A new rescue vessel is on its way to Huskisson with Marine Rescue Jervis Bay set to take delivery of the unit’s first ever Rescue Water Craft (RWC) which will be used to assist boaters and people on the waters of Jervis Bay.
The new RWC is expected to arrive at the Huskisson base within weeks and the unit is in desperate need of volunteers to operate the new craft.
Marine Rescue Jervis Bay Deputy Unit Commander Steve Hutchison said with the unit making 88 rescues during the 22/23 boating season (Oct 1, 2022 to April 25, 2023) there is demand for the additional rescue vessel.
“Last summer we had some incidents where it was crystal clear that we need a craft that could get into shallower water than we are normally involved in and perhaps get there a bit quicker,” he said.
A $20,000 grant from the Veolia Mulwaree Trust has funded the new RWC while Bluescope WIN Community Partners provided $2,700 assist with the cost of a GPS for the craft.
“We are very grateful for their generosity and supporting our mission of saving lives on water,” Mr Hutchison said.
The Jervis Bay unit is hoping to add a second RWC to its fleet in the near future but Deputy Unit Commander Hutchison said recruiting and training volunteers to operate the new vessel is currently the main focus.
“Now we’ve got to train our members and recruit people that want to come and join us to get on a Rescue Water Craft.
“We provide all the training so if people are interested in Rescue Water Craft in the Jervis Bay area we are the place to come,” he said.
Mr Hutchison said there is a significant difference between boat crew and RWC operators.
“You’re going to be operating in all kinds of seas and conditions.
“What we will need to be doing is training really hard getting ready for the next boating season which we expect to be an absolute belter and making sure that we can keep the people of Jervis Bay safe,” Mr Hutchison said.
The Jervis Bay Deputy Unit Commander is encouraging interested people to join Marine Rescue NSW as soon as possible.
“We’re gearing up for commencement of operations at the beginning of the boating season, that’s only six weeks away.
“The training is quite intense, it’s quite difficult by design because you are operating in difficult circumstances but don’t let that persuade you not to come, we can give you the skills that you need to have,” he said.
Glenn Wright from Marine Rescue Sussex Inlet took six months to earn his qualification and has now been operating a Rescue Water Craft for 18 months.
Mr Wright said the training involved to earn the rating was a challenging and rewarding experience.
“You do a lot of the training initially in still water learning the rescue skills and how to manoeuvre the vessel.
“Then you move into a surf zone and practice those skills in the surf.
“As you know, surf can vary from half-a-meter up to three or four metres and you have to be able to apply those skills in those rough conditions as well as calm conditions,” Mr Wright said.
The Jervis Bay unit isn’t the only Illawarra unit looking for new recruits.
Ulladulla Unit Commander John Samulski is on a mission to recruit new radio operators to the service.
“We’ve got a priority to try and bolster our team of volunteer radio operators who are critical to the safety of boaters out on the water in the area surrounding Ulladulla,” he said.
Mr Samulski said Marine Rescue radio operators are the connection point between the water and shore.
“They’re (radio operators) the first point of contact with people on vessels that are in harm’s way and they initiate the response to get our boat crews in and any wider response that’s required,” the Ulladulla Unit Commander said.
Mr Samulski said volunteers are provided with full training and on average become qualified in approximately six months.
“People can start from zero knowledge and we will get them right through to be competent operators,” he said.
Volunteers at Marine Rescue Ulladulla have attended to 20 emergency incidents in 2023 and have kept watch over almost 1,200 boaters who have Logged On with Marine Rescue NSW in the area.
Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.
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