IN a marathon operation, a crew of volunteers from Marine Rescue Bermagui has rescued a group of five adults and two children stranded at sea when their large cruiser ran out of fuel off the Continental Shelf today.
The crew made its way back to Bermagui Harbour with the vessel under tow, expected to reach shore about 10pm Thursday night in increasing wind and choppy seas.
Acting Monaro Regional Controller Glenn Sullivan said the operation took more than 10 hours to complete, given the distance the rescue crew had to travel to reach the fishing boat and return it to safety.
“This vessel was (trolling) a long way offshore. This would be one of the longest operations, over the largest distance, that our crews have mounted in this region,” Mr Sullivan said.
The skipper of the 10 metre Bertram flybridge cruiser alerted the Marine Rescue Bermagui unit at 10.51am that he had run out of fuel while trawling more than 34 nautical miles (about 63 km) offshore, on the edge of the Shelf.
The NSW Police Force Marine Area Command at Eden subsequently tasked the unit to respond in the prevailing conditions.
“The crew, Steven Angelo, Ray McLeod, Mark Donnelly and Caron Parfitt, was quickly summoned and had Bermagui 30, the unit’s 38-foot Steber, under way by 11:50am,” Mr Sullivan said.
“Thankfully, the conditions we endured last week have abated and the crew was able to make good speed, travelling at 21 knots.
“They located the vessel at its last known position and took it under tow for the long trip home, which will necessarily be much slower at only 5 knots, towing a vessel of this cruiser’s size.
“This operation is a timely reminder for all boaters that it is vital to always ensure that they have sufficient fuel on board for their planned journey on the water, especially for lengthy journeys offshore.
“It’s not as if you can pull into a service station and refuel when you’re out at sea so someone will need to come to your rescue if you find yourself stranded.
“This boater is fortunate that Marine Rescue NSW has the skilled and experienced volunteers and the modern and reliable vessels and technology vital to undertake rescue operations on this scale.
“This was a long and demanding job well done and the crew deserves congratulations and thanks for their efforts.”