Monday, April 17, 2006

Lone Sailor Rescued In Sea Drama

`Thank God you guys are here' "Thank God you guys are here" said an injured lone sailor as he was rescued from huge seas east of Tasmania. Oyster Cove resident Bruce Wilson, 53, was sailing the 10m Deseado to New Zealand when the yacht rolled through 360 degrees in huge seas about 220km east of St Helens. Seas were 6-8m and an 80kmh wind was blowing when Mr Wilson activated an emergency beacon about 1.10am. The Australian Search and Rescue centre in Canberra received the signal and radio contact was established, initially through New Zealand. The police boat Van Diemen was diverted from Flinders Island but the police rescue helicopter found the Deseado about 7.50am. Police search and rescue squad winch operator Sen-Const. Damian Bidgood said the seas were some of the biggest he had seen. "It was bad, with quite deep troughs," Const. Bidgood said. "You are just wanting to get the job done."Const. Bidgood said one of the first things Mr Wilson said by radio when the helicopter arrived was "thank God you guys are here". "He was basically very thankful ... glad to see us," Const. Bidgood said. Mr Wilson had to jump from the yacht into the water because the swaying mast and rigging made a rescue from the deck too dangerous. Mr Wilson was connected by a diver to the rescue harness and winched to the helicopter 11 minutes after the rescue began. Sen-Const. Rod Stacey, who was lowered into the sea from the helicopter hovering at 50m, said the rescue was "heavy going". Mr Wilson cut himself free of the yacht and huge waves repeatedly broke over the pair, submerging them, before they could be winched to safety. "I personally haven't winched in those conditions before - it was full on," Const. Stacey said. The rescue helicopter was called about 1.20am and flew to Bicheno then timed the hour-long flight to the yacht to arrive in the early morning light, because winching at night is too dangerous. The helicopter arrived at the Hobart Cenotaph about 11.15am, after a fuel stop at Bicheno, and Mr Wilson was taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital. He was treated for cuts, abrasions and chest injuries and released. The Deseado had been based at the Oyster Cove Marina in Kettering but was still at sea last night.

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