by Ken McManus
Marine Rescue NSW volunteers are on high alert during the January holidays, ready to assist boaters in need of help on the water.
A broken down fishing boat in tow by Middle Harbour 30, one of more than 70 MRNSW rescue vessels on duty for the holidays
Commissioner Stacey Tannos said the organisation’s volunteers already had responded to several serious incidents over the festive season.
'Four days before Christmas, two fishermen were rescued off Iluka on the North Coast after surviving an overnight ordeal clinging to an esky in the ocean,' he said.
'A major search operation was mounted to locate the pair, involving four Marine Rescue units, the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, Ballina Jet rescue service, Ballina Surf Lifesaving and Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter.
'In the Illawarra last Saturday, Bulli Surf Lifesavers and MR Port Kembla responded when two people were thrown overboard when their boat hit a reef off Bulli beach.
'This followed the lengthy search in unfavourable conditions by Marine Rescue Shoalhaven and Jervis Bay and police after a rock fisherman was washed into the sea further south along the coastline at Mermaid Beach, near Currarong, on December 23.
'On New Year’s Eve, our members on Sydney Harbour went to the assistance of 15 vessels that had mechanical breakdowns or went aground during the fireworks celebrations.
'The following day, our Cottage Point crew was called to tow a 46 foot flybridge cruiser experiencing fuel problems at Long Reef to safety in rough conditions.'
Commissioner Tannos said December and January were the busiest months of the year for the 3200 volunteer members of the 46 MRNSW units along the coastline and inland on the Alpine Lakes and Murray River at Moama.
'Many people are on holidays, perhaps in a new boat and on unfamiliar waters, but they can be assured our members are standing by, ready to help when needed,' he said.
He urged boaters to always Log On with their nearest Marine Rescue unit when heading out.
'Boaters simply radio or phone their nearest MRNSW unit to let them know where they’re heading, how many people are on board and when they’re due back,' he said.
'This will be even easier when we launch our MRNSW smartphone app, allowing boaters to log on electronically.
'Logging On ensures someone responsible knows a boater is out on the water and can quickly start to search if they’re not back when expected.
'It’s about peace of mind, knowing someone’s watching out for them while they get on with enjoying their day on the water.'
Commissioner Tannos also reminded all skippers to ensure everyone on board was wearing a lifejacket at all times.
'Nine out of every 10 people who drowned while boating in NSW over the past decade were not wearing a lifejacket,' he said.
'Please don’t gamble with your safety. Our crews will be on the way as quickly as possible but wearing a lifejacket is the simplest thing you can do to help save your life in an emergency.'
For a full list of all volunteer Marine Rescue units in NSW, visit Marine Rescue NSW