SAY G’DAY TO THE BAY
A few months ago I was contacted by Nicole who was organising an event for the Cowaramup Primary School at Cowaramup Bay titled, SAY G’DAY TO THE BAY. The event aimed to provide students with environmental education activities suitable to be delivered at the beach/bay to increase awareness of how land activities impact the bay and the environmental values of the bay we are so lucky to work, live and play in. Nicole had previously organised a similar event at Dunsborough where she had invited the Naturaliste Marine Rescue Group to conduct a flare demonstration. It was so successful that she now contacted our Margaret River Rescue Group to do the same for this event, held last Friday.
The Margaret River Volunteer Marine Rescue Group has some of the youngest members in the state, along with Augusta and Port Hedland, meaning most members hold full time jobs as opposed to retired members with a little more time on their hands. Now, I certainly don’t consider myself young and as I needed a trusty assistant member on the day, who better to call on than the eldest, oops I mean elder statesman and life member of the Group, ‘Jungle’ Jim Nilsson.
Education activity providers on the day included Parks and Wildlife- Nearer to Nature, Waste Management Officers – Augusta Margaret River Shire, Tangaroa Blue, Fishers – DPIRD, Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, Friends of Gracetown and Cowaramup Bay, Busselton Jetty, Iszaac Webb, Ngari Marine Park, Birdlife Australia, and more. I dropped by an hour or so before the scheduled flare demonstration and the weather was perfect, shade shelters were erected all along the beach, parents on hand to assist and a great feeling amongst everyone. Nothing much better than seeing our future generation happy and engaging in well organised outdoor activities with the underlying message of looking after what we have in our backyard.
So Jim and I arrived in our marine rescue shirts and high vis vests, of course just as the wind started to swing southwest, but all good as we were not letting any parachute flares go given the fire season had well and truly commenced. I gave a short talk on general boating safety, different types of flares that can be used when requiring assistance, when and how to use them and the importance of checking the expiry date. For primary school students, if ever a flare signal was sighted, notifying an adult to phone 000 was emphasised, as well as attempting to maintain a position on the flare sighting to assist marine rescue vessels locate the vessel in difficulty. Soon enough it was time for the fireworks and so two orange and two red flares were activated, much to the delight of the students and staff. Great day, well organised and I am sure there will be many more to come.
While on flares, important to note that if you have an offshore flare kit ( 2 x orange and 2 x parachute flares ), legally required when beyond 5 nautical miles, you do not also need to carry an inshore flare kit. Flares only have a 3 year shelf life, so check the date now to avoid a nasty $150 fine and being returned to shore if they are out of date.