Safety at sea just got easier
VMR welcomes new boat
A SMALL tribute to Tom Manning will forever grace the interior of a purposebuilt $1 million rescue vessel unveiled at Abell Point Marina last week.
Mr Manning, a life member of the Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue group, supervised the construction of the vessel and personally raised more than $135,000 in sponsorship and goods.
VMR Whitsunday media officer Norbert Gross said the new boat would be vital in the group’s work to save lives at sea and help people when they found themselves in trouble while sailing around the islands of the Whitsundays.
He said VMR Whitsunday’s current vessel was nearly 13 years old and was expected to have been replaced after 10 years.
The new boat, proudly named Abell Point Marina VMR1 after the group’s platinum sponsor, is nearly 12m long, has a flybridge and has been specially designed for travelling long distances and towing vessels.
“We typically have about 70 rescues in a year and we can be out for eight hours at a time,” Mr Gross said, adding the larger footprint of this boat (a NoosaCat 4400 FB Patrol) would provide safer handling and a safer working environment for volunteer crews.
The new boat also features forward-looking infrared radar that can locate a person in the water up to 900m away, a larger working area designed for medivacs and stretchers, its own first-aid equipment and its own life raft with EPIRB and flares.
Mr Gross said the previous boat had suffered gear box failure near Christmas, which had put the service out of action for three to four weeks, meaning services from Midge Point, Bowen or local police were on call instead.
The Whitsundays has the highest ratio of boat ownership in Australia and the 13,000sq km zone is an area known for potentially treacherous reefs and fast currents.
VMR Whitsunday has 40 active members who are volunteers, including boat crew, radio operators, management, fundraisers and trainers, and they are on call 24/7. On average, volunteers give 500 hours a year of their time.
Abell Point Marina manager Luke McCaul said it was paramount to be able to ensure people were having a safe time when in the Whitsundays.
“We’ll recommend that people make themselves known to VMR when they’re here, as it’s a great service,” he said.
VMR Whitsunday president Mal Priday said last week’s unveiling of the boat was the culmination of three years of work by the boat committee, consisting of Adrian Bram, Ray Lewis. Tom Manning, Roger Wodson and himself.
— Norbert Gross
PROUD MOMENT: (Back from left) Mal Priday (VMR), Jason Costigan MP, Ron Petterson (WRC), Keith Williams CEO VMR Queensland, (centre) David Paddon (Rotary Whitsunday president), Linda Baxter (Whitsunday Lions president), Adrian Bram (VMR), Jan Clifford (WRC), Roger Wodson, Tom Manning, Ray Lewis (VMR), Paul Darruzet, Luke McCaul (APM), (front) Norm Fraser, Norbert Gross, Alan Corney, Stuart Applegate and Geoff Fitzsimmons (VMR) alongside the new rescue boat Abell Point Marina VMR1.