March 2019

ActivationsPresident’s Report for February 2019

The final number for activations for January (excluding training) was 12 compared to 7 the previous year, up 71%, so the upward trend is continuing. Medivacs increased from 3 to 5 for the same period. So far this month we have done 6 compared to 7 for the same month last year.

Having endorsed the feasibility study recommendation for a 2nd vessel, the next step was a special general meeting on February 25th where active members voted in favour of the proposal. A small sub-committee will now proceed to
phase 2, which involves consultation with active members, vessel selection, and recommending acquisition to the Management Committee. Our Platinum Sponsor, Abell Point Marina, has already confirmed that they will make a berth available for a second rescue vessel behind our existing berth, which is another example of their great support for VMR Whitsunday.

The radio problems we have been encountering on VMR1 appear to have been resolved after the whole system was earthed, and Abell Point Marina VMR1 continues to display her all over strengths each time we go out. The AIS installations on Hayman and Mt Robinson are nearing order stage, which we hope to have done next week.

The Blue Water Review into marine rescue services in Queensland has been finished and the report can be read here. Key points are recommendation to merge Coast Guard and Marine Rescue into one organisation state-wide, and to increase government funding to a more realistic level. A working group comprising representatives from all affected organisations has been established, and the first meeting has been held (see below for more info). We look forward to positive results and recommendations from the group.

A State Council meeting for VMRAQ was to have been hosted at the Marine Club on the 22nd and 23rd but has been deferred due to the potential impact of Cyclone Oma in the SE corner. It has been tentatively rescheduled to March 16 and 17 but that will depend on availability of attendees on the changed dates.

We have been working with some local businesses to extend the range of benefits that we can offer to all VMRW members, and hope to be able to announce some of these in the near future as a further attraction to VMRW membership. We have a good membership base and that gives us the opportunity to negotiate discounts on behalf of all members, so stay tuned.

Lock in March 15th for the Toga Party at the Marine Club. There will be a catered dinner, live music, door prizes, and the usual fundraising auction with some excellent items up for grabs, all aimed at raising funds to help us do what we do best – saving lives at sea. Prizes will include accommodation, boat trips and numerous other items, and the main prize will be a 5 night bareboat charter on a luxury catamaran, coupled with 2 night’s accommodation in a premium resort, courtesy of Whitsunday Escape.

You can book a table of 8 or 10 or take potluck – either way it should be a great night! Tickets are available from Whitsunday Bookings, near Mama Africa’s, phone 4948 2201. Get in early, as numbers are limited.

Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsunday

VALE – John Harper, Honorary Life Member & Past President

With sadness we advise the passing of John Harper who was a giant in VMR’s history.
John was a past President for many years of Volunteer Marine Rescue, and was a leader in the emergence of VMR Whitsunday to what it is today. John prepared a history of VMR and we note that Whitsunday Air Sea Rescue Squad (as it was then) was
formed in 1964 in Proserpine. Airlie (as it was known then) was a few beach shacks owned by cane growers and the management of the Proserpine Sugar Mill and a group of boat owners organized a roster when members would take turns with their own boats to standby to help out boats in trouble.

In the 70’s a rival organization, Cannonvale Coast Guard was formed and the two bodies competed for some years until commonsense prevailed and eventually merged their operations into Whitsunday Air Sea Rescue Squad.

Airlie became popular in the late 80’s when an Ansett subsidiary held the land area currently occupied by Peninsula, Marina Shores, Mirage and Whitsunday Marine Club. Air Sea Rescue obtained a lease on land that is now between the police station and Whisper Bay and a demountable office was set up as a radio base.

Ansett wanted to develop the land and the battle began to save some of the land for community use and move Shute Harbour Road to its current Airlie Hill location. John, with his cool head and persuasive approach succeeded in preserving the boat ramp and VMR Base area for the community’s benefit.

