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Woman rescued from ocean in dramatic rescue operation

Marine Rescue Iuka Yamba volunteers have rescued a woman who fell overboard from a dismasted catamaran in the darkness far offshore North-East of Yamba during a dramatic rescue mission last Friday night.

The woman, one of two people on the catamaran, was attempting to cut loose rigging trailing in the water when she fell overboard.

The rescue crew, who were already on scene to rescue the disabled boat, swiftly pulled her from the water and took her safely on-board rescue vessel Iluka Yamba 30.

The volunteers launched the mission to rescue the 12-15 metre catamaran 12nm north-east of Yamba after the catamaran’s skipper called for help just before 10.30pm, reporting that the boat had lost its mast, which was hanging over the side, and the two crew on board were attempting to cut it loose.

The crew of rescue vessel Iluka Yamba 30 located the catamaran in the pitch dark, arriving on scene by 12.40am, taking the vessel under tow for the long voyage back to shore.

After a long, slow tow back towards land, the crew successfully navigated the tow across the Clarence bar just before dawn at 4.45am and placed the catamaran safely on a river mooring at Whiting Beach at mission’s end by 5.30am.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell said the successful rescue mission was the result of professional teamwork by volunteers at MR Iluka Yamba and MR Sydney, who took the call for help on the MRNSW coastal marine radio network.

“Just last weekend more than 50 of our volunteers assembled at Yamba for a major Search and Rescue Exercise to fine-tune the skills they need to save lives in operations just like this one,” he said.

“This operation demonstrates the value of our professional training, our world-class vessels and communications network and the skill and courage of our volunteers.

“This emergency, so far offshore and in the pitch black of night, could have had a very different outcome. The two people on board the catamaran are safely back on shore thanks to our volunteers, who heard their call for help and did not hesitate to respond.

“Congratulations to the members of both our Sydney and Iluka Yamba members for a job well done.”

The crew of Iluka Yamba 30, who headed out bravely in the dark were skipper Frank Bond, Bob Adams, Margaret Deguara, Joe Dimauro and Gail Scobie. The overnight Sydney radio operators were Pamela Sayers and Ross Howard.