August 2018

ActivationsPresident’s Report – Year to June 30, 2018

Without a doubt the highlight of the past year was the July arrival of our new rescue boat, Abell Point Marina VMR1, and what a success she is proving to be! Walk around decks offer vastly increased safety and access to vessels requiring assistance, the state of the art electronics are excellent, and her performance and economy in all sea conditions leaves nothing to be desired. Inevitably there are some minor tweaks needed and we are working with the builder and electronics supplier to resolve those, but everyone that has seen her or been on her in action are very impressed.

The last year was very busy for VMR Whitsunday, with a number of our activities impacted in one way or another by the weather. The aftermath of TC Debbie saw damage to the Marine Club premises that we share with the Game Fishing Club, and what we thought were the final touches were only recently finished. While the club is looking magnificent, unfortunately there is some longer term damage mainly to the roof and underlying structural areas as a result of water ingress,and we are actively pursuing grant and assistance to rectify the damage. Our former VMR1 also received damage.
The VHF Radio Repeaters that we provide on Hayman and Whitsundays Islands were both badly damaged by Debbie, but both have now been upgraded with more solar panels, higher power transmitters and wind generators.

I must congratulate our Secretary, Roger Wodson, for his tenacious pursuit of grants and donations, and his project management that saw this project through even though we received no financial assistance from government.

Activations for the year to the end of June were down in the previous 12 months, from 99 to 84. The weather would have had an effect on this, with TC Iris cruising up and down the coast for an extended period, putting paid to any thoughts of getting out onto the water for most boaties. Medivacs dropped from 28 to 20, probably due to the closure of most island resorts post TC Debbie. Searches increased from 3 to 9, totalling nearly 24 hours compared to 6 hours the year before.

The most notable SAR was for the swimmer missing off Coral Beach, recovered successfully at 8 pm at night in winds over 30 knots and rough seas. Training hours were almost four times the prior year, at 263, reflecting the interest and extra effort required to bring crew up to speed on the new boat. Total crew hours on the boat increased by 300 for the year to 2163, a great indicator of the commitment of each and every one of our volunteers to marine safety in the Whitsundays.

It is pleasing to see most crew now actively using My Emergency Crew (MEC) to show their availability, and this makes it much easier for phone holders and radio operators to put together a crew for an activation.  I encourage you all to use MEC at all times, even to show you are not available, as that keeps you in the routine of using the resource.
Thank you all for your contribution and assistance over the last year, as without that commitment we could not provide the service that we do for the boating community in the Whitsundays. I look forward to working with you all over the next year.

Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsundays

Membership Renewals

Most ordinary and pensioner members have renewed, but after several reminders, the grace period has now expired.  Thus any members who have not renewed are not entitled to a Free Tow.  If you want continuity of membership, we suggest that you renew now. With our new automated membership in operation, after overdue accounts are archived later in the month, you will need to rejoin (which requires a new member application and the new member fee will apply).

Thanks sincerely to members for using their member number as an identifier when making payment, but we have a few strays where we cannot identify payment received.  If you receive any further notices for the June 30 renewal period, this is an indication that we haven’t been able to identify your payment.  If you do not intend to renew we would appreciate a short email advising us please.

Evaluating Samson Post

As explained in last month’s Samson Post, a poor reading rate (only 11%) and the volunteer hours required for production have prompted discussions about the value of this Newsletter to members.  It is obvious that Activations are a popular topic so those will definitely stay…but what else really interests you? What needs to be there? What can be left out?

We have a ONE question survey which will only take about a minute to complete, but will let us know your opinion about the Samson Post. Click the image below.Another Successful SAREX!

A SAREX is an important inter-agency training activity which allows all those involved in Search & Rescue to meet, plan, practice, review, and evaluate how we all work together in times of emergency. On 21st & 22nd July a SAREX was hosted by VMR Whitsunday.

We were joined by VMR Mackay, VMR Midge Point, VMR Burdekin and VMR Bowen, all working together with Police and Canberra agencies to find ‘missing vessels and people’. Over that weekend we spent many hours out searching for sunken boats, boat debris and floating mannequins posing as missing persons…all in the name of practice, and getting even better at what we do. We can report that all ‘bodies’ (and survivors) were recovered successfully.  🙂

There were about 85 participants over the two days (not counting the dummies 😁) and it was a great learning experience for all.

We would like to sincerely thank all the members who donated their time to helping feed the SAREX participants, especially Alan Corney who coordinated all the catering.  Other helpers included Rita from Burdekin, Sharon from Midge Point and especially Katherine Sellers who worked all day Friday without a break helping with the prepping. Also huge thanks to the Men’s Shed for the loan of a second BBQ and the Whitsunday Food Services for helping to sort out our orders. It was a huge joint effort!

Check out this short video documenting when an important piece of boat debris was located and brought aboard. Exciting stuff!

