Community
On May 14, 2024

It’s cooler to get your boat licence with Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie during autumn and winter

The busiest Marine Rescue NSW unit in the state, Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie, not only assists boaters in need on the water, but its team of highly skilled volunteers also assist people to get out on the water through its boat theory and personal watercraft (PWC) licence courses.

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie Unit Commander Jim Wright said courses are conducted monthly at the Swansea Heads Search and Rescue Coordination Centre.

“Autumn and winter is the perfect time for enthusiasts to complete the theory component of their boat licence or to go for their PWC licence so they are ready to hit the water, legally and with confidence in spring.

“We are often booked out during the warmer months but we do have openings available between now and spring.

“We have a large number of families doing the course. Parents have told us that they want their kids to do the course with them so they too have a better understanding of boating.

“Our courses cater for people 12 years and up,” he said.

Unit Commander Wright said the boat and PWC licence courses are part of the unit’s fundraising initiatives.

“The theory course costs $165 for an adult and $145 for under 16s.

“We use the revenue generated from conducting the courses to assist with our running costs.

“Volunteers from Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie are on-water seven days a week assisting boaters and saving lives on the water.

“With two rescue vessels and two rescue watercraft (jet skis) the unit’s annual fuel bill is around $55,000, the licence courses help with those expenses,” he said.

Since January 2020, volunteers at Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie have completed more than 2,500 search and rescue missions, safely returning 5,400 people to shore.

Whilst Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie is supported by NSW Government, community, and corporates to maintain its 24/7 volunteer search and rescue and radio operations, the unit recently gave back to the community in conjunction with NSW Police Marine Area Command through a youth boat licence pilot driven by Newcastle Water Police Sergeant Jon Clark.

Unit Commander Wright said the concept was Sergeant Clark’s idea.

“He drove it and when he approached me about six months ago, I jumped at the opportunity for the unit to enhance our partnership with Jon’s team at Newcastle Water Police.

“He and his team are brilliant; they’re also very appreciative of our work.

“Volunteers at Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie have worked on missions with Jon for the past decade and this program was a great way to help educate budding young boaters,” he said.

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie boat-licensing coordinator Zoe Wright said seven youngsters took part in the pilot aimed at assisting the youths obtain their boat licence, gain a sense of achievement and enjoy a positive interaction with Water Police.

“The course ran for three days and Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie provided the theory component of the boat licence course and the exam.

“The group began with a swim in the lake wearing lifejackets before heading up to the Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie Search and Rescue Coordination Centre to begin the theory component.

“Their attitude was brilliant, they were engaged, attentive, and participated with enthusiasm,” she said.

Mrs Wright said the students spent the second day on the water with Water Police putting the boat licence theory into practice and importantly boating safety.

The youths also toured Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s radio operations and were educated about the importance of Logging On and Logging Off with Marine Rescue NSW either via the free Marine Rescue app or VHF channel 16.

“On the final day they sat the exam and they all passed,” Mrs Wright said.

Whilst Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s boat licence courses are a fundraising initiative for the unit, there was no cost incurred for the youths involved in the pilot program.

“It was a great opportunity to give back to the community that supports us,” Mrs Wright said.

Unit Commander Wright said Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie was proud to have been part of the youths’ journey.

“We wish them well in the future and if Jon and his team ask us to do it again we would be happy to be involved; it’s a great initiative,” he said.

To learn more about Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s boat theory and PWC licence courses go to https://www.marinerescuelakemacquarie.com.au/

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