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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Crew rescued as yacht sinks off Evans Head

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The merchant vessel, British Loyalty, alongside the stricken  yacht Red Sky off Evans Head early this morning (December 12, 2014). Photo Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
The merchant vessel, British Loyalty, alongside the stricken yacht Red Sky off Evans Head early this morning (December 12, 2014). Photo Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

A merchant vessel has saved the lives of four crew from a 50-foot private yacht who got into trouble 19 kilometres off Evans Head overnight.

The yacht, Red Sky,began taking on water in heavy swells and its bilge pump could not keep up. Around 3am the crew let off a distress beacon, radioed a mayday call and phoned emergency services asking to be rescued.

The yacht Red Sky. Photo Police Media
The yacht Red Sky. Photo Police Media

The Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to the area with a life raft and a lifeline if necessary.

But helicopter crew member Mark Sewell said that by the time the rescuers arrived the boat was already sheltering in the lea of a large oil tanker.

The British Loyalty, which was in the vicinity, managed to come along side the stricken boat.

They attached safety lines to the boats bow and stern and the four yachties climbed up rope ladders to safety on board the merchant vessel

‘It was quite rough – a good two- to three-metre swell, the wind we’re estimating was close to 30 knots out there. I’m sure very scary for those people, especially until daylight broke through,’ Mr Sewell told ABC radio this morning.

The yacht has now been abandoned off Evans Head and anyone in the sea around that area is warned to look out for it. Mr Sewell said he believed it would be washed ashore later today.

The British Loyalty steams away from the rescue site, leaving the stricken yacht Red Sky foundering in heavy seas. Photo Life Saver Rescue Helicopter
The British Loyalty steams away from the rescue site, leaving the stricken yacht Red Sky foundering in heavy seas. Photo Life Saver Rescue Helicopter

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  1. It is a great thing when Australian seafarers come to the rescue of fellow sailors who are in trouble. Following the tradition of the sea. It is a pity that the Federal LNP Government (Abbott) does not think that Australia deserves a maritime industry whereas we have Australian crewed vessels carrying cargo on the Australian coast crewed by Australians! No the Abbott government would rather have foreign seafarers on 457 visas working on the Australian coast on sub standard vessels! No wonder the unemployment rate in Australia has increased when governments do not support their own people!

  2. Spot on Eddie…Sad times ahead especially for young school leavers and uni graduates…Why pay an Aussie when you can pay $5 an hour for a foreigner in some industries…It’s happening right now around the country…I spoke to a couple of guys who got paid $5 an hour for labouring work they did with a bunch of people from the same country for 2 months ($60 a day). The temp. visa holders were promised higher paying work in another industry after that but that didn’t really work out and they felt very ripped off, as you would, however as they want to stay in Australia they don’t want to go to the authorities about it. A lose lose situation except for the labour hire company who made a killing out of the temp. visa holders. Prior to this all the Aussies that worked for that business were put off and they were up in arms that their jobs were being given to foreigners when there was no skills shortage. This is happening everywhere…I’ve been travelling around the country and it’s happening in so many industries. The fact that it barely rates a mention in the media and apparently has nothing to do with our rapidly rising unemployment is really alarming…

  3. How are your comments related to that rescue? What’s temp visa working conditions have to do with this story. I am more interested in the concerned crew story. 30kt winds and a 3m swell is not an extreme. Any open sea 50ft boat should be able to handle these conditions. So to know what happened might be usefull for the benefit of all sea travellers.

  4. I also would like to know why a yacht that hasn’t yet sunk in only 3 m swell and 30K winds is being abandoned??.
    The boat is 50Ft, if the engine was working couldn’t they motor to Evans head??

    I dont know any details but would like to know a lot more about this.
    It may not be the case but I often see people with to much money and no sea sense, buy boats they cant handle and go off with no experience. I know we all have to learn .With it being so easy to call “help” and put other peoples lives and a lot cost on the line , maybe licencing according to size could be a good idea.
    basic size 8m. mid size up to 12M , and large boats over 12M . Set requirements for each level both written and practical.