Towing a Jet-Ski – Some Useful Information

We recently had to tow a broken-down jet-ski and on arrival, the owner advised that he had already phoned his dealer and they confirmed that it must be towed at speeds less than 7 knots. This is fine and we were happy to comply…..but the non-member was looking at his watch the whole time, calculating how much this was going to cost him as we charge by the hour …and the difference between being towed at 7 knots & 20 knots, can be substantial.

Fitting an isolation valve (tow tap) to the coolant water hose is a good strategy which could save your engine, although of course it varies with different brands of jet-ski. Some useful info here but best to talk to a local dealer about what is needed for your particular jet-ski.

Meet a VMR Committee Member – Geoff Fitzsimmons

GeoffHere’s another active member who I managed to pin down long enough to ask him some of my curly questions.  🙃  Meet Geoff.  He is our Senior Skipper and Unit Training Coordinator…and has also been a past President.  Geoff has been with the VMR  for 15 years…he’s certainly a stayer! He originally joined because he got into trouble once and was helped out by VMR Burdekin….and now he just loves to help fellow boaties.

Here’s a few of Geoff’s ‘off the cuff’ responses to some of my questions:
Q: Which of your scars has the most interesting story behind it?
A: The one on my shoulder.  Debbie gave it to me…I ripped a rotator cuff while trying to battle with the aftermath of her visit.  Grrr…

Q: What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?
A:  Definitely working underground in a coal mine for 48 years!

Q: What bridges do you not regret burning?
A:  I used to know some particularly nasty people.  I put some distance between them and me…. and that was the best decision ever.

Q: As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
A: Falling over.  (Ed note: Geoff has a weird sense of humour) 🤣

Important Notice – Life Jacket Recall

There has been a safety recall of Yamaha branded manual inflation life jackets of a particular batch number.  Please check yours.

Notice to Mariners – Watch for the Drillers!

Mariners are advised that geotechnical drilling will take place in the area of the old Ferry Terminal in Shute Harbour in approximate position latitude 20° 17.50′ S and longitude 148° 47.27′ E until 08 August 2018. Work will be conducted from the vessel “Little Yellow Barge” during daylight hours only with a no wash zone in place.

Mariners are advised to navigate with caution in the area and create no wash. For more information go to the MSQ website.

Generous Donations…Thanks!

The Auto Pro collection tin yielded $39.20 when we collected it….thanks everyone who dropped in a coin or two. 🙂

Special thanks to Lindsay McNeill who donated $200 to the VMR this month…that is very generous. Our thanks also for the regular donations made by Julie Roberts at Bookkeeping Taxation Solutions and Adrian Studt. Much appreciated.

EPIRB Rules changing for Some Vessels

From 1 January 2021, float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) will be mandatory on certain types of commercial vessel.This change to safety requirements is in response to tragic incidents in which commercial vessels sank quickly and the master and crew were not able to deploy their EPIRB in time.

AMSA is giving industry a two-year transition period to plan for the added cost of fitting a float-free EPIRB, but encourages owners to fit one to their vessel as soon as possible. Check here to see if this ruling will impact you and your boat.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzle…Come and Say Hello!

On Saturday, August 11th. we will be out the front of Bunnings, cooking our little hearts out!  Why don’t you come along and have a chat to us about membership….or volunteering…or anything! And pick up a yummy  sausage at the same time. 🙂

We could actually use some help so if anyone has a bit of time free on that Saturday morning, please let Alan know at or call him on 0407854106. At least 2 people still needed.

Big kudos 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.  Much appreciated!

Important Notice – Members Social Meeting & AGM

There is NO MEETING on Monday 6th August due to the Annual General Meeting  being held on 13th August 2018

The AGM of VMR Whitsunday will be held at the VMR clubrooms on Monday 13th August 2018 and all financial members are invited. Only financial Active members and Honorary Life Members are entitled to vote.

This year we will present 7 currently Active members with 10 year service awards and 13 with 5 year awards.  These are important milestones of achievement so please make the time to recognize their achievements.  Presentations will be made by our Platinum sponsor, Abell Point Marina, General Manager, Kate Purdie. Snacks will be provided from 6.15 pm.  The format is for service awards to be presented prior to the AGM formalities.

This year’s AGM papers include normal AGM business, such as receipt of reports and appointments for Committee positions but there are no Constitution changes proposed, so it should be short. Nominations for Management Committee positions have closed and all existing Committee members have re-nominated and will be reappointed in accordance with our Constitution – there is no need for elections.

Two nominations for VMR representatives on the Whitsunday Marine Club Committee have been received, whereas 3 positions are required. We had expected Rod Wilson to renominate but he has had a serious bike accident and did not tender his nomination.  Get better Rod, so you can nominate from the floor.

Financial Statements have yet to be audited and will be distributed prior to meeting.

Sometimes the Rescuers need to be Rescued… 

Everyone can have a miscalculation occasionally. 😂 In truth we have huge respect for the local Police and were awed by some of the behind-the-scenes work done by Police during the recent SAREX.  Well done guys! 

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


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