If you have ever broken down, needed weather updates or run out of fuel when out fishing or boating then you would be familiar with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guards role. They are also active in search and rescue missions in co-ordination with the authorities.
This dedicated bunch of volunteers provides excellent service to boaties in trouble without question to their own time. I have had to call on them once and let me tell you it is a very reassuring thing to know that at 4am in the morning someone can help.
Being a volunteer organisation they rely heavily on grants, donations and monies collected from fund raising efforts. Associate Members, that’s everyone that owns a boat, are the biggest contributors through paid annual membership fees. Everyone should be a member if not for safety then for the different courses and training offered at a discount to members. Courses such as Marine Radio Operators MROCP, Senior First Aid and Navigation are all available at certain times of the year so check with your local branch for details and dates.
Once you become a member all your information is stored and you are given a number, which corresponds with phone and boat numbers along with your emergency contact information in case it is needed.
If you are not a member and you have no contact at all, that is, no power to radios and no mobile phone service and you are not logged on with the Coastguard prior to departure then nobody will know you are out there until it may be too late. Approximately $65 a year ensures that someone knows where you are and can warn you if things are about to turn ugly.
While logging on prior to heading out for a day on the water is important, it is also necessary to log off when you return. The rule is that if you have not logged off two hours after your due time then the Coastguard will contact the Water Police to check on you at home. It is a big waste of recourses to have Police out running around when a simple radio call would have done the job. So no matter what the time contact the Coastguard, that’s why they have someone listening.
Safety and education are the biggest concern for Coastguard personnel and just recently QF6 Coastguard Mooloolaba has just been fitted out with the latest in touch screen technology making it faster and more efficient to relay and gather information.
The DCS 5020 Console monitors all calls at once and enables multiple operators to not only receive but to send information through multiple channels saving time that may mean the difference between life and death.
A new Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is also installed that is a satellite based, near real time, positional tracking system for monitoring the location of vessels equipped with the appropriate technology. Whilst this technology is currently used in big shipping only, it would be the ultimate safety feature for marine craft. Imagine the amount of traffic on the water around the Sunshine Coast during a holiday period, let alone a normal day, and this equipment will be a big asset to us all.
Communication is the key to everyone remaining safe. Coastguards would like all boaties to inform them of any hazards, such as containers from ships, barrels, large logs or other boats in distress, so that they can relay the information and may even save a fatal accident.
I have seen a barrel fallen from a container ship floating only 6” out of the water. If we had hit it, we would not be here today. Always leave your radio on so that you can hear this information and stay clear of trouble areas or avoid them. By constantly listening to your radio you can also keep updated with current weather information that can change very quickly.
Boaties can still use the 27Mhz radio with confidence but remember that if you are heading way out then you will need a VHF to be able to contact the shore based operators. When you are out beyond 10km the 27Mhz can be patchy at best and should only really be used for boat-to-boat communication.
All boats must carry the minimum appropriate safety equipment (see fact box). A full list is available on www.nmsc.gov.au .
If you are heading up to the Sunshine Coast for the holidays or are not yet a member of the Mooloolaba Coastguard then contact QF6 on 07 5444 3222 and fill out an application form or email --e-mail address hidden-- Your membership will cover the entire Sunshine Coast from Caloundra to Noosa making it great value for money and peace of mind.
If things do go wrong then the rule is not to panic, just call the Coastguard. They will guide you through the next steps and remain in contact with you to ensure your safety. Please remember to always log on and off and support these volunteers that are out there making sure that you come home safely to your families.
Minimum Safety Equipment
• Life jackets or PFD’s for each member on board at all times (check regulations)
• An anchor with chain and or line.
• Bilge Pump or bailer
• Flares both orange and red
• EPIRB 406Mhz from November 2008
• Fire Extinguisher on electric start motors
• Navigation Lights
• Marine radios
• Paddle or oars/rowlocks
• V Sheet
• First Aid
Call sign QF6 Coastguard Mooloolaba
|Log on and off:||Channel 73VHF|
|Emergency Channels:||16 and 88VHF|
|27Mhz Radio:||Channel 90|