Disabled vessel 40 nautical miles east of Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.
Disabled vessel 40 nautical miles east of Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.

Tree logs and debris in water have boaties on high alert

Rough seas with strong waves made it hard for the Yeppoon Coast Guard Bravo Crew to carry out a rescue over the Easter weekend.

The Coast Guard was contacted by the Queensland Ambulance Service at 8pm on Sunday, April 4, requesting assistance with the medivac of a patient with non-life-threatening injuries from Great Keppel Island.

A crew was assembled but as there were waves of three metres and winds of 35 knots gusting to 40 knots, it was decided to delay the activation.

The following morning QAS paramedics joined a crew on Yeppoon Rescue 1, skippered by Barry Semple, and departed Rosslyn Bay Harbour at 7.30am for GKI.

With rough seas and winds exceeding 20 knots, the trip was slow, but YR1 was able to safely beach in sheltered waters on the western side of GKI allowing for the safe transfer and retrieval of paramedics and the patient.

Once the patient was stabilised, YR1 and crew returned to Rosslyn Bay Harbour about 9.45am.

By Friday there were calm seas and excellent weather conditions and large number of vessels took to the waters of the Keppel Islands and surrounds.

Only one activation was conducted by the volunteer crew on Friday.

The owner of a jet ski contacted the Yeppoon Operations Centre at 7.30am and requested assistance after his motor would not start.

Marine Assist Rescue was deployed, skippered by Phil Schefe, and proceeded to Humpy Island where the target vessel was situated.

After locating the vessel and its two passengers, MAR crew connected a tow line to the vessel and both returned to RBH about 10am.

At the weekend there were favourable boating conditions with calm seas, sunny skies, and winds rarely exceeding 10 knots.

Over the two days Coast Guard Yeppoon had more than 90 vessels log their trips and the harbour was constantly abuzz with vessels of all shapes and sizes going on and off trailers.

The 6.5 metre vessel three nautical miles outside of Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.
The 6.5 metre vessel three nautical miles outside of Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.

On Sunday morning at 9.30 a marine assist member had his 6.5m half cabin cruise become disabled 3nm outside of Rosslyn Bay Harbour.

Skippered by Jim Warren, MAR and crew proceeded to the target vessels location and attached a tow to the vessel returning it and its four occupants safely to the harbour shortly after 10am.

At 5.25am on Sunday Coast Guard Yeppoon was contacted by the Queensland Police Service requesting their assistance in a Search and Rescue operation after the activation of an EPIRB at Karamea Banks.

Under the guidance of the QPS and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, that had also assembled assets, YR1 skippered by Jim Warren departed RBH for the target vessels location.

A commercial bulk carrier was also diverted from a nearby shipping channel to assist in finding the target vessel.

With the bulk carrier locating and making contact with the vessel it was soon identified it was an accidental activation of the EPIRB, YR1 was stood down and returned to the harbour.

The yacht rescue from Long Beach. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.
The yacht rescue from Long Beach. Pic: Leigh Deutscher.

Shortly after YR1 had returned, Coast Guard was contacted by the skipper of an eight metre vessel that had broken down at Ship Rock, just south of Hummocky Island.

Due to the location of the vessel, YR1 commander Jim Warren contacted Keppel Sands Coast Guard (QF20) informing it of the vessel’s situation.

Keppel Sands Coast Guard assembled a crew and launched its primary vessel CHSS Rescue.

After locating the vessel and establishing a tow line, the skipper and crew undertook a lengthy tow operation returning the vessel mid-afternoon to RBH where it had departed.

While Keppel Sands Coast Guard was operating at Ship Rock, the Yeppoon Operations Centre was contacted by the owners of a 12 metre monohull yacht with an unserviceable engine anchored just off Long Beach on Great Keppel Island.

YR1 was activated and departed the harbour at 11,45am skippered by Jim Warren.

Upon reaching the vessel the crew connected a tow line and undertook a slow, six knot tow back to Rosslyn Bay Harbour. Dropping off the vessel in the harbour, both vessels returned about 2.30pm.

The owners were kind enough to provide a generous donation to Coast Guard Yeppoon.

With the phones and radios running hot, at 4pm on Sunday the centre was contacted by the skipper of a 5.6 metre centre console vessel who had broken down between the shipping channels on return from North West Island.

With good conditions prevailing and storms staying both north and south, YR1 skippered by Barry Semple reached the disabled vessel within just under two hours. Crew connected a tow line to the vessel and after a significant tow both vessels returned to the harbour at 10.30pm in the cover of darkness.

Throughout the course of the weekend the Operations Centre received multiple calls from members of the public regarding large trees and debris that had been seen floating around the islands and inner reefs.

During training exercises YR1 managed to retrieve and beach some of this debris however boaters are continuing to report large trees in the water and as such members of the public should keep a sharp eye out when operating, particularly at night, to avoid collisions.