Damaged Yacht Rescued in Heavy Seas

"He was happy to see us, I'll give you the tip!"

Those were Ian from Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue's words after their longest trip they've ever had to do ended well on the weekend. 

From the GVMR FB page:

Geraldton VMR’s Communication Officer was awoken at 0055 on Sunday morning by a phone call from the wife of a yachtsman headed for Cocos island who had run into trouble West of Leeman. Due to the light wind conditions they, that is, the Skipper and his deckhand, had been motoring along in a 3 to 5 m swell when a rope fell overboard and tangled in the propeller. The propeller snapped off and the driveshaft was badly bent. The bent shaft damaged the gland seal and the vessel began taking on water. With little wind and no motor, they were only able to sail very slowly in a north-westerly direction.

The skipper of the yacht, “Angel's Dance”, was able to contact his wife by satellite phone giving his GPS coordinates, whereby she passed on the message to Geraldton VMR. The Geraldton VMR communications officer immediately advised Fremantle Water Police of the situation and they began the process of organising a rescue.

The Geraldton VMR rescue crew were then advised of a possible job, and they then went to prepare the rescue boat Nashira for departure.

At 01:30 the go-ahead was given by the water police to commence heading for the position given, this was some 65.5 nautical miles South by West from Geraldton and 46 nautical miles West by North from Leeman.

Despite the heavy swell conditions, the sea state was relatively calm so the Nashira was able to maintain a speed of around 20 knots. The yacht had also developed a fault in its VHF radio system, the only communication was possible through the satellite network. The shore based operator was able to track the vessel using the AIS system and so was able to continually update the vessels position. Nashira was able to make phone contact with the “Angel's Dance” at around 05:20 and made a course change to intercept her. By this time a heavy fog had descended cutting visibility to a minimum so at around 05:50 the skipper of “Angel's Dance” was asked to set off a parachute flare and then a hand-held red flare. The Nashira arrived on site shortly after at 05:57. Due to the low light and full visibility it was decided that the Nashira would sail with the “Angel's Dance” until full daylight when it would be safer for a tow to commence. By 06:30 conditions had improved so the tow line was attached to the “Angel's Dance” in the long trip to safety began.

It was realised that the Nashira would not have enough fuel to complete the journey so the Port Denison VMR was contacted and it was arranged that their rescue vessel would rendezvous and takeover the tow while Nashira ran into Port Denison to refuel. As there was no unleaded fuel available at Denison the Geraldton VMR fuel ute was dispatched.

Nashira rendezvoused with Denison’s Rescue 1 at 11:20 and then she headed for the Port Denison Marina where she loaded on another 570 litres of fuel. The kind crew at Port Denison VMR provided steak burgers and other refreshments to the Nashira crew so they went out again refuelled and refreshed.

At 14:05 they caught up with Port Denison’s rescue boat and took over the tow again. At 1545 they arrived at the entrance of the Geraldton Fishermen’s harbour where they shortened up the tow and bought the “Angel's Dance” into the harbour and finally alongside the Fuel Wharf, at 16:08 bringing to an end an epic trip that had taken close to 14 hours to complete.