Boaters urged to stay safe

Southern Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Pierra Wil­lix

The Rock­ing­ham Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue Group wants the boat­ing pub­lic to take pre­cau­tions to be safe out on the wa­ter and re­turn home safely this sum­mer.

Over the past three years, the group has av­er­aged 207 res­cues a year, as­sist­ing more than 500 peo­ple who got into trou­ble out on the wa­ter.

Rock­ing­ham Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue Group com­man­der Gra­ham Martin said the warmer weather al­ready had boaters on the wa­ter in large num­bers, and he stressed the im­por­tance of tak­ing a range of safety mea­sures.

“Boat­ing is a fan­tas­tic pas­time, and what we want is for peo­ple to go out and have a good time and come home safe; that is the pri­or­ity,” he said. “The first thing we are re­ally try­ing to re­mind peo­ple of is to al­ways wear a life jacket.

“It’s just like driv­ing a car, where you use a seat­belt in case some­thing hap­pens. If you get into trou­ble out on the wa­ter, you can’t just get out and walk away for help.”

Mr Martin urged boaters to look into the Old4New life jacket ex­change pro­gram, which al­lowed old life jack­ets to be ex­changed for a new one at a re­duced price.

“Wear­ing a life jacket isn’t an in­con­ve­nience and wear­ing one never ru­ined a good day’s fish­ing,” he said.

Log­ging on and off with ra­dio op­er­a­tors be­fore head­ing out, as well as when re­turn­ing to shore, was a prac­tice Mr Martin said was es­sen­tial but that very few peo­ple ac­tu­ally did.

“We im­plore peo­ple to log on and log off, we have op­er­a­tors out from 6am- 6pm ready to help,” he said.

Rather than rely on telling a fam­ily mem­ber an an­tic­i­pated ar­rival time home, Mr Martin said of­fi­cially log­ging in with ma­rine res­cue groups en­sured a quick re­sponse in the case of po­ten­tial in­ci­dents.

“If you don’t come back at the time you said, after 30 min­utes we will con­tact wa­ter po­lice, who will check whether you’ve made it home safely and just for­got­ten to log off. If you haven’t, that’s when we will send out a search party,” he said. “Log­ging on and off is the most im­por­tant thing peo­ple can do but only about 10 per cent of peo­ple ac­tu­ally do.”

As an added in­cen­tive to take these safety mea­sures, Rock­ing­ham Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue Group is run­ning a com­pe­ti­tion un­til the end of Jan­uary, with more than $ 2000 of prizes on of­fer for those who log on and off.

Pic­ture: Pierra Wil­lix

Rock­ing­ham Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue Group vol­un­teers Wayne Rance, Gra­ham Martin, Ron Sturgess and Peter Cor­co­ran on board one of the group’s res­cue ves­sels.

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