Sunken yacht salvaged at American River on Kangaroo Island

The American River and Kangaroo Island community worked together to salvage a sunken yacht last week.

The 60-year-old timber yacht Judy Ann sank in the main channel of American River lagoon after stormy weather on the night of Friday, May 22.

Oyster farmers noticed the mast sticking out of the water on their way to work on the Saturday morning and notified volunteer marine radio operator Carol Miell OAM at Coast Guard American River radio.

Ms Miell then started the process of locating the owner and she also contacted the commodore of the KI Yacht Club, Phil Trenaman.

The 6-metre yacht is owned by farmer Richard Young, whose property on East West One south of Parndana was burned in the recent bushfires.

Mr Trenamen was the able to call on the expertise of his friend Warwick Hill, a former professional salvage diver who now operates a camel farm and dairy at Robe.

Mr Hill hopped in his car and made the journey over to Kangaroo Island, eager to help out someone impacted on by the bushfires.

Salvage diver Warwick Hill, KI Yacht Club commodore Phil Trenaman and the oyster farmers conduct the salvage operation of the yacht Judy Ann last week. Photo Carol Miell

Salvage diver Warwick Hill, KI Yacht Club commodore Phil Trenaman and the oyster farmers conduct the salvage operation of the yacht Judy Ann last week. Photo Carol Miell

Together on Wednesday, May 27 they mounted a salvage mission using Mr Trenaman's small tender and two portable generators.

Mr Mill dived down to the yacht, attaching air bags to the side of the vessel resting on the bottom in about 4 metres of water on the edge a sand bank.

The air bags were filled using the generators and the yacht floated to the surface, where it was emptied of water before being towed by the oyster punt to the American River boat ramp.

Mr Young meanwhile has been very busy rebuilding fences and planting his hay crop and so was very grateful for the assistance.

"I'm very thankful for the efforts of Warwick, Phil, Carol, the oyster farmers and anyone else who helped," Mr Young said.

Locals assist in securing the yacht Judy Ann to one side of the ramp after it was salvaged by KI Yacht Club commodore Phil Trenaman, diver Warwick Hill and the local oyster punt crew. Photo Carol Miell

Locals assist in securing the yacht Judy Ann to one side of the ramp after it was salvaged by KI Yacht Club commodore Phil Trenaman, diver Warwick Hill and the local oyster punt crew. Photo Carol Miell

The salvaged yacht will remain secured to one side of the American River boat ramp until the next high tide, when it can be drifted onto a suitable trailer.

The plan is to then truck the yacht back to Mr Young's property for repairs.

The yacht was built by a Mr Rice in the 1960s as his apprentice project, and could have been two of the same design he built, Mr Trenaman said.

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