May 2020

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Mal

VMR Whitsunday wishes to let everybody know that we are still here and ready to provide assistance to the boating and island communities of the Whitsundays.

Of necessity though, we have had to adapt and make some changes to protect our valued volunteers and the public, so following is where we stand at the moment. Hopefully, this will change in the next few weeks and we can get back to full operational mode, with regular training and drills to keep our crews ready for any emergency.

HERE’S WHERE WE STAND…

Our Services
VMR Whitsunday Marine Rescue Services are continuing, with 24 hour operational preparedness as usual. We have cancelled all on-water training and drills until further notice, but VMR will be available for our usual range of activations – searches, breakdowns, out of fuel, EPIRB activations, medivacs, etc.

Our Whisper Bay Radio Base will be open on weekends from 7.00 am to 5.00 pm, monitoring VHF channels 16, 67, 81 and 82. Outside of these hours leave your radio on channel 16 and your call will be monitored by Whitsunday VTS or Mackay VMR (daylight hours) and they will relay any emergencies to us. Access to the base will be limited to radio operators and the management committee only.

Emergency telephone calls for assistance should continue to be made to 4946 7207 (monitored 24/7).
If you are in a life threatening situation please call 000.

We have cancelled all on-water training and drills until further notice, but VMR will be available for our usual range of activations – searches, breakdowns, out of fuel, EPIRB activations, medivacs, etc. The only exception will be for medivacs for coronavirus or suspected coronavirus patients. These will be handled by the Whitsunday Water Police in deference to the age profile of many of our marine rescue volunteers that puts them in the “at risk “ category. This is a state-wide arrangement.

Other Events
• The usual monthly member’s meetings have been cancelled until further notice.
• The May Day Ball scheduled for May 1st has been postponed to a date to be advised.
• The major Search and Rescue exercise planned for May 15-17 has also been postponed.
• All fundraising activities have been put on hold, including the Friday night raffles at Dingo Beach Hotel, and our much loved sausage sizzles.

We depend upon fundraising to keep our activities going, and if you wish to support us, donations are gratefully received via our website.

New memberships and renewals
• Membership renewals and new memberships can continue to be paid online.

ACTIVATIONS

Click HERE for details of April’s activations.

Most people appear to be complying with government directives to stay at home, and the reduction in people on the water is noticeable. The other factor is the closure of all resorts, although we did do a medivac this month for a staff member on Hayman.

During March we completed 9 activations compared to 12 last year, and so far in April we have done just 6 compared to last April’s 12. Year to date we are sitting on 40, 4 less than the same period last year.

Those numbers may well change quickly once restrictions are lifted and boaties try and make up for lost time – hopefully they are maintaining their boats in the meantime.

LOSING SERVICE OF TWO MEMBERS

April was not a good month for us as we lost the services of two of our mainstay members.

Tom Manning has stood down as he is moving to Mackay after more than 15 years’ service to VMRW, as skipper, crew, radio operator, fund-raiser extraordinaire, maintenance (fantastic rope work) and committee member including as Vice-President. His contribution will be missed at VMRW.

And Ray Lewis has stood down from maintenance and skipper duties until he has fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered on an activation nearly 6 months ago. The good news is that Ray will continue with his training and induction roles, as well as remain on the Management Committee.

AIS STATION

Our AIS station on Whitsunday Island is presently not operating, and we are waiting for a new box to come from Marine Traffic in Greece. With post offices there shut down however, we do not know how long that delay may be. We’ll keep you posted.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES

Our volunteers have been serving the Whitsundays under various organisation names for over 55 years, saving lives at sea. And we want you and us to be here for a long time more.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE HEALTH GUIDELINES BEING PUT OUT BY GOVERNMENT, DON’T BE THE ONE WHO IGNORES THE VALUABLE ADVICE AND PUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS AT RISK. CORONAVIRUS IS A VERY SERIOUS ISSUE FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, AND IT MUST BE TREATED AS SUCH.

Please comply with all social distancing and isolation guidelines not only for your own sake, but the safety of your family and friends and everybody in this great community we all live in.

Kind regards,
Mal Priday
President, VMR Whitsundays