September 2021



There we were, out on the briny at training, on Thursday night. 12 pob.
My (Ken) emergency phone was ringing. It was Ray, one of our twenty four hour phone holders. “We have a medivac from Hayman Island”

A quick shuffle of the crew. We finally set off with 9 crew and the paramedic. With Paul on the helm and Michel looking after the lower deck crew, we departed Coral Sea Marina at 17:30.

Conditions were rough as we moved into the Whitsunday passage. We really appreciate our clear curtains on the fly bridge as the spray battered the windows. Paul was also battling to maintain course with the angle of the sea.

Meanwhile, the lower deck was buzzing with excitement. We had on board, some relatively new crew and trainees. This was their first venture into rough conditions in the dark! Bridgette was appointed as Comms officer.
She asked questions and supplied relevant info to the bridge. We arrived at Hayman island at 18:24.

As Murphy would have it, the wind was now blowing hard on our Port beam, making it a more interesting berthing operation than usual. After some manoeuvring (to counter the strong gusty conditions) we were safely docked.

With the patient on board and all secure we soon departed Hayman Marina.
I decided to use the protection of Hook island for the return trip. With Paul on the helm, we set off negotiating the passage just to the west of Black Island. The protection afforded was good, although we knew it would not last as we cleared Hook. A quick check on our patient and Paramedic, all were fine.

19:45 we arrived Coral Sea Marina. Many hands make light work. The crew helped carry all the medical equipment and baggage to the waiting ambulance. Meanwhile we refuelled and returned to our berth and then a serious wash down was required to remove all the salt spray.

Thankyou to all the crew for their assistance, well done. Day light training turned into a night activation with rough seas and rain.

Senior Crew: Paul Martin & Michel Del Aguila
Crew: Debbie Simpson, James Roberts, Bridgette Baker, Steven Brooks, Selina Brooks and Tina Campbell.
Skipper: Ken Bryce


Activation 11/9/2021: Medivac from Hayman Island in the wee small hours to assist a person with complications after recent surgery.

At least I had about an hour and a half sleep before the phone went just before midnight. QAS were requesting assistance for a medivac from Hayman Island. After quickly sorting a crew (thanks fellas for the positive responses in the middle of the night), I made my way in to Coral Sea Marina VMR1. We had VMR1 all ready to go in time to move around to the main dock to pick up the paramedic and were underway as requested at 0030. Conditions were ESE 15-20 knots with a bit of a sloppy sea but we berthed at Hayman at 0125.

Ten minutes later we were on our way back, taking the slightly longer but more comfortable route in the lee of Hook Island until bearing away at a better angle for home. We had discharged our passengers by 0240, and after refuelling put VMR1 to bed for the night at 0315 and headed home for some more well-earned kip ourselves. All in all a pretty comfortable run and relatively easy load on the crew – they are not all like that.

Crew: Shane Newell, Bill Hopton, Grant Ford
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation 12/9/2021: Assist a vessel with flat batteries near Grimstone Point

An early call from Diane in the radio room – a non-member was requesting assistance in a 14ft poly boat with flat batteries, about 400 metres from Grimstone Point. I made my way in while Di sorted a crew, this was a job tailor made for Whale Song VMR2. We departed Coral Sea Marina at 0755, and by 0830 we were alongside our target albeit a fair way further out from Grimstone than his original reported position.

With a bit of fiddling about we managed to get his engine going using our jump start battery which saved us a tow, and after completing the paperwork we both headed back to CSM into a slight chop on the nose from the 10-15 knot southerly, with our target following us safely back into the marina. After refuelling and cleaning Whale Song we were on our way home by 0915, quite a pleasant trip even if it was a bit chilly by Whitsunday standards.

Crew: Shane Newell, Bill Hopton, Grant Ford
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation (1) 13/9/2021: Tow a 25ft power boat with fuel problems.

Bill (SARCO, 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder) rang, giving us the task of locating a 25 ft power boat with 3 POB (non- members) with fuel problems and towing them back to Port of Airlie public jetty.

The ‘Team’ of Michel (Snr Crew), Terry (Crewman), Stuart (acting as Comms man for today) and myself (Fin), left CSM at 9.45 am on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 in perfect Whitsunday conditions. We arrived at the vessel at 11.05 am and brought them alongside to assess their problem and do the necessary paperwork. We had them in tow almost immediately, towing them at approx. 14 knots (2300 rpm) and dropped them at their selected jetty at 1.25 pm.

