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Coast Guard sends SOS

Tin Can Bay Coast Guard volunteer crewman Peter Conway said the organisation’s pontoon had been out of order since January because of major damage caused by a combination of storms and floods.
Tin Can Bay Coast Guard volunteer crewman Peter Conway said the organisation’s pontoon had been out of order since January because of major damage caused by a combination of storms and floods. Lee Gailer

TIN Can Bay Coast Guard volunteer crewman Peter Conway feels like a member of the "forgotten emergency service".

He's not alone in thinking that an essential emergency marine rescue service deserved proper funding, but Mr Conway is more concerned about the state of the Coast Guard pontoon.

The pontoon has been out of order since the end of January when it was badly damaged during the extreme Australia Day weather event.

Strong winds and 1.5 metres of storm surge on top of a spring tide caused major damage.

The yacht club recorded wind gusts up to 126kmh and waves more than a metre in height were crashing over the public jetty and Coast Guard pontoon.

The two hydro-lifts that held the rescue boats were broken and have since been repaired by volunteers, but the condition of the pontoon is so bad it needs replacing at a cost of around $70,000.

Coast Guard operations are now at the mercy of the insurance agency assessing the claim.

"As it is, it is a workplace health and safety issue," Tin Can Bay Coast Guard spokeswoman Julie Hartwig said.

"Having the pontoon out of order has severely restricted our operations and also impacted on Sailability. It's basically shut them down."

Volunteers respond to an average of 200 assists each year and cover an area from south of Double Island Point, north up to Waddy Point at Fraser Island and 80km out to sea.

Until the pontoon is replaced, the primary vessel, Cooloola Rescue, is moored at the marina and two smaller rescue boats are kept on trailers.

Topics:  coast guard damage repair rescue service tin can bay

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