by Ken McManus
Last night (Saturday 30th July) at 5:15pm, just as the Marine Rescue base at Cottage Point was about to close for the night, a call came in from the Water Police with a task to assist a yacht which was reported aground at Half Tide Rocks. This area is a notoriously dangerous bar and reef that marks the entrance to Brisbane Water from Broken Bay in northern Sydney.
marine rescue logo
Rescue Vessel Cottage Point 20 was immediately dispatched at speed and arrived some 25 minutes later in darkness. The scene was one of pandemonium. They found a 37’ Beneteau yacht hard aground on the reef with a list of some 15 degrees being held fast by the flood tide which was running at over 4 knots. A small RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) was attempting to tow the 7 tonne yacht clear but was unable to make any way against the surging current. Numerous other vessels were standing by but none could offer any assistance due to the strong current and dangerously shoaling waters outside the channel.
CP20 was expertly manoeuvred close to the yacht in these extremely challenging conditions by Skipper John Bensley and a line passed to the stricken vessel. With the aid of CP 20’s two powerful 150HP Honda engines, the yacht was eventually pulled clear of the reef, then towed into safe waters. CP20 then escorted the yacht, now under its own power to the safety of Brisbane Waters. Despite the battering on the reef, the yacht’s hull had fortunately remained sound.
Unit Commander David White was full of praise for his crew on the night. He said, 'Skipper John Bensley (27) performed extremely well at the helm in the extreme conditions and it was a dramatic, but effective learning curve for Cottage Point’s newest and youngest member Luke Hogarth (16), with experienced crewman Rob Macpherson (22) guiding him and ensuring his safety. Conditions such as these test the training and safety skills of all crewmembers and all performed like a well-oiled machine on the night.'
Unit Commander David White continued, 'When returning home from a day out, the yacht skipper had strayed outside the marked channel in this notorious section of water after being blinded by the low, late afternoon sun. Navigation of narrow channels and dangerous bars requires vigilance and care at all times and incidents such as this show how quickly a lapse in concentration can lead to potential disaster.'
Marine Rescue NSW website