The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook
The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook

Third rescue in a week as boat battery dies 60km from shore

Rescue crews have come to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded 60km from the boat ramp with nightfall creeping in.

Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay skipper Don Bowden said crews received the call for help from northwest of Scawfell Island on Monday afternoon.

“(The boat) had battery failure so they had no communication,” Mr Bowden said.

“It was getting on towards dark, so they set off their EPIRB with the distress locator.”

The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook
The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook

Mr Bowden explained the EPIRB signalled to the Canberra headquarters that then triggered the Whitsundays water police.

“The water policing sent the CQ Rescue helicopter out,” Mr Bowden said.

“Of course, then they require us at the same time.”

The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Pictured with the blue cap is Mike, the skipper is Noel and the passenger is Joline. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook
The Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Pictured with the blue cap is Mike, the skipper is Noel and the passenger is Joline. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook

He said VMR crews happened to be down at the station completing a navigation course and so they were able to quickly leave in the 8m DBCT Rescue 6 vessel that has two 300 horsepower motors.

“The helicopter’s gone out and located (the boaties),” Mr Bowden said.

“In the meantime, another vessel had come to their aid and they’d towed them into Refuge Bay at Scawfell.

Wild Bill was the name of the boat.”

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He said VMR then towed the pair back to Mackay through rough waters, arriving about 8pm.

“They’re very pleased to see you when you turn up,” Mr Bowden said.

The view coming back from Scawfell Island. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook
The view coming back from Scawfell Island. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook

“You don’t want to spend a night at sea in a small boat and it’s dark and you’ve got no lights.”

He said the tow was VMR’s third rescue in one week.

“We had a boat with a faulty starter motor who was out at Bailey Island … (and) we had another vessel we had to retrieve from Keswick, St Bees on Saturday afternoon — faulty fuel tank,” he said.

“During (last) week, we got quite busy as well; we had to tow multiple boats at the same time.”

Don Bowden, as part of the Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew which came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook
Don Bowden, as part of the Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay crew which came to the aid of two fishers who found themselves stranded off Scawfell Island on Monday, December 21. Picture: VMR Mackay Facebook

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Mr Bowden had some tips for those heading out on the water over the holidays:

— Have your boats well prepared

— Carry excess fuel for your required passage and sufficient safety gear including an EPIRB, vinegar for stings and marine radio for communication

— Take plenty of water to avoid dehydration during the summers

— Report into VMR before you head out

— Take a spare battery if you can but only use one battery at a time.


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