New vessel to deliver enhanced capabilities for Tamar Sea Rescue

New vessel to deliver enhanced capabilities for Tamar Sea Rescue
New vessel to deliver enhanced capabilities for Tamar Sea Rescue
Tamar Sea Rescue Volunteer Tony Gerding (Left), President Neville Gray (Centre) and Volunteer Brian Fitzgerald (Right)

For those unfamiliar with Tamar Sea Rescue, the large shed at Beauty Point is simply a part of the local landscape, but for boaters and locals the Tamar Sea Rescue is truly a life saving organisation.

Stepping into the large shed at Beauty Point, the amount of work done by the volunteer crew is highly visible. From the stack of equipment in the radio room, through to the capabilities of the training room, and finally into the boat shed, where the aging training/rescue vessel is dwarfed by the larger, newer Rescue vessel.

It is this aging training/rescue vessel that is in need of replacement.

“Our existing smaller training/rescue vessel is mainly used for recreational boat licence training, but is sometimes used for small assistance jobs where it is more cost and time effective to tow the smaller vessel, than launch the larger vessel, and use a large amount of fuel, for a smaller job, where someone may just need ten litres of fuel to get back to the boat ramp.  The use of this vessel is limited by us, for use only inside the Tamar River.” Said Matthew O’Neil, the Operations Manager of Tamar Sea Rescue.

Using the vessel, Mr O’Neil said that Tamar Sea Rescue averages training in excess of 150 recreational boat licence students per year.

But the vessel is growing increasingly old, and needs replacing.

“The replacement vessel will be used for these same roles, but will also have a much broader capability. This vessel will also be more than capable of responding to incidents along our coastline, and is more suited to work close to shore.”

“The large vessel has an alloy hull, which is not designed or suited to work close in to rocky coastlines.  This replacement smaller vessel, given its HDPE (High-density polyethylene) construction, has a high impact resistance, and is capable of low speed manoeuvring and contact with rocks without jeopardising hull integrity.”

It is this ability to work closer to the rocky coastline that will allow Tamar Sea Rescue the ability to potentially evacuate people from rocky beaches in the event of a bushfire, adding yet another crucial capability to its already long list of life saving services.

“This vessel in particular is a massive leap in capability for our group, and also for the local coastal communities that we serve. Our communities will now have a solid evacuation option for areas that have no boat ramp or piers, or nice sandy beaches. A large proportion of our inhabited coastline has rocky shores, that aren’t suited to traditional alloy or fibreglass hulls.” Said Mr O’Neil.

“Once our new (second-hand) vessel is commissioned, we will then sell the near new outboards, and the trailer.  These funds will be used to repay a loan we have negotiated for part of the funding.”

“These same vessels have been purchased by Queensland Police for remote areas where they are required to be low maintenance and flexible in capability.”

Tamar Sea Rescue, having already raised $70,000 is calling for donations to help with the cost of replacing the aging vessel.

“This vessel replacement project is valued at around $85,000, which includes the purchase of the vessel and transport to Tasmania, upgrading the existing navigation electronics to suit the new role, and also some survey changes.”

“Given Tamar Sea Rescue have reached $70,000 of the $85,000 project, we have contingency plans in the event we receive no more funding.  Unfortunately, that would mean that our operational budget for maintenance, and our fuel budget would be impacted for some years.  Based on $1.30/litre, our large vessel costs over $700 to fill. We are reimbursed for our Search and Rescue work, but assistance jobs where we are not activated by police, we receive no funding.”

“Our ageing training/rescue vessel is crucial to our funding model. Without it, we don’t have money for fuel and maintenance, as all our instructors are volunteers, and our recreational boat licence courses provide our operational income.”

“We hope to gain the last $15,000 prior to close of business Friday 11 September 2020.”

Help those who help us

New vessel to deliver enhanced capabilities for Tamar Sea Rescue

Tamar Sea Rescue is a local volunteer organisation providing sea rescue services, and recreational boat licence training. In the 2018-19 financial year, they launched 39 times, providing 151 vessel hours.

During the period from the 1st of July and March 2020, Tamar Sea Rescue spent the following volunteer hours patrolling, or conducting search and rescue, or assistance jobs in the waters of the following Local Government Areas:

West Tamar – 664 hours
George Town – 611.5 hours
Launceston – 83.5 hours
Dorset – 34.5 hours

“An average callout would be something along the lines of a small vessel, e.g. a tinny, that is having engine troubles within 30mins of Beauty point. Given it’s not life threatening, and most of our crew and skippers have full time employment, it may take an hour or so to get a crew on the water, then once the job is done, the crew need to prepare the vessel, including wash and refuel for the next job.  If the job is more serious, we then prioritise our response as needed by Tasmania Police Search and Rescue.” Said Matthew O’Neil, Operations Manager for Tamar Sea Rescue.

“These would average out to only 3 or 4 a month, however you may not have a call for a month, then you have a day with 2 separate callouts. Even a short 30min on water assistance job means at least 2 hours work for at least 2 volunteers, for travel and pre- and post-voyage preparation,  maintenance and cleaning, plus the time spent on water.”

“We currently have about 40 volunteers, but not all with seagoing roles.”

“We have no minimum amount of service for volunteers. Our previous President, Henry Jacobs always said, “Your Family comes first, then your job, if you can give us a few hours a year, that’s more than we had without you.” There are minimum levels of training required for crew and skippers to maintain skills.”

Those interested in making a donation can do so here.

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