Jurien Bay rescue at sea: Volunteers brave ‘terrible’ conditions to rescue three men
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Jurien Bay rescue at sea: Volunteers brave ‘terrible’ conditions to rescue three men

When a torch lit the errant yacht, the two-man crew was sent into the storm to find a ship in distress off the coast of Jurien Bay, which would almost call it a night.

A group of friends was en route from Carnarvon to Perth in the skipper’s recently purchased 11.5m yacht when the trio suffered bad weather in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Jurien Bay rescue at sea: Volunteers brave 'terrible' conditions to rescue three men

It was decided to move to Jurien Bay Marina to seek shelter, but the ship ran out of fuel en route.

Mike Cockburn and Chrissy Heu of Jurien Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue received a call at approximately 1am that an EPIRB emergency device had been activated west of the marina.

The pair spent the next two hours searching for the needle in the haystack that was the yacht and her crew, with 5-foot waves and 30 knots of wind hampering their efforts.

Cockburn said it was getting too dangerous to be at sea, and he was about to turn the rescue craft around when a flare pointed them in the direction of the stranded yacht.

As they approached, another flare lit up the boat, revealing that two men were tossed around in a small raft about 2.5 miles (4 km) offshore.

The skipper had stayed on board the yacht to attract attention with the EPIRB’s strobe light.

Camera icon The skipper had remained on board the yacht while two men hid in this raft for about two hours awaiting rescue. Credit: Phoebe Pin

Once safely back on dry land, the trio was transferred to Jurien Bay Medical Center, where they were treated for hypothermia. They are now back in Perth with their families.

Cockburn described the incident as the most difficult save he was involved in.

“Conditions were pretty horrendous,” he said.

“The second time we went around the back of the reef, I almost mentioned it. If we had to stay there any longer, I’d mention it.”

Cockburn said the group was surprisingly calm when their rescuers arrived.

“They were quite happy to see us. They seemed pretty calm; they weren’t yelling and yelling,” he said.

Camera icon Mike Cockburn said the crew was happy to see them. Credit: Phoebe Pin

“It was just two guys sitting in a life raft waiting for us to show up.”

The yacht – which had to be abandoned during the rescue – washed up on the coast along with the raft on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Cockburn said it was impossible to know what would have happened to the group if he and Ms. Hue hadn’t arrived when they did.

Sgt. Kevin Bearcroft, Jurien Bay Police Department chief, said the incident should send a clear message to seafarers to avoid risky behavior in the ocean.

“The message is clear: as a skipper, you are responsible for yourself, your crew, and your vessel. You have to know your limitations,” he said

“You always have to take the weather forecast into account. They thought they could get around the storm. Unfortunately, the storm was too much for them.”

He praised the “courage” and “dedication” of Mr. Cockburn and Ms. Heu and said that no one was seriously injured in the incident due to their skill and courage.