The slowdown in activations looks like it is over. Our volunteers have done 6 this week, including a medivac for a suspected Irukandji sting, a grounding, and a medivac for a sick infant from one of the resorts. We have assisted over 650 people in one way or another, so far this year.
The key to safety in a small boat is PREPARATION. Always do all your normal pre-departure checks before leaving home and again before leaving the boat ramp.
If you are towing a trailer any distance you will need to have the trailer tyres (treads and pressures) and wheel bearings checked. Don’t just walk round and give the wheels a kick. Ensure that the trailer lights work correctly and rig a tarp or net over the boat to keep everything safely inside the boat. Clean out the fuel tank/s, filters and lines and fill with fresh fuel. Get the engine serviced; double check the batteries and connections. Carry at least basic spares and tools, and know how to use them.
Especially check your normal safety gear (EPIRB, flares, life jackets etc). Check the Marine Safety Queensland (MSQ) website if you are not sure what is required. MSQ refers to “partially smooth waters”. In the Whitsundays this includes the area from Bowen in the north to south of Midge Point (and generally one nautical mile beyond the main islands). A Partially Smooth Waters map is available for download. For information on safety equipment and licensing regulations you are advised to check with Maritime Safety Queensland for up to date and accurate information. More detailed links can be found on the BOATING page on our website http://vmrwhitsundays.com.au/boating-in-the-whitsundays/
We strongly encourage the use of VHF radio around the islands and further afield, the coverage is much better than a mobile phone. If you do need to call for assistance, the boatie that might be in the next bay can hear you! But you do need to know how to use your VHF – a common error is poor adjustment of the squelch control, effectively stopping you from hearing any transmissions
Make sure your anchor and rope are in good condition. We recommend at least double the boat length of chain before the rope and remember that coral and rope don’t get on very well. You will need to use a scope of at least 4:1 (4 times the depth).
Never, Never, Never, underestimate your fuel consumption. Take as an absolute minimum, 25% extra, 50% would be safer, and take it every trip. Always fill your tanks before you leave, and if you get back to the ramp with less than 25% in your tank you have got it wrong!
Always check the weather forecast and tides (they can be big in the Whitsundays) before you go, and tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
VMRW membership is cheap insurance at just $80. You can join online at https://vmrwhitsundays.com.au/join/ and your membership helps to keep us going in case you need us. We hope you don’t, but we are here 24/7/365 if you do!