Marine Rescue Narooma urgently needs pontoon

THE Narooma Marine Rescue unit is calling on the community to assist with the installation of a new floating pontoon to replace the crumbling wooden jetty at Mill Bay.

The old jetty, thought to be a remnant from the old timber mill on the site, could be only one king tide or big flood from collapsing.

Acting unit commander Eric Hibbett said plans are well progressed and the replacement pontoon has already been purchased and transported down from Sydney.

But the construction of a solid concrete foundation to anchor the walkway and two solid pilings on which the floating pontoon will ride could potentially cost “in the tens of thousands of dollars”.

“We’re looking for any support we can get from the community,” he said.

Volunteer with the unit and retired engineer Bill Wilson was project manager and had also overseen the design of the new structure, while a Cobargo geotechnical expert had determined what pilings were required.

And there is a real sense of urgency at the unit, because in March it is expected to take possession of its new 10-metre rescue vessel currently under construction by the NIAD boat building company up at Yamba.

When the vessel arrives with its own new Airberth floating platform, the new pontoon must be finished, he said.

Senior skipper Ross Constable said the new vessel at 5 tonnes was heavier and had a significantly longer range than the current 8.5m rescue vessel, although it was a similar rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) style craft.

The vessel known as Narooma 30 was in recent weeks called upon to assist a local charter boat with engine failure out in conditions approaching 50-knot winds.

The Narooma vessel was able to hold the stricken charter boat in place until the larger Bermagui 30 rescue vessel arrived and took the vessel under tow back to Bermagui.

The other significant benefit of the new pontoon is that will allow the unit to store its Jet-ski personal water craft down on the water, allowing for much quicker deployment to any incident on the bar crossing.

The location of the Jet-skis has been a contentious issue over the years with failed attempts to have a new ramp constructed closer to the bar entrance.

The unit now has three qualified personal water craft operators but was always looking for new, younger members for this and other duties.

Mr Hibbett said residents should realise that the unit needs to raise its own funds for the operation of its equipment and training of its volunteers, and this was the case for the pontoon, although he was hopeful that a recent grant application would help.

Nevertheless, he encouraged locals to donate to the unit or to assist with the construction in any way.

In other Marine Rescue news, volunteers Trevor Taylor and Ray Kapel were currently completing an intensive commercial shipping course at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.

Trevor and Ray paid for the course and their travel themselves.

“These are some of our keen and dedicated members willing to learn more and become more proficient in the Marine Rescue service,” Mr Hibbett said.

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide