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Marine Rescue NSW provides life-saving advice ahead of holiday season

Marine Rescue NSW is asking those planning to hit the water this holiday season to boat or paddle like their life depends on it.

With numerous coastal bars along the Byron Coast, Marine Rescue NSW Inspector John Murray is urging boaters to approach crossing the region’s bars with caution.

“In the Northern Rivers, every (Marine Rescue NSW) unit we have from Wooli to Tweed Heads has a river bar so if you’re heading offshore you will be crossing a bar.

“Boaters have got to make sure the conditions are right and that they’ve checked them and the weather.

“Make sure you’re crossing at the right time and particularly not on a run out tide when you come across the pressure wave at the entrance.

“Always stop, check and have a look before you proceed,” Inspector Murray said.

Capsized vessels can lead to life-threatening emergencies and Inspector Murray said boaters and paddlers must remember some key actions should they find themselves in the water.

“If your vessel capsizes you should have your lifejacket on anyway in case something like that happens.

“Make sure you stay with the vessel even if it is a small kayak.

“We’ve got a better chance of seeing a vessel even if it is overturned, it is easier than seeing a person’s head in the water so try and stay with the vessel as much as you can so we’ve got a better chance of finding you when we come looking,” Inspector Murray said.

Boaters and paddlers are encouraged to Log On with Marine Rescue NSW every time they head out on the water with paddlers more vulnerable to minor changes in conditions.

“It is always important for paddlers to Log On with Marine Rescue and tell someone where they are going.

“They can use the free Marine Rescue app, make a phone call or if they have a handheld VHF radio (Channel 16) on their kayak they can let us know where they are going and what time they will back,” he said.

Inspector Murray said Logging On with Marine Rescue NSW saves vital time during an emergency response.

He is also reminding boaters to prepare thoroughly before hitting the water this holiday season.

“Make sure you’ve got your vessel in tip top shape, charged batteries, fuel and that all your safety equipment is in good order.

“Please make sure your boat is in general good condition before you head out onto our rivers and waterways,” Inspector Murray said.

In the first 11 months of 2023, the seven Marine Rescue NSW units in the Northern Rivers (Point Danger, Brunswick, Cape Byron, Ballina, Evans Head, Iluka Yamba and Wooli) have completed 325 search and rescue missions, safely returning 673 people to shore.

Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.