Safety at sea just got eas­ier

VMR wel­comes new boat

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Louise Shan­non & Sharon Small­wood

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

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

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.

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