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News & Media

  • Marine Rescue Merimbula volunteers awarded for bravery
  • June 20, 2016
Three volunteers from Marine Rescue Merimbula have been awarded for their bravery and skill during a rescue operation to save two fishermen on board a small runabout in danger of being smashed on to rocks in turbulent seas south of Pambula.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos will present Unit Commander Bill Blakeman, Guy Illy and the family of the late Robert Bayliss with the Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage at the unit’s base at 12.30pm on Sunday.

Commissioner Tannos said the Commendation was formal recognition of the three crew members’ bravery and operational expertise during the rescue mission in turbulent conditions off Haycock Point on October 10, 2011.

“Unit Commander Blakeman, Mr Illy and the late Mr Bayliss are deserving of the highest of accolades for the courage and skill they showed to rescue the two men, who were in a precarious situation only 10m from the rocks in winds of 25 to 30 knots and 2.5 to 3m seas.

“The 5m runabout’s engine would not start and the wind and waves had broken the boat’s anchor line, pushing it towards the shore. The two men on board were desperately paddling to try to keep from running on to the rocks when the rescue crew arrived,” he said.

“Skipper Blakeman managed to manoeuvre Merimbula 30 close enough to pass a tow line to the boat and quickly pull it away from immediate danger by the stern before a second line could be attached to the bow to safely return the boat to Merimbula in the worsening conditions.

“The two people on board this boat owe their lives to the crew members of Merimbula 30.

“The skipper told the rescue crew the pair had been considering whether to jump into the water and swim for the rocks or wait until the boat hit and then jump. Thanking the crew, he told them ‘the angels were looking after us today and they wore blue’.”

Commissioner Tannos said the crew had placed the safety of others ahead of their own in order to fulfil MRNSW’s mission to save lives on the water.

“Our volunteers are well equipped and trained for their work but these three crew members also demonstrated a large amount of courage in those conditions,” he said. “They are all richly deserving of this recognition of their unwavering commitment to the safety of the boating community.”

Mr Bayliss’ daughter Tammy Prince will accept her late father’s award in his memory.

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