Textbook fisho rescue off Darwin coast

Wednesday 1 April 2015, Darwin 3.30pm

Rescue personnel praised the action of fishos on a disabled boat which led to their quick rescue off the Darwin coast today.

A charter fishing boat is towing the three occupants of a 5.2 metre tinny to Dundee Beach from where their outboard motor broke down 107km south-west of Darwin.

The fishos set off a distress beacon shortly after 10am when they were unable to start the motor, triggering an air-sea rescue effort.

CareFlight air crewman Dan Warring said the men followed guidelines which allowed a textbook rescue instead of a potential disaster.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority called out Darwin’s CareFlight rescue helicopter when a signal from the beacon was related by satellite to AMSA’s national search and rescue headquarters in Canberra.

Because the men’s  406 MHz Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was registered, it meant rescue authorities had a description of the boat and were able to immediately confirm where they were.

The men set off flares when they saw a charter fishing boat in the distance.

The CareFlight rescue helicopter crew located the disabled boat off Point Blaze as the charter fishing boat Southwind headed to take it in tow.

Dan Warring outlined the correct action by the fishos which ensured their lives were not put at risk by:

• quickly activating the 406 MHz EPIRB when they were unable to start the motor, with plenty of daylight for the search and rescue
• having full details of the boat available as the beacon was registered with AMSA
• displaying a distress V sheet
• having flares and a marine radio on the boat to allow direct contact with the helicopter and rescue boat

With Easter approaching, Dan Warring urged other fishos to follow the example of the men to prevent any tragedy in waters around the Top End.

CareFlight operates the Top End Medical Retrieval Service on behalf of the NT Government, with sponsorship from the community and business supporting operation of the CareFlight rescue helicopter.

CareFlight: the next life we save may be yours