A daring rescue mission has saved three men after their yacht was caught in treacherous water off Mornington Peninsula, blown out to sea and ploughed into by a container ship.
The 10-metre vessel sailing from Tasmania was about 1.4 kilometres off St Andrews Beach when it was caught in strong winds and swells of up to three metres high on Tuesday night.
Victoria Police said the crew, aged in their 60s and 70s, activated their emergency beacon about 10.15pm when the yacht started rapidly taking on water.
Strong winds then blew the yacht 30 kilometres out into the Bass Strait, where it collided with a container ship about 1.40am.
“So it was getting pretty hairy at this stage,” Sergeant Fiona Robinson said. “It was pretty dangerous.”
A second massive container ship came to assist by blocking the yacht from the wind. Aerial footage captured Water Police Squad members attempting to pull the yachtsman onto their own patrol boat as the two vessels bob up and down wildly in the choppy waters.
“As you can imagine, two vessels in heavy seas … they’re going up and down at different rates. So the police members had to make sure they picked the right time to drag the men across,” Robinson said.
The conditions were too rough for the police helicopter to winch the men to safety. Police boat members managed to pull the three men onto their patrol boat just before 3am.
Robinson said the trio were experienced sailors given they attempted to make the often perilous journey from Tasmania in the first place, but were extremely lucky to have survived the massive waves and 30-knot easterly winds.
“I think they should be taking out a Tattslotto ticket,” she said. “They wouldn’t have been expected to have such a major catastrophe so close to their destination.”
A still taken from aerial footage of three men being rescued by Water Police from a yacht in Bass Strait early on Wednesday morning.Credit:Victoria Police
The trio was taken to the Queenscliff Marina and then hospital. They have since been released, Robinson said.
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