Sealegs, the newest acquisition for the Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group, is a boat with wheels that can be driven on both water and land.
Broome's lack of appropriate launching facilities and massive nine metre tide prompted the group to look at this unusual type of vessel to aid them in their rescue efforts.
The 7.7 metre vessel has twelve air pontoons around the outside of it, all wheel drive and has both a thirty horsepower Honda hydraulic motor to drive the legs and hydraulics, and a 200 horsepower motor on the rear. It also comes complete with Simrad navigation gear, radar overlay, night vision and an Automatic Identification System receiver.
Lyle Smedley, who was Commander of the Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group at the time of the new vessel’s acquisition, said the Sealegs is a boon for the group for a number of reasons.
“In Broome we have the threat of deadly Irukandji jellyfish to contend with for four and a half months of the year, however every time we needed to launch our other vessel someone had to go into the water and put themselves at risk,” Lyle said.
“In addition to that, when the tide is low the sand is very boggy. This meant that with our other vessel if we had a callout at 6am we had to wait until 7am to launch it with the tractor.
“The Sealegs satisfies everything we were looking for in terms of ease of use and it also alleviates the stress of loading and launching as there’s no need to get into the water.”
A fast response vessel, the primary use for the boat will be responding to incidents within ten nautical miles of the shore, which is around eighty percent of the group’s callouts.
“We also find that when we are rescuing people within twenty kilometres off the shore the Sealegs is around twelve to fifteen minutes faster than our larger vessel.”
“That’s a significant amount of time, particularly if you are in rough seas, or when you consider that sharks and Irukandji are a danger in the area.
“We do what we do because we want to help the community out, so the ability to respond and assist people faster is the number one reason for the new vessel.”
DFES Marine Services Coordinator Dan Goodlad said the ability to self-launch straight from the beach also means the vessel is an invaluable tool right up and down the coast.
“If there is a major incident somewhere such as Derby, One Arm Point or Eighty Mile Beach then Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue can send this one to assist now that they have the two vessels.”
The vessel was funded from a Federal Government grant via a commitment from Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price MP, and the operating expenses are supported by DFES.