Volunteers from Marine Rescue Iluka-Yamba have rescued two people on board a disabled 45-foot power catamaran in a seven-hour operation complicated by deteriorating conditions.
The catamaran skipper called the Iluka-Yamba base just before 6.30am to report the fibreglass boat was stranded about 6nm northeast of Evans Head, suffering motor and steering failure.
Marine Rescue NSW northern rivers regional controller Stephen Reading said the larger Iluka Yamba 30 Steber vessel had been dispatched to tow the boat to shore rather than the closer Evans Head 30, due to the size of the catamaran.
The rescue vessel reached the cat at about 9.30am and took it under tow, heading south towards Yamba in initially favourable conditions.
But Mr Reading said the weather deteriorated, with a strong southerly blowing up and increasing the swell.
‘The catamaran sustained damage to its bow and was taking on a lot of water in the choppy conditions. The skipper of IY 30 decided it would be safer and more effective to turn north again and travel with the weather and swell, which then stopped the water entering the catamaran,’ he said.
Mr Reading said the RAAF agreed to suspend live drills on its Evans Head range to allow the two vessels to proceed on a straight path to Evans Head rather than diverting around the range’s area of operations.
‘The two vessels arrived in the Evans Head boat harbour about 1.30pm after a long and difficult operation. The members of the IY 30 crew are to be congratulated for their work to adapt to the worsening weather and sea conditions,’ he said.
‘Our volunteers are trained and equipped to high standards for our mission to save lives on the water.
‘The boat crew and the radio operators from the Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba and Evans Head units worked in unison to ensure that this operation was completed safely.
‘The two people on board the catamaran were very grateful for our members’ professional response to a situation that could have had a far more serious outcome.’