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VMR to replace rescue boat

By Mark Beale

THE Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue organisation is badly in need of a new rescue boat, with steps now underway to decide on an appropriate design and manufacturer.

VMR Whitsunday President Ray Lewis said the squadron had established a sub-committee now in the final stages of reviewing drawings and quotations from a number of suppliers interested in building the new boat.

“The sub-committee will soon be in a position to make a firm recommendation to the management committee as to the design and choice of manufacturer and we can then place a formal order,” he said.

“Construction and delivery of the new boat may take up to 12 months, but it will be worth the wait.”

Mr Lewis said while the squadron’s current rescue boat VMR1 cost $350,000, “the new boat looks like it will cost us the wrong side of $750,000”.

“But that is what we will have to pay to secure a purpose-built vessel that meets our specific needs here in the Whitsundays,” he said.

Mr Lewis said the VMR received a small annual grant of about $10,000 from the State Government but needed to raise the rest of the funds from activations, membership fees, grants, donations and sponsorships.

“Not one of our members, radio or boat crew is paid,” he said.

“All of their time is voluntary – in fact, they have to pay to be a member to volunteer.”

VMR Whitsunday is responsible for more than 5000 square miles or 13,000 square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, including the entire Whitsunday coastline and all coastal islands, extending to outer parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Lewis said boating in the Whitsundays was continuing to grow, with activations up 20 per cent on previous years.

VMR Whitsunday carries out a mix of activations, ranging from simple tows close to town to full-blown extended search and rescues on the outer reef, as well as medivacs for the Queensland Ambulance Service and varied duties for the police and water police.

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