From the President’s Desk
From the Management Committee
Reciprocal membership rights
We are pleased to announce that VMR Northern Queensland zone squadrons have introduced reciprocal membership rights. This means that if you are a current member of Whitsunday, Mackay, Midge Point, Bowen or Burdekin VMR’s you will receive the same benefits or charges that would apply if you were rescued by in your home zone.
In simple terms, as an example, a current Whitsunday member (who has not used their annual free tow) who is assisted by VMR Bowen will be charged the normal Bowen assistance fee, but can claim reimbursement of the fee from VMR Whitsunday.
This does not mean that VMR Bowen will tow you back into the Whitsundays zone, they are only responsible to take you to the nearest place of safety. The primary role of Volunteer Marine Rescue squadrons is to save lives, not offer a general towing service.
Each VMR squadron is committed to responsibility for their nominated zone, so we suggest that you launch your vessel in the area that intend boating (if you intend boating in the Bowen zone, you should launch in that zone).
Reciprocal rights only apply to the above mentioned Northern Zone VMR’s and do not apply to any other VMR or Coast Guard squadrons.
Active members are urgently needed
Are you interested in taking an Active role with VMR as a boat crew member or radio operator? We have over 800 financial members, but less than 40 take an active volunteer role.
Serving on the VMR rescue vessel is a rewarding way of brushing up on your seamanship skills and meeting other local volunteers. You are not required to own a boat but you need to be a financial member, live locally and be prepared to undertake ongoing training.
If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss further. Membership fees are subsidised after a qualifying period.
Our new rescue vessel is only a few months away, so contact us to become part of this exciting upgrade.
Misuse of membership entitlements
One matter that we would like to highlight is the attempted misuse of VMR membership entitlements.
When you apply for a VMR membership, your membership is for yourself ONLY and your nominated boat ONLY.
If you are a member and are on another boat, your membership does not cover you as you are not on your nominated boat.
Also if a non-member takes your nominated boat out without you, any assistance is not covered by your membership.
If you have more than one boat we suggest that you register it at a nominal fee of $10 per additional boat – just email email@example.com with the additional boat’s details.
Memberships are very inexpensive (currently $70 per financial year) compared to non-member assistance rates of $310 per hour.
Unfortunately there have also been attempts by dishonest non-members (and expired members) who get into difficulties and then go on-line to join or renew.
This could be compared to calling an insurance company for cover when your house is burning down! They will not give you insurance cover and have a waiting period before cover is effective.
You may have noted that all VMR Whitsunday applications for new membership and renewal forms include a 24 hour waiting period AND a declaration that you and/or your boat are not in imminent need of assistance or in such condition or circumstances that a call out may be required in the next 48 hours.
Also we know of occasions where a VMR member has “lent” their membership card to a mate. If this is detected, you risk losing your membership.
Unfortunately it is this small minority who have forced us to enforce identification and credit card checks.
VMR crews have been instructed to request photo ID (driver’s license) and a valid credit card every time they are called out. This also applies to current members, but you will only be charged if you have already used your free tow allowance.
The VMR Tropicana Ball is back!
We are pleased to announce the return of the popular VMR Ball, to be held at the upgraded Marine Club in a marquee on March 5th from 6:30pm.
There will be great music from a local group, and a fabulous buffet dinner. Each table of 10 will receive 2 bottles of wine.
Dress is Airlie tropical casual (flowered shirts and swaying skirts).
We will have on offer a wide range of raffle prizes and auction items from many of our local supporters, including Charter Boats, Island Holidays and Restaurants to name a few.
Tickets are $75 per person and are available from;
• WHITSUNDAY BOOKINGS, 5/263 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach, (near Mama Africa’s)
• AIRLYWOOD, Whitsunday Village, 370 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach (near Woolworths)
Your ticket can be used for a $2 bus ride to the ball on Whitsunday Transit regular service, and a free return to your nearest bus stop or resort at the end of the evening, at 10:30pm and midnight.
Book now to secure a table, come along and join in the fun, while helping VMR Whitsunday raise funds to allow us to keep doing what we do best – saving lives at sea.
We would have expected more activations over the holidays, what with visitors and “once a year” boaties but it has been relatively quiet with mostly medivacs.
To read the activation reports since the last issue, click HERE or on the “Activations” tab above.
Monday 1st February – Members Social and Information Evening
Tuesday 9th February – Training course “competent crew” series – Refuelling module (pre-reading and pre-registration is required)
Monday 15th February – VMR Active Boat crew muster – off-boat session
Saturday 5th March – VMR Tropicana Ball
Monday 7th March – Members Social and Information Evening
Clipper Round the World Race
VMR1 leads the final Parade of Sails.
The Clipper Round the World race visited Airlie Beach in January, staged at Abell Point Marina and watched by yachties from all over the world. Their stay was highly successful and crews and organisers have indicated that they will be back for the next race in two years time – a huge tick of approval for the local organisers – Abell Point Yacht Club and Abell Point Marina.
The departure for the next leg of the race to Danang, Vietnam took place on January 18th and VMR Whitsunday’s rescue vessel VMR1 was given the honour to lead the fleet single file around Pioneer Bay in a spectacular Parade of Sails.
We took the opportunity to welcome aboard our Gold sponsors, Whitsunday Rotary, Lions Club, Fish D’Vine and Whitsunday Regional Council as a small gesture of thanks for their generous support this year.
The send-off was surrounded by a spectator fleet and VMR1 farewelled the 12 competitors at Whitsunday Passage, on their way to the official start line at the ocean end of Hydrographer’s Passage.
VMR administration help required
VMR Whitsunday is a 100% Volunteer operation and its day to day activities on the rescue vessel, 24 hour phone holders and radio operators require Volunteers to complete specific training to act in an Emergency Services environment. However, there is also significant clerical and administration work conducted behind the scenes by other volunteers that supports the daily operations, ensures compliance with various government or agency requirements and enables the efficient running of VMR as a separately incorporated business.
We have a healthy financial position and have recently upgraded our premises and will soon take delivery of a $900,000 rescue vessel without incurring any debt.
Colin Ayers, our long standing Treasurer of 27 years will be retiring at the next AGM and we applaud and thank Col for his long and dedicated service. We would like to find a replacement for him ahead of time to ensure a smooth transition.
In addition, our membership has had healthy growth, simultaneously with increased recording at a government level. We are considering re-arranging responsibilities for the Secretary’s position, which will probably result in Membership record keeping being conducted by an additional person.
These are Volunteer roles and there is no remuneration, but you can have the satisfaction of conducting meaningful clerical work either at the VMR base building or in your own home and be part of the Whitsunday’s most respected volunteer organisation.
You are not required to own a boat or be a financial VMR member and most duties can be scheduled to fit in with your personal priorities but within a few deadlines. Initial training will be provided, dependent on the skills of the new Volunteer. Any experience in fundraising in a volunteer environment would be helpful.
Skillsets or experience desired.
Accounting qualifications are desirable but solid experience as a bookkeeper or accounting role may suffice. VMR Whitsunday’s books are conducted on a “cash” basis and independently audited annually.
You will need reasonable PC computer system skills for recording the accounting for VMR.
You will be required to make a small amount of payments and record receipts progressively, but the great majority of receipts are paid to us through our secure payment agent’s website and the membership workload is not a huge impost. You will also be required to provide a small amount of reporting to the Management Committee monthly.
VMR Whitsunday is a separately incorporated association and must comply with the Associations Incorporation Act to maintain its registered charity status. Knowledge of this environment would be helpful but not essential.
The secretary has wide responsibilities encompassing the usual statutory roles of minute taking, calling of meetings and reporting to various government bodies, as well as conducting most of the correspondence of the business.
Also there is copious recording associated with a Search and Rescue business in association with the VMR Queensland central data base, billing for non-member activations and collection of debts.
To run our Search and Rescue business also requires the operation of the membership function – processing of applications, matching to cash receipts, membership records, member card production, welcome letters, email registers, renewal processes etc – all of which are computerised and we plan to upgrade current systems to a more efficient system during the next 6 months.
We are therefore seeking a clerically efficient person with PC computer skills to maintain the members system, send emails, use a card printer, send out letters, follow up discrepancies etc, working in conjunction with The Secretary.
Thus we are hoping to find two new volunteers and if you are interested in exploring this further please email or phone Roger Wodson on 0419 647 519 or 4946 7690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whitsunday Marine Club News
Solar Power cuts costs and makes WMC an eco-friendly function centre.
During November, monitoring equipment was installed on the club’s electricity supply to ascertain whether it was financially beneficial to install solar power to our premises.
The committee settled on a 6.5kW solar system, as being the most ideally suited to meet our needs and approached Green Energy Technologies, a local solar system supplier.
