by Des Ryan
At the end of a long but successful voyage across the Pacific two long range cruising sailors had to be airlifted to safety by RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue (Rescue 300) after their yacht ran aground Llewellyn Reef early Sunday morning of this week, just short of the Australian coastline.
Pacific Vision - photo by RACQ rescue helicopter
RACQ was notified at 5.30 am of a distress beacon that had been detected going off near Llewellyn Reef ( 23° 41' 60 S 152° 10' 60 E), approximately 90Nm off the coast of Gladstone, and dispatched Rescue 300 to investigate.
En route to the site, RACQ learned that the yacht, the Pacific Vision, had run aground on the reef and had been taking on water. The vessel had begun breaking up.
It was reported that the two people on board the yacht, a 45 year old male and a 30 year old female, had been sailing the yacht from San Diego to Bundaberg, but the incident occurred considerably north of their presumed track.
They said they ran in to trouble during the night after their main sail was torn. Without a main their ability to manoeuvre was considerably reduced. They said they attempted to avoid the reef but were pushed on to it by the current, and further attempts to get the yacht off the reef failed after the mast broke.
The yacht remained on the reef for a period of time before it began taking on water and breaking up. The pair only then abandoned the yacht and got in to a life raft, copybook behaviour for sailors.
By the time RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue arrived at around 7.20am, the life raft had drifted about 1 mile away from the yacht, which was still resting on the reef. The survivors then attracted the attention of the aircraft by setting off flares.
A Rescue Crewman was lowered down to the Life Raft, and the two sailors were hoisted on to the aircraft. The pair were flown to Rockhampton in good health, and were taken to Rockhampton Base Hospital, as a precaution, to be checked by doctors.
The yacht has remained stranded on the reef.
Yacht was lost on Llewelyn Reef after crossing the Pacific successfully