We proceeded back to CSM and completed all necessary shut down procedures. We left VMR1 headed home by 2.00pm. Thanks to my team today – great company, superb crew.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Terry Clarke and Stewart Scarborough
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation (2) 13/9/2021: Tow non-member with damaged prop who had run out of fuel.

I had been yacht racing around Magnetic Island for the previous week and logged back on to ‘My Emergency Crew’ when I sailed back into Coral Sea Marina on Sunday night.

Bill, our on duty emergency phone holder called to offer me my first job late morning Monday. A non-member with a damaged prop had run out of fuel and given us a GPS position in Stonehaven Anchorage. It was a fine morning with light winds and his was only a small fiberglass runabout, so Whalesong VMR2 was our go-to rescue vessel. His radio was inoperable, so mobile was it for patchy communication.

It didn’t take the crew long for our pre-departure checks, boat launched and out we went. Cruising speed of 25knots had us in position within 50 minutes, but no sign of our target as we went from boat to boat in the area asking if they needed rescue.

A patchy phone call and we had our answer. ‘Oh, you went past us about 15 minutes ago, but we were expecting the bigger boat.’ Ah, so what position did you give us? “This one.”

So while the paperwork was being done, we gave his crew a lesson in using his GPS to determine the position of his boat, not the position of his cursor.

The tow home was uneventful, and we were just putting VMR2 back on her floating dock when the boat phone rang again. Certainly Bill, we will go back out to Hook Passage to tow home a member with a broken motor, it is a beautiful day to be on the water in the Whitsundays.

Thanks to the crew. 3 hours done and more to come.

Crew: Dave Richter and Bill Hopton. 3 hours done and more to come.
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation (3) 13/9/2021: Young couple with baby, broken down – Hook Island.

As we prepared Coral Sea VMR1, the crew were pleased that all our pre-departure checks were already done and the engines were up to temperature. Conditions were still perfect as we came up on the plane and headed for our next assignment. His coordinates as supplied showed him on the beach at the now demolished Hook Observatory.

A very pleasant surprise as we neared his position to find him very slowly motoring out to meet us in deeper water, his position had been spot on. We transferred their skipper, his partner and a young baby in arms aboard, did the paperwork and briefed our passengers ready for the trip back to Coral Sea Resort.

40 minutes later and we had safely placed our passengers back on their vessel and nudged them into position at the pontoon beside the boat-ramp. After refuelling we were ready to travel back to our berth for a washdown and finishing paperwork.

My first day back and two activations done, this was a busy day for all of our volunteers. Great work from the crew, and our vessels are proving their value to the boating community.

Crew: Shane Newell and Stewart Scarborough.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation (1) 14/9/2021: A member with battery trouble, anchored just beside North Molle Island.

Tuesday dawned fine, clear and calm. The activity started fairly early with a call just after 8AM. A member with battery trouble, anchored just beside North Molle Island. 2 big batteries with no power, so one big outboard with no start.

Trying to do the paperwork on this one was proving interesting. Yes, he was a member but had no card or member number with him. Sorry, no drivers licence either and oh, no credit card. A quick check with his 3 fishing mates on board located 1 credit card only and no other forms of identification at all. This would be a little worrying in the event of a major mishap or on-water incident.

So once we had what information we could get, we used our jump-starter to get them going and told them we would follow them back to the boat-ramp to make sure they got home safely. “Where are you headed for?” we asked for our log, “Coral Sea Marina” was the response. Great we thought, straight home. So as we followed them, they turned in to the leads for Port of Airlie, okay so we follow them there, all the way to the boat ramp, with a very low tide. Then they tie up to the wrong side of the almost floating pontoon.

The tide is now so low that we cannot help them any more, and they are tied to the dock, so we waved goodbye and turned for deeper water and the trip back to refuel, wash-down, complete our paperwork and put the boat to bed ready for our next activation.

Crew: Dave Richter and Ron McCall – did their usual great work.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.

EDITORS NOTE: As a volunteer organization, VMR is required by law to submit details of every activation, or we can lose our accreditation as a rescue organization. Please take relevant information with you when you go boating, even if it is only to make it easier for us to help you.


