Mayday call heard

The solar panels that power up Marine Rescue Eden’s channel 81 appear to have been damaged by rock throwing vandals. Photo: Supplied.
The solar panels that power up Marine Rescue Eden’s channel 81 appear to have been damaged by rock throwing vandals. Photo: Supplied.

The out-of-action Marine Rescue communications channel will be back up and running by the first week of September, with the solar panels and batteries that power up the channel to be replaced and other new equipment installed as part of a significant marine communications upgrade.

Marine Rescue Eden has been without access to channel 81, used to maintain radio contact with vessels travelling south out of Twofold Bay, for around a month.

Rock throwing vandals were initially thought to have been the cause of the problem, but Coast Guard Victoria, which owns the repeater, told the Magnet that ageing equipment and a lack of direct sunlight during winter could also be contributing factors.

Marine Rescue NSW deputy commissioner Dean Storey has welcomed the news.

“Marine Rescue NSW has been providing offers of technical support to the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association over the past two months to rectify their faulty equipment, and we are very pleased to see a date set for repair,” he said.

“MRNSW will continue to work with our colleagues in Victoria to strengthen marine communications in the border area, and further support the exceptional work undertaken by the volunteers at Marine Rescue Eden and by the marine rescue services in Victoria.”

Coast Guard Victoria will also take the opportunity, whilst conducting repairs at the remote location, to install new equipment on the site ahead of the summer boating season.

The equipment is part of a new VHF Marine Distress and Monitoring service for the East Coast of Victoria, from Point Hicks to Gabo Island, established by the Coast Guard in partnership with the Country Fire Authority, Telstra and the Mallacoota Flotilla.

Coast Guard's project manager, Richard Burgess, said the new service is particularly important given Mallacoota’s potential to become a popular recreational boating destination when the new Bastion Point boat ramp is opened in November.

“We have received tremendous support from [the Victorian] Government, Telstra, CFA and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's SOLAS Trust to ensure this service is operational before the Bastion Point Boat ramp is opened in November,’” Mr Burgess said.

“Our timeline is to commission the network in the first week of September."

Marine Rescue Eden will have direct access to the facility.

Vessel operators are reminded that marine communications are an important component in the 'preparation and planning' phase of boating safety.

Any vessel operating more than 2Nm off shore in coastal waters must carry a marine radio.

VHF marine radio is the most affordable, reliable and the best means of communicating with Coast Guard Limited coast radio stations.