by running a rope under the anchor chain and slowly motoring forward. The rope slides down the chain until it gets to the anchor. At that point the anchor is pulled out of the bottom and the vessel can be towed forwards by its anchor warp. This time, it didn’t work. I believe the rope we used to go under the anchor chain was too short and needed weighting to get it closer, if not on, the seabed. The anchor chain was also heavily corroded, and this probably reduced the ropes’ ability to slide along it.

Next we tried to get our tow rope aboard the target and take the load off the anchor to allow the skipper to pull it up by hand. The skipper was having trouble with this. Getting the timing right with the short seas put up by the Northerlies didn’t help him either. So we gently motored forwards, picking a path through the moorings, as far away from the moorings ground tackle as we could, into the channel then carried on North to the channel entrance. We then held him in position whilst he got his anchor down again.

Crew: Tony Bell, Terry Brown, Michel Del Aguila
Skipper: Geoff Smith.


Activations 16/10/2021: Long Double – 147 Miles!

(1) assist a vessel grounded at Whitehaven Beach followed immediately by-
(2) Assist a vessel broken down at Square Reef back to Coral Sea Marina – total Miles for the day and night about 150!

Radio operator David at the base rang me before 1000 – a vessel (reported as a 5 m tinny) was aground at Whitehaven Beach and had requested assistance through Whitsunday VTS, could we assist? Another call revealed that it had run aground at 1830 the previous day, and a quick check of the tides showed that it had done that almost on the high tide – and we had passed the morning high an hour ago. After a discussion with 24/7 phone holder and SARCO Ray it was agreed that we could not do anything for them until the evening tide, biggest of the day, around the same time. That message was passed back to our target by VTS, and Ray helped new operator Dick put a crew together for a 1700 departure. It was another glorious day, light winds and blue skys.

I met the crew of Paul and James at Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and we set out for Whitehaven at 1545 with Paul at the helm. We tried calling our target a number of times on VHF (there is no phone coverage at Whitehaven, the third most photographed place in Australia!) without success, and found our target at the south end where he said he was, around 1715, and anchored as close as we could.

Next problem – where were the boaties? And there was another boat up there beside them! Paul and James launched our tender and went for a search in the bush, and soon found the people at their camp – news to us that they were camping there! After sorting the paperwork we took a line onshore using the tender as the tide continued to rise, James came back on board and we raised anchor, took the strain, applied a little bit of our 960 hp, and soon had our first customer back in the water. James took the tow line back for target 2, and we repeated the process, made sure they were anchored, and set off for home via Solway Passage and past Hamilton Island.

But wait, there is more! As we cleared Solway Passage the phone went at 1830 – phone holder Ray said we had another activation, to Square Reef, about 64 miles in a straight line from Airlie. As we were already about ¼ of the way there, the crew agreed to stay on rather than waste time returning to Airlie for another crew, so we set course and started for Square – over 46 miles from our location, and up to 15 knots of easterly and a choppy sea made for a jiggly trip.

We had to go around Square after rechecking their coordinates a couple of times – one set had them inside the reef which would have been a no go at night – we tied up beside them at 2100, making use of our onboard iPad with Navionics Sonar Charts to reach them safely. We helped them position to raise their anchor, and started to head north around Square while the paperwork was done and the bridle was rigged for the tow, including removing their anchor which would have interfered.

By 2120 we had lengthened the tow and got underway, initially at 8-10 knots until we rounded Square (nice pun?) but slowly moving up to about 15 knots without putting too much strain on our engines. It was a very heavy 7.5 metre plate boat, heavily loaded, with 4 pob. After asking them to sit a bit further aft the trim improved, and we were able to maintain 16-18 knots quite comfortably for the 65 mile or so trip to Coral Sea Marina. They were hoping to go back to Seaforth, near Mackay but that was well out of our area and a long way off course for us, and they were happy to go to Airlie and have a mate bring up their car and trailer the next day.

We deposited them on the public jetty at the marina at 0130, and after refuelling and moving back to our own berth for the clean-up and paperwork, we did not walk off until 0230 and headed home for some well deserved sleep. Great work by Paul and James, thanks guys.

Crew: Paul Martin, James Roberts
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 19/10/2021: On a Dark and Stormy Night……

So, the Weather Bureau had got it right and the forecast violent thunderstorm with strong winds, hail and rain had not only hit us, it had hit us in a short sharp burst with strong winds from the North-West. An unusual direction for Airlie Beach.

Sitting on my verandah with coffee in hand and watching the light-show was fine, but the 30knot plus gusts would not have been fun on the water, so I put on my VMR outfit and drove down to the waters edge to see if I was needed as a skipper.

The clouds were breaking up and the setting sun gave me a fair view of the Airlie waterfront from the vantage points I chose, and apart from the swell crashing onto the shore, things seemed okay, so I drove the 15 minutes back home. I should have known, as 5 minutes later, Ray, our emergency phone holder this week called me with a police activation.

A yacht (we had the name) had dragged anchor and was approaching the rock wall at Coral Sea Marina. Could we go out, check for POB and assess for possible grounding. While we were there could we relay any registration info to them as the vessel was reported as untouched for an extended period of time and the owners needed to be notified.

With the closeness to the shoreline and the possibility of lines and debris in the water, we decided to take Whalesong VMR2 with her forward boarding steps and outboards which we could raise out of the water, her alloy hull and shallow draught could also save us some possible difficulties.

With the crew of Ray, Michel and Shane N. on board and all our pre-departure checks done we headed out from the protection of the marina wall and into a very messy 1 to 1.5 metre swell and a gusty N/N/W wind. This was not comfortable for any-one, and prefect conditions for mooring line chafe and anchor dragging.

Within 5 minutes we were beside the vessel in question, bobbing up and down like 2 corks in a washing machine.

Initial assessment showed that her anchor line was taut but did not appear to have much scope, that her mast was unstepped but firmly lashed along her starboard topsides, that she was all closed up and no sign of any-one on board. We could not see any sign of lines or hazards floating out behind her, so I decided to motor past her stern in the gap between the vessel and the rock wall lee shore. This would give us a better idea if there were people aboard and also better visuals on her registration number which we then relayed to the police.

Holding station in those conditions was not easy, but it gave us further proof that the yacht had re-anchored in the shallower water and was not in danger of grounding at this time, also that there were no lives in danger. The police responded that the vessel had not been registered for over 1000 days.

With all this considered, and the conditions as they were but abating slowly, I determined that it would be unsafe for our crew to attempt to board the vessel, raise it’s anchor, connect a tow-line and tow it away from shore. We would also then be responsible for re-anchoring it safely, or attaching it to an unknown mooring thus introducing further possible danger or hazards to other vessels around it and /or our own vessel and crew.

VMR base and the police were then notified of my decisions and we headed back to our berth for the paperwork and washdown to prepare VMR2 for her next activation.

Many thanks to the crew of Ray, Michel and Shane for volunteering to be out there, and for all their efforts on a bouncy evening.
Until next time, your skipper, Ron.

Crew: Ray Lewis, Michel Del Aguila and Shane Newell
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation 22/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island

Our emergency 24hr phone holder rang at about 19.00 and asked if I could skipper a quick medi-vac callout to Hamilton Island. Of course, Ray, no problem.

By the time I arrived at Coral Sea Marina VMR1, tonight’s crew had the vessel ready to go and we decided to motor around to our old berth to make it easier for our paramedic to load equipment.

A 15 knot Northerly breeze coupled with a bouncy North-Easterly swell made the trip to Pioneer Point a bit boisterous, but after that it was an easy run to Hamilton Island Marina and our usual pick-up point.

Our patient was brought down on a stretcher, but made the few tentative steps aboard with the assistance of our crew. It seemed that she was quite hesitant and appeared very nervous about the trip back to Airlie.

This was confirmed by a crew member as we departed the dock, so we planned to travel out wide of Pioneer rock on our return journey and avoid much of the bouncy swell issues.

All went well for the home-coming leg, and we were soon discharging our passengers, re-fuelling, returning to our berth and preparing for our next activation. Thanks again to our volunteer crew.

Crew: Shane Newell, Ray Lewis, and Dave Richter.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 24/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island for a suspected snake bite

I knew I would get a call out, the Moto GP was coming on live and I was on call. Oh well, sure enough, phone holder Ray called as I was just finishing dinner, we had been asked to do a medivac for a person on Hamilton Island with a suspected snake bite. Ray put the crew together while I was on the way in, and we picked up our paramedic and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 left the marina at 1930 for the trip to Hamilton on a dark night with 10-15 knots of wind and a rising tide.