As VMR is a non-profit volunteer organization, Green Energy generously committed money from their Community Benefit Fund to subsidise our project. For this, we are extremely grateful. As usual, we remind our members to consider our sponsors when requiring locally purchased goods and services.
Marine Club site redevelopment
At the time of writing, the project is almost complete.
With the generous assistance from Whitsunday Regional Council in conjunction with their Whisper Bay Boat Ramp project, the rock wall surrounds have been replaced with a concrete border with drainage, minimising wash-aways of soil into the rocks.
WRC also provided a safety fence and concrete access path to the VMR radio room and re-established a wider grassed area.
We took the opportunity to extend the front timber railings in conjunction with the project and a brick storage shed will be erected at the southern end of the new car park.
A fully sealed front carpark is nearly finished and internally the function room is being refreshed.
Inevitably our income has been substantially affected by the surrounding works and we need your bookings. Come down and have a look for your next function.
The Whitsunday Marine Club has always been the best function location in the Whitsundays and now has eco-friendly, upgraded premises to match and plenty of free parking.
Whisper Bay Boat Ramp Open
The Whisper Bay Boat Ramp project is almost finished, with final works on a rigging zone for returning vessels and extra boat trailer parks nearing completion. Congratulations to Whitsunday Regional Council for completing a fourth all-tides boat ramp for the Whitsundays and within budget.
The ramp is open for use while final works on enlargement of the carpark are in progress. These changes will allow 3 rigging positions for boats exiting the ramp and there will be 60 boat trailer parks.
The official opening is planned for early February.
Our region has the highest density of boats per capita in Queensland, and as Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays is responsible for safety at sea in this area, it is to our benefit that we are now able to tow disabled vessels back to Whisper Bay in most tidal conditions.
We ask the public and boaties alike to respect that this area is a boat ramp and it must be kept clear of dinghies and trailers and there should be no fishing on the pontoon. A fishing line caught in a propeller can have disastrous results for the fisherman and can ruin the boat’s motor.
The outside of the pontoon is of prime concern to VMR as we need to keep it clear to bring in disabled vessels.
New Boat Progress
There is not much to report for the last month or so.
Just before Christmas, our secretary, Roger, delivered a Stryker Stretcher system to be installed on the boat and was able to take a couple of pics.
His thoughts about the boat are:
“BIG” does not fully describe this vessel. Of course they “shrink” when in the water, but to keep in perspective, compare the workman in the red shirt (circled).
Major fibreglass is complete but cutouts on the front of the fly bridge and rear stretcher access have yet to be cut away.
My earlier impression was that the cabin from helm to rear and internal width were about the same as VMR1 – this is not so, the cabin is larger, in addition to the longer bench seat and inclusion of the head.
The forward compartments are much, much larger and will comfortably take the stretcher section and spinal board.
On the rear deck, despite the samson post being in line with pump and rope boxes, followed by the tender/dinghy, there is plenty of space for stretcher access without removing the post.
No doubt Tom has this under control, but with the large duckboard we will require a launching frame/slide for the tender/dinghy. A mechanical winch may be a good idea to avoid reaching strains and the longer pulling length.
Thursday afternoon training is back in full swing, facilitated by Geoff Smith, although the one to be held on January 28 had to be postponed due to the aircraft crash activation.
ALL CREW MUSTER SESSIONS – Active Boat Crew members
For some time there has been discussion whether some crew familiarity and training sessions should be held in the clubhouse rather than on the boat. These will be held in conjunction with Thursday afternoon training.
Management Committee has decided to run a trial session on Monday 15th February and if successful, this will be repeated on a quarterly basis on the third Monday of each third month.
Sessions will include demonstrations and familiarisation opportunities on new equipment, new developments in the industry, current topical matters and an opportunity to socialise with other skippers and crew members.
The session will commence at 6.00 pm and bar closes at 8.00 pm.
If you would like to get involved, please contact us.
Monthly Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month.
Starting at 6.15pm, after a BBQ and drinks from the bar, the monthly meeting is held at about 7pm, giving members the opportunity to meet other members and committee member, and a chance to discuss matters of interest.
The BBQ is only $3, and drinks are reasonably priced, so come along and have your say.
Notices to mariners
There have already been 7 Notices to Mariners for the Whitsunday area this year. These cover some changes to buoys, beacons and cardinal marks, a sunken vessel and some areas of Abell Point Marina.
Details are available at the Qld Govt Transport website