Being a member of the Volunteer marine rescue is at times really interesting especially when you have a hand in it.
April 2006 I received a page around 10am. I took off without food or water. I was on Point Danger 2, when we pulled up beside Seaspray, a local shark fishing boat (correct me if I am wrong) to collect two men from a overturned boat. We headed out to the bar and go to the location where the boat is overturned. Its not very rough, but we had our main boat Steber 1 come out to assist if needed.
We come up with an idea on how to flip the boat. One boat pulls, while the other with a rope clipped to a rail pulls and hey presto. The marine rescue personnel can’t do this for safety reasons, so we send the owner to put the rope on. The first time we break a rail on the over turned boat or something like that bends. The second time it works. One boat right way up. We take off our connection and Steber 1 takes off with the boat in tow so we can drain the water out through the bungs. It was towed to Fingal where we dropped them off. I learned something about jobs like this especially since the job finished after three in the afternoon. You need to take your own water and food as well.
At times we get called out at all hours. One morning I was woken up at 4am by a phone call for a body search of a jumper off Boyds bay bridge. We arrived at the Hire boat place next to Boyds Bay bridge where we collect two cops. We are coordinated with Kingscliff Coastguard and Tweed Rescue either that or it was the SES. The cop in charge is Wilkenson or something along that line. We are told to search up to the Tweed Bar which we do looking for this person. He isn’t declared dead until confirmed by a doctor.
We then proceed down the river to search down past dry dock road and lakes drive. We haven’t found anything by this point. We start doing searches up and down the river that would please the coroner. No one had found anything at all until the officer on the boat gets a phone call from a fisherman that he had found a body. The strange thing is the floater is in Cobaki lakes behind the airport. That is how far he drifted. Point Danger 2 goes to the fisherman we all are surprised since the floater had plenty of sand banks to get stuck on. Those who know the Tweed River will be surprised.
We went to the fisherman who points out the body bobbing in the water several meters away from shore. I comment to the poor fisherman that I bet it wasn’t what he was expecting when going out fishing.
For at least an hour we baby sat a body while someone who had a smaller boat with a bodybag could come along and pick him up. I had no problems watching a body bob up and down even when the cop got out of the boat and took pictures. To me it was an empty shell something to be curious about.
The times I have gone on a body search turned out to be false alarms or the body hasn’t floated up yet. We had distraught people on a house boat that lost their friend since they had been drinking. I didn’t talk since my answer was she would turn up eventually, I just let the skipper talk. It turned out the young lady swam to shore and walked home.
One night around 11pm a shark fishing boat called Battlecat, a local lost one engine and needed help to be towed through the Tweed bar. At the time the bar was too rough to cross, so we waited around an hour before we could cross. Before crossing, we sat with Battlecat for a little while telling stories since the two skippers knew the crew from Battlecat. There were shark stories, but we returned home from a successful job around 3am and I had a course in Ballina the next day and had to leave around seven.