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Marine Rescue volunteers rescue stranded yacht from rocky fate

Volunteers from two Marine Rescue NSW units on the North Coast have worked to rescue a disabled yacht at risk of running on to rocks off Brooms Head in an overnight operation. The skipper of the 35 foot yacht contacted Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour about 11pm last Thursday to advise that it had lost its motor 3 nautical miles off Sandon Bluff, was unable to sail due to the lack of wind and was drifting toward shore, unable to anchor due to the water depth. The yacht, with two people on board, had been on a delivery run from Mooloolaba to Wollongong. MRNSW Northern Rivers Regional Controller Stephen Reading tasked a crew from Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba to assist the vessel and skipper Frank Bond and crew Peter Ross and Tony Prow, on board Iluka-Yamba 30, responded with urgency, punching into 2m seas. MR Coffs Harbour radio operator David Flemington provided ongoing communications support for the yacht’s skipper, getting location updates and relaying information to the crew on board Iluka Yamba 30. The updates showed the yacht was slowly approaching the shore line just south of Brooms Head. On a black night with no moon and rough conditions close to shore, IY 30 located the vessel at 1.30am after spotting its navigation lights, anchored only 600m off the shore just south of the rocky headland at Brooms Head. The skipper had dropped his anchor but it didn’t take until he was close to shore in about 20m of water. Had the anchor not held, the two on board were prepared to abandon the yacht and take to their life raft. IY 30 secured the yacht for a slow tow back to Yamba in poor conditions. Given the state of the tide on Clarence River bar, the crew decided to stand off the entrance until the tide had turned and the light had improved. The two vessels finally crossed the Yamba bar at 6am, with the yacht safely berthed at the Yamba Marina to undergo repairs. Mr Reading praised the volunteers from both Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba and Coffs Harbour for their swift and professional response to the emergency. “Our rescue crew aboard IY 30 is to be congratulated for battling the tough sea conditions and pitch darkness to locate this yacht, which was at risk of being smashed on to the rocks and bring its crew to safety,” he said. “Our rescue crews rely on the vital communications support of our radio operators and in this event, David Flemington has ensured that both the yacht’s skipper and our crew had the information they needed for a successful outcome.”