Sailing boat crew rescued

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Four people were stranded at sea overnight on Boxing Day after losing engine and electrical power on their 14m sailing boat and floating out of cellphone range.

Busselton Volunteer Marine Rescue was called at 3.30am on December 27 by Fremantle Water Police after a signal was picked up from an emergency position indicating radio beacon off the Busselton coast. Crew arrived at the Busselton Marine Rescue base less than an hour later and, after receiving updated co-ordinates from the overhead RAC rescue chopper, launched a rescue boat into the early morning surf.

Skipper Brian Le Cornu told the Times the vessel was found about 5am and needed a tow back to shore, which took a couple of hours given the size of the boat.

“The vessel was newly bought and carrying four Melbourne visitors,” he said.

“They didn’t have access to their radio so it was just lucky their EPIRB was in working condition or they’d have been in real trouble.”

Mr Le Cornu said the incident was a reminder of the importance of reporting in before taking a boat out to sea.

“It was especially dangerous because they were interstate visitors, so no one knew them or knew they had gone out to sea,” he said.

“If they’d have reported over the radio when they were going out and expecting to be back, we probably would have gotten to them much earlier.”

Mr Le Cornu said the volunteers were always on the lookout for new members to join them and attend emergencies such as this one.

“We all work hard here to keep people safe and the more of us there are, the better,” he said.

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