Activation (2) 14/9/2021 VMR2: Medivac from Whitehaven Beach

We hadn’t turned off the motors when the call came in for our next activation. It was not quite 10.30

A walker on the way to the look-out on the Northern end of Whitehaven Beach had fallen and suffered some serious injuries, the full extent was unknown. Exact position also was unknown and with a very low tide it was difficult to gauge whether a sandy beach or a reef crossing was called for. This meant we needed to call on the benefits of both our rescue vessels.

I drove Whalesong VMR2 with Dave R. as my crew. With our outboard motors, beach landing capabilities and forward boarding steps we could do the shallow water pick-up, while Coral Sea Marina VMR1 would be there with the Paramedics and stretcher capability when needed.

VMR2 headed out first as VMR1 loaded the Paramedics and their equipment.
The call from our coordinator was for VMR2 to travel up into Hill Inlet to the southern walkway up to the lookout and see if we could spot our casualty. Phone communication was all they had, and no towers cover that area so it was out with the binoculars.

Just after 12.00 we got the call to stand down. Our casualty had made it down on the Tongue Bay side, been taken out to a private vessel and was being taken to Hamilton Island. VMR1 was making good speed to catch them and transfer the Paramedics to assist.

Dave and I made our way carefully back out of Hill Inlet, then set course for our dock at Coral sea Marina for a re-fuel, hose-down and to do the paperwork. VMR2 was ready to go again by 13.30. Thank you again Dave for an excellent effort.

Crew: Dave Richter.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation (3) 14/9/2021 VMR1: QAS Medivac from Whitehaven Beach

24/7 phone holder Bill contacted me around 1020 to let me know that we had been asked to do a medivac for a young lady that had suffered a severe wound to her knee after falling on the way back from the lookout at Whitehaven Beach – not sure which end of the beach though, there are lookouts at both ends now – and as our tender motor was still getting serviced should we send VMR2 to get the patient off the beach? I agreed straight away and said I would come in and take VMR2 while he organized crew for both boats. Besides, it was an absolutely gorgeous day with very light winds, calm seas and not a cloud in the sky, another boring day in paradise – how could I refuse!

As I walked down to Whalesong VMR2 I saw it was already in the water from an earlier activation, Captain Ron was still on board and Dave was coming down to the dock. Ron advised me that Ken was getting Coral Sea Marina VMR1 ready to go and after a quick phone call to him, I said that I would go out so he could get back to his own boat which was out of the water for an anti foul. He was happy with that. The paramedic was already on board, and Ken and Ron had the boat ready to go.

Whale Song VMR2 departed just before we left on Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 1050 and we both made our way towards the beach. The paramedic was advised that the incident was at the Hill Inlet end, so it was around noon as Whale Song made its way into the Inlet and we checked out the Tongue Bay side. Nothing was seen at either location. We then received a call on VHF16 from Bill advising that the patient had got down to the beach and was on her way to Hamilton and the doctor. We confirmed that via Satphone with QAS in Rocky. Okay, Ron and Dave could stand down and return to base, (thanks fellas) while we set off home via Fitzalan Passage thinking that we would probably get to them before they reached Hamilton – I knew the boat they were on would not be very fast and sure enough we caught up with them before Fitzalan Passage at 1235.

We came alongside and transferred the paramedic across to check out his patient, then motored slowly towards Hamilton with the other boat alongside while he tended to a very bad wound on the patient’s knee. With that taken care of, we took him and the patient on board to take her to Hamilton to meet the waiting ambulance that was going to transfer her to the doctor for what was probably quite a few stitches, at 1300. Even had a bonus sighting of a mother humpback and her calf resting just off the Passage on the way!

5 minutes later we were able to head for home. By the time we refilled and went back into our own berth for the usual cleanup and paperwork, it was 1445 – quite a long medivac but what a glorious day for it but probably not so much for the patient. Nice work by Ron all the way.

Crew: Ron McCall
Skipper: Mal Priday


Activation (4) 14/9/2021: Tow from Hook Passage.

So, what a beautiful [busy] day on the water. With Motors still warm and a change of crew member (Shane’s turn this time), Whalesong VMR2 heads back out to Hook Passage.

We have a call from a boaty with a free-spinning propellor bush. He is just making way and can we meet him in Hook Passage and tow him back to Whisper Bay Boat-ramp please.

Certainly sir, we will be there in about 40 minutes, and away we went.
We found him easily, the paperwork was quickly accomplished then the hook-up and tow, all went easily and by the numbers. And we were all refuelled, washed and ready to go again in just over 2.5 hours. Thanks Shane, great work.

