Rescue helicopter locates stranded yacht

On 11 October, RACQ CQ Rescue located a lone sailor who had activated an EPIRB after his yacht became wedged on a sand bar off Shoal Point, Queensland, Australia.

The man set off the emergency beacon at around 09:30 hrs after his yacht, Shoreline Song, hit a sand bar at low tide near Little Green Island. The Mackay-based rescue helicopter was tasked by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to begin a search and rescue mission of the area between Shoal Point and Cape Hillsborough, departing base about 10:00 hrs.

The RACQ CQ Rescue crew was able to quickly hone in on the distress signal and locate the vessel, but was unable to make contact with the sailor onboard. Crewman Callum Good said the helicopter crew decided to complete a ‘hover exit’ on Little Green Island, which saw him disembark the aircraft as it hovered close to the island’s rocky shore. Good said this skilled manoeuvre, often performed as part of the crew’s extensive training regime, was undertaken primarily in areas where the terrain or vegetation prevented the helicopter from conducting a full skid landing.

With the assistance of a passing fisherman and his dinghy, Good travelled 500 m to the stranded yacht and then swam the last few metres towards the vessel to make contact with the yachtsman onboard. After assessing the health of the sailor, the safety and state of the vessel and assisting to turn off the EPIRB, the rescue crewman was returned to the island by dinghy and then completed a ‘hover entry’ back into the aircraft.

RACQ CQ Rescue proceeded to make radio contact with Volunteer Marine Rescue to assist the sailor float the vessel at high tide.

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