June 2019


President’s Report

Up until May 28th, there were 8 activations for the month compared to 5 for the whole month last year, making it the
quietest month we have had so far this year. Activations for the year to date sit at 52 compared to 28 for the same period last year, running at about an 80% increase despite less than ideal weather. We have done 16 medivacs to date compared to 9 at the same time last year. April activations (excluding
training) finished at 13 compared to 5 the prior year.

The sub-committee looking at the acquisition of our second rescue vessel has held their first meeting, and we hope to see them finalising their recommendation for a suitable RHIB shortly. This is becoming a higher priority as the rate of activations continues to ramp up.

Despite now having all AIS equipment now to hand, we have been delayed until we can access suitable sim cards for the modem to transfer the data back to shore, and we need to complete a couple of systems tests before we lock in the helicopter for the installation, subject to weather. The tests have to be done first – it is not as if we can walk to the sites after installation.🙂

VMR Whitsunday coordinated a bus to transport volunteers from Midge Point, Whitsundays, Bowen and Burdekin to attend the Blue Water Group Q&A session in Townsville on Saturday 25th May.  Full report below.

There are two events coming up where we will be participating and will be asking for members assistance – a Bunnings sausage sizzle on June 1, and the BCF Club Members night on June 12. Stay tuned.

The History project is starting to take form, with some good input from people involved in the early VMRW (or Air Sea Rescue) days. Any further assistance that you wish to offer would be most appreciated, so please contact me if you wish to take part in this interesting project.

We will be hosting another VMR Northern Zone meeting at the Marine Club on June 21st , with representatives from Port Douglas, Burdekin, Bowen, Midge Point and Mackay expected to attend to get the latest VMR Queensland updates and give feedback prior to the next State Council Meeting.

Repairs and improvements to the Marine Club should be completed this week, making it an even better facility and venue for any sort of event (report below). Well done to Roger Wodson who coordinated the project, Ben Doolin Builders, Green Energy Technologies, AB Marine Electronics & Electrical, and Reef Electrical – well done fellas, and thank you!

Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsunday

What happened at the Blue Water Review Night in Townsville?

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.

VMR Whitsunday coordinated a bus to transport volunteers from Midge Point, Whitsundays, Bowen and Burdekin to attend the Blue Water Group Q&A session in Townsville on Saturday 25th, and with the other VMR members that made their own way we had about 40 from VMR walk into the Townsville meeting – we had a stronger representation than Coast Guard Townsville and Ingham!

Thank you to those who gave up their Saturday evening.  Our strong presence was notable and very gratifying, and very much appreciated by the VMRAQ Executive who was present. The working group are working to complete their study in a short time frame, so hopefully we will not have to wait too long to see a new organisation being formed, to the benefit of all VMR Squadrons and Coastguard Flotillas, and more importantly, to the boating public of Queensland.

VMR Whitsunday is very positive about the proposed single entity, and the prospect of realistic funding for marine rescue organisations in the state.

A special thanks to Darren Crossley and Whitsunday Transit for making a bus available for the trip to Townsville.

In the market for a ‘new’ secondhand boat?

This video is a must-see for anyone looking for a bargain. (If you can’t see the video below, you’ll find it here.)

Ever heard of a HexID or UIN? No? Read on…

The HexID or UIN (Unique Identification Number) is the unique code programmed into your distress beacon. You’ll need this when registering a beacon for the first time. More information HERE.

A generous gesture from Live Life Pharmacy – thanks!

We are delighted that VMR Whitsunday has been chosen to receive a $500 donation from LiveLife Pharmacy which has pharmacies next to MacDonald’s, in Heart Hotel in Main Street and at Whitsunday Plaza (formerly Centro).

LiveLife have a nation-wide Community Support Program and each month, selected local non-profit organisations are featured in their stores and their customers are invited to choose their nomination to receive that month’s Community Support award. We are so proud to be selected by their Whitsunday customers…thank you so much!

The photo shows VMR President Mal Priday gratefully accepting the huge cheque.

Missing boats, Floating Bodies and a Medical Emergency

It was all in a day’s work during SAREX 2019.  SAREX is an annual search and rescue training exercise which was held this year at Cape Upstart.   As Abell Point Marina VMR1 is currently our only rescue vessel it had to remain on standby so was not able to participate.

An open invite was extended to crew though, and four of the VMR Whitsunday crew attended.  As Cape Upstart is only accessible by water the logistics were huge and included launching boats from Molongle Creek boat ramp and channel which still remains silted up from the last cyclone.

Whitsunday crew- Ryan, John, Nicole and Ray

The vessels (and crews) that attended included  Delta 1 (VMR Burdekin), Honeycombes Rescue (VMR Burdekin), Midge Point Rescue (VMR Midge Point), Rotary Rescue (Coast Guard Townsville) and Brett Irwin (Townsville Water Police).

