Log on or you and your crew could be all at sea

When interviewing some on-duty SA Sea Rescue Squadron (SRS) volunteers recently we asked, of 150 boats launched, how many skippers had logged on to be told that only twenty had done so.

In so many ways skippers of recreational craft take their responsibilities very seriously, particularly in terms of safety at sea, yet still only a small percentage takes that essential first step, logging on by radio with the local sea rescue volunteers.

Even stranger, many boats have proper 27mHz (27 meg.) and VHF radios aboard, even though they rarely, if ever use them and in the case of VHF, don’t have a license to do so.

The SRS volunteers are on duty every day, from 7am to 7pm and even overnight from the homes of some. As well as monitoring 27meg. (emergency channel 88) and VHF (emergency channel 16), the Squadron also monitors Coast Radio Adelaide during daylight hours, which is an initiative of the Department of Environment, Energy, Infrastructure and provides VHF coverage for distress and emergency calls for all South Australian waters, from the Victorian border to the Western Australian border.

So why is it that, with such superb and dedicated sea rescue services in place, less than 15% of recreational skippers log on before heading out to sea? A possible explanation could be that not many boat owners know how to use their radios, but here again the SRS has the answer by way of accredited courses.

No license is required for 27meg. radio, but a simple 2-3 hour course ($10) for groups of 10 or more, can be organised, on completion of which an SRS certificate is issued.
A license is required for using the more effective VHF radio. The SRS conducts four three-day courses each year (Friday pm, then the following Saturday and Sunday, costing $160 or $100 for SRS members).

Held at the SRS’ Adelaide Shores facility, the success rate of these courses is 99.9%. Students are issued with a life-long Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate Of Proficiency (MROCP) from the Australian Marine College of Australia, which sets the course and verifies results.

Whether an emergency occurs on your boat or you come to the aid of another, radio proficiency will be essential, so please, contact the SA Sea Rescue Squadron on 8295 5072 for advice on when the next courses will be held, or visit www.sasearescue.org.au.