3 activations for me today so now home for a quick dinner and I don’t think I will need to be rocked to sleep tonight. Until next time.

Crew: Shane Newell
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 16/9/2021: Hayman Medivac.

I was the VMR rep on board Coral Sea Marina VMR1 as she was performing for Whitsunday Marine Academy. We had done several manoeuvres in Coral Sea Marina and were on our way to the second way point of the navigation exercise, when we were contacted by Mal at 10.07 to do a medivac.

The Marine academy M5 training was aborted, back to CSM to drop of the trainees, pick up a VMR crew and Paramedic then off to Hayman to get a poor chap with chest pains. No major panic, otherwise Queensland Ambulance would send a Chopper.

Then my phone rang. The Medivac was aborted, the poor fella’s chest pains were increasing, and a chopper was on its way. Oh well, back to CSM. Call to Ken to see if Mat from WMA still wanted to continue their training and the response was; the afternoon session was going ahead but the morning session was over. VMR1 was left at 10.57, ready to go, with Ken as the rep and several of the afternoon crew already waiting on board.

Crew: Stuart Scarborough, Debbie Simpson, Tony Bell
Skipper: Geoff Smith.


Activation (1) 17/9/2021: Medivac Hayman Island

0800 hours I was onboard Coral Sea VMR1 receiving the last of the students and instructor from the WMA to carry out a scheduled Navex and manoeuvring for the morning when the VMR phone holder (Bill) called me to say there is a medivac from Hayman to be carried out. So we had to postpone their exercise for a couple of hours to get this priority request completed.
Off walk the students, on walk Grant and Paul and our paramedic was not far behind.

0835 hours, in favourable conditions we departed Coral Sea Marina with Paul at the helm. 50 minutes later, Paul berthed VMR1 at the dock west side. No sooner we had the vessel secured alongside our patient was onboard. 3 minute turn around.

We were soon on our way back to CSM. With the sea state calm we beelined for Airlie direct, no ducking and weaving this time and arrived 1020 hours, L dock opposite the fuel dock north. There, we said goodbye to patient and paramedic and where greeted by Mal who was going to resume the training session with WMA people once we vacated the vessel.

Good work by Paul helming and Grant on the lines.

Crew: Paul Martin (Senior Crew) and Grant Ford
Skipper: Marti Davy


Activation (2) 17/9/2021: Vessel Breakdown North Pioneer Bay

I had just finished a bit of shopping at Centro and was on my way home when Bill (VMR emergency phone) called again at 1107 hours to say there is a stricken 8m vessel north of North Molle requesting tow assistance back to Port.

“No probs” I said to Bill, I’m on a roll atm. This time Whalesong VMR2 with crew Tony and Shane we prepared the vessel for departure. 1140 hours we were underway and 10 minutes later we were alongside the 8m Fourwinds boat. With paperwork done we proceeded to setup a tow configuration and chugged our way at 7 knots to Port of Airlie boat ramp.

After rafting up before entering the POA channel we had our client alongside the boat ramp pontoon dock at 1250 hours. With a Low tide of .4m at 1411 hours he needed to get his boat out of the water quicksmart but that was his challenge not ours.

Back to CSM, refuelled (40L), back on the pontoon, secured and ready for the next job. Well done to Tony and Shane both very experienced crew, it’s not easy to work in such a small space sometimes.

Crew: Shane Newell (Senior Crew) and Tony Bell
Skipper: Marti Davy


Activation (3) 17/9/2021: Tow 40 foot sailing cat to Hawkes Boat Yard Lift.

Our Emergency Phone Holder and SARCO (Bill) rang at 1.05 p.m. advising that a 40 foot sailing cat with 2 POB, required a tow from just outside the Marina (on anchor), to Hawkes Boat Yard Lift, at approx. 3.15 pm.

The “Team” of Paul and Shane (both Senior Crew) and myself, left our berth in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 at 3.20 p.m. and the whole task (including completing shut down procedures) took just under 1 hour to complete.

My thanks to the Crew for their skill and time to make everything look relaxed and easy.

Crew: Paul Martin and Shane Newell
Skipper: Fin Forbes


Activation (1) 19/9/2021: First up today, a Medivac from Hamilton Island

‘So much for the gardening’ I said to my wife as the emergency ring-tone blared from my mobile at 11.30. A quick medivac from Hamilton Island was asked for, and of course I said yes I would skipper.

