Bill Burchardt and Arthur Hunt putting Operation Rescue Echidna into action on Saturday.
Bill Burchardt and Arthur Hunt putting Operation Rescue Echidna into action on Saturday. Yeppoon Coast Guard

Coast Guard crew makes their most unusual rescue yet

IN THE midst of exercises and rescues, the Yeppoon Coast Guard conducted their most unusual rescue to date on Saturday.

Called to the pontoon near the Coast Guard building, the rescuers had no idea what they were walking into when they spotted an echidna huddled against the structure.

Struggling to find it's sea legs, the Echidna had somehow found itself in a perilous situation on the boat ramp, with boat trailers running up and down the ramp putting it in danger.

All spiky situations were avoided thanks to flotilla members Bill Burchardt, Arthur Hunt, and Paul Florian who were able to transfer the echidna to a plastic container and release it into the National Park land near the harbour, where we are told it wasted no time digging into the sandy soil, grateful to be back on solid land.

Bill Burchardt mid-echidna rescue.
Bill Burchardt mid-echidna rescue. Yeppoon Coast Guard

Before the crew rescued the lost echidna, it had been a busy weekend with rescues, training exercises and a boating safety course.

On Thursday afternoon, the RACQ Capricorn Rescue Helicopter Service conducted a training exercise off Wreck Point which began with the helicopter crew locating a distress beacon on the Main Beach at Yeppoon.

This was followed by by a winching exercise that involved Gorman's Removals Rescued, and the boats skipper, Jim Warren.

The friendly, and somewhat lost, echidna being released back into the National Park land near the marina.
The friendly, and somewhat lost, echidna being released back into the National Park land near the marina. Yeppoon Coast Guard

On Friday, Coast Guard received a request for assistance from a 5.5 metre power boat with three people on board which had run out of fuel near Finlays Reef, north of Yeppoon.

Gorman's Removals Rescue, with skipper Jim Warren, departed Rosslyn Bay at 4.50pm and returned with the boat in tow at 5.35pm.

Great weather over the weekend meant hundreds of boats were out on the water on Saturday, with a line up for the boat ramp for most of the day.

Five boaties also attended the Coast Guard's free bi-monthly Safety Boating course at Rosslyn Bay.

Assisting with the Fitzroy Frogs GKI triathlon on, the Coast Guard was asked to shadow swimmers and provide water assistance where required.

The lost echidna, back in the wild after a morning adventure trying to find its sea legs.
The lost echidna, back in the wild after a morning adventure trying to find its sea legs. Yeppoon Coast Guard

Skippered by David Smith and with a crew of two people the 5.8 metre rescue vessel RV McDonald's shadowed the swimmers after they left Putney Beach at 9.30am, following them through choppy waters to the point near Passage Rocks.

With the sea slightly calmer along Leekes Beach, the swim consisted of a 5km court with options to exit at 1km. 2km, 3km, and 4km.

At 9.38am, Coast Guard rescue vessel, Gorman's Removal Rescue, with skipper Darryl Greer and two others, answered a distress call by the skipper of a 27 tonne, 51 foot steel hulled, three masted sailing vessel with two people on board.

The vessel's engine had seized and it was unable to make headway in the light winds.

Part of the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service's training exercise off Wreck Point last Thursday.
Part of the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service's training exercise off Wreck Point last Thursday. Yeppoon Coast Guard

The crew located the boat in the area of Manifold Island at 11.30am and was soon taken under tow.

After a slow tow at a maximum hull speed of 7 knots, both boats reached Rosslyn Bay Harbour at 4.05pm after a six and a half hour operation.

At 12.45, while the previous operation was under way, a call for assistance came from a 7 metre Shark Cat with five people on board that had starter motor failure.

The vessel was located east of Flat Island, 40 nautical miles north east of Rosslyn Bay.

Marine Assist Rescue, with skipper Jim Warren and a crew of sic, left the marina at 1.55pm and reached the vessel at 4pm, where it took up tow of the boat soon after.

The 7 metre Shark Cat, which had five people on board, under tow and on its way back to the marina.
The 7 metre Shark Cat, which had five people on board, under tow and on its way back to the marina. Yeppoon Coast Guard

At a speed of 9 knots, both boats made it back to the marina at 8.05pm.

Sunday was much quieter for the crews, with one operation for the whole day.

A request for a tow came from Great Keppel Island for a 6.1 metre boat with engine trouble.

Marine Assist Rescue, with skipper Darryl Greer and a crew of two, headed out at 1.25pm but the boat owner managed to get the engine going and met the Coast Guard crew, who then shadowed the boat back to Rosslyn Bay Harbour, arriving at 2.20pm.



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