VMR records show that John joined in 1982 and served as a rescue boat crewman on VMR1 and as a radio operator for many years. He was instrumental in bringing the Air Sea Rescue dreams to reality when he led the ambition for VMR to share a permanent place to operate and in 1993 John Richard Samuel Harper signed the agreement to form an alliance with Whitsunday Game Fish Club and Whitsunday Power Boat Club to develop the current site. John’s dream, the Whitsunday Air Sea Rescue Operations Room was opened in June 1994.

Part of the amalgamation and regeneration was to change the name of Air Sea Rescue to Volunteer Marine Rescue and this name was then adopted by Air Sea Rescue Queensland headquarters in 1996. VMR WHITSUNDAY was the first VMR in Queensland and we are proud of the VMR1 call sign, that we have maintained for all of our rescue vessels since.

All of this was made possible by John Harper and we are forever grateful for his vision and persistence to form the foundations for VMR Whitsunday as it is today. Fittingly the funeral was held at the Whitsunday Marine Club on Monday 18th February 2019.

Grants to Boost Regional Action to Protect the Reef

Community Reef Protection ‘Local Action’ Program grants will deliver up to $180,000 total funding for regional community projects that contribute to improving Reef health.  Each grant will be valued between $5,000 – $15,000 and applications close on 18 March 2019.  More information here.

VMR’s Online Raffle – Grab Your Ticket/s Quickly!

How would you like 5 nights on a luxury bareboat charter? Or maybe a romantic weekend at the beautiful Peninsula Apartments? What about a couple of restful days in a fab cabin at Big 4 where the kids would have a ball!

These are the PRIZES for our ONLINE RAFFLE which is being drawn on 15th March. Tickets are $50 but hey, the prizes are worth thousands and you will be supporting your local Volunteer Marine Rescue.

You’ve got to be in it to win it!  All details at THIS LINK..and good luck! 🙂

Beware the Ides of March…. Come to the VMR Toga Party!

VMR Whitsunday is having a Toga Party on the Ides of March, Friday 15th, at the Marine Club. A fabulous buffet meal with amazing live music arranged by Pop Standen. There will be door prizes, plus best dressed and the most creative ancient Roman.

The business community have given us some fantastic items for auction, including island and mainland stays, boat trips, and fine dining. There will also be plenty of raffle prizes. A great fun night for all.

Tickets are available from Whitsunday Bookings, Shop 5, 263 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach – under Mama Africa’s, phone 4948 2201. Tables of 8 to 10. Numbers are limited, so book early.

VMR receives minimal funding from government, and our unpaid volunteers put in over 2000 hours on the water last year helping people in distress and doing medivacs among the boating and island communities of the Whitsundays. By attending, you will be helping us to continue and expand on that commitment, allowing us to save lives at sea.

Of course, if you wish to donate an auction item or prize, we won’t say no and would be most grateful – please email us at

Beware the Ides of March on the 15th – unless you are going to Toga Toga Toga! 🙂

Some Good Advice for EPIRB Owners

Have you recently bought a boat?
Did it come with an EPIRB?
Make sure you’re ready to set out on the water!
Lots more useful information HERE including everything you need to know about buying a beacon, looking after your beacon and using your beacon.

Where Is Happening With The Blue Water Review?

The first meeting of the Blue Water Review Working Group helped set the process for working group discussions and decisions in coming months as the vision for the future of volunteer marine rescue services in Queensland is created.

The Working Group will be meeting again and will also hold meetings in regional areas so as to meet with local volunteers and continue the engagement on how a future volunteer marine rescue sector should operate. Here is a video of the Minister and Commissioner’s messages to the Working Group.

What’s the Right Way to Tow a Disabled JetSki?

Towing a disabled jet ski behind another vessel isn’t as simple of attaching a line and pointing for home.  If we have to tow you the onus is on you to have your ski properly prepared for the tow. Shut off valves are a good idea otherwise our tow speed is severely restricted. Do it wrong, and you run the risk of severely damaging the ski’s engine, and even potentially swamping it.  More information HERE.

Do You Have Any Expired Flares Around?