The crew for this job would meet me at Coral Sea Marina VMR1. Also, would I be available to tow in a 30 foot yacht currently sailing up from Mackay. They anticipated arriving outside the marina at 17.00 but had motor failure and would need assistance getting to their allocated berth. I thought the timing would work out so once again, said okay.

With all our checks done we departed CSM at 11.50 for Hamilton Island. VMR1 performed perfectly and we were tied up at Hamilton Island to discover that we might have a second patient. Please wait while our Paramedics go to assist and assess.

Decision was a single transfer only, so with patient aboard we completed our return journey, disembarked our patient, carer and medics, re-fuelled, washed down and had completed our paperwork by 14.25.

A dedicated crew of active volunteers makes all this much easier. Thank
you. Next time isn’t far away, your skipper, Ron.

Crew: Paul Martin, Debbie Simpson and Tony Bell.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation (2) 19/9/2021: Medivac Shaw Island for stingray strike

VMR radio base called at 16.15, but not as a reminder for our 17.00 tow in.
This was a stingray strike on someone on the beach at Shaw Island. This was a full team call out, with a need for rapid response. With crew and paramedics aboard we departed CSM on VMR1 at 16.40.

At 17.09 we got the call to stand down and return to base. Helicopter transport had been arranged to get the fellow directly to hospital.
A very rapid response for the injured man, and an opportunity for us to make it back for our pre-arranged tow job into CSM.

Thanks to our crew for being there. We are already on our way to the next one.

Crew: Paul Martin, Bruce Dahl and Debbie Simpson
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation (3) 19/9/2021: Locate and tow yacht with failed motor to berth.

On our way back to base after a stand down medivac and we needed to locate and tow into their berth a 30ft yacht with a failed motor. This activation had been held over due to the previous emergency.

The vessel was exactly where they said they would be and sitting quietly on their anchor, so some quick work by the crew had them securely tied alongside while being very careful with their Solar panel which was permanently fixed alongside their vessel.

Once all was safe and secure and with our paperwork done, it was a gentle exercise to maneuver them into the marina and release them so they could slide neatly into their berth

Once again, great crew work can make a difficult task look easy. Thanks again team. With our work done for now, we headed in to refuel, then washdown, prepare for our next activation and do the paperwork. This was going to be intricate with the two activations following on without a break.

Well done team! For me this was a 7 hour day, time for home, dinner and rest. Until next time.

Crew: Paul Martin, Debbie Simpson, Bruce Dahl.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 20/9/2021: VMRW assist sailing boat back to port after its skipper taken to mainland for medical treatment.

A day or two ago, a person on a sailing catamaran anchored off a beautiful spot off Shaw Island, was stung by something while swimming, and needed a medivac to the mainland for medical treatment. A passenger was left on the vessel but she was not able to sail the vessel to Airlie by herself – So VMRW was asked to assist.

Bill Harrison– with the most important job in VMRW, (as 24/7 Emergency Phone Holder and SARCO) rang at 9.15 am organising a crew to take VMR1 to the vessel – and also to take a separate crew that would sail the yacht back to CSM. Bill volunteered to be one of those sailors – with Grant being the other. Thanks guys.

So Coral Sea Marina VMR1 left CSM at 10.10 am with Bill, Grant and also Michel (Snr Crew) and Ron (acting as Comms Officer) and myself (Fin). We arrived alongside the vessel at 11.30 am and ‘the sailors’ transferred and proceeded to get the sailing cat ready and familiarise themselves with the vessel, to bring back to Airlie. VMR1 left them at 11.55 am and we were back in our pen in CSM at 1.25 pm – after completing all necessary shut down procedures.
(NOTE – the sailing cat with Bill and Grant aboard arrived safely in CSM just after 3. 15 pm).

Bill Harrison and Grant Ford sailed a yacht back from Shaw Island to Airlie Beach.
Pic is of Grant Ford sailing the vessel

Thanks to my very competent crew of Michel and Ron for making this another successful, pleasant, ‘no drama’ activation.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila, Ron McCall
Skipper: Fin Forbes
Sailing Crew: Bill Harrison, Grant Ford


Activation 21/9/2021: Medivac from Long Island

A rescue call came through just before 15.00. A medivac for a patient with chest pain, from the resort at Palm Bay on Long Island. “Certainly Bill, please get a crew together.”