  5. I am the owner of Red Sky and I would like to fill you all in on exactly what happend. We left the Gold Coast sea wat at around 1 pm and headed South toward Sydney making good time motoring with just a bit of sail to steady her. I am am experiienced skipper I drove trawlers in the Gulf of Carpentaria back intone late 70’s early 80’s . I sailed Red Sky from Fiji to Brisbane a few months back. At around 2am my wife took watch while I had a power nap. After closing my eyes we had a loud hit at the front of the boat it shuddered then TA few seconds later there were 3 very loud bangs from the stern . I could hear and feel them. I ran upstairs and the offcourse alarm wa off I went to standby tried to steer back on course but the steering was very lose and vague. I put it on auto and went below to check the bilge. Water was flowing in very fast and already just blew the floor boards the pumps were running but not keeping up. We pulled all the floor hatched up looking for the leak expecting a hose had come off. We couldn’t find anything . By now the water was above the floor I suspected we had hit a container or something and the keel had sheared a bolt. My crew was getting quite worried we had no effective steering other than the bow thruster and it looked like we were going down. I had to think of my crew first so called the mayday 2 vessels responded the Silver Pegasus and the British Loyalty . I could not understand the skipper of the Pegasus his Engilsh was not very good and he kept saying ok after every word. The British Loyalty responded clearly and came to our assistance. My main engine was still running while I pulled alongside the tanker but it gave out before I could attach the lines . We drifted past the tanker and with no main or steering I did a 360 deg turn using now thruster and the swell ,pulled out a bit more main sail and sail back to the tanker this was very difficult with the boat full of water . As soon as we were in the lee of the tanker we lost power from the sail and I caught a line the crew threw to me. After several minutes of hauling the got us alongside and I sent the crew up the ladder.
    I got all the crew off ok and intended to stay on board . I tried to contact a third vessel in the area possibly a trawler to arrange a tow but they did not answer. I received no offer of tow or assistance from the local sea rescue my main engine had given out I didn’t know where the water was coming from. I had a few seconds to decide to stay or go . My family and the crew where shouting for me to climb the ladder. The line then broke and I jumped for it before I had to swim and get the chopper which was standing by. Red Sky was my home it was underinsured because I’m broke after fixing it all up and leaving no job. My wife has MS and we just wanted to have A couple of good years while she’s still able to walk . We are devastated we have lost everything and to think people are looting our possessions makes us sick In the guts. I’m not rich I worked my guts out Underground as an air leg miner the hardest job on earth to save the money to buy this boat. If your the person who stole my outboard or dingy or the bottle of Scotch I was saving for my 60th birthday or my other possessions you can return them to the police or leave them somewhere to be picked up. I will be around the area for a while and I can assure you i will find who has my stuff .
    Mike Cramb

  6. In addendum once we were on board the tanker the crew told me we had a buoy behind us with a flashing light a wave recorder they thougt. Once red Sky was ashore we found out what caused our problems the police took photos and sure enough our rudder had been sliced by a cable and the hull was damaged from the buoy . Probably the one that went missing a few months back. Unfortunately I can post pics here to show you . Plus after we abandoned someone has come aboard and tried to tow our vessel a rope was found through the anchor . One would wonder why they didn’t respond earlier and was it the vessel that didn’t answer my mayday. They also helped themselves to a lot of our gear . I though the pirates lived in Somalia but it appears you have a few around the mid north coast. A sad enditement on your community.
    Mike Cramb

  7. I’m very sorry to hear how badly things went for you Mike.

    I’m sure you don’t need to hear it from me but as sailor I’m impressed by how well you handled a very difficult crisis.

    Do you know why the boat didn’t sink? I wonder if it is possible to look up the owner of the Pegasus and ask him a few questions.

  8. Hi Mike,
    Sorry to hear about the lose of your home and what has happened since. As a sailor myself and also live on my yacht, these things happen when sailing and sometimes no matter what you do, it can not be helped.
    After hitting a container myself, luckly my is made of steel, I understand how you felt when you heard the the yacht hitting something. Can not understand the posts of the idiots above, must be armchair yachties.
    Hope things work out for you and your wife.

  9. Video from the Westpac chopper shows the buoy now we need to enhance it to identify who owns it. There is something fishy going on pardun the pun but local charter operators told me quite openly that the Fisheries dept spent several days looking for the FAD off Evans Head that was missing. Then the same local charter people called me back 30 mins later and told me that they just received a call from fisheries and the buoy wasn’t missing. I called the Evans head fisheries people and they were very evasive. It will end up in court and witnesses will be called on oath and there are severe penalties for perjury. The truth is always the best option no matter how bad you think things are lies only make it worse.
    Mike Cramb

  10. Hi Mike,

    so sorry to see this news particularly given you and Carolines personal circumstances. Can the boat be salvaged and how much damage is there?. I am glad you are both safe. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you prepare and how much experience you have this kind of thing can happen. Hitting an object at night is something that cannot be avoided other than staying in harbour.

    I will be back on my boat in Brisbane (Scarborough Marine) around March and if there is anything I can do please just ask. You should still have my email.

    king regards


  11. Hi Mike and Caroline,

    Very sorry to hear of your collision. I worry at night plowing along unable to see things like this in the water. There is just too much off humanities junk in the water! Glad you got rescued OK.

    Good luck sorting out what you can.



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