By CRAIG McTEAR
A SEVERELY ill Tweed Heads woman was evacuated from the Pacific Princess which was forced to manoeuvre close to the Coffs Harbour coast yesterday afternoon.
The woman, 66, suffered a suspected cerebral haemorrhage and was in a stable condition when she was rushed to Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
The drama unfolded about 1pm when the ocean liner captain contacted Coffs Harbour Coastal Patrol requesting assistance for the woman, who was considered too ill to remain on the vessel.
The coastal patrol contacted Coffs Harbour Water Police who then alerted the Ambulance Service.
Three ambulance officers and two water police, all from Coffs Harbour, boarded a police launch at the marina and first met the liner when it was four nautical miles off the coast, halfway between the harbour entrance and South Solitary Island.
The rescuers then followed the vessel to just south of the harbour entrance, where it stopped within one nautical mile of the coast to allow the emergency crew aboard.
"It was a bit rough. We had to work out ways to get aboard and we liaised with the medical staff aboard the ship," said Evan Clark, the assistant operations manager with the Ambulance Service in Coffs Harbour.
The sea conditions were considered too rough to allow a helicopter to land on the liner.
The police launch returned to the marina just after 3.30pm and the woman was whisked off to hospital.
The Pacific Princess left Sydney on November 21 for a 10-day cruise. Brisbane was its last port of departure and it is due to arrive back in Sydney tomorrow.