A salty tear or two might be shed on Sunday when members of the Coast Guard Kingscliff Flotilla lower their flag for the very last time.
After 33 years the flotilla will cease to exist, their services replaced by the state’s newest creation, Marine Rescue NSW.
The ‘newcomer on the water’ began operating on January 1, 2010, bringing together members of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association, Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol and Volunteer Rescue Association’s marine fleet into a single integrated service.
Backed by the state government, the tide had finally turned against smaller community based rescue groups.
Like others, the Kingscliff crew resisted the amalgamation plan, arguing they were one of the largest rescue units in the state, had a solid track record, and were supported by the national Coast Guard association.
But in the end they were left in the wake of the reforms, with just 13 of the 40 volunteers joining the new outfit at Point Danger.
Flotilla commander Jack Frost told Echonetdaily it would be a day of mixed emotions on Sunday.
The flotilla has been going for 33 years but it is what it is,’ he said.
‘There’s no point trying to buck the system. Whether you agree or not Marine Rescue NSW has been set up to look after maritime rescue in the state.
‘Tweed council chose not to provide financial assistance this year and we receive no state or federal assistance so we’ve pretty much been trying to run the organization on money from sausage sizzles.
‘Obviously it’s a bit disappointing but hopefully the facilities will find another use.’
Commander Frost praised members as dedicated volunteers who had ‘put in countless hours and left behind a legacy they were passionate and proud to be part of’.
‘The main objective by all members when they joined the Coast Guard was to keep mariners safe at sea and they achieved this many times over in the last three decades.
‘It is a testament to the spirit of past and present members and it has been our honour and privilege to serve the Tweed and Kingscliff boating community.’
When they gather on Sunday, the ceremony will include the return of Coast Guard Kingscliff’s charter to the national commodore, Ray Campbell.
There will be an awards presentation and the final lowering and parading of the flag.
A piper will accompany the ceremony.
Commander Jack Frost said the community was especially invited ‘as a way of saying thank you for their generosity and support over 33 years’.
‘Without the community investment it would have been hard to keep the doors open to help us save lives at sea,’ he said.
The ceremony will be held at the Coast Guard tower at Faulks Park, Kingscliff at 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, Marine Rescue NSW is set to hold its annual general meeting in Sydney on Saturday.
It’s understood discussions have been taking place between Maritime Rescue NSW and the national Coast Guard association regarding the facilities at Kingscliff, although no decisions have been announced.