Search and res­cue in heavy seas

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

SATUR­DAY night is never a good time to re­ceive an ur­gent call­out, but of­ten, this is what the Whit­sun­day Vol­un­teer Marine Res­cue (VMR) crew are called upon to do.

On Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 4, VMR Whit­sun­day’s pres­i­dent Ray Lewis re­ceived an alert from the emer­gency mon­i­tor­ing ser­vice, VTS Hay Point.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion, ur­gent as­sis­tance was re­quired for a bro­ken down ves­sel at Lit­tle Black Reef, a popular eco dive spot over 90 kms north­east of Air­lie Beach.

A VMR crew con­sist­ing of Mr Lewis, Tom Man­ning, Paul Cog­gan and John Cald­well, con­verged on the Abell Point ma­rina, where they boarded the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s spe­cially equipped 10me­tre Kevlacat VMR 1.

After con­duct­ing prestart checks they de­parted the ma­rina at 10.30pm and headed through the Hook Pas­sage in rea­son­ably smooth seas.

By the time they en­tered the shipping lane how­ever, con­di­tions had be­come rough and the crew spent two hours bash­ing their way through heavy seas at just 11 knots.

Mr Lewis said in fact, con­di­tions were so rough, that the boat’s nav­i­ga­tion tower broke away and had to be re-se­cured in tran­sit.

Un­able to make a visual sight­ing, the crew were forced to use radar de­tec­tion to find the stricken ves­sel.

At 2am, after three-anda-half hours, they even­tu­ally reached the seven-me­tre power boat, which had ex­pe­ri­enced prob­lems with its en­gine over­heat­ing.

Mr Lewis ad­vised the two peo­ple on board that due to the sea con­di­tions they would be safer and more com­fort­able aboard VMR 1 for the long tow back.

The two boats were then “bashed around” in the heavy seas, but were able to main­tain a steady speed while veer­ing through the waves on their voy­age home.

The res­cued ves­sel and its pas­sen­gers were safely de­liv­ered to the Port of Air­lie at 6am.

The VMR crew re­turned to Abell Point Ma­rina, where they fin­ished at 7am after an eight-and-a-half hour ac­ti­va­tion, con­sum­ing 674 litres of fuel.

Mr Lewis said a big “thanks” to his crew after what he de­scribed as “a long hard night”.

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