The day dawned, and the Water Police (as SAR Coordinators) had discreetly disappeared after breakfast,  placing an unknown target out in the water. After a quick briefing the boats were dispatched and the crews were given a search and rescue scenario, with Delta 1 as scene commander.

A search grid was exercised, looking for a possible overturned vessel, but after finding a life raft (with crew member John aboard) the scenario quickly changed into a missing persons search, this time with Rotary Rescue in the lead.  Several grids were completed and as expected a floating dummy (no…not John 😋) was located.

A quick lunch break and everyone regrouped to do a shoreline search for a recently lost hiker, after again finding John (who was on the rocks).  Ray was skippering Honeycombes Rescue and had to make a challenging recovery. As everyone was returning to home the police decided to chuck some curve balls and a medical emergency arose (yep….John again 😄).  Rotary Rescue launched their tender and transferred our patient between vessels.

As most of this went smoothly the Water Police decided that all three VMR vessels had bad fuel and Rotary Rescue should tow them all back! On our return the Water Police deployed a couple of life rafts and instructed the crews on their safe use. It was a very productive weekend and was well received by all.  The Water Police debriefed everyone at the end of the event and commented positively on their ability to work together and communicate well.

The only complaint overheard from the attendees was that they ate too much! 😀 The Water Police shared heaps of information and gave everyone open access to their vessels and equipment. Rotary Rescue endured a rough ride down the coast and hosted Nicole (and at times John) on their vessel. Ray and Ryan got the opportunity to research many different vessels gaining valuable insight towards the forthcoming second vessel.

For the next few months we share the water with whales

The Great Barrier Reef is a vitally important breeding ground for about 30 species of whales and dolphins.One of the most commonly sighted whales are the massive humpbacks which make the trek to the Reef’s warmer waters from Antarctica between May to September. Remember that all boaties have a responsibility to help protect them and to keep safe distances (refer to diagram below) and more information HERE.

On the water, everywhere is an intersection

Traffic on the water doesn’t just come from one direction, it can come from anywhere. Skippers can use different methods to help them be aware of where they are going and their surroundings.

Use all available means to watch out for other vessels on the water. Your passengers can also help keep a lookout. Remember, your eyes are the best way to navigate.  More info on boating safety here.

Full story on our roof repairs…which are still ongoing…

The Whitsunday Marine Club is an important meeting place for various community organisations and is licensed and can be hired for a wide range of events, at a reasonably low cost. Its location by the Whisper Bay boat ramp is a perfect location for weddings and family occasions and it is the home of VMR Whitsunday and the Whitsunday Game Fish Club.

However, its idyllic location on the rock wall of the amazing Coral Sea meant that Cyclone Debbie’s wrath over 3 high tides battered the building continually with salt water. Most of the damage to the downstairs function area was fixed quickly under insurance, with complete flooring replacement and with the generosity of Dulux paints the exterior was completely repainted.

It was not until much later that we found that there was more hidden damage to come – from our upstairs radio room we could see the emerging degradation of the colourbond roof. It needed to be replaced as rust from its fixings has migrated to the roof itself. It also took us a while to realise that escalating electrical failures in the ceiling were caused by salt water ingress on the ceiling tiles.

The Marine Club makes a modest profit from hiring the hall and bar sales, but these are directed to council rates, electricity and other building costs for the home of VMR and WGFC. The roof is about 20 years old, so where could we find over $40,000 to replace the roof, ceiling and interior fittings?

We have previously commented on the generosity of the Whitsunday Community, Qld Parks and Wildlife Services, Marine Safety Queensland and Helibiz when replacing our offshore VHF radio repeater stations. The repeaters were replaced with grants from a National Disaster Grant, Westpac Disaster Fund and Community Benefit Fund (Office of Liquor and Gaming) and when it came down to the last project on Hayman Island we were left with savings due to the community generosity in the CBF grant. We then discussed our situation with CBF and they kindly agreed to using the residual funds toward the cyclone damage to roof and ceiling. Thank you sincerely CBF.

To replace with salt water resistant MagnaFlow roofing and gutters, new battens, new insulation, ceiling tiles, lighting and fans was well beyond the CBF surplus and our financial capabilities, so we applied for and were successful in achieving a $15,000 grant from FRRR (Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal), again with a long list of local organisations who supported our application.

We planned the work for the shutdown period over Christmas to avoid disruption to Marine Club bookings, but we all know that this year the Wet Season started in December and it has been raining or windy since then. The successful bidder, Ben Doolin Builders needed 5 consecutive fine days and had the first half of the roof completed in under a day! Green Energy stepped up and removed the solar system and the roof replacement was completed without disruption to weekend weddings and

Ben and his willing team now move to the interior, replacing and installing new acoustic ceiling tiles and Reef Electrical will replace the corroded lighting and ceiling fans.  We, CBF, FRRR and the Community can feel proud of the joint effort to complete the renovation of this important building in the Whitsunday Community.