We set out on Coral Sea Marina VMR1, in good weather and were soon standing too 100 metres from the shore, outside the fringing reef as it was too shallow for us to enter the small harbour there. It seems that the resort manager was not available at that time with his power boat and our tender was currently unserviceable.

To solve the transfer problem we enlisted the assistance of a sailing vessel which was moored nearby and their skipper transported our Paramedics ashore in his tender to assess the patient. Many thanks to ‘S.V. Pleiades’.

With the patient assessed, the manager was now available with his runabout and brought the 2 paramedics with the patient and his partner back out to where we had moored. We then transferred all aboard, briefed our new passengers and proceeded to return to Coral Sea Marina.

Once all our passengers were disembarked we refuelled and returned to our berth for the usual washdown, shutdown and paperwork. Mission accomplished by 18.10. Now the crew could head home. Thanks gentlemen for your time and efforts. Until next time, your skipper, Ron.

Crew: Tony Bell, Grant Ford and Michel Del Aguila.
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation (1) 22/9/2021: Pick up 2 persons stranded on Denman Island after their tinny drifted away overnight.

Just before 0630 24/7 phone holder Bill rang me, 2 persons were stranded on Denman Island after their tinny floated away and had requested assistance. As we were still waiting for the tender motor to be put back on VMR1, I (Mal) said I would take Whale Song VMR2 as it would be able to nose right up on the beach. Forecast was for a strong wind warning up to 27 knots, so it was not going to be a pleasure trip to get to them. How right that was!

Shane and I left just after 0700, it was a clear sky but very windy with a lot of chop across Funnel Bay, but it got much worse as we cleared Pioneer Point. The wind was well over 30 knots (Hamilton Island recorded 43 a little later). It was a very rough trip as we headed across to North Molle hoping for a bit of shelter in the lee of the islands. There was none on either side of the island, so we exercised our discretion and decided to return to Coral Sea Marina and asked Bill to tell our targets we may try again later in the day if conditions improve. We pulled in to refuel around 0840, and were all finished by 0910 after giving VMR2 a well deserved washdown. Shane and I needed one also, as well as a hot shower, it was very cold and very wet on the water.

Those conditions were as bad as we would ever see VMR2 go out in, but it handled them well and at no stage did Shane or I feel unsafe, but there was no way of getting to Denman against that much wind and swell without risking damaging the boat or ourselves, so sanity prevailed.

Crew: Shane Newell
Skipper: Mal Priday

NOTE: (23/9/2021) – We were notified that the next day the boat was retrieved. The tinny had dragged its anchor and then re-anchored itself in the shelter of Planton Island – in good condition and all intact.


Activation (2) 22/9/2021: Young Lifesavers visit Coral Sea Marina VMR1.

This one was a true pleasure.

From time to time VMR Whitsundays assists in community based programs and today was showing a group of excited young Lifesavers and their 2 instructors around Coral Sea Marina VMR1.

Firstly ensuring all the permissions and documents were correct for our involvement, we then organized our crew to include 2 past teachers. Our guests were a bit late arriving but by 10.45 we were away.

A brief to all passengers by Stewart was very well received, and this included a funny but serious look at the doo’s and don’ts of boat travel.
A brief and slow trip out if the marina into Pioneer Bay was extremely popular as most of the children were from boating families, and some well thought out questions were asked.

We divided the group into 3 sections and rotated them around the boat. Stewart had the back deck for general information, James had some in the cabin for a rundown on electronics and I had the intrepid ones up on the flybridge for a quick look out.

Huge positives, no-one got sea-sick, and in our de-brief, the entire crew believed that one of the instructors within the group had the most fun. Wall to wall huge grins on small faces.

Great work by the crew, and we were back ready for our next assignment by 12.00 Until next time, your skipper, Ron.

Crew: Stewart Scarborough and James Roberts.
Skipper: Ron Roberts


Activation (3) 22/9/2021: Complete the pickup of 2 stranded people on Denman Island.

The waters are never still, neither it seems, are we at VMR Whitsundays. My previous activation this morning allowed our hardworking maintenance crew to re-fit our recently serviced outboard to the VMR1 tender while we were busy. This now gave us the capability with Coral Sea Marina VMR1, to complete a task which bad weather had forced us to delay earlier that day.

This was the pickup of a couple who had been camping on Denman Island when the weather had turned very windy the night before. The extremely rough and choppy seas had dislodged their anchor during the night and their only means of water transport had gone for a journey of it’s own.

