Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue gearing up for busy Australia Day

Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue helping to retrieve an advertising banner from the water. Picture: Fremantle Sea Rescue Facebook
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue helping to retrieve an advertising banner from the water. Picture: Fremantle Sea Rescue Facebook
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Photo: Martin Kennealey
Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue helping to retrieve an advertising banner from the water. Picture: Fremantle Sea Rescue Facebook Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue helping to retrieve an advertising banner from the water. Picture: Fremantle Sea Rescue Facebook Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group member Peter Peebles (radio operations leader). Photo: Martin Kennealey

WHITFORDS Volunteer Sea Rescue is gearing up for the Australia Day long weekend with extra crews rostered on.

Radio operations leader Peter Peebles said the group would have all of its boats on the water patrolling from 7am to 6pm over the three days.

He reminded boaties the group was also on call outside of those times.

“Looking at the weather, we don’t expect it to be too busy,” he said.

“They are predicting strong southerlies so it is not the most perfect weekend for boating; it might be a bit breezy.”

The group covers the area from Alkimos to City Beach and about 50km off the coast.

On Sunday, they were involved with retrieving an advertising banner that had come loose from a plane.

An off-duty Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue member was on a jet ski off Watermans Bay when he found the banner in the water.

Mr Peebles said the man tried to tow it to a “more suitable location” but it was too heavy.

“He called Whitfords and Green1 was dispatched,” he said.

“We found the banner about 100m off the coast, bundled it up and got it on board to take back to Hillarys.

“Meanwhile, our tower had contacted the owner of the banner who said the rope had broken.

“He was able to meet us at Hillarys to pick it up.”

The unusual rescue came a week after the group released statistics from its annual review showing it spent 1650 hours on the water last year.

During this time, it was called to 250 jobs where boats required assistance, helping 580 people, and about 21,000 radio and phone calls to the tower were received.

The group, which has 115 members, also calculated its vessels consumed 52,000 litres of fuel over the year.

Mr Peebles said the statistics gave “a real measure of how active” the group was.

“It shows we assisted nearly 600 people to safety, we were on the water for the equivalent of nearly 70 days and we averaged over 50 radio calls a day from the boating public,” he said.

“The figures also suggest that our boats travelled somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000km during the past 12 months.”

He said this was the first time the group had collated the figures so it was difficult to judge how they compared to previous years.

“However, the figures were surprising to many of our members and they reflect the tremendous effort that our volunteers put into assisting the boating public in our region,” he said.

TRAIN UP

BOATIES can become internationally qualified marine radio operators next month Feb.

Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue is conducting two radio courses.

The Short Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency, which allows boaties to legally operate a marine VHF radio, will be held on February 19 and 20.

Cost is $170 for members and $205 for non-members.

The Long Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency, which allows boaties to legally operate marine VHF and MF/HF radios, will be held on February 19, 20 and 21.

Cost is $225 for members and $260 for non-members.

To enrol, go to www.whitfordssearescue.org.au or call Bob Jacobs on 0418 953 081.

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