by Ken McManus
Yesterday afternoon, Sunday March 18th, a Marine Rescue NSW vessel travelling homeward after a $420,000 refit at Taree had to divert from its delivery voyage to answer an emergency call from a yacht in trouble off Sydney’s Northern beaches.
Jervis Bay 40 (the Colin Woods) leaving Port Stephens on its eventful delivery voyage home
Jervis Bay 40 (the Colin Woods), a 12.5m Steber offshore rescue vessel, was journeying south when it was called on to assist the boat, which had lost engine power several miles off Broken Bay and was struggling in 4-5 metre seas and strong southerly winds.
The Colin Woods had left Newcastle late Sunday morning and met the same turbulent conditions off Norah Head, turning the normal 2½ hour voyage to Sydney into a slow, thumping six-hour slog into oncoming seas and swell.
Skipper Wayne Walker from the Marine Rescue Jervis Bay unit decided to cut the voyage short and overnight in Broken Bay before proceeding to Sydney Harbour the next day.
On arrival in Broken Bay, a call for help was received from a 28ft Compass yacht, whose skipper had just bought the vessel and was sailing it home from Port Stephens to Sydney. Unable to start the yacht’s engine to gain extra speed, the vessel was fighting a losing battle with the weather and making little headway, with no navigation lights through loss of battery power.
With only the delivery crew of fleet project officer Don Alexander, from Middle Harbour unit and Ray Mazurek, from Forster-Tuncurry Unit aboard, Skipper Walker called for two extra crew from Broken Bay. Broken Bay 20 met Jervis Bay 40 in Pittwater off Barrenjoey, where Matt Palmer and Bob Reid transferred to the Colin Woods, which returned to sea to search for the yacht.
The yacht was not equipped with GPS, so could not supply an accurate position. Radio direction finder technology was not operational as fitting the Colin Woods’ RDF was to be completed while in Sydney. Using traditional navigation skills and the experience of many years at sea, the Marine Rescue crew located the yacht just before nightfall after searching for two hours.
A tow line was attached to the yacht and the two vessels made their way 15nm back to the relative calm of Broken Bay at a slow 5 knots. Arriving not long before midnight, the yacht was safely put on a NSW Police Force Marine Area Command mooring and the Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay generously offered the Colin Woods an overnight berth.
'This wasn’t really what we had planned for last night but the conditions were a superb test for the Woods,' Mr Alexander said. 'On the voyage from Taree to Newcastle we had seas from 2m to 4m coming at us abeam and then from Newcastle to Broken Bay, they were running up to 5m and dead ahead.'
Marine Rescue NSW website