We were alongside at Hamilton (we almost have a dedicated berth these days!) at 2025, and five minutes later we were on our way back. We passed Whale Song VMR2 near Pioneer on its way back from its second activation back to back, and it had two boats in tow this time. Having discharged our patient and the paramedic at 2130 we refuelled and went back to our berth for the cleanup and paperwork, all finished by 2200. And I managed to catch most of the Moto GP!

Thanks crew, a nice easy one.

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


Activations Sunday evening 24/10/2021: A TOW OR THREE…..FUEL GAUGE, WHAT FUEL GAUGE!

With the emergency ring tone having alerted me (Ron) to a callout at 18.00, Ray asked if I could skipper for a quick non-member tow of a small tinnie with 4 POB, from Pioneer Rocks back to Port of Airlie. “Of course Ray, hopefully we will be back before the forecast storm warning became fact”.

Ray organized a crew as I headed down to Coral Sea Marina and Whalesong VMR2. With a little light left in the sky, we soon spotted our disabled vessel anchored close to the shore. So we quickly rafted alongside them, raised their anchor and motored slowly away from the rocks as we did the paperwork. All was under control as we towed at pace to drop them at the boat ramp, but there was a lot of VHF radio communication going on ship to shore and back.

VMR1 was tasked to do a medivac from Hamilton Island, while at the same time, 2 boats travelling back from a reef fishing trip had both run out of fuel and were both drifting in Whitsunday Passage.

They had been fishing out wide and while returning to shore, the smaller vessel had run out of fuel, okay…. so the larger boat starts towing the dry boat home…….and runs out of fuel.

Their GPS coordinates looked reasonable and as we rounded Hannah Point on North Molle Island, we spotted lights mid-passage, so headed towards them.

It was full dark with no moon by then and just flashes from our expected severe storm to the South as a backdrop, we had no trouble sighting them and headed straight over, with our Yellow strobe light announcing our presence. Up closer and with the use of a torch, we could see that the smaller boat was still tethered to the larger by a short tow-line.

With the seas still a bit lumpy we elected to start the tow first and complete the paperwork once we got into calmer water and had a brief chat about the towing process.

As they had a broken radio, we had them on a short tow, so we could hear them shout if they had a problem. We then proceeded with the 10 mile tow at under 5 knots, so that we shouldn’t have any problems. Hoping that their previously rigged tow-line to the last boat in the string would remain intact and connected at both ends.

So, finally within the shelter of the Coral Sea Marina, paper work progressing, the smallest boat separated and on our suggestion, used their electric trolling motor to head in to the floating dock. We then proceeded to the pontoon and dropped the other boat off.

It is now after 23.00 and we have finished the paperwork, re-fuelled, hosed down and put VMR2 back on her floating dock, ready for the next job. Huge thanks to my crew tonight. Chris had driven for some of the slow tow home to give me a rest and Bill worked valiantly with the paperwork.

Crew: Bill Hopton and Chris Reinbott.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Never, Never, Never, underestimate your fuel consumption. Take as an absolute minimum, 25% extra, 50% would be safer, and take it every trip. Always fill your tanks before you leave, and if you get back to the ramp with less than 25% in your tank you have got it wrong!


Activation 26/10/2021: Medivac from Hayman Island

14.30 and the emergency VMR ring-tone signalled me to action. A medivac from Hayman Island? I’m on my way.

Arrival at Coral Sea Marina co-incided with the ambulance pulling in and then Ray L turned up as well, so he helped the paramedic with his equipment while I continued down to VMR1 for our pre-departure checks. Within a couple of minutes Michel D. and Tony B. had arrived as well so we were on our way.

A smooth trip across in a light North-East breeze, a 5 minute turnaround for picking up our patient and we were on our way back to Airlie with a brief stop mid channel while some pain medication was administered, and we were back at the marina offloading our passengers by 17.00.

