The Marine Area Command has safely returned three yachtsmen to land following a joint search and rescue (SAR) operation more than 220nm off the coast of NSW this week.
Just after 10pm on Monday (9 November 2020), a ‘MayDay’ distress call was received from Solar Coaster, an 11.5m yacht, which had been de-masted about 100nm west of Lord Howe Island.
Authorities were informed the mast had hit the hull of the vessel, but no damage had been sustained, nor were there any injuries to the three men – aged 64, 63 and 61 – who were on board.
The NSW Police Force’s Marine Area Command and Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) subsequently launched a SAR operation to locate the yacht and bring the men back to shore.
About 10.30am on Tuesday (10 November 2020), AMSA launched a Challenger jet and dropped fuel, supplies, and a satellite phone, which enabled contact between the SAR crews and the yachtsmen.
The Marine Area Command subsequently launched a police vessel, which met up with the Solar Coaster on Thursday (12 November 2020).
Following a safety assessment, the police vessel connected a towline to the yacht and commenced a 200nm journey back to the NSW coast.
Despite facing some unfavourable weather and sea conditions – which at times restricted their speed to just 4kn – both vessels arrived safety at Nelson Bay just before 10.30am today (Saturday 14 November 2020).
After 5 days at sea, the fatigued men were reunited with family members shortly after docking at Port Stephens Water Police.