16th December 1978
Exclusive photos of TV crew’s part in real-life rescue.
TWO MEN owe their lives to the cast and crew of ABC-TV’s Patrol Boat.
The actors and film crew interrupted filming to save the men from drowning.
The men’s catamaran had capsized in stormy seas outside Broken Bay, NSW.
Former Sullivans’ star Andrew McFarlane and former Glenview High star Tim Burns — both regulars in the ABC-TV adventure series about Australian Navy men on the high seas — were among those who helped drag the two men aboard the patrol boat.
“We had been filming all day,” Andrew told TV WEEK, “and the weather had been perfect until the afternoon when a terrific wind came up.
“We still had one shot to do out at sea and we decided to go ahead despite choppy seas.
“It’s just as well we did, or we wouldn’t have found the guys. We were a couple of miles out to sea when the call came from the flying bridge that they’d spotted some wreckage over the starboard.
“One of the men from the catamaran waved his jacket to attract attention.
“The men had been in the water for about three-and-a-half or four hours. There were no other boats out in that weather.
“Apparently the mast of their boat had snapped in two, and the boat had overturned.
“It was near dusk and the sea was really rough. The patrol boat was rolling so much that the waves were washing over the rail on to the deck.”
The Patrol Boat hands — both men of the Royal Australian Navy and the ABC- TV cast — were quick to spring into action.
The two men were quickly hauled aboard but, because of the choppy water, it took another two hours to get the catamaran on board.
The ABC-TV team also helped by, as Andrew put it, “looking after the ship.”
“The stores that were kept on deck were crashing around,” said Andrew, “and we were lashing things down.”
Because of the real-life drama, the ABC never did film the final scene for that day.
— JULIE KUSKO
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