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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

Be careful on the coast

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The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast.

Big swells on the coast. Photo SLSNSW.

Wind and swell have both been high in recent week and Surf Life Saving NSW says that the next few days will be pretty tricky with a weather system about to play havoc on the coast.

A powerful low-pressure system will impact the NSW coast between Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 August. The system is expected to create ‘Hawaiian-style’ conditions consisting of big surf, with waves up to 12 feet high and strong winds.

Surf Life Saving NSW advises that people visiting the coast should be aware of the dangers associated with the anticipated system including; powerful waves in surf zones and against rock platforms; fast movement of water and currents; long periods between wave sets; and erosion of beaches.

There were 44 coastal drowning deaths in NSW between 1 July 2018 – 29 June 2019. Rock fishing resulted in eight deaths. The forecast extra-large swell means most of the NSW coast will be extremely hazardous for all activities especially boating, surfing and rock fishing.

Newport SLSC lifesaver and surfer Nick Carroll says even experienced surfers need to be wary. ‘The risk for unaware surfers is that the swell will rise quickly,’ says Carroll. ‘It could be four-feet and manageable on Thursday morning, but when the big pulse begins to arrive it will happen very quickly and could catch people out.’

Although the Surf Lifesaving season does not begin until September 28, volunteer surf lifesaving support operation teams are on-call 24-7 to respond to critical incidents.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce say there are some of the most experienced coastal emergency responders in the call-out teams. ‘We strongly advise people to consider the potential danger they are putting themselves and our volunteers in before venturing into the water during this swell event. 

‘If you do intend on swimming please make sure you only swim at one of the 12 locations patrolled during winter and always swim between the red and yellow flags.

‘If you do see someone in danger please call triple zero (000) immediately. Do not attempt a rescue on your own.’

Locally, the only lifeguard patrolled beaches in winter are Byron Main Beach and Park Beach in Coffs Harbour. (North Coast)

Beach users are reminded to avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves; only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags (See the websitewww.beachsafe.org.au for patrolled locations/times); check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities; boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket ; and, if witnessing an in-water emergency dial 000 – Police

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