REMINISCING AND NETWORKING
Whenever travelling, I take the opportunity to visit marine rescue facilities to network with these organisations and you never know what you might learn from like minded people. So, while in NSW, I took the opportunity to call in to visit Marine Rescue Port Stephens, positioned on prime real estate overlooking a magnificent entrance to the ocean.
Being an accredited Category One Marine Search and Rescue Coordination Centre comes with accountability and responsibility, including a radio base and communications centre that is manned by volunteers, 24 hrs a day, every day of the year. Now that’s commitment. The facility is open to the public, so when I visited I just had to ‘interrogate’ the two guys there on the day, Trevor Moxham-Watchkeeper and Steve Harris-Radio Operator, who were more than happy to answer my questions. The age of digital VHF marine radio technology may not have made it’s way to Margaret River yet, but when it does the benefits will be huge for the boating public. With a touch screen on a large computer monitor, Steve was able to instantly switch between calling and working channels and then, using radar detection finding equipment extending out to approximately 10 nautical miles, the vessel’s latitude and longitude is displayed, vital in confirming any position identified by the skipper. When necessary, the Group’s onwater response to incidents is carried out using two purpose built rescue vessels, penned in a nearby marina. These consist of an 8.5m Gemini RIB and 11.4m Steber Craft. Unfortunately I was unable to take up the offer to check out their vessels on training days due to time restraints. The attached photo is courtesy of their facebook site and check out some of the real life incidents they have attended at: https://www.marinerescueportstephens.com.au/marine-rescue-port-stepehens-recent-rescues-assists/
To increase marine safety even further here, there is a MarineRescue App available for boaters. This not only enables you to Log On by text anywhere on NSW waters ( ACRM Base actually provides this service for us down south on 0466724233 ) but also provides info on local tide, weather, sea conditions, lat/long coordinates, boat ramp locations and emergency call procedures.
There was actually another reason why I wanted to check out this organisation, which did not exist back in 1973, when the seed for Sea Soaring Marine was planted. My grandmother used to lived in Nelson Bay, with dad and I often visiting this popular boat fishing location. I have previously written an article about the night my dad and I went on a boat fishing trip, with the first two lines of the poem he wrote afterwards forever quoted at family gatherings. “On a Good Friday night, without setting a light, Jack and Wayne went a boating. But if only they knew, in moment or two, both of them would be floating”. This was no laughing matter, as our small dinghy capsized, in a huge expanse of water, on our way out to sea, when miraculously a moored large vessel rescued us. So I revisited our launch location and then from the vantage point of the Marine Rescue facility, it was immediately obvious just how dangerous these waters can be for the unprepared skipper. Fortunately, there are now marine rescue groups throughout Australia on call to assist, but in the first instance we must all take responsibility for our own safety on the water.