HMAS Darwin finds yacht adrift at sea

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Jason O'Gorman (author), ABIS Sarah Ebsworth (photographer), LSBM Sarah Flanders (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Creswell, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Darwin (F04)

HMAS Darwin's RHIB approaches the drifting yacht 'Avocet'. (photo: ABIS Sarah Ebsworth)
HMAS Darwin's RHIB approaches the drifting yacht 'Avocet'.

In mid-November, three men sailing from Pittwater in Sydney's north to Lord Howe Island ran into trouble, 160 nautical miles north-east of Sydney.

In three metre seas and stormy conditions, the yacht's mast snapped and engine failed at the same time.

The men contacted emergency services shortly afterwards and were eventually rescued by New South Wales Water Police and transported back to dry land. At the time it was assessed as too dangerous to tow the yacht back to Sydney, so it remained adrift.

Sixteen days later, HMAS Darwin, under the Command of Commander Phillip Henry, was conducing routine training operations 30 nautical miles south east of Jervis Bay, NSW, when someone on the bridge spotted a yacht.

HMAS Darwin's takes 'Avocet' under tow with Lieutenant James Hodgkinson at the wheel.

HMAS Darwin's takes 'Avocet' under tow with Lieutenant James Hodgkinson at the wheel.



Darwin's
bridge staff were concerned that the yacht appeared to be drifting. Concerned for the safety of who ever might be aboard, Darwin approached the vessel.  It was soon understood that the vessel was the yacht 'Avocet', which had been abandoned 16 days earlier.

Darwin
took the yacht Avocet under tow, and delivered her to HMAS Creswell for eventual return to its owner.

"I wasn’t sure what we would find when we approached what appeared to be a pilotless vessel this morning," Commander Henry said.

"After finding out the story behind what led to the yacht being here, we were only too happy to do what we could to return it to its rightful owners."

HMAS Darwin is currently completing her final preparations for deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations at the end of December.