Joint effort rescue of jet ski at Merimbula

Merimbula Marine Rescue hand over to the lifeguard who tows the broken PWC safely under the bridge to the boat ramp. Picture: Supplied.
Merimbula Marine Rescue hand over to the lifeguard who tows the broken PWC safely under the bridge to the boat ramp. Picture: Supplied.

A simple rescue turned into a scenario demonstrating the effective teamwork of emergency services and members of the public. 

At around 4pm on Wednesday, January 9, a PWC (personal water craft) commonly known as a jetski, had broken down near Main Beach Merimbula.

The male driver had attempted to raise the attention of nearby vessels before having to set off an emergency flare.

“He had tried to flag down other vessels but the conditions were rough, so he decided to let off a flare,” deputy unit commander Sonia Teston of Marine Rescue said.

“He was out by the yellow shark detecting buoy when he had also rung through to Marine Rescue.”

Ms Teston was in the radio room training a new volunteer when she received the call.

“We had just gone through a simulated exercise of almost the same scenario, then low and behold we got a real one!” she confessed. 

Following the distress signal set off by the driver, members of the public had also called through to Merimbula Marine Rescue. 

“I want to thank the public for their calls, we had one after another who called us.

“We also had people knocking on our door which was so great to know people knew who to contact,” Ms Teston said.

So many boats have gone past in the last few weeks without logging on, should the worst occur we need to know who to look for

Sonia Teston

Eden Water Police were notified of the situation and had called the ALS (Australian Lifeguard Service) to assist.

An RWC (rescue water craft) operator left Pambula Beach to arrive first at the scene. 

Together, Marine Rescue and the RWC operator retrieved the broken-down PWC and towed it to the boat ramp.

“It was a simple tow exercise where the man’s jet ski had broken down, he was all well and fine,” Ms Teston said.

Smooth operations between organisations are paramount in emergency situations, Ms Teston looks forward to engaging in future joint training exercises with Tathra and Pambula Surf Life Saving Clubs.

“We will definitely be looking at joint training exercises this year, working more closely with surf clubs,” she said.

“Because, let’s face it, we can’t do white water rescues and they can’t do deeper water with large vessels.”

We were told this large boat just had a thousand dollar service, and had just broken down – it stopped completely

Sonia Teston

Merimbula is the first location from the Victorian boarder to have a Marine Rescue base with a rescue vessel. The rapid response model of vessel operates from Green Cape to Tathra. 

Throughout the busy holiday season, Merimbula Marine Rescue said they have seen hundreds of boats pass through out to sea without logging on.

“So many boats have gone past our front window in the last few weeks without logging on, should the worst occur we need to know who to look for,” Ms Teston said.

Last week, Marine Rescue responded to a distress call from a six metre boat offshore.

“We were told this large boat just had a thousand dollar service, and had broken down – it stopped completely.

“You never know with machinery or motors what might go wrong,” Ms Teston said.

Skippers are urged to contact Marine Rescue before crossing a bar, Ms Teston said it is easy to use the Marine Rescue App, a marine radio or to simply make a phone call to the station.

“If you have never logged on with us before, we can talk you through it,” she said.

“It makes our job so much easier if you tell us where you are heading, how many people onboard, your rego number and time you will be back.”

Marine emergency numbers

In a boating emergency, radio for help on channel 16 on VHF (distress and calling channel), channel 88 (27.880 MHz) on a 27 MHz radio.

Call Merimbula Marine Rescue on (02) 6495 3331 or Triple-Zero (000)