It has been a busy year for Marine Rescue NSW and no less so here on the North Coast.
Across the state it has been the second busiest year on record despite the ongoing wet weather. Over the last 12 months, there have been 3,905 rescues safely delivering 8,599 people to shore.
The individual unit statistics for rescues are:
- Point Danger 137
- Brunswick 31
- Ballina 63
- Cape Byron 14
- Evans Head 14
- Wooli 8
- Iluka Yamba 68
‘Despite the weather that has been appalling for the last 12 months due to COVID people have been holidaying on the north coast rather than heading overseas so we have had a busy summer despite the rain,’ Phil Campbell, spokesperson for Marine Rescue NSW told The Echo.
The primary reasons for calls to Marine Rescue across the state were for flat batteries, running out of fuel or engine problems which made up 57 per cent of calls.
‘There has been an increase in the number of people registering jetskis and boats in the past year. The jobs on the North Coast tend to be consistent with the state. People running out of fuel because they are fishing and the boat is idling, burning fuel or they drift further than they expected. It is common and quite dangerous as you lose control of your vehicle without fuel and that can be life endangering, as is people who have flat batteries from running radios, or because they are old, they go to turn over the engine and it doesn’t start.’
Beware the bar and changing channels
Mr Campbell also highlighted the need to take care when crossing the local bars.
‘We don’t don’t have any deepwater harbours on the North Coast and we have to cross a coastal bar to come in from the ocean. At Wolli alone has had 14 boast stuck on the bar in last year,’ he said.
‘A couple of weeks ago we had a yacht that crashed into the rocks crossing the bar in Ballina and had to be pulled off. It can be quite dangerous and people do need to take special care on the north coast bars.
‘It is really important that boaters have a good understanding on how to cross a coastal bar, otherwise, stay on flatter coastal estuaries.’
However, even with the coastal estuaries he highlighted the fact that with all the rain and flooding there are often changes to the locations of the channels.
‘It is important to remember to reduce your speed after their has been some rain until you know wher the channels have shifted to.’
Weekends accounted for 50 per cent of all rescues, with Sundays the busiest day with 27 per cent of rescues, and Thursdays the quietest on the water. Boaters were most likely to be rescued between 12pm and 3pm, with 40 per cent of all rescues at this time as boaters begin to head home and strike mechanical issues or deteriorating weather conditions.
As the warmer months approach, Marine Rescue NSW is urging boaters to follow the safety advice and wear a lifejacket, check the weather conditions before heading out and to Log On with their local Marine Rescue base so they can be quickly located in an emergency.