A sailor who sparked a police aircraft rescue mission on Tuesday night while sailing from Melbourne to Tasmania should not have been on his yacht, the state’s deputy police commissioner says.
The 67-year-old Tasmanian man was trying to sail home on Wednesday when problems with his yacht forced him to turn back to Melbourne.
He attempted to enter Port Phillip Bay but ran aground at Corsair Rock near Portsea about 7.30pm.
The man put out a mayday call on his radio, but dangerous weather conditions and shallow water meant the Coast Guard and Southern Peninsula Rescue could not reach him.
The police helicopter was called in but the yacht’s swinging mast made it unsafe for the man to be winched from the deck.
A helicopter crewman was lowered into the water and told the man to jump into the ocean, from where he was winched to safety.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said the yachtsman’s journey was ill-judged 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.”
The man was taken to hospital for observation.
Water Police will try to recover the yacht on Thursday.