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Marine Rescue Ulladulla marks 50 years saving lives on the water

Almost 80 past and present volunteers have marked Marine Rescue Ulladulla’s 50th anniversary of saving lives on the water during a ceremony at the Ulladulla Civic Centre on Saturday 4 May 2024.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said it was an important occasion to acknowledge the selfless efforts of all members who have volunteered at the unit since it began servicing the local boating community in 1974.

“It’s wonderful to be here to celebrate 50 years of Marine Rescue Ulladulla. This is an organisation run by dedicated volunteers. We are so fortunate to have these volunteers that give up their time every day of the week to serve the local community and more importantly, serve the boating community on the South Coast. We could not do what we do without these volunteers,” Commissioner Barrell said.

Marine Rescue Ulladulla Unit Commander John Samulski said unit has a proud history.

“It started with humble beginnings by the local community, the vessel Kyli and radio operations from one of the member’s houses through to state-of-the-art equipment and vessels today,” he said.

Marine Rescue Ulladulla is now supported by 82 volunteers who cover over three-and-a-half thousand square kilometres of ocean as well as the local waterways with three dedicated search and rescue vessels and a specialised radio communications room.

Unit Commander Samulski acknowledged the dedication of members and supporters who helped the unit rise from the ashes following a major setback in 2013.

“Our headquarters building, burnt to the ground but through the endurance and hard work of our members, the local community and the state government, we were able to rebuild to a state-of-the-art facility which we enjoy today,” Unit Commander Samulski said.

Long-serving volunteer Raymond Dixon has dedicated almost 37-years to the unit after becoming a volunteer in 1987 and said his reason for joining was simple.

“For my own safety and anyone that was in the boat with me. I had to learn a radio licence and first aid for the safety of myself, and anyone in the boat and the people I knew that had boats,” he said.

Mr Dixon has been involved in numerous search and rescue missions during his time with the unit and said he will never forget the 1993 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

“We had to bring 12 yachts into the harbour and at that time, we had to put moorings down from the breakwall to the slipway so the boats could be tied up because there wasn’t sufficient places at the wharf for the boats to be tied up to.”

Mr Dixon (pictured above) said huge progress has been made in boating communications over the past four decades.

“The lack of correspondence from boats going out to sea was a major challenge in the early days.

“Our biggest trouble was not knowing where they (vessels) were when they were overdue and if ever they broke down, we always had trouble finding them,” he said.

Commissioner Barrell said the strength of Marine Rescue NSW’s search and rescue capability would continue to advance over the next half-a-century.

“There is no doubt as an organisation and as a local unit we have come so far in 50 years, the next 50 years, we can continue to grow.

“We are so fortunate nowadays to have wonderful boats, wonderful radio equipment, fantastic facilities and we can continue to grow as an organisation to make sure that we enhance our capability so that we can continue to support the local boating community,” he said.

Commissioner Barrell said boaters should take advantage of the service provided by Marine Rescue NSW and its skilled and dedicated volunteers.

“Log On with your local Marine Rescue NSW base. Download the free Marine Rescue app and make sure that before you head out on the water, you’ve checked the local conditions and you have the right safety equipment on board,” he said.

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