THE Marine Rescue NSW Trial Bay unit and their boat TB30 have had a busy holiday period.
The unit’s latest operation took place late on Saturday night when they were called to help a small yacht with mechanical difficulties.
In what should have been a leisurely cruise home to Coffs Harbour from Sydney with a newly acquired yacht, a mechanical failure off Hat Head meant the skipper and two companions on the vessel needed help.
The 8m yacht, named 'Quatro Vientos' (Four Winds), had encountered gearbox trouble and with no breeze, it was drifting toward the shore.
The Trial Bay unit received the call about 10pm and put to sea in favourable weather conditions, reaching the yacht by 11pm.
All aboard were in good condition and a long slow tow back to the safety of Trial Bay was completed at 1.30am on Sunday.
Trial Bay unit commander Chris Mainey said the difficulties of towing a small yacht complicated the rescue.
“There are no tow points close to the water line so when you tie off on the bow the faster you go the more the boat gets pulled down into the water and you are just dragging dead weight like a plough,” he said.
This incident was just the latest in a string of operations that have kept the unit busy.
On December 30, the unit rescued three fishermen whose boat had run out of fuel 15 nautical miles (27km) off shore.
“They were a group of young guys up from the Newcastle area who had set out the previous day, fished all afternoon, through the night and into the next day and surprisingly had run low on fuel,” Mr Mainey said.
Another operation had the unit operating more like the NRMA than Marine Rescue.
“We got a call from a trawler with electrical problems that needed a tow about 24 nautical miles (44km) from the base off the coast at Valla,” Mr Mainey said.
“When we got there we decided to see if we could fix their problem rather than try to tow them because it was a big boat.
“Anyway we soon got them going again, checked their battery to see if it was charging and sent them on their way.”
The unit also encountered some repeat customers.
“We were called to help another boat in trouble off Grassy Head and when we arrived we found that it was the same fisherman we rescued from the water about a year ago after his boat overturned crossing the bar at the Macleay River mouth,” Mr Mainey said.
Mr Mainey said that while he thought most people were getting the message about marine safety, there were still some diehards who were putting themselves and the Marine Rescue NSW volunteers at risk.
“Some boat owners are reluctant to log on with Marine Rescue because they don’t want to give away their favourite fishing spot so they don’t want to give away their location or where they are going,” he said.
“They don’t seem to realise that we are all locals who have been around the area for years and we probably know more about the best fishing around here than they do.”