On Saturday 2 February 2013 a crew from St Helens Marine Rescue, coordinated by Sergeant Bidgood of the Tasmania Police Marine and Rescue Services, St Helens, rescued three fishermen when their vessel was overwhelmed by a large breaking wave on the St Helens barway. A fourth person was able to swim ashore and raise the alarm.
The crew managed to transmit a mayday distress call during the incident but their position was not heard at the time.
This is a timely reminder for any boater on hearing a mayday call to ring triple-zero (000) straight away, it does not matter how many make the call. Please also keep your radios tuned to the VHF distress frequency (Channel 16) or monitor the local UHF channels (Channel 88 and Channel 94).
If you are unsure of the correct procedure for making a distress call using your ship-board radio, please review the information available on the Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) website.
We again ask anyone crossing the barway to:
- Observe conditions or contact us to get an update.
- Be more cautious on an outgoing tide.
- Be more cautious during onshore conditions (fresh breeze from a northerly to easterly direction).
- Log on with your local Volunteer Marine Rescue Unit using radio communications to let them know you are going out for the day.
Just doing these simple things can save a life, maybe yours?
Many skippers of vessels assume that it is not possible or safe to cross the St Helens bar into Georges Bay. It is, of course, true that the barway presents a problem with a swell on it, which is no different to most other river entrances on the East Coast of Australia. However, these conditions occur on average fewer than 15 to 20 days every year.
Pelican Point, inside the bay, still poses a problem for vessels with deep draft, and dredging operations will resume in the near future to begin to resolve this.
Skippers should always contact St Helens Marine Rescue for advice when considering a bar crossing. we are available 24/7 for advice or assistance.
It is important to note that if your vessel, for one reason or another, cannot cross the bar, St Helens Marine Rescue will assist outside the barway.
Access to Georges Bay has become safer with dredging at Pelican Point now complete, providing better and safer access for larger boats to enter Georges Bay to unload their fish catch or to re-fuel.
During the first stage of the project (2009) more than 200,000 cubic metres of sand was removed from the entrance to Georges Bay . The second stage was significantly delayed following an objection by the Department of Environment, but the dredging finally commenced in March 2011 and 5,000 cubic metres of sand was pumped from Pelican Point to restore the channel depth to 2.2 metres at this location. Just in time for the scallop season too!
The dredging was commissioned by Marine and Safety Tasmania.
After a two week delay, dredging at Pelican Point will now commence on Friday 18th March. Full information is available on the MAST website, and the NOTICE TO MARINERS relating to the dredging transiting procedures can be downloaded from the same page.
The dredge equipment is currently at Stieglitz where the discharge pipe is being connected into long lengths, before being moved to the dredge site. This and the dredge barge will start to be moved to the site by Friday 18th, with pumping likely to commence on Saturday 19th March.
The dredging will be undertaken by Slurry Systems Marine using a cutter-suction dredge. This dredge consists of a barge approximately 8.0 metres long with a beam of approximately 3.0m.
During the period of dredging, which is expected to be 3-4 weeks, transiting of the channel will be restricted. It will be necessary to pass to the western side of the barge at all times. This includes times of dredging and other times of the day and night when dredging is not occurring, but the barge is moored in the channel.
The barge will exhibit shapes during the day and lights at night indicating dredge operations and that it is safe to pass to the west. Due to the discharge pipe to Blanche Beach, at no time will it be safe to pass to the east of the barge.
Normal working hours will be 07h00-17h00 daily, and it is likely that the contractor may operate seven days a week.
The channel will be dredged in two passes, with the western side of the channel being the first pass. During this time transiting vessels will be required to pass the barge to the west of the current channel. Due to limited depth in this area, it will be necessary to transit at high tide only.
During dredging it will be necessary to deploy an anchor approximately 30 metres further west than the barge. Vessels can pass further west of this anchor, if depth allows, or pass between the dredge and the anchor. The anchor wire will be slack and on the bottom when vessels are passing.
The dredge operator will be monitoring VHF Channel 16 and will utilise another working channel to communicate further with vessels wishing to pass. It is important to notify them of your intending passage, particularly when travelling from the barway, as visibility astern from the barge will be limited.
Should you not be able to raise the Slurry Systems Marine dredge operator via VHF radio then the following mobile phone numbers apply (dredge operators will be rotating):
- Dave: Phone 0437 124 385
- Murray: Phone: 0400 175 791
- Lex: Phone: 0413 007 387
For further queries contact Justin Foster at MAST on 0418 142 053.