Shocked crew rescued from sinking vessel on Map Reef
Emergency services responders are familiar with turning out to unexpected situations, and so it was quite a relief for Two Rocks Volunteer Marine Rescue Service (VMRS) to rescue a well-equipped vessel, albeit a few inches under water.
Late afternoon on the 13 May Two Rocks VMRS were notified by police of a distress call from a vessel taking on water near Map Reef.
The vessels crew had set off an EPIRB, and several flares, but as the sky darkened they exhausted their flares and waited out the search waving a torch from their slowly sinking vessel.
Skipper Brian Nalder, a member of 14 months with Two Rocks VMRS, said his main concerns for the rescue were the people.
“(We didn’t know) whether they were still floating or whether we were looking for people in the water,” Skipper Nalder said.
With assistance from a WA Police helicopter and other vessels, the distressed crew and boat were located approximately three kilometres from the VMRS base.
“Water was probably within an inch or two of the deck and we made the decision straight away to hook a tow rope and take the people off,” Skipper Nalder said.
During the journey to Two Rocks crewman Ned Shepard was keeping an eye on the towed boat, watching it take on more and more water throughout the hour.
“There was very much a concern that it would sink,” Crewman Shepard said.
After the boat had been lifted it was discovered that the rudder shoe was torn off, bending it backwards which in turn split the hull. Skipper Nalder said the split was the length of the rudder, and there was also some cracking around the keel.
He said the crew of the rescued vessel were very quiet and in a bit of shock after being rescued.
“They were shattered, and were all fairly quiet and didn’t say much at all. We checked for injuries and they were fine,” Skipper Nalder said.
Crewman Trevor Hutchinson said the rescue was successful because the vessel had all the required safety equipment on board and the crew used everything they had.