Marine Rescue keeps a watch on the water
SAVING lives on the water - that's the slogan that drives Marine Rescue volunteers.
At the Point Danger branch, 81 members keep the service operational seven days a week.
Unit Commander Glenda Ashby is on call 24/7 and has been involved since 1999.
She was recently dubbed the Gold Coast's Volunteer of the Year.
"I never owned a boat or had anything to do with a boat," she said.
"I walked past and I was at a loose end.
"I started off as a radio officer.
"Personally I've been given a lot of opportunities.
"It's just giving back to the community."
The average age of volunteers at Point Danger Marine Rescue is 60 to 65 years.
And more volunteers are being asked to step forward.
"We can offer volunteers a beautiful view and plenty of tea and coffee. We need your time and commitment," Glenda said.
"Everyone's trained in whatever position they hold. The training level is of a high standard. A lot of it is on-the-job training.
"We are volunteers and are expected to act very professional."
Men and women aged 18 years and above are welcome to join.
Computer skills are handy for radio duties, and volunteers on the rescue vessels need to be fairly fit.
Volunteers are expected to do at least two five hourly shifts a month in the radio room.
Fundraising occupies a lot of the branch's time, and a retail shop is on-site.
Point Danger unit receives a subsidy from Marine Rescue NSW which comes from the renewal of boat licences from RMS, as well as grants and donations.
Three rescue vessels have to be maintained.
Summer is a busy time of year for Marine Rescue, monitoring both recreational and commercial vessels.
Volunteers respond to problems like running out of fuel, battery failure, house boat fires and injuries to trawlermen.
"The biggest thing is to educate boaties to log on and off with us," Glenda said.
"If they are overdue, we can contact them first.
"Last Sunday, we had 100 boats out and 50 logged in with us.
"The service is free - it doesn't cost them anything."
The Point Danger branch has been established for 51 years.
In the NSW Northern Rivers region, Marine Rescue also operates at Brunswick Heads, Cape Byron, Ballina, Evans Head, Iluka/Yamba and Wooli.
The MarineRescue app can be a life saver.
When you log on, Marine Rescue knows where you're heading and when you're due back, so a search can be started if you're not back when expected.