Margaret River Volunteer Marine Rescue has had a particularly busy few weeks lately and are always encouraging new members to join who would like to put something back into the community. To give you an insight into operational activities, here is a brief outline of a 24 hour period and how the Group responded.
The call from Water Police came through at 6.15pm, which always raises the anxiety levels a bit, given the short period before nightfall. MRVMR utilise a conferlink call system, whereby twenty five members are phoned simultaneously on a dedicated private number and input their pin number to listen in. One of the executive members ‘takes control’ of the call, as the initial Search and Rescue Coordinator (SARCO), while everyone else listens in to obtain valuable information regarding the incident. The SARCO then requests listeners to identify themselves only if they are able to actively assist. Duties may include dedicated rescue vessel skipper/crew, two x jetskis skipper/crew, land based radio operators, police liaison and landspotters. This particular call unfortunately notifed of a person lost off rocks near Wyadup, with Naturaliste Marine Rescue and RAC helicopter already deployed. The decision was made for us to launch the 7.5m Naiad from Gracetown, as the ten nautical miles by sea would be quicker than trailering the boat to Canal Rocks. The four crew were briefed at the boat ramp, life jackets donned, latitude/longitude locked in as a waypoint and, in excellent conditions, we were able to safely average 37 knots, not possible in many other vessels.
Once on scene, radio contact was made, down/side sonars activated and spotlights prepared for the impending darkness, with no moon. By 8.30pm it was not possible to continue safely and rather than return by sea and redeploy the next morning, it was decided to locate a mooring in Canal Rocks with Naturaliste VMR ferrying us to shore. Another MRVMR member then drove up to collect return us to base at 9pm.
During this search, another member had already organised a crew for both jetskis as well as two crews for the Naiad, for what was sure to be a long day. Surf Life Saving were notified to have their jetskis on-water for the next day also.
All crews were back on scene at 6.30am and spent ten hours on the water, but unfortunately were unsuccessful in achieving an outcome.
As the Naiad was being washed down at the Gracetown shed at 4pm, another call came through from Water Police regarding an overdue vessel from Gracetown. The boatie was supposed to log off with ACRM Base at 2pm, but after repeated radio and phone calls, no contact could be made. The weary crew re-launched the NAIAD to proceed out to Cowaramup Reef, a land-based radio operator was in place armed with binoculars, scanning the pristine ocean. Every vehicle and boat trailer rego was recorded and passed onto police for checking, but unfortunately none were a positive match. An ‘All Stations’ call to any vessel in the area to maintain a lookout was made and all vessels returning and leaving from the ramp were notified of the same. Visits to the boatie’s Busselton address were also initiated, but no-one was home. With no flare sightings, EPIRB activation or radio distress call made, the decision was made to retrieve the Naiad and stay at the boat ramp to ensure no boat trailers were remaining by nightfall. At 6.45pm, we were advised the boatie was located safely at home, claiming he had logged off at 12noon. With no record of this at ACRM Base, one can only assume he may have forgotten to do so.
Either way, it must be great for the community to know that there are a dedicated bunch of volunteers on call and ready to provide a service whenever required.
To answer last week’s question, the wise local boatie who was safely rescued a few weeks ago because he logged on with ACRM Base using VHF Ch 80, was Simon Winter. Thanks for the nice Facebook post to MRVMR also Simon. This week’s question is, ‘Why do some chefs now cook their Dhufish fillets with the skin still on?’