Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group says boaties putting lives at risk by not logging on

Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Picture: Martin Kennealey
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group members Peter Huggins (squad leader), Mike Burbidge (crew) and Paul Leidich (crew). Picture: Martin Kennealey
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Picture: Martin Kennealey d473798
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Picture: Martin Kennealey Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group members Peter Huggins (squad leader), Mike Burbidge (crew) and Paul Leidich (crew). Picture: Martin Kennealey Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Picture: Martin Kennealey d473798

BOATIES are risking their lives when they go out on the water without logging on with a volunteer sea rescue group.

Already this year, Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group has saved three people’s lives.

One incident that stands out to Whitfords radio operations leader Peter Peebles happened late one afternoon in bad weather conditions.

“We were out patrolling and the skipper said ‘let’s do one more training exercise’,” the senior crew member said.

“We went out from Ocean Reef about 5km off the coast and one of the crew members saw something black in the water.

“It was two men clinging to an upturned esky.

“How they were spotted is a credit to the crew with limited chances of finding them in the water that far out.

“They had hypothermia.

“They were so lucky that instead of going back to the coast, the skipper suggested some more rough weather training.”

Mr Peebles said their boat had capsized but they had not logged on with the sea rescue group so no one knew they were out to sea and in trouble.

Logging on means boaties can radio in their details and the time they are expected to return.

If after 15 minutes of that return time a boat has not radioed to log off, the rescue group initiates its procedures and can start a search.

“In the last 30 years, not one recreational boatie who has logged on with a volunteer sea rescue has lost their life at sea,” Mr Peebles said.

He said not logging on and off was all too common, estimating only 10 per cent of people launching at Hillarys, Ocean Reef or Mindarie used the group’s services.

“This is critically low, with boaties putting themselves and their passengers at risk,” he said.

“Why so few use our services may depend, in part, on them not feeling confident on how to use their radios properly.”

Mr Peebles will host a radio information session at the Whitfords Sea Rescue Hall in Ocean Reef from 7.30pm on October 12.

Topics will include which marine radios to use and how to operate them using the correct language, when and where they are legally required to be on board, how to log on and off, how to call in an emergency and the group’s services available.

Cost is a gold coin donation. RSVP to Mr Peebles at radio@whitfordssearescue.org.au or call 0488 151 822.

RESCUE GROUP FACTS

  • Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group has a 24/7 radio service, with the Ocean Reef tower manned every day from 7am to 6pm and home-based operations in two shifts – from 6pm to 11pm then 11pm to 7am.
  • With about 120 volunteer members, the group covers the coast from Alkimos to City Beach and about 50km out to sea, performing about 250 rescues a year.
  • Manned boats are on the water during daylight hours every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, with call-out crews operating outside these hours.
  • It costs about $270,000 a year to run the group. This is partly covered by the State Government through the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and by the group’s two major sponsors – the City of Joondalup and Quadrant Energy.
  • Each year, there is a significant shortfall in funding, meaning the group is always looking for more sponsors.
  • Additional funding is also required to replace vessels, which could cost between $500,000 and $1.2 million, and to update technology.
  • The group contributes to many community events including the Rottnest Channel Swim, safety convoys to Rottnest Island and rescue helicopter training.

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