Check your EPIRB and Flares

EPIRBIn recent times emergency services have had to endure false alarms in relation to a faulty EPIRB and errant flares being let off from the shore. Emergency services responded to incidences relating to a false EPIRB alarm and a reported irresponsible launch of parachute flares. This ties up volunteers and police unnecessarily. It is imperative for the public to know – letting off flares is illegal. St Helens Marine Rescue strongly urges all mariners to check their safety equipment during the winter recess, in particular EPIRBS and flares.

There is only one type of EPIRB available for use by vessels, owners must ensure they have the 406 MHz EPIRB. It is essential that the battery date has not expired.  Once the used by date passes the EPIRB becomes unreliable. All EPIRB owners are urged to ensure the battery is current, if expired then seek a replacement at place of purchase. Additionally all EPIRBS are required to be register with Australian Maritime Surveillance Authority (AMSA). This is a free service, details are available on the AMSA web site.

Marine flares are compulsory safety equipment for all boaters. It is paramount that all boats have  flares that are current i.e. have not passed the expiry date. Out of date flares are not only unreliable they present a possible health hazard and may incur injury. Different flares are required depending where the boating public journeys to. Check out the MAST web site for details of all safety equipment required including flares (this is an excellent graphic):!OpenDocument&Highlight=0,safety,equipment

Safe boating comes from safe preparation and carrying essential safety equipment.

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Reporting your position

LogoThe rescue base at the St Helens Foreshore is manned 7 days a week between 0730 to 1910. Outside these hours a listening watch is maintained around the clock from stations at the homes of the Association’s members.

Our callsign is VMR 707 ST HELENS MARINE RESCUE  and radio watch is maintained on:

  • UHF 27.88 MHz (Channel 88)
  • UHF 27.94 MHz (Channel 94)
  • VHF Channel 16
  • VHF Repeater at Mount Horror (Channel 82), and
  • HF/SSB on 2524 kHz

Mobile phone coverage is available on 03 6376 2443 or 0408 817 359.

Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) recommends mariners setting out on a trip report in to a coast station upon departure stating name of your vessel, intended destination and number of people on board. You and the coast station may agree on hourly schedules or  estimated time of return. It is imperative if you CHECK IN with a station remember to CHECK OUT.


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Tasmanian Safe Boating Handbook

Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) has an outstanding publication on safe boating. This is a must read for all mariners, in particular small boaters. The handbook is available as a pdf or details on how to purchase can be found on the MAST web site at (copy and paste into your browser’s address bar):

MAST handbook

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Farewell to Canadian visitors

Haulback under tow through the Channel towards the barway

Haulback under tow through the Channel towards the barway

Recently St Helens hosted visitors from Canada. Jan and Jim are sailing around the world from their Canadian departure. Note the Canadian flag flying behind the mast. Their yacht ‘Haulback’ has so far traveled the Pacific ocean and came to St Helens via New Zealand. The next port of call is Eden on the NSW coast. The journey will then take them up the Barrier Reef, through Torrens Strait and on to Indonesia.

Jan and Jim would like to thank the community of St Helens for their hospitality. They were wax  lyrical about this part of the world. Marine rescue played an active part in escorting them into Georges Bay and their departure across the notorious barway. The photo to the right is Haulback under tow from the Break ‘O Day. In order to meet the high tide on the barway a tow was employed to reduce the time across Georges Bay.

On  behalf of the East Coast community we wish them well on their journey.

Mariners are again reminded the volunteer St Helens Marine Rescue is available to assist/advise in all matters relating to marine safety in and around St Helens. Contact can be made via VHF radio on channel  (one six) 16. This is in operation from 0755 hours until 1910 hours daily. Outside these times mobile contact can be made on 0408 817 359. Email


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Negotiating the St Helens Barway

RV Freycinet in Full Flight

RV Freycinet in Full Flight on the unpredictable Barway

For those seeking to negotiate the St Helens bar, at this time of the year, it is worthwhile repeating an earlier post relating to the barway at the entrance to Georges Bay, St Helens. Many skippers of vessels assume that it is not possible or safe to cross the St Helens bar. It is, of course, true that the barway presents a problem with a swell on it, which is no different to most other river/bay entrances on the East Coast of Australia. However, these conditions occur on average fewer than 15 to 20 days every year. If in doubt skippers should always contact St Helens Marine Rescue  for advice when considering a bar crossing. We are available 24/7 for advice or assistance (see Contact Us).

Pelican Point, inside the bay, still poses a problem for vessels with deep draft. Dredging operations are continuing however progress is slow. Caution is required as shallow water is an ongoing issue. Again contact St Helens Marine Rescue 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.

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