A sailor who sparked a police aircraft rescue mission last night on Victoria’s coast while sailing from Melbourne to Tasmania should not have been on his yacht, the state’s deputy police commissioner says.
The 67-year-old man set off from Williamstown, in Melbourne’s inner-west, yesterday on a return voyage to his home state when he crashed into rocks in waters off the coast of Portsea.
Under Victorian COVID-19 stage three restrictions, travel between states or around the state is permitted if it is “essential”.
But Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said the yachtsman’s journey was inappropriate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s probably not a time to sail on a yacht to Tasmania,” he said.
“You shouldn’t be doing that.”
It is understood that the man was not fined upon being rescued.
He initially put out a mayday call over the radio, with water police leading the rescue along with volunteer agencies Coast Guard and Southern Peninsula Rescue.
But due to dangerous weather conditions and shallow water, the sailor was unable to be rescued from his stricken yacht and the police Air Wing was called in.
The yacht’s swinging mast made it unsafe for the man to be winched from the deck.
An Air Wing crewman was lowered into the water, where he directed the skipper to jump into the ocean and he was winched to safety.
The man was taken to hospital for observation.
Water Police will today assess the condition of the yacht to coordinate the recovery of the vessel.
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