Marine Rescue to the Rescue

The summer has thrown up many a curve ball with a search, towing across the bar and most recently a Mayday in the North East.

27th of December:

Georges Bay's search track.

Georges Bay’s search track.

“Today four members of St Helens Marine Rescue were called upon to investigate an upturned dinghy on Georges Bay. Under the auspices of the St Helens Police the vessel was towed ashore. A search and rescue then ensued as the occupants whereabouts was unknown. Half a dozen vessels, persons on shore and a rescue helicopter were also engaged in the search. Some four hours later it was established those on board had swum ashore and were uninjured. An enormous amount of time and effort was put into this operation with a positive outcome. However, the take out from this is when an incident occurs on the water it is the responsibility of the skipper to inform authorities as soon as practicable. That way emergency services can act in a timely, appropriate manner.”

Runabout at O'Connor Beach Stieglitz

Runabout at O’Connor Beach Stieglitz

29th of December

Pukana being towed through the entrance of Georges Bay.

Pukana being towed through the entrance of Georges Bay.


After a major breakdown with the propulsion aboard yacht Pukana, St Helens Marine Rescue towed the vessel and crew  to anchor. Pukanna was a competitor in the Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race. The initial tow took place from the Middle Ground off St Helens Island to anchor in Bernes Bay. It was too dangerous  to attempt a crossing of the barway at that time as a large confused swell during an outgoing tide made conditions perilous.

Later during the day a tow and crossing of the bar took place at the top of the tide. The journey was a routine tow through the Bay by highly qualified members (Rodney, JD and John) of St Helens Marine Rescue. Once close to the St Helens harbour  Pukana was rafted to the rescue vessel “Georges Bay” to a successful tie up at the marina.




9th of January

Track to Binalong Bay where the survivors were transferred from Mure's Diana

Track to Binalong Bay where the survivors were transferred from Mure’s fishing vessel Diana

“Mayday call at 1400 hours today. St Helens Marine Rescue received a Mayday call through radio operator Tony. The situation realised a vessel with 3 persons on board was taking on water and was in need of urgent assistance. Tony put out a call to all vessels North East of Binalong Bay. Mures fishing vessel Dianna responded immediately with an offer of assistance. Police were informed of the emergency. It was determined the stricken vessel was 13 nautical miles North East of the St Helens Bar. Diana found the sinking vessel and remained alongside until the vessel finally succumbed and sank. Diana and its crew quickly rescued the men and ensured their health and well being. In the meantime rescue vessel Georges Bay was dispatched, with skipper Rodney and crewmen Ken and John, to meet with Diane in Binalong Bay. From there the survivors were returned unharmed back to St Helens. Throughout the ordeal Tony maintained communications between the rescuing vessel Diana, the Police and our rescue vessel Georges Bay. The excellence of Dianna’s response under the command of Skipper Russell and radio operator Tony maintained an outstanding survival outcome.”

Mure's Diana rescued three men 13 nautical miles NE of Binalong Bay

Mure’s Diana rescued three men 13 nautical miles NE of Binalong Bay

Despite all the safety equipment aboard the stricken vessel it sank within seconds after finally taking on water over the stern. The excellence of this survival outcome are attributed to:

1. The new radio equipment at St Helens Marine Rescue which picked up the Mayday through the radio operator Tony;

2. The outstanding response by the skipper Russell and crew aboard Diana;

3. The transfer of the survivors from Diana to rescue vessel Georges Bay then back to St Helens;

4. The constant radio and phone communication between the radio room at the Base, the stricken vessel, Diana and the Tasmania Police.




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Weather Forecast is absolute for all mariners

Mariners are reminded of the absolute imperative to follow the weather and the impending forecast prior to and during any voyage to sea. This week Marine Rescue highlights an example of this. For the past three days an intensive low pressure system has been tracking towards Tasmania. Yesterday (Saturday 2nd of December 2017) is a prime example. Below is the AIS track of a vessel just outside the St Helens Barway. If you examine the image closely you will notice the southern track headed towards the bar, then the subsequent traversing outside the breaking water and the final decision to move North (click to enlarge).


Yacht track at 0600 hours outside St Helens Barway.

Yacht track at 0600 hours outside St Helens Barway.

A phone call was received at around 0530 hours requesting assistance to cross the Bar. Subsequently Volunteer Marine Rescue Members travelled to Burns Bay to observe the conditions of the Bar. It was determined that under no circumstances should a vessel attempt to cross given the prevailing waves, the swell, the tide and the wind direction. Advice was rendered for the vessel to seek sheltered waters to the North in Binalong Bay or Skeleton Bay. The skipper then decided to leave and head north.

An example of weather forecasting and the conditions at the time were  taken from Willy Weather (click to enlarge). It contains a longitudinal forecast as well as real time wind speed. Other variables available include tide times, swell, temperature and general forecast. This can be an additional tool when looking at weather.

Willy weather graphic of the prevailing weather conditions.

Willy weather graphic of the prevailing weather conditions.

St Helens Marine Rescue urges all mariners going to sea to constantly monitor weather and future forecasts.

