Be careful on our waterways, warns Camden Haven Marine Rescue

Be safe: Camden Haven Marine Rescue deputy unit commander Alan Malcolm and unit commander Ken Rutledge want our waterways users to enjoy their experience. Photo: Peter Daniels
Be safe: Camden Haven Marine Rescue deputy unit commander Alan Malcolm and unit commander Ken Rutledge want our waterways users to enjoy their experience. Photo: Peter Daniels

With school holidays a matter of days away, the Camden Haven Marine Rescue has issued a general warning for boatersr to take necessary precautions on local waterways.

The message was also supported by Roads and Maritime Services.

RMS executive director maritime Angus Mitchell says safety of everyone out on the water is paramount.

“All boaters should ensure they are wearing lifejackets when it is required by NSW law to do so – depending on the conditions, who is on board and the size and type of boat," Mr Mitchell said.

“The message to all boat operators is to take extra care when navigating, to travel at a safe speed and to keep a proper lookout at all times."

Mr Mitchell noted that recent flooding had seen navigational markers out of place on some waterways.

Marine Rescue unit commander Ken Rutledge said Camden Haven waterways can get busy, particularly through school holiday times.

"Our general advice is to always wear your lifejackets, get your weather warnings, give us regular updates on your movements and, probably most importantly, log on and log off with us," he said.

"We want skippers of vessels to talk to us and inform us of their movements.

"One of the major issues we face (as marine rescue) is when skippers fail to log on and off. If they were to be caught outside somewhere, we would not know where to even start looking for them."

One of the major issues we face (as marine rescue) is when skippers fail to log on and off. If they were to be caught outside somewhere, we would not know where to even start looking for them.

Ken Rutledge

Mr Rutledge said the marine rescue unit works closely with Water Police, neighbouring units and all emergency services and the chain of command can quickly kick into gear at critical times.

"We have a process to follow (where a vessel has not returned by an arranged time)," he said.

Another issue for water users is the Camden Haven bar.

The unit commander said, like all bars along the east coast, some are better than others. However, he did concede that the Camden Haven bar can 'get nasty'.

"That's why we give warnings. On a big high tide, all that water comes in but then it's got to go out and when that is coupled with a strong swell, that's when the bar can get poor.

"Just recently we had three or four vessels unable to come in (over the bar) because of the conditions at sea and on the bar.

"As well, the river itself can get quite choppy while the waterways further up the river are quite shallow too, particularly around the (Stingray Creek) bridge.

"Boats that travel at high speed through that shallow water can cause problems."

Camden Haven Marine Rescue boasts some 40 active members in a total of 60.

While some members don't want to man the rescue boat, others are content to act on radio watch. Other members enjoy their roles in fundraising, the unit commander said.

"Everyone plays their part, no matter what they do," he added.

The marine rescue base sources funds partly through government support but the vast majority of their operational costs are sourced through community fundraising.

"People probably don't realise the costs involved in keeping the doors open and our vessels safe out on the water," he said.

"That's why fundraising is so important for us and why we always thank everyone in this community for their support."

The Camden Haven Marine Rescue always welcomes male and female members.

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