Friday, October 21, 2011

Marine debris criminals spoiling natural beauty of Great Barrier Reef

 Marine debris criminals spoiling natural beauty of Great Barrier Reef


A report prepared by local group Eco Barge says thoughtless people, criminal seafarers and stormwater are responsible for much of the rubbish, particularly plastic, that blights not just the Great Barrier Reef and islands but all oceans on the planet.

"The proliferate use of disposable plastic is the primary driver," says Founding Chair Libby Edge of the recently renamed Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc.

"But it is the poor management of its ultimate disposal that is creating the marine debris blight," Ms Edge told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian this week before the release of her report at the GBRMPA Local Marine Advisory Committee Chairs meeting to be held in Townsville on October 29-30.

Thoughtless throw-away behaviours coupled to a lack of adequate waste control measures in our urban infrastructure enables the plastic debris to enter into our local waters.

Over the last two years Eco Barge volunteers, including Tony Abbott have collected 5,890 kilograms of marine debris (excluding wreckage from the post cyclone Ului clean up). Almost five kilometres of binding, cable, fishing line & nets, rope, strapping band and tape was retrieved from the islands and a very disgusting 14,300 cigarette butts collected in Airlie Beach's main beach, marinas & the main street.


Marine radio update


The Office of Maritime Communications at the Australian Maritime College is responsible for all marine radio examinations and certification in Australia.

This includes the management of the examination network across Australia, production of the Marine Radio Operators Handbook, exams and certificates for Marine Radio Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) VHF and Satellite Communications Certificates.

"So, how do I obtain a marine radio certificate of proficiency?" The place to start is where you will find a downloadable copy of the current marine radio handbook and advice regarding examinations and indeed, exam questions and answers. Further information on local training and exams is available from Volunteer Marine Rescue and commercial trainers.

A recent question was from a boatie who has had a licence for a long time; Q. "I want to update my knowledge, can I sit another radio operators exam if I already hold a qualification?"

A.  No, do not sit a second exam. If you fail, it will override your previous qualification. You may update your knowledge by reading the handbook and doing the revision quizzes or even attending a course but do not sit the exam.


Kids' jolly boats


Don't forgot the oars! Children just love Jolly Boats, the inflatables and dinghies that are fun to mess about in, with adult supervision, while they learn the skills. Then adventure awaits.

While the outboard engine is a huge attraction, ensure you teach safe practices; teach the children to row.

Personal flotation devices are needed and see that they can get back into the boat.

Monitor the weather and currents. Little arms rowing have a hard time getting back to safety against a strong wind or current. Set boundaries; say only between the boat and the beach, statistically the most dangerous place, so stand watch.

Little ones join in the fun and gain huge satisfaction at mastering rowing, but ensure they are well supervised and remember they can enjoy some measure of independence at the end of a rope. As with everything there are risks involved, but with sensible safety measures,


Message in a Bottle: Old School S.O.S.


The current recommended response on a merchant ship boarded by pirates is to radio a distress call, disable the ship's engines and to retreat into a "citadel," a safe locked-down space aboard the ship to await either rescue or until the pirates simply give up and go away. That is what the officers and crew of the MV Montecristo did when boarded by pirates last week.

Once they retreated however, they lacked a means to communicate with NATO rescuers. So, they used a more traditional means of communication - they stuffed a message in a bottle, stuck a flashing beacon on top and threw the bottle out a porthole. NATO forces retrieved the bottle and learning that the crew was safe, launched a raid on the ship capturing the pirates.


Notice to mariners


Eimeo Creek - Mariners are advised that the Port Lateral Mark beacon Fl.R.2.5s in Eimeo Creek is temporarily unlit. Mariners should navigate with caution in the vicinity. AUS charts 249 & 251


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Cap'n Dan is a regular broadcaster on ABC Radio Tropical North and 4MK



Whitsunday Islands to feature on new weather map

Whitsunday Islands to feature on new weather map


New forecasting technology to be introduced by the Bureau of Meteorology will allow for the first time weather forecasting focused on the Whitsunday Islands enhancing the needs of our marine tourism industry with accurate forecasting and safety.

Neal Moodie, National Manager Marine weather Services and Tony Auden Meteorologist at the Brisbane Regional Forecasting Centre of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) met with a core group of local mariners last week in Airlie Beach that provided an opportunity to discuss, face to face, weather issues that affect our area.

"I enjoyed meeting with this broad group of mariners with obvious expertise about and passion for the Whitsundays," Mr Moodie told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian at the meeting on Thursday night.

"The Whitsunday group will be the first to try out the Bureau's new forecasting and reporting system being introduced by the BoM before it is released to the wider public, probably next year.

"I am expecting we will receive well thought out and considered feedback from this Whitsunday group," Mr Moodie added.

Other issues included the scope of forecasts, the wording and dealing with media sensationalism; called 'beat-ups' in the world of journalism where the motto is "if it bleeds, it leads" that also destroys our tourism industry.

Also discussed was a variety of weather issues including extended forecasts to assist tourists to plan their time here and marine radio broadcasts with a midday update to help planning for overnight anchorages.

Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association organised the meeting attended by local Maritime Safety Queensland Safety Officers and members of the Bareboat and commercial marine industry.


Message in a bottle


In this age of email, text SMS, instant messaging and Facebook/Twitter, it's nice to hear about something different and Olde Worlde.

Harold Hackett of Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada started throwing bottles with messages inside into the Atlantic Ocean in 1996. Since then he has cast 4,800 bottles into the sea and has received 3,100 letters back from Africa, Russia, Holland, the UK, France, Scotland, Ireland, parts of New England, Florida, Norway and the Bahamas. His response rate may be better than the average "Friend" request rate on Facebook and Mr Hackett says he does not put his telephone number or an email on the messages, as he would rather get a letter that he can treasure.


Troubled tourists


Readers say they enjoyed the real comments made by British tourists to their travel agents. Here are a few more pearlers.

"No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled."

"It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England; it only took the Americans three hours to get home."

"I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller."

"I was bitten by a mosquito; no-one said they could bite."

"On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all."

Finally, in Spain, "There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners now live abroad." Moreover, "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned."


Storytelling Challenge


The folks at Jack Tar Magazine are sponsoring a writing contest for young writers "The New Conrads" Storytelling Challenge, with US$1,000 prize money. Joseph Conrad sailed and wrote during the demise of "The Golden Age of Sail" and the rise of steam and diesel. 100 years later, giant diesel-powered ships are already back to using sails in order to save fuel. What will shipping look like when oil becomes too expensive to power the thousands of cargo vessels upon which the global economy depends?

Create a story, 1000 words or more, that focuses on the maritime culture and/or the shipping industry in the post-petroleum future. Deadline is midnight, October 31. Email inquiries and stories to


Port of Airlie notices


Speed limit declared - Mariners be advised that a six-knot speed limit be declared for the entire entrance channel into the Port of Airlie marina, Boat Haven Bay.

Exclusion zones - Mariners take note that exclusion zones be declared within the Port of Airlie marina. The exclusion zones encompass the marina pontoons and walkways construction sites.

Chartlet maps are available for both items from MSQ to update AUS charts 252 & 268


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Marine weather watchers wanted for their ideas

Marine weather watchers wanted for their ideas


A meeting this week will provide an opportunity for the Bureau of Meteorology to meet with the Whitsunday Marine Community and discuss a variety of weather issues.

Rachael Bell, Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association Regional Coordinator says all mariners and users of marine weather services are invited to the meeting this Thursday October 6, 6pm at PCYC.

"This meeting may be a good opportunity to lobby to get Airlie Beach onto the local and national weather maps and forecasts; something many have wanted for a long time," Ms Bell told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian.

"There is an interesting list of items the BoM would like to discuss with Mariners however it is important to RSVP by contacting Pradeep Singh on 07 3239 8751 or to ensure good attendance." Ms Bell added.

Mariners are familiar with the products provided by BoM and we use them everyday. However this National Issues Agenda will look to provide enhanced services to the marine industry using advance technology to provide more localised forecasting and reporting.

Both recreational and commercial users know the current forecast area such as Bowen to St Laurance is a huge area that often contains a variety of weather systems. Would smaller more targeted areas be of more use? South East Queensland area is divided into four smaller areas.

This is now on the agenda and includes naming convention of new areas, how to refer to new areas in warnings, the setup of broadcast schedules to accommodate new areas, coastal services for Marine radio.

Would marine users like an extension of forecasts to four days? A culture heavily influencing marine activities is tourism and it is believed that tourists would like to plan their trips using seven-day forecasts. What are your thoughts and is it achievable?

How should wind changes be described and do we need to review the observations provided? Locally most mariners use the observations at Hamilton Island rather than Proserpine Whitsunday Coast Airport - common sense really for marine crew. Perhaps sites to record wind speed and direction, pressure and air temperature at agreed sites desired by mariners. Some of this would duplicate the standard BOM network in some locations, but sites located on water's edge would be more useful rather than inland at an airport.

How to make the forecast more relevant to the recreational boater. A problem with coastal services for Marine radio Issue is that the text is becoming too detailed and is pushing the boundaries of the broadcast schedule. Mariners are keen to avoid adverse weather conditions on their journeys. BoM is seeking advice on how to resolve this issue. 

An interesting element of the presentation will be a review of anecdotal reports from the Japan generated tsunami in March 2011. BoM wants to know what is the best way to notify mariners, what education is required?

The capabilities of HF digital radio to provide multi-streamed voice broadcasts, results in more regular updates of forecast information with a marine survey indicated a large increase in mariners using laptops on board.

It may be useful to consider a local committee to consider, advance and advocate benefits for our area and industry.


Port of Airlie?


If the Bureau of Meteorology was to consider a new naming convention policy for coastal weather zones based on major port, or geographic location, what might it be?

Airlie Beach and Whitsunday are currently not registered ports so it might be worth looking at this . . . again.


Acacia Island, Port Newry


Mariners are advised that a 4.1-metre aluminium open vessel has capsized adjacent Acacia Island in Port Newry and may be semi-submerged and drifting, is considered a potential navigation hazard. Mariners should navigate with caution in the vicinity. AUS charts 251 & 824


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan