July 2018

ActivationsPresident’s Report

This month there have been 2 Police activations for searches for overdue vessels on the same day,
one with a couple and an infant on board overdue from a day trip, and an all-day activation with 2 crews to try and locate a missing person on a dinghy reportedly between Cid and Hamilton. Abell Point Marina VMR1 was on the water for 9.5 hours that day. The latter search was upgraded to include 3 helicopters and additional vessels from VMR Bowen, VMR Midge Point and MSQ, finally resolved when the dinghy and occupant were located by a passing vessel late in the day near Perseverance Island, past Hamilton. It had run out of fuel after passing Hamilton in the night, and was not carrying any means of communication or signalling. Total VMR man-hours alone for the search was in excess of 100 hours!

After a quiet couple of months things sure changed quickly with the improvements in conditions on the water. Activations in June are sitting at 10 in total to date. In addition to the searches there was a medivac run for the skipper of a charter yacht, 4 breakdowns and 3 training/patrol runs.

The VHF channel 82 repeater on Hayman is now fully upgraded and functional, see the separate report below. A great effort by all concerned and very well managed and coordinated by our Secretary, Roger Wodson.

The Search and Rescue exercise planned for July 21 and 22 is getting closer, and active members have been sent an email asking for expressions of interest from those crew and radio operators that may wish to participate. This is a great opportunity for active crew to practice what we may have to do in real life, so please see if you can attend. Alan Corney will also be needing assistance with catering of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the 80 or 90 expected to participate in the exercise, so if you can assist please let Alan know.

Ray has installed a more practical slide (see photo) to make dinghy launch and retrieval easier, and we will be training on that in the near future. He also made a new flagpole at the base that will keep flags away from potential tangles on the radio mast….but more about that further down.

That’s it for this month!
Regards, Mal

Membership Renewal

The introduction of our new membership system has not been as smooth as we would like, but by now you should have received a reminder email if your fees are due for payment.  We recognize that we should have provided you with a longer notice period and have extended the payment date to 10th July.

Membership Fees 2018-2019 (GST included)
As advised in last month’s Samson Post, our subscription fee increases by only $5.00 for Standard membership and no increase to Pensioner fees, despite soaring fuel costs.

Ordinary member:                       $80.00
Pensioner member:                     $40.00
Registered Active Volunteer:       $10.00
Extra boats:                                 no charge
Credit Cards:                               no charge

Members receive one free tow (up to 6 hours) per membership year and subsequent activations are at half price, within the Whitsunday zone. Full membership benefits are outlined on our website.

Remember that non-members now pay $355.00 per hour for assistance from July 1st  – including a $30.00 per hour fuel price levy.

We have changed banks and membership fees can now be paid at Westpac Cannonvale or Proserpine.  You can also pay online to our Westpac account.  When paying your fees, you must advise your Member number or we will not know who has paid.

Payment Options

The Replacement of VHF Radio Repeaters is Completed (At Last!!)

The new Hayman Island VHF radio repeater (channel 82) is now operating. After months of delays we have completed the replacement of the new repeater, which has similar componentry to the Channel 81 Mt Robinson installation. Both locations have been beefed up and are more resilient in cloudy conditions or times when the radios are busy with boating activity – more usage means more draw on the batteries.

On Mt Robinson we doubled the ratio of battery storage to solar capture and added wind generation to keep the batteries topped up. Wind is an excellent resource, operating 24/7 and in times when it is cloudy (and solar capture is low) there is usually wind or breeze.. We were restricted on aerial types at Mt Robinson due to the number of nearby radio installations – MSQ (3 channels), Bareboats and Queensland Parks are all in close proximity.

On Hayman Island we doubled the repeater power output – sending signals further out to the near reef, Mainland coast between Airlie and Cape Gloucester and we have reports of channel 82 signal as far South as Chalkies Beach. Thus power output has doubled, so we increased battery storage to four times the previous installation and it also has wind generation. With its positioning, we were able to install a more powerful high-gain Collinear aerial.

Whilst we were fortunate to be partially insured and were awarded some grant monies, we would not have been able to make the installations more robust and resilient without help from MSQ, QPWS, Hayman Island authorities and Des Davey at Helibiz. Mayor Andrew WilcoxAlso special thanks from us to Terry Kemp representing Whitsunday Bareboats and Phil Pleydell from Whitsunday Marine Electronics who actually installed both sites (and will be responsible for maintaining them in the future).

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Wilcox passed on his congratulations “Great job on this one guys. A big thank you for all involved.

Tune to channel 82 if you are North of Hook Island, out on the reef or on the mainland coast between Airlie and Gloucester Island.  VHF radio operates on a line of sight basis, so unless you have a repeater installation on a high position it is only effective for a short distance and gets blocked by obstacles such as islands. If you wonder how VHF radio repeaters work, check out this video on YouTube.

Meet a VMR Committee Member – Mal Priday

MalYou should already know Mal Priday as his photo decorates the latest President’s Report at the top of the Samson Post. 😋  That’s because Mal is President…and also a skipper and a Search and Rescue Coordinator for VMR Whitsunday.  He joined back in 2003 as he “…wanted to put something back into the community using his experience as a commercial and recreational boatie”. He’s a busy man but I pinned him down with some questions which may give insight into how he ticks. Heh heh

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I worked on the water for 4 Hollywood productions… here, Port Douglas, Hervey Bay and Panama (James Bond, and I was able to use the 007 logo in correspondence – cool!) 😎

Q: How did you end up working (and playing) with boats?
A: I worked for an oil company for 24 years in NZ, the US and Hong Kong, up to and including senior management and board level. I stopped enjoying it and eventually told my boss I was going to go sailing. He laughed, and I did!

Q: What is really important to you?
A: Family contact… even though only our younger  daughter is here in Airlie. Our elder daughter is in England and our son is in Auckland. We use Skype a lot. 😉

An Update on Training

Ray Lewis, VMR’s Unit Training Coordinator has enlisted the help of Graeme Jay and assisted by Samantha Collins – both of whom are trainee paramedics and also trainee VMR crew members. Graeme has extensive experience in First Aid training and delivered two insightful sessions to 28 VMR Active Volunteer Crew members for compulsory annual updates for First Aid qualifications and CPR.  VMR policy is that when we are aware of a medical requirement, a paramedic is transported by Abell Point Marina VMR1 to boats or resorts offshore. However, there are some occasions when the medical requirement is not known until arrival. Thus it is compulsory that VMR Whitsunday Active Volunteer Crew members have knowledge of what to expect (and in some cases, how to treat) basic medical situations. This is not the same as paramedic training.

To remain an approved Active Crew member, each crew member is required to hold a current “Senior First Aid” accreditation which must be renewed every three years. This course includes the requirements for CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) which must be refreshed every year. VMR1 carries a full first aid kit and other equipment such as oxygen and a QAS Stryker stretcher for use by paramedics.

Do you own a distress beacon?

If you do it must be registered, even if you’ve bought it off a mate and think you’ll probably never need to use it. In some cases, registration is mandatory by law and even if this is not the case, a registered beacon will mean that a response to find you if you’re in trouble will be a whole lot quicker! It’s easy to register/alter a registration as you can easily do this online and it is free.

If you have bought a beacon second hand, you must update your details with AMSA, and if you have sold a beacon, it is equally as important that you contact them to update your details and let them know your beacon has been sold. More about buying and selling here. This video provides a 2 minute overview, or you can download more detailed information.

Generous Donations…Thanks!

As everyone is aware, it is membership renewal time and we are pleased to acknowledge additional donations from Keith Ronson, Geoff Simmons, Julie Roberts, Lance Mintram, Adrian Studt and Neil McGaffin.  The Cannonvale Marine counter-top tin revealed 178.75, so a big thanks to all who donated!

VMR Whitsunday is a registered charity and all donations are tax deductible. The big charities advertise heavily, but our advertising is by effectively serving the public when they are on the water in the Whitsundays. We do not have employees, we are all Volunteers who are here to provide a boating safety net for locals and visitors. Why not keep your donations here in the Whitsundays instead of paying for salaries and airfares in large organizations who work overseas. You can donate or set up a monthly donation by credit card online here.

Samson Post & Facebook – We’d like your opinion

Some of the content posted in this Newsletter is also replicated as a Facebook post.  We know you are reading this Newsletter, but we thought we’d check to see if what we write is new to you, or whether you’ve read it all before on Facebook.  Please vote here:

Notices to Mariners

Two new notices to mariners have been added to the Queensland Transport Website for our region since the last Samson Post. These are:

  • Tongue Bay, Whitsunday Island and Cateran Bay, Border Island, Airlie Beach—helicopter lift operations
  • Fitzalan Passage—northern special mark off station

Normally, a Notice to Mariners is issued for the purpose of providing permanent navigation information which will result in a chart correction. In this case though both notices are marked as Temporary (T) meaning that the information will remain valid only for a limited time. You’ll find details on the Qld Government Transport website.  

News from Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service

Work has commenced on the construction of a walking track and viewing areas on Border Island. This work is expected to be completed by 30th September. Heavy machinery, plant and equipment will be in use so while access to moorings and the beach will remain open, visitors are advised to stay well clear of the construction area.

Whitehaven Beach has also seen considerable activity as vegetation debris caused by Cyclone Debbie is continuing to be cleaned up along the foreshore. Some of this vegetation is being used as mulch to promote re-growth of the remaining vegetation and to speed recovery. Ongoing upgrades to the Whitehaven Beach visitor precinct are set to continue for the next 12 months.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzle

We would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Bunnings Cannonvale for giving us the opportunity to conduct these fundraising events outside of their front door.  Also a big thanks to Master Butchers Whitsunday for donating sausages that we can cook!

We’ll be back again on Saturday, August 11th. Why don’t you come along and have a chat to us about membership….or volunteering…or anything! And pick up an expertly cooked sausage while you’re there.  

Members Social Meeting (plus $3 BBQ)

The VMR Social Get-together is always on the first Monday of every month beginning at 6:15pm….so next month it will fall on 6th August.

Everyone is welcome….whether you are a member, or thinking about becoming a member, or maybe considering volunteering.  Free parking, cheap drinks, social meet’n’greet and a $3 meal, finishing up with a short meeting to talk about ‘what’s going on’. Feel free to simply turn up. 🍻

VMR Building Improvements Still Happening

Mal mentioned our new flagpole in his report, and we’re as pleased as punch with the results. The old one used to present issues with becoming tangled and damaged against the radio mast, but this one was fabricated with Ray Lewis’s technical know-how and went together like a dream!  Trevor, Ray, Roger and Ron volunteered to erect it in it’s place, but as the bolt holes all lined up so perfectly it was a job done very quickly. Thanks to all involved…great teamwork! We aren’t having another cyclone, but (just in case 😬), a single action will have the flagpole lying horizontally on the ground.  Now that’s innovative construction.  Come and have a look when you next attend a meeting or launch your boat at the Whisper Bay ramp.

Other improvements are the installation of our new sponsor board.  We can now continue to announce to everyone who comes the the VMR building how important our sponsors are…and continue to be….for the ongoing existence of the Whitsunday VMR.

Docking a boat without hitting anything  😋 😎

Here’s an opportunity to practice those docking skills…without running any risk to your own boat.  If you’re new to boating it may provide some valuable experience….and if you’re experienced, here’s your chance to have a go at that James Bond docking technique you’ve always wanted to try. 😋 Click on the image to go to the simulator, and then select ‘New Game’. Oh, and eventually  you’ll want to kill the sound when it begins to drive you crazy – click the button at the bottom, next to pause. Have fun!

That’s it for this edition! Click below for June’s activations.