SOUTHERN Peninsula Rescue Squad came to the aid of a charter yacht tangled in a South Channel beacon tower off Portsea last Saturday.
The squad was contacted by water police at about 5.30pm and asked to attend the scene where it arrived at about 6pm.
Ten passengers aboard Sorrento Sailing Escape’s 12-metre (40-foot) Beneteau class yacht were transferred to the squad’s rescue boat Southern Peninsula 1.
The yacht’s skipper and rescue volunteers then pondered how to disentangle rigging that had been snagged on a sign atop the No 4 marker, which indicates the northern side of the channel.
Sorrento-based commercial mariner Andrew Mackinnon – a “ship spotter” well known for his photos of boats and ships that use Port Phillip and Western Port – motored to the site after being alerted by the skipper aboard the car ferry Sorrento.
Using bolt cutters from the rescue squad, Mr Mackinnon climbed to the top of the tower and cut wire and ropes from the mast that had wrapped around the tower, sending the mast crashing into the water and freeing the French-built yacht.
The mast had been broken in three pieces during the incident.
Mr Mackinnon had serviced similar beacons in the past. “The only damage I could see was to rollers designed to keep seabirds off the structure,” he said.
Eileen Murray of the rescue squad said the yacht’s skipper, Andrew Rosa, was deeply embarrassed by the incident. “He said he’d taken his eye off the ball while watching a ship,” she said.
Mr Rosa did not want to comment when contacted by The News.
On Wednesday, contractors for the Port of Melbourne Corporation inspected and repaired the marker.