March 2018


From the President’s Desk

January finished with a total of 10 activations in total including 3 for breakdowns,  1 for Police and 3 medivacs for QAS, and 2 to support the Clipper yacht race. February saw a total of 13 activations, 4 for breakdowns (including a non-member at the outer reef), and there were 3 medivacs including a double from Hamilton Island in moderate conditions – VMR1 handled the conditions very well. We also took out the visiting team from VMR Burdekin to show them our boat – they were favourably impressed.

Works on the stairs and access area to our base have been completed. Storage cupboards will be installed in the training room after quotations are received.

SAREXVMR Whitsunday will be hosting a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) on April 7 and 8 for the Northern Zone, and squads from Burdekin, Bowen, Midge Point and Mackay will be invited to attend, along with SES. Our radio base will be the coordination centre for the exercises, which will include both daytime and night time activities.

We have also agreed to once again support the Superboat Races in Bowen, on April 28 and 29, and will be asking for expressions of interest from those who may wish to participate. Hopefully we will be spared the unusual rush of activations experienced last year!

Abell Point Marina VMR1 was also put through a rigorous test to ascertain its bollard pull limits, which will be limited to 4 tonnes when the new stability changes are approved. Suffice to say that we backed off at 2900 rpm and 3.6 tonnes, a situation that should never be reached on a real activation. Bottom line is that we will be able to tow vessels of any size provided we can maintain a minimum tow speed of 3 knots, and we should never be in a situation where we are attempting a static pull even remotely close to that limit for a large vessel that is aground, which is a salvage job. If it is floating, power and speed should be built up slowly and the load on VMR1 will decrease as a
sensible towing speed is reached and maintained.

SMS, SOPs and Risk Register have all been uploaded to the portal, and I would like to remind all active crew that you must read the documents and sign the hard copies which are on VMR1 to acknowledge that you should have done so, by the end of the month. The Management Committee have a legal and Duty of Care responsibility to ensure that all active crew have read and acknowledged the documents. Failure to do so may result in you being placed at the bottom of the callout list until this is done. We have to take a firm line on this to show that we have taken all steps possible to instruct active crew on safe operation of the vessel.

As always, we are on the lookout for suitable and keen volunteers to help us in all aspects of running VMR Whitsundays – not just boat skippers and crew, but radio base operators, emergency phone holders, help with fundraising, administration, sausage sizzles, etc. See for more information. A recent facebook post for radio operators was very successful, with a number of positive responses from potential volunteers.

Regards, Mal

Our new Rescue Vessel – Abell Point Marina VMR1 Medical Evacuation Design

Abell Point Marina VMR1 is the only 24/7, fully equipped deep water Rescue Boat in the Whitsundays and is often in demand to transport Queensland Ambulance Service Paramedics and other Emergency personnel to island resorts, offshore vessels and island camping areas.
We regularly transport Paramedics to island resorts or vessels at anchor. The Paramedics bring their equipment to Abell Point Marina, where VMR1 is berthed in a premium location which minimizes departure delays. The new Rescue Vessel was designed to handle medical emergencies (Medivacs) and carries basic equipment on board such as a QAS stretcher, universal spineboard, oxygen and our own defibrillator. However, whilst VMR Active members compulsorily have Senior First Aid and CPR training, they are not trained as first responders. On many occasions we have taken Paramedics to their case, to find that the injury or condition is not as has been advised to us, or QAS. Also we are not trained to deal with complications or critical injuries. Thus, if there is a known injury in an activation call, we do not leave our berth until we have a Paramedic on board.

A typical situation which has been covered by a recent Skipper activation report was for VMR1 to transport a Paramedic to a resort, where they assess the patient and decide on their course of action, usually to transport the patient back to Abell Point Marina, where a waiting ambulance will take the patient to Proserpine or Mackay hospitals.

This type of activation requires pre-planning, care and a considerable amount of cabin space.  Abell Point Marina VMR1 was designed with stretcher cases in mind and was tested for the first time this month tasked with evacuation of a workman who injured his neck and upper spine in an industrial incident.

At the design stage, the cabin layout and dimensions, wider door arrangements and most comfortable position were specified to handle the installation of the QAS donated Stryker stretcher which is in use throughout the Whitsundays.  Wherever we go, we have the Stryker on board and this time it was put to good use.

When we arrived at Hamilton Island, the QAS Paramedic went ashore to make arrangements and returned with the patient securely strapped to the Hamilton Island Stryker unit.  It was a simple task to hand over our stretcher top section and take on board their section, with patient intact.  This snugly fitted into the specifically designed mounting in the VMR1 cabin and clamped down to avoid the bounce that we often encounter in Whitsunday Passage.  Thanks to Ray Lewis for designing and making the clamps.

We had handled the gusts to 30 knots on the way over with ease, but now had patient comfort in mind. We were in for another surprise though, as when we arrived we found that we had a second Medivac on our hands with an ill elderly patient who had limited mobility. The larger, air-conditioned cabin space with a designated Paramedic seat eased the problem and VMR Skipper, Mal used all his skill to navigate with wind and ebbing tide behind us to provide a surprisingly smooth ride (which we have found to be an outstanding feature in the new vessel).

When we arrived back at Abell Point Marina, QAS had two crews waiting – again with their Stryker units. It was a simple task to lift off our patient, transfer him to a Stryker trolley and up the ramp into the waiting Ambulance.  The stretcher arrangement was as good as we hoped, shortening the handling time and allowing the injured patient to remain on the same stretcher section end-to-end, from initial assessment on Hamilton Island, to delivery at Proserpine Hospital.

Credit must also go to Leigh Anderson (QAS) who assisted us during the design stage of our boat, to ensure that it would safely and comfortably incorporate the Stryker stretcher.

Update on Projects

StairsVMR Building, Cannonvale

We can report that the balustrading on the stairs leading up to the Radio Room has been completed.  Our thanks to Aurizon for the $20,000 grant which enabled us to finish the building – the stairs are now structurally safe.  A plaque indicating this financial assistance will be affixed to the building in the near future.

Whitsundays Marine Tourism Industry Risk Management & Resilience Meeting

Luke McCaul, Manager of Abell Point Marina convened a meeting of representatives from the local marine industry, insurance and government sectors. Attending were disaster management experts, Ergon Energy personnel, marine surveyors, insurers and representatives from the region’s council, tourism, local marine businesses, salvage operators, MSQ, QPWS, VMR, bareboat and charter boat industry organisations.

Al Grundy, Chairman of Tourism Whitsunday chaired the meeting. All attendees had the opportunity for input and the Group thrashed out the challenges an event like Cyclone Debbie brought. Communication issues, death by media, increased insurance premiums, excesses and risks, and the need to remove bureaucratic hurdles in the event of a disaster were all discussed. Three hours later a working group had formed, determined to develop a new marine plan, with the ultimate aim of safeguarding the Whitsundays’ unique marine assets.

The newly formed Whitsundays Marine Risk Management Group will now focus on key areas of the policy development including communication and education strategies. The group will meet again at the end of May. All enquiries to Sharon Smallwood, Secretary Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry association. Phone 0402 126 461.

SPECIAL OFFER from our Platinum sponsor, Abell Point Marina 

This offer is specifically for residents in the Whitsundays/Mackay region.  Abell Point Marina is offering a special 10 night berthing package which includes Premium berthing upgrade, complimentary use of the Ocean Club AND a complimentary bottle of champagne when you book for dinner at Hemingway’s.

Can’t get 10 days off work for a boating holiday? No problem – this special can be used over multiple visits, as long as it’s completed by May 31st. You’ll find more information at

Abell Point Marina

News from MSQ (Maritime Safety Queensland ), Whitsundays

MSQlogoMSQ is working in conjunction with Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) to remove the remaining wrecks and submerged objects from Cyclone Debbie. WRC is seeking a qualified and experienced salvage operator to remove marine vessels damaged by Cyclone Debbie. The list of vessels has been categorised into two parts:

  • vessels sunk in water – water retrieval (seven vessels in Shute Harbour and Pioneer Bay (Airlie Beach)).
  • boats in mangrovesvessels wrecked on foreshore – potential crane removal (three vessels at Long Island, Woodwark Bay and Shute Harbour).

The vessels are to be cut into transportable segments and the hulls are to be delivered to a legal waste facility for disposal.  Call WRC or MSQ for details if required.

Also a reminder to the charter fleet that all DCV (Domestic Commercial Vessel) services that MSQ currently provide will start winding down as of March 1 2018 and MSQ will hand over full responsibility of DCV’s to AMSA as of July 1, 2018.  DCV owners are encouraged to start navigating AMSA’s new website and provide feedback on whether they are getting satisfactory results when making enquiries and seeking information.

Camping in and around the Whitsunday Area (Including on the Islands)

Camping AreasThe Queensland Parks & Wildlife are trialling a new search tool for easier access to more detailed park information. You can filter by area, and by activity (eg canoeing, hiking, walking etc). Other filters include campfire permissions, fishing info and toilet facilities. You can check out information about the local area HERE or access the whole site from

Visit VMR at the BCF Club Member evening

BCF is holding a Club member evening on the 28 th March 2018 from 5pm till 8pm at its Whitsunday Plaza (Centro) store. Come along for some good deals and talk to others in the Boating, Camping and Fishing arena.

VMR will be there so it would be an ideal opportunity to enquire about becoming a member and getting that low cost “insurance” on your boat. 🙂 You can also have a chat to other Active members and can enrol as a Volunteer Crew member or Volunteer Radio Operator….not to mention renew your membership or update your personal or boat details. It’ll be a one stop shop! 😄

Do you know which navigation lights you need for your powered vessel?

Members Social Meeting (and Sausage Sizzle)

BBQOn the first Monday of each month the VMR Whitsunday Squadron hosts a meeting for all members at the VMR club rooms….and the one coming up will be on 5th March at 6:15pm.  The evening kicks off with an informal social meet including drinks and grilled sausages on the BBQ with salad ($3 ea).

After the social meet a more formal meeting follows where the business side of the organisation is discussed.  Topics discussed include training, operations and any other organisational issues that need tabling.

It’s a great opportunity to meet the active crew who go out on VMR1….or come along and volunteer yourself!

Top 10 Tips for Boating with Kids

Spending a day out on the sparkling Whitsunday waters… .aaahhhh…..that’s the stuff memories are made of, especially for the kids! But what do you need to consider when taking kids out on a boat? Sure, there are the obvious safety aspects such as life-jackets, but what else? Here’s a handy ‘Top 10′ list which may be useful. 🙂

That’s it for this edition! Click below for the last month’s activations. Some good reading!