The crew of the Australian Customs vessel (ACV) StormBay have plucked three German men to safety from their stricken yacht in waters near the Raine Island entrance to the Great Barrier Reef, in the second rescue from the treacherous reef waters in a month.
Sagitta, taking water at the stern, photo courtesy Australian Customs
It is only four weeks since British sailor Peter Turner and a crew member Tim Wood were rescued by an Emergency Management Queensland helicopter after their yacht Asolare crashed into Moore Reef near Willis Island, 420km east of Cairns.
This is the cruising season when many foreign and local yachts are making their way to Darwin on their way to Asia and the Mediterranean
The German sailors were on board their 10 metre sloop, the Sagitta, when they hit the reef late Saturday afternoon. When the yacht started taking on water the men set off a German coded emergency beacon.
German authorities received the distress signal and contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA) Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra.
A Customs Coastwatch plane and Horn Island helicopter were sent to the area - about 160 km southeast of Cape York - where the stricken vessel was located.
The Coastwatch aircraft issued a distress broadcast and StormBay, which was on patrol in the area, responded immediately.
Around 8:00pm that evening, crew of StormBay retrieved the three men who received medical assessments on board. Two men aged 56 and 60 and the third, who was 76, were all in good health.
Commanding Officer Storm Bay, Paul Hemmings, said today the rescue had gone well.
'With dire weather closing in on Saturday night and the possibility the situation could easily deteriorate, we were pleased to get the three men safely on board StormBay.'
No attempts to tow the yacht were made by StormBay due to the damage sustained to the vessel and the weather conditions.
AMSA has issued a hazard warning to mariners to inform them of the yacht's current location.
The yacht was on passage from Brisbane to Darwin, but is not believed to be part of the Blue Water Rally which is currently transiting the area.
The StormBay arrived in Cairns this morning with the three men, who had stayed with their yacht while waiting to be rescued, thus making it easier to find them.