July 2019


President’s Report

Activations for the year to date sit at 57 compared to 36 for the same period last year, and we are running at about a 60% increase despite less than ideal weather. With better weather coming at last I think we can look forward to a lot of boaties out on the water making up for lost time. June saw 5 activations compared to 8 for June 2018, making it the quietest month we have had so far this year. We have done 21 medivacs this year compared to 10 at the same time last year.

We continue to post our activations on Facebook, attracting between 5,000 and 16,000 views each post, depending on the activation. The broader public now has a really good idea of what we do and just how often we are out there, in all conditions, day or night. You can join our Page HERE.

By the time you read this, the sub-committee looking at the acquisition of our second rescue vessel should have finalised their recommendation for a suitable RHIB. This is becoming a higher priority as the rate of activations continues to ramp up.

All AIS equipment is now to hand and has been installed on Hayman and Whitsunday Islands, but we are fixing some teething problems before it goes on line. If you aren’t sure what AIS is all about, scroll down for a great explanation.

Repairs and improvements to the Marine Club have all been completed, making it an even better facility and venue for any sort of event.

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 will 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. They 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.

The History project is starting to take form, with some good input from people involved in the early VMRW (or Air Sea Rescue and Coastguard) days. Any further assistance that anyone may 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.

The Annual General Meeting for all active members is being planned for August 12th with the main item being the election of office holders and the committee for the next year. Details will be sent to all active members in the next few weeks.

Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsunday

A merging of businesses…and VMR1 gets a new name!

Coral Sea logoFrom 1st July, Abell Point Marina will take ownership of Coral Sea Resort.  Congratulations to Abell Point Marina which is our Platinum sponsor and Paul Darrouzet, our Patron, for the acquisition.  We are pleased to see the merging and renaming of the combined business entities to “Coral Sea Marina|Resort”.

Paul continues to support VMR Whitsunday in many ways, with premium berthing positions for VMR1 and our new vessel (when it arrives).    VMR1 will see its new sign-writing as “Coral Sea Marina VMR1” soon.  For more information on our Platinum sponsor and Coral Sea Marina VMR1 go to our website.

A word about membership for the next financial year

Two years ago,  we restructured our membership system to introduce rolling dates for new members, but we still have a majority of faithful members who have a 30th June renewal date.  Our apologies for the delay  in issuing Tax Invoices for renewing members – it was a first time for us and brings us into current commercial practices. You can pay via internet banking, credit card, cash at Westpac or send us a cheque by post.  Full details are on your Tax Invoice which has been emailed to all current members – check your Inbox (or maybe your spam folder? 🙂)

We are pleased to continue with no increase in fees for the second year running – and no extra charge for additional boats. Ordinary members are still $80 per year (cheaper than RACQ and good insurance when you consider that non-members pay $323 per hour for assistance). Pensioners are $40 and pre-qualified Active members are only $10, in recognition of the sacrifices they make and their personal costs for uniforms and travel to duty.

What is the difference between the Luff and the Leech?

If you’re into sailing, you’ll know that the language has it’s own terms on top of the usual boat terminology.  Here’s a short video (1:08) that provides a good introduction.

An explanation of AIS navigation aids and our local application

In recent reports we have referred to our current project to install AIS stations. AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and is an automatic tracking system that uses transponders on Vessels and is used by VTS among others (Vessel Traffic Services in QLD is run by MSQ) .

VMR uses AIS to show the location of VMR1 during activations and the position of other vessels and possibly the vessel in distress, in the area.

Information provided by AIS equipment, such as unique identification number, position, course, and speed, can be displayed on a screen and is intended to assist owners and others allowing the tracking and monitoring of vessel movements. AIS integrates a VHF transceiver with a positioning system such as a GPS receiver. Vessels fitted with AIS equipped transceivers can be tracked by AIS base stations located along coast lines or, when out of range of land-based networks, through satellites.

Marine Traffic.comConveniently, the location of AIS equipped vessels can also be accessed via internet, and we are thankful for services provided by MarineTraffic.com.

Previously, AIS base stations have been installed in the Whitsundays at Abell Point Marina and Shute Harbour and provide limited range on non-satellite AIS services – generally as far as Hayman Island and out to the mainland side of Whitsunday Island. VMR Whitsunday is working in conjunction with MarineTraffic.com and Whitsunday Bareboat Owners Association (WBOA) to increase coverage and the safety net.

