After a tragic week along the NSW coastline, Marine Rescue NSW is appealing for boaters not to be complacent about their safety for the rest of the summer.
Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell said MRNSW volunteers had launched 228 rescue missions over the extended long weekend (Saturday-Australia Day) – including 49 in response to life-endangering emergencies.
“Our volunteers did an amazing job, ensuring 644 people made it safely back to shore across the four-day weekend,” he said.
“Unfortunately, over the past week, they also joined searches for those who didn’t make it home from the sea.”
MRNSW crews were on the frontline of searches for a man washed off the Coffs Harbour breakwall, a major operation to make sure no one else was missing after three men died when they were swept off rocks at Hill 60, Port Kembla, and an ongoing search for a snorkeller missing off the Murramarang National Park on the South Coast.
Deputy Commissioner Barrell said the extended long weekend was the high point of the boating season but there was a lot of summer left and people would already be making plans to get out on the water over Easter.
“Don’t be complacent, make sure you have taken every possible safety precaution before you head out and make safe, responsible decisions on the water to reduce the chance that you will become a holiday statistic,” he said.
He urged boaters to take their safety seriously by ensuring everyone on board was wearing a lifejacket and that their vessels and safety gear were in good condition before heading on to the water.
“Over the past four days, 63 per cent of the rescues our crews carried out were caused by easily preventable problems: boats with flat batteries, engine failures and fuel problems – which frequently involves a boater who has just run out of fuel, often a considerable distance offshore,” he said.
“Boaters need to take the time now to get their boats serviced and ensure their lifejackets, marine radio, EPIRBs and flares are operating properly. They can’t save you if they’re not working – or if you don’t have your lifejacket on.”
He also appealed to boaters to take advantage of Marine Rescue’s free Log On service, which ensures that professionally trained and resourced volunteers are keeping watch for their safe return – and will start to search if they are not back on shore when expected.
“It’s quick and simple. Just tell us where you’re heading, how many people are on board and when you’re planning to come back. You can Log On via marine radio on VHF Channel 16 or our free app. Why wouldn’t you want that peace of mind?”
The Deputy Commissioner thanked MRNSW volunteers for their hard work and commitment to saving lives on the water throughout the busy summer, particularly those who had responded to emergencies under traumatic circumstances.