We had actually spotted the small dinghy re-anchored in very shallow but calm waters on the Northern side of Planton Island. This may be a very lucky break for the stranded campers.

Locating our campers on Denman Island was the easy part, they were sitting on the beach amongst their packed camping equipment. Getting them safely from there onto VMR1 was going to be tricky.

Strong side currents, a narrow section of sandy beach with waves breaking on it from either side with no pattern and strong winds swinging from side to side as they blew around the small island was not going to make this transfer easy.

I had the easy job as skipper of VMR1. Just hold the boat steady in strong fluctuating winds, variable cross swells and a strong cross current within a narrow stretch of navigable water. Paul M. drew the job of getting the tender into the water and back and forwards between beach landings, taking on passengers with their belongings then getting them safely aboard our main vessel. This was never going to be easy, but Paul managed it with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of safety. Shane N. and James R. also did a masterful job on board dealing with two swinging boats, lines, camping equipment and passengers.

Days like this prove the value and necessity of regular serious training sessions. This was a very difficult job done extremely well. High praise indeed for the crew.

Now, with the tender stored back on deck and all secured, we turned our attention to the self-anchored dinghy in the shallows. A serious look at several charts told me that it would be quite dangerous for us to try and recover the dinghy in these conditions, and even if we were successful there was a major chance that it would be swamped and lost completely in the sea-way once we ventured out of the limited protection of the little island. In discussion with the rescued campers, it was decided that discretion was the better part of valor. He also didn’t want to lose the dinghy as his wallet and keys were still on board it! Okay, so decision made, we noted the GPS position of the dinghy in the log and headed back out into the sea-way and turned for home.

During our return the crew were still busy. Whitsunday VTS were notified of our decision to leave the dinghy where it had self anchored and given a description of it and its position. A local Jet-ski tour company offered a free trip out for the owner in the abating winds the next day to retrieve his dinghy and possessions and things settled down with paperwork to be done.

On our return, refuelling and washdowns occurred and we notified water police of the position and decision regarding the dinghy. With all the loose ends tied up, it was time to head home for a rest and wait for the next activation.

Some proper seamanship skills were displayed today. Well done by all the crew. Until next time, your skipper, Ron.

Crew: Paul Martin, Shane Newell and James Roberts.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 23/9/2021: Early morning medivac Hamilton Island

I (Marti) had woken early Thursday morning, I think the strong moon had something to do with that. To my surprise my phone rang with the VMR ringtone a little before 4am. Not the usual time for a medivac, its normally around midnight. Wasn’t I lucky I was awake anyway! Bill, our phone holder said “yes another medivac from Hamilton Island, are you right to go?” No probs I replied, I’m on my way.

Dockside, Michel and Dave were on board and also our paramedic, so without delay we finished off the prestart checks and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 departed at 0440 hours. Sea conditions were favourable with wind SE 15 knots and the tide was nearing bottom on the run out with the sea across the passage not too bad at all. The moon was strong with a few dark clouds around. 55 minutes later we docked at the fuel dock Hamilton Island Marina where we waited patiently for the patient transfer to be completed.

With the sun just breaking the island skyline we departed at 0610 hours for a comfortable ride home.

0712 hours we berthed adjacent to the north fuel dock at CSM where our patient was unloaded with the assistance of additional QAS members who had met us dockside just after our arrival.

Task completed without a fuss we refueled and returned to our temporary berth where we gave our trusty vessel a washdown and completed the shutdown and paperwork.

A smooth operation thanks to Michel and Dave with nil incidents. Good line work.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila (Senior crew), Dave Ritcher (Comms Crew)
Skipper: Marti Davy


Activation (1) 28/9/2021: Very Early Medivac from Hamilton Island

Just after Midnight and my phone gave me my VMR wake-up call. A medivac from Hamilton Island, certainly. I will meet the crew and Paramedics at our berth for VMR1 in Coral Sea Marina Resort.

With our checks done, paramedics aboard and the morning ahead of us we headed for our patient through a fairly calm sea. An easy trip across and a little wait at Hamilton before our patient arrived had us safely back to dock, then refuel and paperwork, heading home by 03.20

Thanks to this morning’s volunteer crew.

Crew: Michel Del Aguila and Ron McCall.
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation (2) 28/9/2021: Daytime medivac from Hayman Island.

10.00 and my mobile call out for VMR. A medivac from Hayman Island, “I’ll put my hi-vis on and head for Coal Sea Marina VMR1”.

