Home' Afloat : November 2013 Contents 8 AFLOAT.com.au November 2013
to avoid. The crew is experienced and when unable to free
themselves contacted VMR Coffs Harbour for assistance. Part
of that assistance included the fisherman coming out to free his
fishing pot – a difficult task involving grappling hooks and knives
to free the multiple lines snaring the boat and anchoring it to
the large fish trap below. With prop still fouled and insufficient
breeze to sail, NeXt Light was towed into Coffs Harbour.
In harbour, the crew dived repeatedly and cut free floats
and ropes, checked the sail drive and motor and determined
all was well. The voyage continued after a lengthy unscheduled
stopover. Heading north, weather deteriorated but the boat was
snug in strong west and sou’westerly winds. Passing Cape Byron
the weather remained strong from the south west and the motor
was being used to charge batteries and steady the boat.
Deja vu all over again. At about 1am the engine laboured
and stalled and the boat stopped and swung stern to the south
westerly swell running at 2.5m and wind at 20 knots, firmly
attached to a fishing float by the saildrive. In those conditions
there was no point in attempting anything before daybreak and
the crew secured the boat and called VMR and Water Police.
As is always the case with these organisations the service
was professional. The crew declined an offer of a helicopter
rescue and Water Police prepared to despatch a boat from Coffs
Harbour after daybreak. No obliging fisherman this time – the
bar at Ballina was closed.
Miraculously at about 9am the float dropped free and the
heavy fish trap holding the boat was released. NeXt Light got
under way under sail for Southport while the crew checked the
motor, restarted and subsequently were able to engage the shaft
making the vessel now fully seaworthy. A credit to the experience
and seamanship of the skipper and his crew and their level-
So if you were off the east coast of
Australia in the current or in an estuary, it
is ONLY a help.
Also, in a MOB situation a power vessel
should do a ‘Williamson Turn’ as practised
regularly by commercial vessels all around
the world (see diagram).
When you are on a reciprocal course, put
engines in neutral and you will find you are
alongside your MOB within a minute or two. Even with current
you will be very close. Whether you turn to port or starboard
doesn’t matter, some say turn the stern away from the person
overboard to avoid prop strikes.
Every person doing an International Certificate of Competence
or a commercial course in Australia has to demonstrate a
proficiency in this very effective system. It should be compulsory
training for all boat licenses.
Capt Petal, Yachtmaster Instructor,
Fishing floats hazard to navigation
NeXt Light departed Pittwater on 5 August for Hamilton Island
to participate in Race Week, with a crew of four. The boat is a
35foot X Yacht, Cat 3 safety and carrying an 8-man life raft. The
first two days were uneventful but in the early morning of the
third day while motor sailing the engine laboured then stalled
and the boat came to a stop with a fishing float wrapped around
the sail drive and rudder.
It was dark, the float unmarked and impossible for the crew
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