For current weather conditions BOM has an incredible site called MetEye. This can be found at

To all mariners St Helens Marine Rescue urges you to, “Enjoy your time on the water and stay safe.”


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Farewell to our vessel “Freycinet”


Today we passed over the keys to the new owner of Freycinet. This was tinged with a sense of sadness as this beautiful vessel has been such a stoic member of St Helens Marine Rescue.

The reality is however the new NSCV regulations quite simply impose extremely stringent rules around what craft can and cannot operate as a rescue vessel.

To capture a little of the past, below is the announcement of Freycinet’s arrival from September 2009

David Llewellyn, Member for Lyons, today presented the St Helens Marine Rescue Association of Tasmania with the recently decommissioned Police Vessel, Freycinet.


“Although the Freycinet is 29 years old, it has been meticulously maintained and will greatly enhance the St Helens Marine Rescue Association’s capabilities and ongoing operations,” Mr Llewellyn said.

“The Freycinet will expand the rescue capabilities of the group with its range of 500 nautical miles, radar and an array of navigational equipment.

“I am pleased that this hard-working group of volunteers is able to take on such a reliable and sturdy vessel. It should provide years of service.

“The St Helens Marine Rescue Association is to be congratulated for its dedication to the safety and security of the maritime community.”

Freycinet will remain on the waters of Georges Bay as the new owner is a local. We wish him well in his new venture aboard a beautiful water craft.


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Welcome to a New Season

The summer boating season is nigh. St Helens Marine Rescue reminds boaters this time of the year is an opportunity to ensure your vessel is ready for the upcoming recreational fishing season. Have you had your motor(s) serviced by a qualified service agent? East Coast Outboards is a local service professional that maintains St Helens Marine Rescue’s vessels. We service our vessels every year without fail.

Is your onboard safety equipment serviced and up to date? I speak of your life jacket, flares kit (2 orange & 2 red), battery (charged) and fire extinguisher.

In addition to the above there is other essential equipment for smooth waters (lakes and rivers) includes bailer or bilge pump, auxiliary propulsion (oars or 2nd outboard motor), anchor (check the rope). For sheltered waters (all waters not exceeding 2 nautical miles form the coast) add a heaving line or throw bag. For coastal waters (beyond sheltered waters) add two (2) red parachute flares, radar reflector, marine radio, EPIRB, first aid kit and water for drinking.

After casting off contact our outstanding radio operators and let them know you are on the water. You can also  keep them updated on your position throughout the day. We see this is an extension to  your safety management plan whilst enjoying the fabulous fishing environment we in the North East are so privileged to have.  To do this call our operators between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm on VHF channel 16 or phone (03) 6376 2443 during these hours or 0408 817 359 after hours. If you log on (and we suggest you do) with St Helens Marine Rescue please remember to log off upon your return.

Toyota Land Cruiser our new tow vehicle

Toyota Land Cruiser our new tow vehicle


Before you go on the water there are two absolute imperatives:

1. Check the weather forecast. BOM has an excellent site which covers coastal conditions, this can be found at

2. Inform persons on land when and where you intend going out to.

To all mariners tight lines as well as a  happy and safe boating season.

We have just received a replacement, compliant tow vehicle for our SAR vessel ‘Georges Bay’. Special thanks to our fabulous members in Tubby, Josh, Ken and JD for their hours of toil in making this possible.


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University Students visit St Helens

Five second year medical students from the University of Tasmania spent a week in St Helens. They participated in the “2017 Rural Communities Program 2017 – East Coast”. St Helens Marine Rescue started their week with a guided tour of our facilities and presented an overview of our operations. Below is part of their report and their impressions of St Helens.

University of Tas 2nd Year Medical Students walk the pristine Binalong Bay beach

University of Tas 2nd Year Medical Students walk the pristine Binalong Bay beach

We are second year medical students from The University of Tasmania: Michael, Ellie, Serina, Brian, and Amy. The rural week program at St Helens has allowed us to experience first-hand rural living and health. Throughout the week and activities, we were exposed to the health services available, whilst learning from the community’s own perspective on what the prevalent health issues are that need to be addressed.

The Marine Rescue Association in St Helens oversees health and safety of commercial and recreational mariners at Georges Bay. It is run by volunteers, primarily retirees, but some still in employment. They are involved with escorting vessels through the shallow waters of the bay, monitoring the radios, and in rescue operations. High standards are imposed on vessels and training, with several volunteers holding a Coxswain certification.

There was a great community spirit in St Helens and of the people we met, a large proportion of the population which volunteer to serve the community. It was wonderful to see how passionate people were about the organisation of which they were serving and number of years of which they have been associated with the various groups.

On our rural week placement, we have enjoyed observing the great social connectedness of the community and found the locals to be very warm and welcoming.

We would like to sincerely thank all who were involved in organising and educating us before and during our stay – this was truly an invaluable experience!

We were honoured to have these distinguished visitors visit our community. We wish them the very best in their future studies. You never know we may see them back on the East Coast as General Practitioners.


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