by Ken McManus
Marine Rescue NSW volunteers will play a key support role in one of summer’s iconic events, the Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2013 yacht race.
Middle Harbour 30, one of ten Marine Rescue NSW vessels on duty for Sydney-Hobart start
Marine Rescue Units have traditionally provided operational support for the largest events on the NSW boating calendar, including the start of the Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day, the New Year’s Eve fireworks and Australia Day festivities.
More than 40 MRNSW volunteers on board 10 vessels from the Middle Harbour, Port Jackson, Cottage Point, Broken Bay and Botany Port Hacking units will provide operational support for the race start on Sydney Harbour.
Units along the South Coast will then assist in tracking the fleet down the coastline.
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said Marine Rescue volunteers were on full operational alert for the peak boating season and would again play an important support role in the major Harbour events.
'Summer is, of course, by far the busiest time on our waterways, with people taking every chance get out on their boats,' he said.
'We are stepping up our routine patrols and our volunteers are standing by to respond to any emergency on the water along our coastline and on the Alpine Lakes and the Murray River at Moama.
'We are also pleased to support the members of the boating community enjoying the drawcard events by providing essential crowd control and other assistance.
'Our volunteers will be out on the Harbour on Thursday to support the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and other services, including NSW Roads and Maritime Services, the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command (MAC) and Sydney Ports Authority.'
Marine Rescue’s main roles on the Harbour on Thursday will centre around crowd control and assisting the MAC with other on-water assistance, such as tows, helping broken down vessels and medical evacuations.
MRNSW vessels will patrol the exclusion zone set down the Harbour to give the fleet a clear run to the Heads and then follow the yachts out to sea for about a mile.
Communications support will be provided from the MRNSW Sydney and Port Jackson radio units.
MRNSW units down the coast will track the fleet as it heads south, standing by to respond.
Members of Marine Rescue Eden will work over four days at their Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, joined by personnel from the CYCA, to monitor radio ‘skeds’ and other communications and act as a radio relay back-up until the last of the fleet has crossed Bass Strait.
The Eden radio base technology was upgraded ahead of last year’s race, with a new 24 metre communications tower and a suite of 14 aerials and associated cabling installed in a project jointly funded by a $27,200 grant from the CYCA Sydney Hobart Safety of Life at Sea Trusts.
Commissioner Tannos said the boating community could be assured that MRNSW resources were still available to assist with emergencies on the other major waterways during the big summer events.
He reminded boaters to always wear a lifejacket and to Log On and Off with Marine Rescue NSW whenever they were heading out on the water this summer.
For a full list of all volunteer Marine Rescue units in NSW click here.