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Hard questions around yacht rescue

The Beagle Editor, Yachtsman death delayed by Marine Rescue’s actions.

A person sailing a 33 ft yacht south along the south coast of NSW contacted Marine Rescue Batemans Bay Friday to inform them that there was a foot of water in his vessel and it was sinking. The vessel was presumed to be off Brush Island which is halfway between Ulladulla and the Bay so both MR bases scrambled their crews on the fast response rescue vessel to proceed to the scene of the incident. On route three of the crew fell off their chairs and sustained non-life threatening injuries. It was reported that the winds gusted up to 20 knots in seas “too hazardous” to come along side the distressed vessel and attach a tow line to the vessel. The master was instructed to launch his flimsy inflatable dinghy into these confused seas, get on board and row to the Marine Rescue vessel so his life could be saved. Photos showed the owner – wearing a person safety device, clutching the side of his “sinking yacht” while transferring his belonging. He bruised his body during this dangerous operation while the MR crews looked on. He was later examined by paramedics on the wharf at Ulladulla and released immediately and told to take medication and lie down for a rest.

Photo: Marine Rescue

Marine Rescue left the yacht to drift along the coast in the rain and mist as a grave hazardous to navigation. Stating "It could end up on the beach, or it could sink before it gets to the beach.". It should be noted the adjacent land area is a pristine national park with endangered birds nest on the shoreline so the diesel, petrol and other debris will land up on the shore. This will release Marine Rescue of any obligation and transfer the clean-up responsibility to another Government agency. However if the yacht did sink it would find a resting place on the bottom of the ocean in the Batemans Marine Park sanctuary zone where the diesel and other debris would drift along the sea bottom for years to come. Save the Sanctuary Zone activist will soon be organising a salvage operation calling all their member to donate to find this wayward vessel before it destroyed the pristine nature environment of the Eurobodalla coast line.

Now the hard questions: Who made the decision to leave the vessel to the mercy of the sea? Was it Marine Rescue instructing the master under some dubious police authority or was it made by the owner fearing legal liability? Who made the decision to leave the vessel to drift ashore or sink into the depths of a Marine Park? Did Marine Rescue place an activated EPIRB on board to track the vessel? Did the vessel have an AIS safety device to tell other vessels its location, speed and direction? Has this operation been recorder as an AMSA incident and when? What notice to mariners has been issued regarding a “sinking” vessel in the area? Will Marine Rescue undertake a full, open and transparent incident and operation review of this operation? Will the report be made available to the public who contribute to the funds of Marine Rescue? Will Marine Rescue again brush this under the carpet as just another “learning” experience and never mention it again?

Many many unanswered questions. Will Marine Rescue respond or put out a further social media post regarding searching for the disabled vessel? Batemans Bay Boaters Association

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