Rotting piles, WHS issues relating to the operation of the rescue vessel and a desire to have a smaller boat capable of servicing Top Lake has prompted Merimbula Marine Rescue to submit a DA to Bega Valley Shire Council for a new wharf at Spencer Park.
Grants officer and volunteer with Merimbula Marine Rescue Stewart Dietrich said the current wharf that the organisation uses was built in the 1990s and is "rotted through" in places. In fact a pile on one corner ofv the pontoon has had to have a reinforcing pile positioned next to it.
The piles will fail in the near future and rather than just replace them we want to improve the functionality of the wharf.Stewart Dietrich, Merimbula Marine Rescue
"The piles will fail in the near future and rather than just replace them we want to improve the functionality of the wharf," he said.
There are several issues, one of which is the water depth where the boat is kept. The rescue boat is stored on an air berth to keep it out of the water when not being used but at low water spring tides there is insufficient water and the air berth settles on the seabed before it has fully flooded.
Mr Dietrich said that while it is possible to use the engines to get the boat off the berth, there are risks of damage in the longer term.
There are also WHS issues associated with reaching across from the unstable platform to connect the air system to the berth.
The organisation expects to be allocated a second rescue vessel for inshore work and access under the road bridge to Top Lake.
"The current rescue boat will not fit under the bridge and so could not address any airport related issues or carry out a tow and return to the boat ramp," Mr Dietrich said.
Marine Rescue was asked if they could help during the Tathra bushfires by sending a vessel along the Bega River to see whether anyone was trapped there but as the only vessel was in for maintenance was unable to help. The Surf Life Saving Club sent an IRB instead.
The smaller boat would be an IRB which would be portable and cheaper to run for training - Marine Rescue has to pay for its fuel for training.
"If we need two boats then we need to reconfigure the wharf," Mr Dietrich said.
The proposal is to have a U-shaped wharf which will allow berthing for the existing vessel, berthing for a smaller IRB in the centre of the U and a space for an RMS vessel, which has to be provided.
The new wharf will extend about a metre further out to access deeper water and will obviously have a larger footprint that the existing wharf but using materials similar to the town jetty in Merimbula opposite the Lakeview Hotel.
Currently the organisation does not have the money for the new wharf which is estimated to cost about $180,000, Mr Dietrich explained. However before applying for grants they must have an approved DA. A decision on the DA is expected from council during May.