Zen Again has been running the rally HF radio skeds since Sunday because propagation from Darwin was poor. After each sked we send an email (via HF radio like this message) to the rally organisers so they can upload the latest positions to the web site. Although most of the racing yachts use SPOT messenger units to send their position, most of the cruising yachts are using HF. It's been fun running the skeds and it has shown our radio is performing well.
After this afternoon's sked I received an email from the rally organisers saying the yacht Colleen had lost its steering and needed spare parts. At the same time I heard Colleen on HF and got the same information directly from them. The organisers had contacted RCC Canberra and they tasked a CoastWatch Dornier aircraft to air drop the parts. Within two hours the aircraft (callsign Rescue 481) was on the scene. When I told Colleen via HF that an aircraft was en-route they could scarcely believe how quickly it had been organised.
Apparently Rescue 481 is very good at "bombing". They dropped the box of spares squarely on Colleen's deck. Timely, efficient and dead on target. The drop was made at last light. Fantastic to witness (listening on VHF ch 16) such great professionalism. When I spoke to Colleen on HF after the drop they were delighted.
Rescue 481 went on to the rally yacht Ala De Oro which was closest to Colleen. Ala De Oro was asked to stand-by Colleen which I believe they are doing now. Colleen is fitting the dropped parts to repair their steering.
During all this Cutting Edge and Zen Again kept in touch with the rally organisers via satellite phone and HF email respectively. We connected via the Winlink station located at the Sunda Straits and remotely controlled from Jakarta. Very good signal.
Interesting afternoon and evening.