March 16

Activation 10/03/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Tom Manning & John Fearnley

Task: Transport 2 Paramedics for a Hamilton Island Medivac

I got the call from John, just after breakfast, for a Medivac from Hamilton Island as a result of a buggy crash.  After some hasty re-organisation I set off for the boat.  John had apologised for only having 2 crew but, as they were experienced, and it was a Medivac, we decided to go anyway, departing 9.28.

John drove, arriving at 10.33 and were met by island staff who hurried the paramedics away. We were asked to stand by as nobody knew what would happen next.

Whilst waiting, we learned there were 2 choppers taking injured to hospital and another coming.  Things were very serious, with several adults and kiddies injured.

Then the police arrived on their big boat carrying their accident investigation people.  At this time we seemed to be surplus to requirements but couldn’t get an update.

A little later some walking wounded were loaded onto the Police boat and as they were departing for APM we got the OK to leave as well at 12.10.

We arrived at 13.00 fuelled up, and back to the pen for 13.20, just in time to see the Police boat coming in.

Time on job: 6 hrs


Activation 14/03/16

Skipper: Ray Lewis

Crew: Gary Nicol

Trainees: Jim Dunn & Craig King

Task: Deliver fuel, Double Bay East

Gary Nicol and I were sorting out a few things on VMR1 when John Caldwell called to say that a Bowen resident and VMR Whitsunday member was in Double Bay East.

He was on a 26 foot sloop and low on fuel because he had endured some rough weather; his fuel tank had been damaged and lost his fuel.  Using the fuel in his reserve 12 litre tank, he managed to get to a safe location and requested us to bring to him 10 litres of fuel.

As a rule we don’t take fuel out but we can if it is in an approved container, secured and a safety analysis is done.  I called Tom and discussed the situation as I didn’t want to tow him back to Airlie with a forecast of 20 knots SE just for 10 litres of fuel.

fuel dropWith my new prescription sunglasses, 10 litres of fuel safely stored and Gary at the helm we set off at 0930 hrs to Double Bay East.  We supplied the fuel and returned to Abell Point Marina where we fueled up and berthed VMR1 at 1145.

My thanks to Gary and new trainees,  Jim and Craig.

Time on job: 2¼ hours      Fuel Used: 122 litres


Activation 16/03/16

Skipper: Fin

Crew: John & Roger

Trainee: Hellier

Task: Tow, with Complications, Hook Passage

This activation was a regulation “tow job” with the exception that it was activated as a relay between, firstly, an unknown vessel, VMR Mackay and John (our 24/7 phone holder).

Then, secondly, from a vessel towing the vessel needing assistance through to John (the vessel needing assistance had no means of communication!?)

A difficult task handled very well by our man John trying to sort out other people’s problems 24 hours a day.

activation 16-3.jpgWe on VMR1 took over the tow at Hook passage.

As it was pitch black dark and drizzling when we were towing the vessel back to his preferred drop off (Shute Harbour), it was an opportune time to do a bit of training; ie, familiarising the crew with going through Unsafe Passage, and entering Shute Harbour under those conditions.

Time on job: 3 hours      Fuel Used: 243 litres


Activation 27/03/16

Skipper: Geoff Smith

Crew: Tom Manning, John Fearnley & Garry Sullivan.

Task: Engine Room Fire, South Whitehaven.

John on Radio Room duty called about a member’s 5.2m, half cabin runabout with an engine room fire at the Southern end of Whitehaven, standing by on 81.

We got away in perfect conditions, sunny, 10-15 knots SE, flat seas and little tide at 16.00. Whilst heading for Pioneer we debated about the shortest route, so Tom elected to measure it, difficult on a bouncy boat.

Depending where the “Southern” end is, Tom reckoned that Fitzalan & Solway  passages route was maybe a mile closer than through Hook Passage. We went that way.

That evening, sitting at home with a stable laptop and on Google Earth, I found that it was 20 Nm to Rosies Bay via Fitzalan/Solway and 23 Nm via Hook. The break-even point is a little South of Changa (Lagoon) Rock, off Whitehaven Beach. This doesn’t account for tides or sea state of course.

We arrived at Rosies 17.25 to find the white half cabin at anchor, waiting patiently in the beautiful Whitsundays. We quickly had them in tow with the 3 really laid back, big lads, on board VMR1 to reduce towed weight.

It transpired that they were motoring along when their white outboard started smoking. By the time they had isolated batteries and got the engine lid off, the wiring had burnt out, leaving a very black, non-functioning motor. They said they were quite quick responding, motivated by the 200L of fuel on board.

We arrived at Shute 19.10 without any dramas and dropped the guys off on the fishing pontoon, departing 19.25.   Next stop the APM fuel dock and in our pen at 20.0.

Thanks to a great crew who worked well together. Garry took us to Rosies and John took  the tow to Shute.

Time on job: 4 hours      Fuel Used: 305 litres


Activation 28/03/16

Skipper: Gary Nicol

Crew: Greg Walker, Wendy Davidson & Garry Sullivan.

Task: Engine Trouble, Macona Inlet

Finn called at 11:34 Easter Monday to ask if I was available to tow a vessel from Macona Inlet. A member with a 25’ cruiser had engine trouble and wanted it back on his mooring in Muddy Bay to fix.

Finn gathered a crew and we departed Able Point at 12:12 arriving at the top of Macona Inlet at 13:00.

Clive, the boat’s owner, had raised most of his anchor scope before we arrived so a quick raft up and with the obligatory paperwork done we were towing him home to Muddy Bay by 13:20.

The return trip was pleasant with a slack tide across Whitsunday Passage, I placed Wendy on the helm and we made an easy tow back at 9kts.

By 15:00 we had again rafted up and with some slick work from the crew on the back deck the towrope was exchanged for a dock line. We maneuvered Clive’s boat onto his mooring and headed back to Abell Point to refuel and wash down, and were back in the pen at 15:45

Thanks to good work by the crew we avoided any damage from the exposed bolts on the recovered boats gunwales and learnt a few lesson along the way.

Time on job: 3½ hours      Fuel Used: 185 litres


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