Refuelling, travel back to our berth, wash-down and paperwork were completed and VMR1 was ready to go again by 17.30

Professional teamwork from the volunteer crew made the afternoon easy. Thank you gentlemen.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila and Tony Bell
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation 26/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island

A night of firsts! My maiden activation as skipper. The Phone Holder, Ray, roused me from a well earned sleep, inviting me to complete medical evacuation from Hamilton Island. What more could I say? “Of course” was my reply. Ray assembled a crew as I drove to Coral Sea Marina. Upon arrival at the Marina, I found the Paramedic awaiting access to the mooring of Coral Sea Marina VMR1, aboard were the crew preparing the vessel for the nights activity.

Once aboard and with a thousand questions running through head, I found the log sheet prepared and my name by the skipper’s slot. This was real!
We quickly got going at 2240 hrs, into a fairly dark, moonless night; the winds were light, the sea calm. Arriving at Hamilton Island at 2340 hrs, made the patient comfortable and we were departing at 2355 hrs. The moon had risen, a Waning gibbous phase (last quarter), for those interested in moon phases, thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology.

A very calm ride back to Coral Sea Marina arriving at 0055 hrs, dropped off the Ambulance Officer and the patient and refuelled, washed down VMR1 and completed the paperwork. I am grateful to my crew, each did a great job, professional and made my task much simpler.

Crew: Ray Lewis (Senior crew), Shane Newell (Comms) and David Richter
Skipper: Paul M


Activation 27/10/2021: Medivac from Hamilton Island

Aroused from a “Nanna” nap after night activation, the Senior Skipper, Ken, asked me (Paul), which evening I would like to cover to share the load on the skippers for night activations, “Wednesday” I replied, conveniently forgetting that today was Wednesday. No good deed goes unpunished….my phone made a strangely strangled noise or perhaps my perception was off, activation!

Quickly changing from gardening clothes to high vis work clothes, off I go to Coral Sea Marina, the crew had Coral sea Marina VMR1 primed and ready. Our assigned “Ambo” was struggling under the load of equipment she needed, fortunately I was able to help carry some equipment. At the vessel we had a quick meeting, everyone knew what they were to do and off we went.

Unlike our earlier Medivac that morning, there was no moon, pitch black! Placing all my faith on the electronic devices arrayed before me, off we went, departing at 2030 hrs. The seas were slight, wind around 11 knots, tide ebbing – all made for a very pleasant journey to Hamilton Island, deja vu, I’ve been here before, just 20 hours before!

We arrived at Hamilton Island at 2125 hrs. We experienced a slight delay as the patient was transferred to VMR1 and we departed for CSM at 2145 hrs. With the assistance of both wind and tide we arrived at 2250 hrs. The patient was ambulatory, John assisted with the myriad of equipment to be carried, thank you!

We refuelled, washed down VMR1 and secured her, ready for the next job, all completed by 2350 hrs. Excited as I was for having skippered my second activation within 24 hours, the allure of my pillow was overwhelming.

Many thanks to my crew who performed admirably.
Still excited by this!

Crew: Ray Lewis and John Caldwell.
Skipper: Paul M


Activation 29/10/2021: Medivac from Hayman Island

Friday morning I (Ken) was down at the marina. I had just finished a job for Stewart when my emergency phone was ringing. It was Ray, one of our 24 hour phone holders. “We have a medivac from Hayman can you assist” I am on my way. There were very few crew on the list. Shane and Selina were on the way also to VMR1. I met the two paramedics in the car park and transported their equipment via trolley to Coral Sea Marina VMR1.

With Shane on the helm we departed Coral Sea Marina at 12:30 As the only other crew, Selina handled all the deck work and comms. What a great day to be on the water. The sea was flat the sun was shining and we all had grins on our faces.

13:05 Shane took us into Hayman where we were greeted by two marina crew. The patient arrived via wheel chair as she had suffered a broken leg. Selina and Shane organised the stretcher while the patient was brought on board. 13:25 we departed Hayman, the wind had picked up and the sea conditions had deteriorated. We arrived at Coral Sea Marina at 15:00 the patient was also in a buoyant mood obviously the pain relief was working. Shane helped the paramedics with their equipment to the waiting ambulance while Selina and I moved on to the fuel dock. After refuelling, Shane took us back to our pen. Paper work all completed by 15:15 and we were on our way home.

Great job by both crew. Thankyou.

Crew: Shane Newell and Selina Brooks
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation x/10/2021:


Activation x/10/2021: