Busy March for Marine Rescue NSW

Marine Rescue NSW Inspectors John Murray and Rodney Page oversee all MRNSW responses on the Mid North Coast.

MARINE Rescue NSW’s 3,400 volunteers across the state were in high demand last month, responding to the organisation’s busiest March on record.

During March 2024 on the Mid North Coast Marine Rescue NSW units responded to 52 search and rescue missions, including 28 emergency responses.

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A total of 73 people were safely returned to shore across all nine Mid North Coast units, including Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour.

The period included the Easter holidays in a month that saw favourable boating weather, encouraging recreational boaters to make the most of it.

Speaking on behalf of Marine Rescue NSW’s Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga Units, John Murray told News Of The Area that preparation and planning are non-negotiables.

“Make sure everything is in good working order and serviced regularly.

“Plenty of people make all the right checks and maintenance but still things can go wrong, and their vessel becomes disabled.

“When you’re out there and your boat won’t start it can be traumatizing,” he said, “that’s why we’re here to get everyone back safely.”

There were two big rescues for the Coffs Harbour Unit in March.

One occurred when a boat with five people onboard was experiencing engine problems.

“They were 2.6 nautical miles out to sea, and we towed them back into Coffs,” said John.

The second rescue was during the Outrigger Challenge competition.

Marine Rescue NSW Coffs Harbour Unit was on the water in Coffs 30 “just in case”.

When a wave or swell put six people in the water, the team went straight into action, picking up four of them.

The race organiser rescued the other two.

“We comforted them and settled them down and returned them to shore safely.

“It is important to always wear a life jacket, which these people were.”

The unit aboard Woolgoolga 30 made a rescue at Wooli Bar in March.

A vessel with engine problems had broken down with two people on board.

“They requested assistance because their motor wouldn’t start… it could have been the battery or fuel issues.

“The Unit towed them back into Wooli Bar and deposited them back at the boat ramp where they had set out from,” said John.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said 168 of last month’s record 515 search and rescue missions were emergency responses.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing too many boaters and their vessels succumb to mechanical, fuel and battery issues with 60 percent of responses last month for these three preventable issues,” he said.

Commissioner Barrell said more than 8,500 boaters Logged On with Marine Rescue NSW in March while the service’s skilled radio operators managed almost 26,000 radio calls including six MAYDAYs and six PAN PANs.

“Logging On via the free Marine Rescue NSW app or VHF marine channel 16 ensures that our dedicated volunteers keep watch for boaters and that we are monitoring their safe return.”

The official boating season closes at the end of April.


A volunteer crew on board Marine Rescue NSW vessel Woolgoolga 30 responds to an offshore call for assistance.

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