by Ken McManus
A weekend search for a yacht feared lost in rough conditions has prompted a call for skippers in the Broken Bay region to take advantage of Marine Rescue NSW’s free vessel tracking service.
Marine Rescue Cottage Point 20 (CP20) Search & Location Times 20 April 2013
Volunteers from Marine Rescue Cottage Point, Hawkesbury, Broken Bay and Central Coast took part in the search on Saturday evening and throughout Sunday before the missing sailor was located safe and well on shore.
Marine Rescue Cottage Point Unit Commander David White encouraged sailors and other boaters to Log On with their nearest MRNSW base when they were heading out on the water, advising of their destination, planned route and expected arrival time.
'It doesn’t matter if you’re cruising up the coast or just heading out for a day trip. Logging On with MRNSW means someone responsible knows you’re out there, is monitoring your journey and can swiftly mount a search if you fail to arrive as planned,' UC White said.
'Search teams have a good head start if we have a detailed description of your boat and know where you were heading and your intended route. We at least know where to begin looking for you and can broaden the search from there, if need be.
'Skippers should also carry and regularly test and use a marine radio and also notify friends of their intended passage as an additional safety assurance to confirm their safety at sea.'
UC White said the MR Cottage Point duty officer had received a call about 6pm on Saturday from a man concerned his friend had failed to arrive at Clareville Beach in Pittwater six hours after setting sail from Refuge Bay – an 8nm journey that should take no more than two hours.
'Although he was an experienced mariner, the strong winds and rough sea conditions gave cause for concern for the skipper, as did the condition of the aging 30 foot wooden yacht with a faulty engine,' he said.
|2||18:13||Refuge Bay & America’s Bay|
The NSW Police Force Marine Area Command tasked the Cottage Point and Hawkesbury units to search the vessel’s likely route and safe anchorages in the area. The search was suspended at 10.30pm after failing to locate the yacht.
'Early on Sunday morning, the Broken Bay Water Police activated our Broken Bay, Cottage Point, Hawkesbury and Central Coast units and Police vessels to search all bays, safe havens and anchorages in the Broken Bay area for the missing yacht,' UC White said.
'The search was hampered by the poor description of the vessel and the inability to contact its skipper by mobile phone or VHF radio. The lack of detail of the yacht’s route or actual destination point further frustrated the search activities.
'Following many hours of searching, the missing vessel was found safely on a mooring at Clareville Beach early on Sunday afternoon.
'The skipper had rowed ashore to call his friend to advise he was safe and well. Apparently his mobile phone had become wet during his rough passage and was inoperable.
'While the outcome of this search was successful, the need to call out numerous volunteer Marine Rescue vessels and Water Police resources could well have been avoided if the skipper had properly planned his trip, Logged On with MRNSW and used his onboard VHF radio.'
UC White said the deployment of Marine Rescue vessels from all Broken Bay units to support the Police-coordinated search had shown the depth of resources and capability in the area.
'The boating public of the Broken Bay area is well served by the professionalism and energy of these dedicated Marine Rescue volunteers,' he said.