ALL ABOARD: Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays secretary Roger Wodson, president Mal Priday and Federal MP for Dawson George Christensen check out the new rescue vessel, Whale Song VMR2.
ALL ABOARD: Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays secretary Roger Wodson, president Mal Priday and Federal MP for Dawson George Christensen check out the new rescue vessel, Whale Song VMR2. Deborah Friend

New VMR boat nails first rescue in Whitsundays

THE latest addition to the Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays fleet has already earned its stripes with a successful rescue operation.

The 6.7m Naiad Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat is one of two purpose-built rescue vessels owned and operated by the VMR and is used mainly for smaller vessels and inshore assists.

On Sunday, December 8, Whale Song VMR2, as it is called, did its first proper activation, rescuing three people in a 5m tinny off North Molle Island.

"It's a lovely boat - a quality boat - and it's just ideal for our purpose,” VMR president Mal Priday said.

"Three-quarters of activations are for boats less than 8m long and the Naiad RHIB should handle these with ease.

"It did its first proper activation on Sunday and the boat handled it really well - it was able to tow them back comfortably, at a good comfortable speed.

"This reduces our overall costs and hopefully reduces the charge-out rates for members and also extends the life of the big boat - the NoosaCat 4400 - because it's not being used so often and that's where the real gain is.”

The 11.9m NoosaCat, commissioned about two-and-a-half years ago and called Coral Sea Marina VMR1, is used for open waters, large vessels and Medivacs.

Mr Priday said Whale Song VMR2 had been going through the final fit-out stage to bring it up to full rescue-boat specifications.

"The $20,000 we received from the Federal Government as part of the Stronger Communities grant - the bulk of what we do is for the local community - and the $20,000 from Whitsunday Regional Council allowed us to go through and do the final fit-out and get the boat up to rescue vessel standard,” he said.

"We are very appreciative of the effort by George Christensen, the government and the council in supporting what we are doing out there on the water.”

Federal Member for Dawson Mr Christensen took time out of his busy schedule on Monday, December 9, to visit Coral Sea Marina and check out the Naiad RHIB and get an insight into the work of VMR Whitsunday.

He said their work had been given a boost thanks to a successful Stronger Communities grant of $20,000 to help them purchase equipment for their second rescue vessel.

"The service provided by VMR Whitsunday is invaluable for our boaties and this team of hard-working volunteers provide the only deep-water rescue service in over 13,000 square metres of ocean, coastlines, islands and reefs,” Mr Christensen said.

"That's an incredible area to cover in a region that attracts a huge number of vessels of all shapes and sizes.

"I was happy to see the group attract funding about two years ago under this same funding program for equipment for their first vessel and very keen to support them again as they stock out their second rescue vessel.”

The $20,000 Stronger Communities Program grant will allow VMR Whitsunday to purchase a trailer, dry dock, radar and covers for their second vessel.

VMR FACTS

- Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsunday is a squadron of Marine Rescue Queensland, with its main objective being to save lives at sea through providing marine search and rescue services to the boating public and island communities

- The operation is run entirely by volunteers, including boat crew, radiooperators, management, fundraisers and trainers

- The organisation receives a small annual grant from the Queensland Government through the Department of Emergency Services, with the remainder of its operating costs met through local fundraising, sponsorship, membership fees and charging non-members for assistance

- On average, VMR Whitsunday is activated 120 times a year for tow assists, search and rescues, medical evacuations from boats, island resorts and camp sites, and transfers of Queensland Ambulance Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Police Service personnel to emergency situations


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