February 18 - 24, 2024: Issue 614


Marine Rescue NSW volunteers have completed more than 700 missions + 1,788 returned to shore so far this year: boating season continues until Anzac Day 2024

Bayview boat ramp is very busy year round with boaters going out onto Pittwater, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury

Data released last week shows Volunteers from Marine Rescue NSW’s 46 units across the state completed 703 search and rescue missions in January, safely returning 1,788 people to shore.

Greater Sydney was the busiest region in NSW with 285 missions while Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie was the most in-demand unit, completing 106 search and rescue missions.

A quarter of last month’s missions were emergency responses and Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell is pleading with boaters not to become a statistic with the boating season continuing until Anzac Day.

“Summer is by far from over at the moment, our message to boaters is to make sure that they don't get complacent, that they keep safety front of mind and they make the right decisions before they go boating on the state's waterways,” Commissioner Barrell said.

10% of incidents in January were for capsized or grounded vessels, which can quickly become life-threatening emergencies and Commissioner Barrell is encouraging boaters to always check equipment and conditions.

“Waterways are great places to be but it is important that you check the conditions and your equipment, not once but twice, make sure that you have everything you need and that you keep safety front of mind.

“What we've seen over recent weeks and months is unstable weather conditions. It may be good at one point in the day, but it suddenly changes, that is why it is important that you check the conditions. 

“Whether you're boating, rock fishing, anytime you are around that coastal environment, it is really important that you continually check the weather,” he said.

Marine Rescue NSW radio operators managed 26,047 radio calls last month including 18 MAYDAYs and 11 PAN PANs while the Service’s volunteers kept watch over 32,256 people on board vessels that Logged On with Marine Rescue NSW either via the free Marine Rescue app or VHF channel 16.

Commissioner Barrell said that many Marine Rescue NSW units are currently recruiting members for radio operations and vessel crew.

“We are fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers as part of Marine Rescue NSW.

“Our volunteers are professionally trained to the highest standard and are regularly assessed so when that phone rings we have got professional personnel to go out and undertake our rescue work,” Commissioner Barrell said. 

Marine Rescue NSW State Communications Centre at Belrose

Breakdown of search & rescue missions across Marine Rescue NSW regions: 

Northern Rivers – 26 search and rescue missions including 10 emergency responses with 48 people safely returned to shore across all 7 Northern Rivers units – Point Danger, Brunswick, Cape Byron, Ballina, Evans Head, Iluka Yamba & Wooli.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Iluka Yamba 8, Point Danger 7, Ballina 7 

Mid North Coast – 43 search & rescue missions including 19 emergency responses with 120 people safely returned to shore across all 9 Mid North Coast units – Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Trial Bay, Lord Howe Island, Port Macquarie, Camden Haven, Crowdy Harrington & Forster Tuncurry.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Forster Tuncurry 18, Port Macquarie 8, Nambucca 7 

Hunter/Central Coast – 215 search & rescue missions including 37 emergency responses with 499 people safely returned to shore across all 8 Hunter/Central Coast units – Port Stephens, Lemon Tree Passage, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Norah Head, Tuggerah Lakes, Central Coast & Terrigal.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Lake Macquarie 106, Central Coast 40, Port Stephens 39 

Greater Sydney – 285 search & rescue missions including 31 emergency responses with 770 people safely returned to shore across all 7 Greater Sydney units – Hawkesbury, Cottage Point, Broken Bay, Sydney State Communications Centre, Middle Harbour, Port Jackson & Botany Port Hacking.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Sydney (State Communications Centre) 84, Botany Port Hacking 63, Cottage Point 40 

Marine Rescue Cottage Point Volunteers with Commissioner- Alex Barrell in Spring 2023. Photo: MRNSW

Illawarra – 87 search & rescue missions including 40 emergency responses with 229 people safely returned to shore across all 7 Illawarra units – Port Kembla, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla & Kioloa.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Jervis Bay 31, Port Kembla 21, Shoalhaven 17 

Monaro – 47 search & rescue missions including 37 emergency responses with 122 people safely returned to shore across all 8 Monaro units – Batemans Bay, Tuross Moruya, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula, Eden, Alpine Lakes & Moama.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Batemans Bay 25, Narooma 7, Eden 6

Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.

Marine Rescue Broken Bay members. Photo: A J Guesdon, 2023

Log On to make every journey safer

Log On & Off with Marine Rescue. It’s quick, simple and free. Log On whenever you’re heading out on the water and Log Off when you return. We’ll stand watch. If you don’t Log Off as planned, our volunteers will start searching for you.

Download from the Apple store    Download from the Google play store

To Log On, call your Marine Rescue NSW base on VHF Channel 16 or use the free Marine Rescue App. You can download the App at the App Store for Apple devices or Google Play for Androids.

You can always Log On, whether you’re out for a morning’s fishing, a day trip around your local area or cruising along the coastline. And it doesn’t matter if you’re on a tinnie, a cruiser, a yacht, a kayak, a canoe or a jet ski.

When you Log On via, our radio operator will ask you for some basic information about your vessel, your destination and contacts.

You’ll enter the same details on your smartphone or other device if you’re using the Marine Rescue app. If you don’t Log Off, this information will help us find you, whether you’ve simply forgotten to Log Off when you returned to shore or you’re caught in an emergency and need help fast.

Tell us:

  • Your boat registration number
  • Where you’re leaving from
  • Where you’re heading
  • What time you plan to return
  • The number of people on board
  • Your mobile phone number

If the fish are biting and you decide to stay out longer, simply call the base on VHF Ch 16 or use the Marine Rescue App to update your arrival time.

Remember to Log Off when you’re back on shore. If you haven’t let us know you’re back safely, we’ll start to look for you. We’ll try calling you first up, just in case you’ve forgotten to Log Off and headed home with your catch. That’s the best outcome. If we get no answer, we’ll step up the response.

When you Log On via the App, choose the live safety tracking option so your position is updated in our vessel tracking system every 30 minutes. This means that in an emergency, our rescue crews will have a starting point for a search operation, based on your last known position, saving valuable time when minutes can mean the difference between life and death.


If you’re travelling along the coastline, we encourage you to establish a voyage plan with Marine Rescue NSW and an offshore tracking schedule for you to check in (to ‘sked’) with our bases along your route. This lets us know that you’re travelling safely, on schedule and not in need of emergency help. We’ll keep track of your progress until you safely arrive at your destination in NSW or we hand you over to the marine rescue service in the next State if you’re travelling further north or south.

Preparing to go on the water

As the skipper, you're responsible for safety of the vessel and people on board. Be prepared to keep everyone safe and enjoy time on the water.

Carry enough lifejackets

Wearing a lifejacket can save your life. Make sure your vessel is carrying enough approved lifejackets for everyone on board. They must be in good condition and quick and easy to access.

Always wear a lifejacket while on the water. This means that you'll be more prepared for unexpected events, such as suddenly falling into the water.

The rules for wearing a lifejacket depend on your vessel, where you are and the level of risk.

Know the rules

Before you go out, make sure you know the rules and regulations for using NSW waterways. Key rules to help you stay safe and avoid collisions including:

  • keeping a proper lookout for hazards
  • knowing who you must give way to and when
  • identifying and obeying navigation marks, lights and sounds
  • travelling at a safe speed and keeping a safe distance between your vessel and other people, vessels and objects
  • staying under the legal limit for alcohol
  • knowing the rules for towing a person on the water and towing a trailer on the road.

Check the weather

Always check the weather before you head out. Be aware of warnings, marine conditions, storms, winds, waves and tides. This can make the difference between an enjoyable day and an emergency situation. If in doubt, don't go out.

Let someone know

Before you leave, contact a friend or relative or use your marine radio to log on with a coastal radio base. Tell them:

  • where you're going
  • your estimated return time
  • your vessel details
  • how many people are on board.

Take extra care to let someone know if you are going out alone.

Report in if you extend or change your trip.

You can also use the Marine Rescue app to log on and log off with Marine Rescue NSW.

Know what to do in an emergency

Being on the water can be unpredictable and dangerous. Be prepared for an emergency or incident, and know what to do and who to contact if you run into trouble.

If you're involved in or witness an incident, you must always stop and give as much help as possible. Depending on the severity of the incident – for example, if someone is injured – you may need to give information to authorities.

Marine Rescue NSW provides important services, including safety education, marine radio communication, and emergency search and rescue services.

Check your vessel

Check your vessel is in good working order, including the engine and lights. Check you have all the correct equipment on board before you leave home or launch your vessel.

If your vessel is registered, check the registration has not expired.

Check your vessel is suitable for the waterways you want to travel on. For example, if the vessel is designed for enclosed waters, it may not suit open waters or along the coast where waves are larger.

Check all hatches can be opened from both the inside and outside of the vessel. Keep all hatches unlocked while the vessel is underway.

Anyone driving your vessel should have the skills and experience to handle the vessel on the waterway you're using.

Have the correct safety equipment

Check you have the correct safety equipment on board for where you're going and your vessel type.

Make sure every item is in good condition and easy to access. Everyone on board should know its location and how to use it.

Plan where you want to go

Plan where you're going and know how long the trip will take. Be aware of any special waterways or designated areas. Check the location of harbours, ports and potential refuges from bad weather.

Take extra care in cold water, especially alpine waters, where your risk of cold shock and hypothermia are increased.

Build your experience by starting out on calm, quiet waterways. Take a more experienced person with you, if possible.

Make sure you have enough fuel. Plan to use a third to get there, a third to get home, and have a third in reserve for unexpected events.

Make sure you have a compass and up-to-date chart (or map) for the waterways you will be using, especially if you're going out on open waters.

You must have a chart or map if you plan to go out on open waters.

Prepare children

If you're taking children out on your vessel:

  • Make sure they have a lifejacket and are wearing it when required.
  • Teach them emergency procedures and drills, such as what to do if they fall overboard or the vessel capsizes.
  • Show them where the safety equipment is, and teach them how to use emergency items, such as the marine radio, EPIRB and flares. Make sure they understand they must only use them in an emergency.
  • Show them how to get in and out of dinghies and small boats while keeping them stable.
  • Make sure they do not have any part of their body out of the vessel when it's underway.
  • Teach them about keeping a proper lookout and a safe distance from other vessels.
  • If you're planning to tow, make sure they know the rules for towing people aged under 16.
  • Carry everything they need to be prepared for all types of weather.
  • Consider the risk of seasickness, especially if you're going out on choppy water.
  • Teach children about lifejackets and sunscreen.

Download boating apps

Boating apps give you quick access to helpful information about waterways on your smartphone or tablet. For example, boat ramps, speed zones, navigation aids, weather, special events and safety advice.

Transport for NSW endorses Deckee, available for free via the Apple Store and Google Play. The Deckee app includes maps showing boat ramps, speed zones, navigational aids. It also has access to a live data feed from Transport for NSW that captures alerts, marine notices and campaigns.

Marine Rescue NSW

Marine Rescue NSW is the State’s official volunteer marine rescue service. The Marine Rescue App allows you to register details of your next boating trip.