My crew for this mission was Shane, John and Chris with 2 paramedics as well. I get to meet some very interesting people doing this, sadly as I normally drive from the upper steering station for better all around vision, I don’t get to talk to them for long.

An uneventful round trip across Whitsunday Passage is enough to remind me that I do live in a beautiful part of the world, and dodging several other power and sail boats on the way tells me that lots of other people are aware of this fact as well.

The patient pick up was without difficulty and gave us time for a quick chat with the security staff and marina manager as well.

With the patient transfer, refuel, washdown and paperwork all done, the crew headed home by 12.45

Crew: Shane Newell, John Caldwell and Chris Reinbott
Skipper: Ron Roberts.


Activation 29/9/2021:

1747 hours I (Marti) get the VMR Whitsunday ringtone. With Bill on the other end, “Sorry Marti but you have a Medivac” and I interrupted “yes Yes Hamilton Island?”, “no Woodwark Bay”. We have an injured male, probably a shoulder dislocation on a Leopard 45 sailing Cat with his wife. Oh, this is a bit different and not too far away. I’m on my way.

1805 hours alongside Coral Sea Marina I find Shane, Dave, Chris and Bill prepping Coral Sea Marina VMR1 for departure with the paramedic also onboard. Bill explained in case the vessel needs to be brought back to port hence the extra crew for tonight with Bill being an experienced sailor to take the helm.

From the Lat Lon retrieved by Bill earlier and displayed on the plotter we could see the owner and his wife on their 45 Leopard were anchored deep into the bay. With tides as it was (neaps) and if not too much roll inside the bay, I will try a direct alongside if conditions as we approach seem favourable. Otherwise it will be a tender job.

Underway at 1815 and once clear of the channel and a couple of yachts who like to park directly infront, we motored to our destination thumping against the waves generated by the fresh easterly. 35 minutes later we were alongside our target and snuggly tied up with lots of fenders. The paramedic jumped onto the Vessel to examine and assess the injured fellow.

50 minutes later our injured fellow was transferred onboard VMR1 ready for the journey back to Airlie. Thankfully he could manage to walk on sort of. A bit of a challenge negotiating our gunwale railings but we got there, getting him onto VMR1. He was happy for his wife to remain onboard and in Woodwark Bay for the night since she had a companion (dog) plus there were neighbouring yachts that could keep an ear out for her.

The return trip was much the same as coming out, bumpy.

2020 hours we unloaded our thankful patient on L dock, bade farewell to him. Chris (crew) assisted our paramedic in getting him up the ramp and to the ambulance whilst we refuelled and berthed at our normal temporary dock.

Washed down, paperwork completed we were off VMR1 2050 hours. The operation went very smoothly thanks to the high level of skills and knowledge of the crew and mostly how we worked as a team.

Crew: Shane Newell (Senior Crew), Bill Harrison (Phone Holder and Comms), Dave Richter (Crew) and Chris Reinbott (Trainee Crew)
Skipper: Marti Davy


Activation 30/9/2021: EPIRB activated and VMRW asked by Police to attend.

Bill Harrison the 24 hr Emergency Phone Holder called at 08.52. An EPIRB had been activated. A vessel was broken down 14 k’s (?) NNE of Hayman. The Police had sent an aircraft (ex-Cairns), which found our target due West of Bait Reef and due North of CSM and gave us their co-ordinates.

We got away at 09.20 in beautiful conditions in Coral Sea Marina VMR1 and were alongside the Target at 11.15. They had their anchor down and hadn’t moved. They must have had a long warp because it was 60m deep there. On the way we spoke to the aircraft who waited till we were only 25 mins away before leaving and wishing us well.

If the target had had a working VHF, or even a phone and were also able to plot their position accurately, they could have saved everyone a lot of grief. Ignoring our costs, the aircraft is $10,000/hr.

The seas were a bit bumpier out in the open, so we elected to get the Target under tow and sort the paperwork out later. We had a totally uneventful run to Whisper Bay where we did the paperwork then dropped them off at the ramp finger at 13.08. Then back to the CSM Fuel Dock, next the pen for a good wash down and tidy up at 13.43.

We updated the Police as requested and they felt they may have to have a chat with the Target later. They also thanked all VMRW for our volunteering efforts.

Thanks to a great crew for making it all so relaxed.

Crew: Shane Newell, Dave Richter, Ron McCall
Skipper: Geoff Smith.