Kingscliff flotilla riding high

By SAMANTHA HEALY

AUSTRALIAN Volunteer Coast Guard National Commodore Chris Gillett was on the Tweed yesterday for the official opening of the Kingscliff Flotilla's new training room. Mr Gillett, a Sydney school teacher, said training in rescue, support and surveillance for coast guard volunteers was vital for everyone's sake. He said there were now 77 coast guard flotillas around Australia, with a total of 106 vessels. "The volunteer coast guard's primary role is to educate the public in safe boating, and to assist people in trouble on the water," Mr Gillett said. He said the volunteer coast guard was an accredited response group for the water police and flotillas like Kingscliff played a very important role in keeping coastal waters safe. The Kingscliff training room, at Rotary Park next to Cudgen Creek, provides training in radio operations, marine rescue and administration for the flotilla's 69 members. !LIFEJACKETS almost certainly saved the lives of two men after their tinnie flipped in rough seas at the weekend. Steve Gummer and Shane Olliver had set off across the Tweed bar early on Saturday morning for a day of fishing when their tinnie capsized. John Gnech of the Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) said the two men, both experienced boaties, were attempting to cross the bar when a freak wave swamped their 4.6 metre tinnie. "They did everything right. They had all of the appropriate safety gear, they were wearing lifejackets and were both mariner club members," Mr Gnech said. "It just goes to show that even seasoned boaties can come unstuck and how important a lifejacket is." The two men and their boat were rescued by VMR crews. Mr Gnech said conditions on the bar deteriorated over the weekend with winds and a reasonable swell. Yesterday the VMR were called out twice, once to rescue two men when their engine was swamped at 11am and then again late yesterday when an overturned canoe or kayak was spotted in the river off the Tweed Hospital. In yesterday's first rescue two men in a 4.8 metre fibreglass half cabin runabout hit a steep wave as they exited the bar. "It was a steep wave and when the boat came back down the rear went in first submerging the engine," Mr Gnech said. "They kept trying to restart the motor and by the time we got to them they had drifted one and a half miles from the bar." No details of the overturned vessel were available when the Daily News went to press.



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