10 May 2023

Long-range vessel helps VMR rescue Weipa duo

| Matt Nicholls
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The men had enough phone reception to tell family and friends they were safe and opted to spend the night in hope of being able to repair the motor in the morning.

However, when their attempts to fix it were thwarted, they called emergency services to lend a hand.

Around 1.30pm Wednesday, Volunteer Marine Rescue Weipa was advised by Thursday Island Water Police that their assistance was required.

A three-man crew comprising Steve Rehn, Tony White and Bill Garnaut prepared the boat for the rescue.

In driving rain, Marine 1 was in the water at 2.15pm and made the 32 nautical mile trip south.

“Sea conditions were very good however rain was constant for most of the trip and for a fair proportion of the trip the visibility was about 50 metres,” Mr Garnaut said.

“Thankfully, the weather cleared at the Norman River.”

As the rescue was made at low tide, the stranded boat had to be dragged back to the water before being able to be towed.

Steve Rehn showed his prowess as a cowboy and was able to launch a monkey’s fist throw line right on target.

“Having a larger boat with a long fuel range certainly makes a difference in remote areas,” Mr Garnaut said.

“In this situation, having a powerful vessel prevented people wading in waist-deep muddy water where there are plenty of crocodiles.”

Conditions eased for the trip home and the stranded duo were back at Evans Landing by 5.30pm.

VMR Gulf Zone president Peter Graham praised the Weipa squadron.

“All these guys were going about their normal lives and when there is a problem they get in and help out,” he said.

“They cover an area from Edward River to Cotterell River, which stretches nearly 230 nautical miles.

“To have that vessel back at the ramp four hours after activation speaks for itself.

“With the proposed changes as part of the Blue Water Review it is important that the Queensland government maintains this level.”

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