All function and hiring enquiries to Gale Winter (Manager of the Marine Club) at 0400 465 252, or by email to info@marineclub.com. For more details or to check availability, you can go to the website at http://marineclub.com.au/.

New Facebook Group for Active VMR Volunteers and Crew

The VMR active volunteers invariably only see each other on the boat during an activation, or while helping out with fundraising.  At those times there isn’t a lot of time for chit-chat, sharing information, asking questions, seeking opinions or just generally getting to know each other.  For this reason a brand new (Closed) Facebook Group has been created called VMRW Active Crew. All active crew are invited to join.
We also have a public Facebook group and EVERYONE is invited to join that one….no need to be crew, or even a member.  We are chuffed when new people Like us. 😀

Explaining Single Lateral Markers

When it comes to navigating channels, do you know which way to go? This video will explain the basics.

When Volunteering Hurts

VMR volunteers are all human, and therefore we occasionally have accidents. Thankfully, to date these have always been small….but how small is small?

Yes, still covered!

The WH&S policy for VMR requires members to report any hazards, incidents (or even near misses!  As we are an employer, under the provisions of the Emergency Services Act, all volunteers are covered by workers compensation insurance when on official VMR business.

As you can imagine, this includes vessel operations….but it also includes volunteering in the radio room, attending meetings, attending to administration needs and even fundraising (eg if you cut yourself while slicing onions at the Bunnings Sausage Sizzle).

Personal injury incidents need to be reported, no matter how minor. A small scratch could get infected. A minor strain could turn out to be more serious eg when you wake up the next day & movement is limited or pain levels increase. If you have reported the injury, you may be entitled to Workers Compensation. If it’s not reported there may be problems with your claim.

Obviously as volunteers any compensation will pay our normal hourly rate(zero🤣). But keep in mind that compo can also pay pay any medical bills, plus any lost wages, if you have to have time off from your normal occupation. When hazards/near misses are reported to us, we will follow up & put control measures in place.

Incident/hazard report forms are available on the vessel, and in the radio room. On the vessel, the report must be given to the Skipper. Others may be reported to our WHS Officer (Geoff Fitzsimmons) or a Committee member.

Have you used Electronic Charting Systems for vessel navigation?

AMSA has partnered with the Australian Hydrographic Office to survey the use of electronic charts on DCVs. The short survey is directed at masters, skippers and people involved in keeping navigational watch, who use paper or electronic charts.

Electronic navigational aids are being used more frequently on DCVs and we want to understand how people are using them so we can improve our services and educational materials. The survey should take only five minutes to complete and all responses will remain confidential.

Complete the survey between now and 31 July 2019.

Donations This Month 

While out and about, many people chuck their change into one of our VMR Donation Tins….and it all adds up! Just look at this!

  • IGA collection tin -$117.90
  • Jubilee Tavern tin – $69.40
  • Dingo Beach Pub – $117.25
  • Subway – $254.90

Received a recent ‘Fun Fact’ from our intrepid Treasurer Alan Corney…”I have just banked 1,685 five and ten cent coins in the last week. We are buying our new boat cent by cent.” Thanks for your small change everyone…much appreciated!

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:

  • Molle Channel between Shute Harbour and Daydream Island—subsea pipeline operations
  • Port of Airlie—beacon unlit

You’ll find the details for all of these at Whitsunday Notice to Mariners

Photo of the month

This gorgeous photo of a rainbow over the VMR building was taken by VMR member Noeline McArthur. It must be a positive sign for the future of VMR Whitsundays. 😉

Members Social Meeting on Monday

Get out your diary. June’s VMR Social Meeting will be on: Monday 3rd June at 6:15pm.  The evening kicks off with an informal social meet including leisurely drinks around the bar or the BBQ, followed by grilled sausages with salad ($3 ea). You can then join us for a short meeting to talk about ‘what’s going on’.

You don’t need to dress up…or book… or let anyone know you’re coming…just turn up! Grab a friend or your other half if you have one, and spend a couple of hours socialising with your local VMR volunteers.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzles …thanks for the support!

Yesterday’s fundraising stall outside of Bunnings was again a huge success.  We are still counting the coins but the venture probably brought in about $600 …including some very generous donations adding up to about $60.

We’re doing our best to raise the necessary funds for our second boat and everyone is helping.  Thanks to everyone who came to buy a snag or two, the amazing Alan Corney who arranges it all, the volunteers who cook and serve…and to Master Butcher’s who very generously donate sausages.

We couldn’t do it without you all! Our next Bunnings sausage sizzle will be on Saturday, 3rd August. Let’s see if we can beat our own record. 🙂

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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