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Just three weeks after attending a boating fatality at Long Reef, Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches Duty Officer Doug Lucas urges the public to think about their actions before coming to the coast. 

Lucas is disappointed that people can be so irresponsible when it comes to coastal activities. He has seen a lot in his 20 years as a surf lifesaver and 17 years as Duty Officer.

"People just don't seem to understand the impact on volunteers when somebody requires CPR or drowns," says Lucas.

The frustration comes after the Duty Officer witnessed a near-tragedy whilst on patrol at Palm Beach.

Two men from Cranbrook launched their 3.5m runabout at Parsley Bay on the Hawkesbury on 22 December. The small vessel was unregistered and unseaworthy and the men did not foresee the potential danger they were about to put themselves in. They travelled out of the Hawkesbury past Barrenjoey and into the ocean for a spot of fishing off Palm Beach pool in around 80 metres in depth.

It wasn’t long before their 15hp Old Johnson Engine broke down. The vessel started taking on water. They had no communications devices but luck was on their side as onshore winds blew them in towards the Palm Beach pool where they were assisted by Palm Beach lifesavers pulling their vessel to shore.

The pair aged in their early 20s didn’t have any safety equipment other than two life jackets which they weren’t even wearing no EPIRB, VHF radio, Flares, not even any paddles said Lucas who was with his patrol as they were getting ready for Santas arrival on the beach. They were checked out by lifesavers on the beach, and other than being wet they were otherwise not injured.

“This incident is really frustrating as this could have been a Christmas tragedy for two families," said Patrol Captain Lucas. "If it wasn’t for a bit of luck really, they had no means of communication in an unseaworthy boat.

"We want people to have fun out in the water but these simple safety messages are important to follow," he said.

Lifesavers dragged the boat up the beach for it to be salvaged by road later that afternoon by the owner.

With extreme heat forecast for the weekend, surf lifesavers are urging beach-goers to take precautions before heading to the coast. "Tens of thousands of people will head to the beach to cool off over the next week," said Surf Life Saving CEO Steven Pearce. "As a result of the forecast long hot dry climatic conditions we are experiencing, never before had the role of volunteer lifesavers been more important. We really want the public to take time to stop and think before putting themselves, their family and friends in danger.

"Please only swim at a patrolled location and between the red and yellow flags. If you're going to participate in any activities make sure you've checked your equipment and the conditions before heading out," said Pearce.

SLSNSW Beach Safety Tips

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the Beachsafe app or website

  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe website or download the app.


Friday 27 December 2019