IN TRAINING: Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba watch officer Mike Fitzgerald learns how to operate the new radio system.
IN TRAINING: Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba watch officer Mike Fitzgerald learns how to operate the new radio system. Caitlan Charles

Safety message loud and clear thanks to improved radios

MARINE Rescue Iluka Yamba operators have been selling raffle tickets in the past few months to help with upgrades at their base, needed as part of improvements to the radio system across the North Coast.

Marine Rescue NSW is upgrading and adding repeater stations at Marine Rescue Iluka Yamba in conjunction with two new repeater stations being installed in the Clarence Valley.

Sitting on top of the Yamba reservoir - and one scheduled for Clarence Peak - are repeater stations, ready to pick up calls from vessels along the Clarence Coast.

Unit commander Frank Bond said radio operators had been retrained in the past week to use the new system, which is set to make boating safer along the North Coast.

"Channel 16 is the main distress call channel for marine operations, so vessels need to be calling in on 16 for the system to work officially,” he said.

"As well as going from our normal transmission, we now have two new repeater stations. At present with working from the reservoir, we're picking up Coffs Harbour easily. We couldn't do that in the past.

"Also, in the past we have not been able to pick up boats tucked in fairly close to the shore between here and Wooli.”

Now, Iluka/Yamba Marine Rescue will operate 24 hours a day with the help of Marine Rescue Sydney, which will take over radio operations at night.

In the past, Wooli Marine Rescue members Richard and Jackie Taffs operated the out-of-hours standby station 24 hours a day to help bridge the gap in radio reception between Woolgoolga and Yamba.

Iluka/Yamba's new system was expected to be operational by the weekend.

"The biggest change is our operators' shifts will be moving forward. While they will still work six-hour shifts, they will be moving forward to stop the log-on traffic from swamping Sydney,” Mr Bond said.



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