With base stations at 750 ft above sea level on Hayman Island and 1,300ft on Whitsunday Island there is expected to be blanket coverage from the Woodwark coast, out to the near Reef areas and South beyond Cape Conway. Thanks to Marine Traffic for providing all the equipment required for the two stations. We will share responsibility for the installation and maintenance with WBOA (who will now be able to track the exact location of their charter vessels).

Navigation training at VMR Whitsunday

Skipper Ray Lewis, VMRW’s Unit Training Co-ordinator, provides Navigation training to our Active Volunteer Members which is mandatory for Senior Crew status. All our Skippers are required to be qualified as VMR Coxswains and this includes navigation training.

As an example of how useful AIS potentially is, during our recent practical training session we were able to track VMR1 movements via AIS….see below (the coloured dots are for other vessels which have AIS turned on).

VMR Training includes the use of charts, plotting a course, visual position location and identification of various landmarks and Navigation marks. On the Marine Traffic Live chart, VMR1 could be located at all times and its track is clearly shown – colour coded for speed at the time.

Cleaning your hull is good…but….

Cleaning pesky barnacles or marine slime from your boat’s hull not only keeps your boat looking great, it can save you money by reducing drag and improving fuel economy.

But there are right and wrong ways to clean hulls – and it’s worth knowing the wrong ways because it could end up costing you far more than you can save! More info HERE.

There were 14 in the boat and the little one said…. 🎵 🎵

All active volunteers are expected to to participate in ongoing training so that they can effectively and safely fulfill the duties required of the job.  In critical situations, the duties performed by VMR volunteers could mean the difference between life and death!

So…lots of training to make sure we are a professional outfit.  Not sure we’ve ever had 14 on VMR1 before…but we managed to squeeze that many on board for training recently. It’s a bit like the old phone-box stunt…how many can we fit on the boat. 😋

A Question….Do you know the answer?

When can you carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) in place of an EPIRB? Lightweight craft operators have the option to use PLB instead of an EPIRB. If you are using a PLB, it must be GPS-enabled, able to float, worn by the operator, compliant with AS/NZ 4280.20, registered with AMSA and in service.  For more information start HERE

And….it’s a wrap!  The ‘VMR Building’ is open for business.

It has been a lengthy saga due to the unpredictable weather, however the roof and interior of the Marine Club (aka VMR building) is now finished and it’s open for business again!

We have a new acoustic ceiling, improved sound and temperature insulation, new lighting and ceiling fans. Many thanks to Queensland Community Benefit Fund, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and all the local contractors involved – Ben Doolin Builders – Green Energy Technologies – Reef Electrical – AB Marine Electronics & Electrical Pty Ltd.

Don’t risk a fine – Grab a free map of local zones!

Do you know what is (and what is NOT) allowed in the waters off our beautiful coastline?

Zoning maps are tools to help you get to know the zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. You can avoid fines if you get to know the zones and what activities are allowed in each zone. New look maps have just been released and you can grab yours from HERE.

Zoning exists to protect plants, animals and habitats. Like a town planning scheme, it defines what activities can occur in each location. If you’re heading out on the water make sure you bring a zoning map with you so you can follow the zoning rules and avoid a fine.

Nav Lights: Here are some facts

Do you know which navigation lights are required on a powered vessel? Watch the following video if you’re not completely sure.

When operating a powered boat under 12 metres in length between sunset and sunrise you must show either an all round white light, which must be at least 1 metre above your side lights and visible over an arc of 360 degrees, or separate masthead and stern lights whenever you are underway.

‘Underway’ means not anchored or tied up to a wharf, so that includes vessels ‘drift fishing’. If using separate stern and masthead lights, the stern light must be visible over an arc of 135 degrees and the masthead light over an arc of 225 degrees.

All vessels at anchor must display an all round white light (but not the side lights).

“Time and Tide Wait for No Man”

You may have noted from some of our activations that tides can play a crucial part in both the cause of the incident, as well as how/when we are able to help. Understanding tides is pretty important information for boaties, especially around these parts.
Did you know that the Queensland Tide Tables publication is available online…for free? It contains tidal predictions for all of Queensland’s standard ports (including here) as well as instructions for calculating tides at many other intermediate locations.
The publication also includes additional tidal information such as the highest tides of the year, locations of the standard ports as well as rise and set tables for the sun and moon. You can download your copy from HERE. Keep it on your boat!

The look of your marine license is changing

If you hold a marine licence, there are changes to Queensland’s licence card that are bound to be of interest to you. The previous cards, introduced in 2010, had a visible microchip that required them to be inserted in scanners to be read. The new cards, however, are contactless and can be tapped on a scanner. The rollout of the new cards is happening now, and if you haven’t received it yet, you will soon. 😊

Remember that if you operate a boat that has an engine power of more than 4.5 kilowatts in Queensland you are required to have a marine licence. Also, to operate a personal watercraft, you must have a recreational marine licence AND a personal watercraft licence. Further information on marine licensing requirements, including how to obtain and apply for marine licences, is provided HERE.

Become a Scientist and help our Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Marina Authority is encouraging all Reef users to download their Eye on the Reef app before going out on the water. The free Eye on the Reef app includes Great Barrier Reef zoning maps and is available in Google Play or Apple Store. 

Join the network of citizen scientists and contribute GPS tagged observations. Via the app you can submit photos of what you have seen out on the Reef. This can be anything from wildlife (including protected species) to pests like crown-of-thorns starfish, or marine pollution and coral bleaching, to special events like coral spawning. You can also use this app to help identify the wildlife you’ve seen and share your Eye on the Reef sighting photos directly to Facebook.

Save the Date – Upcoming AGM

Our Annual General Meeting will be held at the VMR Base (Whitsunday Marine Club) at 7.00 pm on Monday 12th August. Only financial Active members may vote but all members are very welcome to attend.

The AGM will be preceded by our Annual Service Awards presentation.  Business to be addressed is to accept the financial accounts and elect Officers and Committee Members and possibly new life members.  We are pleased to see the renomination by most of our very successful Management Committee from the past two years.  Continuity is very important in volunteer organisations.

Why not pop that date in the diary right now. Be part of VMR and our community.

Donations This Month 

Thanks to those who made generous donations this month.  We are committed to buying a second rescue vessel and this has been confirmed by our unprecedented growth in activations –  The growth from 2017 to 2018 was over 40% and after 5 months this year, we have increased again, by 60% over the same period in 2018.

Many of the things we do are for the benefit of the Whitsunday community and you will have read in previous editions of Samson Post of our responsibility to maintain strong radio (and now AIS) communications which are used by everyone on the water and the upgrades to the Marine Club, which serves as the ”Whitsunday community hall”.  We are also the only blue water rescue service covering 15,000 square kilometres of ocean, shoreline, islands and reefs in the Whitsundays and receive a pittance in government support.

The collection tin from Whitsunday Fishing World yielded $123.90. Also, a rusty old tin was located in the Cape Gloucester Resort training room. When I asked how much was in it, Treasurer Alan reported that it held “21 doubloons, several pieces of silver, a George I halfpenny and an IOU from a Mister Long John Silver.”  When pressed, he admitted that it actually contained $87.15. 😋

We acknowledge the ongoing (monthly) donations from Adrian Studt and Jeff Knight. Also, we received a donation of $500 from Mike Holt, $100 from Lois McNeill, $585 from Josh and Leah at Anchor Bar, $100 from Keith Ronson and $70 from Geoff Simmons. Thanks everyone! You rock!!!!

You can help too by donating through our website. Don’t forget that donations to VMR Whitsunday are tax deductible and almost entirely spent in the Whitsundays.

Notice to Mariners

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

  • Tongue Point, Whitsunday Island—beacon established
  • Hayman Island—beacon lights altered
  • Whitsunday Island and Hook Island—mooring installation
  • **Tongue Bay, Whitsunday Island—helicopter lift operations

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

**It is worth noting that if you were planning on heading to Whitsunday Island on Monday July 15th, all Tongue Point and Hill Inlet walking tracks will be closed as well as moorings or anchorages in the vicinity.  This is because of heli-lift operations which will deliver building materials to install stairs and widen walking tracks.

Photo of the month

This month’s photo was taken by Ryan Cunningham during the training session in Navigation referred to above. A fabulous ‘action shot’ of VMR dedicated volunteers at work.

Members Social Meeting on Monday

Got dinner planned for tonight? No? VMR Social Meetings are always on the first Monday of the month, so for July this will be: Monday 1st July at 6:15pmThe evening kicks off with an informal social meet including leisurely drinks around the bar or the BBQ, followed by grilled sausages with salad at the phenomenal cost of $3.00. You are then welcome to stay for the short meeting to talk about ‘what’s going on’ in the VMR.

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. We’d love to have you join us.

Bunnings Sausage Sizzles …thanks for the support!

Our next Bunnings sausage sizzle will be on Saturday, 3rd August. Pop that date into your diary now and come and support us in the easiest way possible.

Here’s a shot taken at our last Bunnings sausage sizzle fund-raiser.  These people could seriously use your help! 😄 😄 😄 😄

If you have  a couple of hours free on 3rd August, email Alan Corney. and let him know you’d fit well into this team. 😄

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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