We have posted about this before but it is *extremely* important so we’re doing it again. It’s about expired flares. Do you have any? Not sure? All flares have an expiry date printed on the packet so please check and note the following…..
  • Do not keep them on your boat after the expiry date as they can become dangerous (they are an incendiary device)
  • Did you know it is illegal to keep out of date flares
  • In the Whitsundays you should hand them to Council staff at Whitsunday regional Council landfill or transfer stations. (WRC info HERE and other Qld locations HERE
  • Please do NOT dump them with general rubbish as this could cause a fire at the tip.
  • Also, please do not leave them at the VMR building – it is often unattended and flares can be dangerous if found by minors.

Abandoned Boats Being Removed

The War on Wrecks Taskforce has been undertaking state-wide public consultation to help identify unseaworthy vessels that can be removed from our waterways and to understand and remedy the factors causing this growing problem.

96 wrecks have been removed from Queensland waters to date, with plans to remove 225 more. A database of an additional 252 confirmed wrecks has also been compiled.

The Taskforce needs your help to identify derelict vessels and your ideas for reducing the number of vessels that become unseaworthy. Read more about the War on Wrecks.

What is Tributyltin?

Tributyltin (TBT) is a chemical that used to be in anti-fouling paint.  It was banned in 2008 because it slowly leaches out into the marine environment where it is highly toxic. Unfortunately even though banned by some international agencies, TBT anti-fouling paints are still used in countries with poor regulation enforcement. More information here including how to remove and dispose of it safely.

Congratulations (and Thanks) to the Winners!

HUGE congratulations to Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday and Red Cat Adventures who recently won GOLD at the Australian Tourism Awards …. and also congratulations to Whitsunday Escape who won SILVER. Well done all! 🙂

These three awesome local businesses are also major raffle prize donors for the VMR Fun Fundraiser Toga Party and the VMR Online Raffle. Well deserved accolades for these 3 plus the rest of the local businesses who support the local community by donating prizes and assisting VMR with our fundraising. We sincerely appreciate it.


A total of $376.25 was picked up from the Magnums collection tin this month…that’ll pay for some fuel! A special mention also needs to go to David Behrens who donated $8,726.50 to VMR.  It was actually meant to be his refund from Abell Point Marina for a berthing period that wasn’t used but instead of taking the refund, David suggested that the amount be donated to a worthwhile local charity – and VMR certainly qualifies! So generous…thank you! 🙂

Notice to Mariners

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

  • Tongue Bay, Whitsunday Island—coral relocation
  • Abell Point Mooring Grid—sunken vessel

You’ll find the details at  Qld Government Publications

Catching Up With Some Boat Knowledge

Do you know the difference between freeboard and waterline? Here’s a short video with some of the main boating terms.

Photo of the month

Our volunteers take some fabulous photos while they’re out on VMR1.  This stunning pic was taken by Michel del Aguila while crewing for an activation on 25th February.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzles – More to Come!

At our Bunnings BBQ on 9th Feb we sold 33Kg of sausages, 10Kg onions and 18 loaves of bread!. Thanks to everyone who helped…..and also to everyone who bought a sausage. 

A special mention to Alan (second from left) as he works tirelessly to make these things happen.  He is there from early setup, precooks onions and is always cutting up more, looks after the money, rushes out to buy more sausages or bread…basically organises everything! Alan is the power-house behind the Bunnings Sausage Sizzles.  In his words “This is how to run a $1M boat on sausage sizzles“.:-D

The next time VMR will be at Bunnings is Saturday, 6th April.  All help is appreciated!

Members Social Meeting

Get out your diary. March’s VMR Social Meeting will be on:Monday 4th March at 6:15pm.  The evening kicks off with an informal social meet including drinks around the bar (or outside watching the sunset) and grilled sausages on the BBQ with salad ($3 ea)… followed by a short meeting to talk about ‘what’s going on’.

You don’t need to book or let anyone know you’re coming…just turn up! Come and socialise with your VMR volunteers and do something different than you usually do on a Monday evening.  😋


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