May 12 - 18, 2024: Issue 625


Marine Rescue NSW completes second busiest boating season ever

Marine Rescue Broken Bay's BB30 - the Michael Seale

Marine Rescue NSW’s 3,400 volunteers have completed their second busiest boating season on record with 3,242 search and rescue missions, including 921 emergency responses between October 1, 2023 and ANZAC Day this year.

This season’s figure was just shy of the record 3,251 missions completed during the 2022/23 boating season.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said volunteer crews safely returned 7,535 boaters to shore during the 2023/24 boating season.

“It's been another busy season for Marine Rescue NSW right across our 46 units.

“Unfortunately, we've seen an overrepresentation in mechanical failures with more than 40% of our responses related to engine failure. 

“From our perspective, these are avoidable and we're again urging boaters to make sure before they head out on the water, they check their engine.

“It is important that you check your equipment because unfortunately, if things do go wrong, you could find yourself in a life threatening situation,” he said.

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie was the busiest unit in NSW with 441 search and rescue missions while three of Marine Rescue NSW’s six regions, Mid North Coast, Illawarra and Monaro had their busiest boating seasons on record.

Volunteers in the Monaro region’s eight units saw a 16% increase in search and rescue missions on the previous boating season, responses were up 11% on the Mid North Coast while Illawarra crews experienced a 7% increase in demand.

Log Ons remained steady with just over 45,000 boaters using the free Marine Rescue app or VHF channel 16 to notify Marine Rescue NSW of their voyage.

“Logging On saves vital time in the event of an emergency and ensures our volunteers keep watch for a vessel’s safe return.

“It a boater doesn’t return from their voyage as planned, a search will be initiated,” Commissioner Barrell said.

Marine Rescue NSW radio operators managed 144,806 radio calls over the season with a large portion answered by the Marine Rescue Sydney State Communications Centre at Belrose.

69 of those calls were MAYDAYs where lives were in imminent danger while 42 PAN PANs were received from boaters in an urgent but non-life threatening situation.

Commissioner Barrell praised the work of volunteers across the Service’s 46 units who played an important role of keeping boaters in NSW safe.

“I want to commend all Marine Rescue NSW volunteers for their thousands of hours of dedicated service to keeping our coastline and waterways as safe as possible.

“While the official boating season is over, we know it is a year-round activity and we are reminding boaters who plan on heading out of the water, particularly over these colder months that you've got the right safety equipment for your trip and that you've logged on with your local Marine Rescue NSW base. 

“Importantly, an added safety message during the winter months is to make sure that you've got additional warm clothing when you go out boating,” he said.

Of all activities undertaken during the season’s 3,242 rescue missions, 44% involved boaters either cruising or fishing while Marine Rescue NSW crews responded to 125 capsized vessels.

“It is vitally important that everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket and if your boat overturns please stay with your vessel,” Commissioner Barrell said.

 Middle Head rescue March 2024.  Visit Issue 624 report: New Marine Rescue NSW Base Opens At Middle Harbour

Marine Rescue NSW 2023/24 boating season search & rescue missions by region:

Greater Sydney – 1,267 search & rescue missions including 169 emergency responses with 3,226 people safely returned to shore across all 7 Greater Sydney units – Hawkesbury, Cottage Point, Broken Bay, Sydney - State Communications Centre at Belrose, Middle Harbour, Port Jackson & Botany Port Hacking.

Number of search and rescue missions in locations of highest demand: Sydney State Communications Centre 366, Botany Port Hacking 297, Port Jackson 179

Hunter/Central Coast – 993 search & rescue missions including 208 emergency responses with 2,109 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 441, Central Coast 201, Port Stephens 183 

Northern Rivers – 162 search and rescue missions including 92 emergency responses with 296 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: Point Danger 63, Ballina 38, Iluka Yamba 28 

Mid North Coast – 255 search & rescue missions including 139 emergency responses with 596 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 80, Port Macquarie 61, Coffs Harbour 39

Illawarra – 351 search & rescue missions including 179 emergency responses with 847 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: Port Kembla 106, Jervis Bay 90, Shoalhaven 61 

Monaro – 214 search & rescue missions including 134 emergency responses with 461 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 95, Eden 27, Merimbula 25 

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 Cottage Point's CP30 - Chris Gillet