The Werribee Coast Guard has appealed for people to stay safe on the water this summer.
The Werribee chapter of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association – which is also known as VF10 (Victorian Flotilla 10) – provides marine search and rescue services to a large section of Port Phillip Bay.
Flotilla’s commander, Bruce Lawrence, said VF10 volunteers frequently received requests from Water Police to help boaters in trouble.
“Just in the period of this last week to fortnight, we’ve had around four calls for help,” he told Star Weekly last week.
“On Monday [December 10], we rescued some people who could have died of hypothermia if we hadn’t found them.”
Mr Lawrence said the Coast Guard found the “inexperienced” group of boaters about 1am in “very choppy waves”.
He said the Coast Guard was often called to help people whose boats were sinking, broken down, run aground or out of fuel.
“Definitely the most important thing to do is make sure you’ve got fresh fuel and plenty of it,” Mr Lawrence said.
“I’d also make sure my anchor worked, we’ve had quite a few jobs lately where people can’t even make themselves safe in one spot because they can’t drop anchor.”
Mr Lawrence said it was also important for would-be sailors to check the weather forecast for the entire day and night.
“So many people look at the day and say, ‘It’s a nice day, why don’t we go for a sail,’ and don’t realise that four hours later, the waves could be up to 1.5 or two metres, and it could be raining,” he said.
Mr Lawrence said anyone intending to venture onto the water should also ensure their life jackets had been recently serviced, their flares were not expired and their mobile phones were fully charged.
He said it was important for boaters to carry reserve battery packs to recharge their phones, as the Coast Guard often needed to call people to find their location.