May 2019


President’s Report

March activations (excluding training) finished at 10 compared to 3 the prior year.  April saw 13 activations compared to 5 for the whole month last year, and activations for the year to date sit at 44 compared to 23 for the same period last year, an increase of 87% – and that follows an increase of 40% for the whole of 2018. You have to wonder what it would have been like with better weather!

The sub-committee looking at the acquisition of our second rescue vessel has held their first meeting, and plan on finalising their recommendation for a suitable RHIB within three months. This is becoming a priority as the rate of activations continues to ramp up.

All AIS equipment is now to hand, and subject to a couple of systems tests we should be able to proceed with installation at Hayman and Whitsunday Island next time there is a favourable weather window, maybe early next month. It sure is not even close to favourable at the moment.

The Blue Water Review Working Group looking at marine rescue services in the state has already met a number of times, and has made some key recommendations to QFES. One is that there be a single service for blue water marine search and rescue in Queensland, and the Working Group also recommends the single service be a new entity with a new name, brand and approach. Watch this space – maybe Marine Search and Rescue Queensland? More info below.

During the month we had a new bronze sponsor join us – Bob Clanfield from Laser Plumbing Airlie Beach has stepped up to the mark – many thanks Bob, and welcome aboard.

Earlier in the month Alan Corney and his team of volunteer chefs had a sausage sizzle at Bunnings (onions underneath of course) and set a new record of over 37 kg of sausages – well done to all concerned. Next one is in June.

We are very keen to put together a history of marine rescue services in the Whitsundays, dating back over 50 years to its first beginnings using private boats and based in a pub in Proserpine, right through to the amalgamation of Air Sea Rescue and Coastguard in the 80s to form the first Volunteer Marine Rescue squadron in the state, to the present day. We are looking for a couple of volunteers to help with the research for the project so if you wish to take part in what should be a very interesting exercise please email me and I will coordinate a meeting to get the ball rolling.

Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsunday

Life Jackets for your Kids….So Important!

Pop Quiz:  Which one of these kids is wearing the correct sized lifejacket?


Need a hint? Check out the ‘Choosing the right lifejacket’ fact sheet HERE.  Before heading out on the water, make sure you have lifejackets that correctly fit your little mariners.

Our New Bronze Sponsor

VMR Whitsunday is pleased to welcome our new Bronze Sponsor, Laser Plumbing of Airlie Beach. Owner Bob Clanfield has been following us on our Samson Post newsletter, and decided to chip in with a generous sponsorship. Many thanks, Bob, your support is much appreciated!

Bob is shown in the photo presenting the cheque to VMR President Mal Priday

Can you Help with the Compilation of VMR History?

Calling all history buffs, ex (or wanna be) journalists, librarians and people who love research and ‘organising stuff’.

Airlie Beach in the 70’s

VMR Whitsunday, as it is now known, has been around in one form or another for over 55 years, and we are keen to put together a complete history from original Air Sea Rescue and Coastguard days, to amalgamation, and up to the present day, leading to our 60th anniversary.

We already have two original members and another historian buff that wish to participate, but would like a couple more people that could assist with research so it can all be pulled together. If you would like to be part of this interesting project, please email VMR President Mal Priday to express your interest. A meeting with all interested parties will then be arranged.

Survey about Sharks – Your Input is Kindly Requested

VMR Whitsunday has been asked to circulate this message
to its members by the research team at James Cook University.

You are invited to take part in a survey being run by James Cook University that aims to better understand the views of residents and visitors in the Whitsundays region regarding interactions between humans and sharks in the marine environment. More specifically, they aim to better understand activities occurring in the marine environment, people’s perceptions and observations of sharks and other marine wildlife, and their awareness and perceptions of shark safe practices and management measures.

Your responses and contact details will remain strictly anonymous. The data from the study will be used in research publications and reports, which will be particularly useful for local tour operators and policy makers working in the Whitsundays region. Your responses will be confidential. You will not be identified in any way in these publications or reports.  Click on the link/image below for more information and to begin the survey.

Hutchwilco Lifejacket Recall

The Hutchwilco Fisher Vest is an inflatable lifejacket designed to be worn by fishermen. An issue has been discovered where the inflatable bladder inside the jacket may not fully inflate when activated. If you have purchased one, refer HERE for information.

Look out for the Tangerine Transformers!

Maritime Safety Queensland’s new mobile safety information stations…the Tangerine Transformers… have hit the road. Have you spotted one yet?

These mobile safety information stations are packed full of vital information and educational material designed specifically for boaties. If you see one, be sure to stop and have a chat with the experienced Marine Officers. They’ll have fact sheets and instructional videos on hand, and will also be offering safety equipment demonstrations, give-aways and more.  You’ll see one at the Emergency Services Day in Mackay on the 28th April …so stop and say hello!

What’s happening with the Blue Water Review?

If you haven’t caught up with the news yet, the Blue Water Review is an investigation being conducted by the Queensland Government into the two volunteer marine search and rescue organisations in the state….the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) and the Volunteer Marine Rescue Association Queensland (VMRAQ).

A  meeting of the Blue Water Review Working Group was held at Southport on Sunday 24th March and below is a short video (1:21) of proceedings.

The Working Group did finalise some recommendations regarding the future of volunteer marine rescue services in Queensland at the meeting and you’ll find their Communique HERE.  At this stage it is likely that the next meeting will be held in Townsville.

Vessel Access Improved at Tongue Bay (Hill Inlet Walking Track)

QPWS (Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service) would like it known that the recent work to improve vessel access and reduce impact to the coral reef at Tongue Bay, Whitsunday Island has been completed.

Navigation markers have been installed to indicate the channel and to guide tenders and other shallow draft vessels across the reef flat. The improved access protects and assists coral recovery across the remaining fringing reef from impacts such as propeller strikes. A win for visitors and the reef environment.

The channel offers 0.5m clearance over the reef crest when the tide at Shute Harbour is 0.7m. Visitors are reminded to use caution when accessing the site with consideration of current weather conditions and tides.

In coming months additional work to repair and upgrade walking tracks to the Hill Inlet lookouts from Tongue Bay will begin. Plans include widening the track and improving steps for easier access.

Boating in the Whitsundays

Did you know there was a wealth of useful information about boating on the VMR website? Everything from pre-departure checklists, navigation, tide tables and VHF radio tips….. to information about the Reef, camping, walking, swimming and snorkeling. Check it out at Boating in the Whitsundays.

Maintaining your Vessel

Many of our activations are caused by engine breakdowns…and there is nothing scarier than being stuck out somewhere with night coming on.  One important part of making sure you and your passengers are safe on the water is to ensure your boat is ready and able to make a safe journey. Watch this video for some key information on maintaining your vessel.

We were quite chuffed to receive this letter….

We do not expect thanks when we get involved in an activation, but when we do get them they are appreciated and obviously are heartfelt from the sender. VMR received this along with AMSA and Water Police after we were tasked to respond to a late night EPIRB activation on the outer reef. (Refresh your memory re 29/3 activation HERE).

Writing a thank you letter is a lot harder than what I thought.  To simply say “Thank You”, seems so trite and fails miserably at explaining the depth of gratitude that we as a family felt the night we received a phone call from both Jodie (Police) and Noel (AMSA) regarding the activation of my husband’s EPIRB on the night of 29/3/19.

As you can imagine the first few things that raced through my mind were not good. I know that my husband of 30 years would never activate his EPIRB unless it was his last choice. Both Tony and Quentin have a very sound knowledge of boats and the ocean and they don’t take unnecessary risks. Tony also has first-hand experience (NSW Police and NSW Police Rescue many years ago) of emergency situations and how quickly they can escalate from a basic assist to life threatening rescues.

For me, hearing the calm reassuring voice of Jodie and Noel, asking questions, actively listening, laying out the sequence of what help would be activated and when, had a very stabilizing influence on my racing thoughts and those of our family and friends.

Due to your combined dedication, training and professionalism our overwhelming residual feeling of that night, is one of immense gratitude to the people of the Queensland Police Search & Rescue, VMR Whitsundays and Rescue 440 (aircraft and crew from Cairns). My husband and his friend Quentin had nothing but praise for all the people who assisted on the night, including those who physically helped, but also the many others who were unheard and unseen….. the ones that coordinated, planned and communicated the rescue.

Tony and Quentin would like to make a special mention and personal thanks to the pilot(s) of Rescue 440, who stayed circling overhead and making regular radio and visual contact until the VMR Whitsunday arrived. What was probably a routine event for you, was an incredibly reassuring gesture for Tony and Quentin.

Fortunately the outcome of that night has been a positive one for all . The roll-on effect is that it has reinforced our belief that we are extremely privileged as a community to be served by such highly dedicated and professional search and rescue personnel.

We thank all of you and your families for your past and continued service in keeping us safe.”
Kindest regards,
Tony and Carol / Quentin and Tracey

Registration – Did You Know?

Did you know that if you intend sailing your recreational vessel overseas, you must register your vessel on the Australian general shipping register before you leave?  Recreational vessels on international voyages are also required to comply with certain marine orders.  More information HERE.

Donations This Month

A total of $59.50 was picked up from the Harvey Norman collection tin and $110.50 in the McDonald’s Cannonvale tin this month…that’ll pay for some fuel!

It probably seems a small thing when you tip your change into the tin but it adds up and is very much appreciated. Thanks all!

Notice to Mariners

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

  • Shute Harbour, Low Rock—East cardinal beacon reinstated
  • Hayman Marina—No.2 port beacon temporarily unlit
  • Dent Passage off Hamilton Island airport runway—flight path caution to vessels

You’ll find the details for all of these at Whitsunday Notice to Mariners but here are the particulars for the notice regarding the flight path caution…..
Mariners are advised that vessels transiting Dent Passage off the western end of the Hamilton Island airport runway in the vicinity of approximate position Latitude 20°20.8’S, Longitude 148°56.5’E are cautioned about frequent day and night aircraft movements.

Vessels with an overall height greater than eight (8) metres are advised to keep clear of the flight path zone during aircraft movements. The attached chartlet (Map S11-41-2 dated 8 April 2019) details ‘distance from runway’ and
‘mast height’ restricted areas.”

Photo of the month

Not easy taking photos when you’re out in the middle of the night but this atmospheric shot was taken by Ryan Cunningham while crewing for an activation on 19th April.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzles – We’ve Beaten our Own Record!


Our Bunnings Sausage Sizzle on Saturday 6th April was a huge success!!  Alan Corney is the Chief Organiser, and reported that we had sold 37 kg of sausages…which is a new VMR record!! (that’s about 370 delicious Master Butchers sausages).

With a morning crew of Bill Hopton, Rick and Glenda Brown and Murray Story, supplemented by Gay Bowden in a crossover shift, and followed by Steve Norton, Roger Wodson and Nicole Wilson, the team were so busy at one stage that they had two of the crew preparing and cooking, two taking orders etc while Alan chased up more of everything. Well done to all involved, especially to Alan who makes it all happen.

The next one will be on Saturday, 1st June….put it in your diary!

Members Social Meeting on Next Monday

While you’re adding events into your diary, write in the May Member’s Social Evening….which is on Monday, 6th April 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…grab your better half and just turn up! It’s a great opportunity to socialise with your VMR volunteers and find out what is happening in ‘VMR Land’.

That’s it for this month’s Samson Post…unless you haven’t read the Activations yet in which case, click on the link or the image below to read about the action.


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