Another busy day on water for Marine Rescue volunteers

Another busy day on water for volunteers

It was another record day of water incidents for the volunteers of Marine Rescue Port Stephens and Lemon Tree Passage on Saturday, January 23.

According to Port Stephens unit commander Ben van der Wijngaart, the radio base logged-on in excess of 64 vessels and managed 10 on-water incidents.

Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.

"The boating community of Port Stephens is fortunate to have volunteers prepared to train and give their time to help others," Mr van der Wijngaart said.

"January has been an extremely busy month for our volunteers and I expect in the final days before school resuming with the good weather and record crowds in the area, we will continue to be kept active."

Just days after recording one of its busiest ever weeks, unit members were inundated with calls during Saturday's heatwave in the days leading up to the Australia Day holidays.

Michael Duggan

Michael Duggan

"Every one of our crew should be very proud of what they achieved and how they served the boating community during this busy period," Mr van der Wijngaart said.

"It was so busy I had one of the watch officers comment to me that they weren't game to take a drink because there wasn't time to go to the toilet.

"In addition, the afternoon and night shifts were occupied with a number of Rural Fire Service calls as the radio room supports the after-hours operations of the RFS."

He said that boat crews were first called out shortly after 7am and the rescue vessel duty skipper did not sign off until after 9pm.

"There were only two hours in the day where one or both of our boats was not on the water along with crews from Lemon Tree Passage, who managed two of the on-water tasks," he said.

"Distressed vessels experienced problems including fuel and water pumps issues, taking on water after hitting a submerged object (a potential mayday), a long term overdue vessel and assisting four broken down jet skis which tested the skills of our rescue boat crews.

"A member of the public also reported to Marine Rescue that a paddler had washed up on the rocks at Barry Park. The watch officer immediately used our surf radio in the radio base to summon help from Fingal SLSC who quickly attended and assisted."

Having just being repaired from an earlier incident, the unit's smaller vessel Port Stephen 30 was again forced out of service at the start of the day with a leaking sponson valve, which was quickly repaired.

Among the many incidents, Shoal Bay's Michael Duggan, a serving member of the RAAF Base Williamtown, was promoted to coxswain.