A drifting Pacific Basin handysize has managed to drop anchor 1.8km from a Sydney beach.

The 28,000-dwt Portland Bay (built 2004) lost power in a storm and had been drifting back to shore.

An attempt to winch all 21 crew members from the vessel had to be aborted due to bad weather conditions.

The ship is lying just outside the Royal national park south of Sydney.

Emergency services were still desperately trying to stabilise the stranded Portland Bay in heavy seas on Monday.

Three tugboats have arrived at the scene.

The crew rescue attempt involved police, emergency rescue and defence helicopters, but was judged too dangerous.

“We’ve been there along with other aircraft … we know there were 21 people on there that we were trying to winch,” a spokesperson for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter told the Guardian.

“But the boat has a lot of upright structures on it, and with the wind and the heavy seas, there’s just so much movement that it became too risky and too dangerous. We didn’t want to lose lives,” the spokesperson added.

Not drifting

The NSW Port Authority assumed control of the operation on Monday.

It said the bulker had dropped anchor and was not drifting further towards the coast.

The handysize had departed Port Kembla in Wollongong on Sunday afternoon and lost power off the coast on Monday.

The vessel is likely to eventually be towed to a Sydney shipyard for repairs.

Pacific Basin has been contacted for an update.

The ship has insurance cover from the North of England Club.

A total of 72 port state control inspections over its lifetime has resulted in no detentions.