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EPIRB activation averts family tragedy

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


On the 16th January 2017, Nathan Hardinge of The Basin, Victoria, set out for a day’s fishing on Western Port Bay with his nephew and young son in his Haines Hunter SF535.

After a successful day fishing offshore for Gummy Sharks and Whiting, Nathan and his crew were returning to the Stony Point boat ramp after nightfall, when their boat ran aground on a large sandbar approximately 5km from shore. With the incoming tide moving ever faster, and the boat firmly stuck on the sandbar, they very quickly began taking on water.

Within a matter of minutes, the boat was under water and Nathan and his crew were forced to abandon the vessel. Luckily they were well prepared with the appropriate safety equipment including lifejackets, flares, and their EPIRB, which Nathan activated at 12:07 UTC, sending an alert to AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra.

With all 3 crew members now in the water, in complete darkness, a quick rescue response was needed. Fortunately, the response from AMSA was extremely swift, with an AMSA rescue helicopter tasked and en-route a mere 16 minutes after the first alert was received by the RCC.

The now submerged vessel and its crew were quickly located by the rescue helicopter, providing direction and support to a local Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel which successfully retrieved all three crew members from the water at 13:19 UTC – 1 hour and 12 minutes after the initial alert was received in Canberra.

Speaking to a GME representative in the days after the event, Nathan credited his GME MT400 with saving his life and his family members, saying ‘If it wasn’t for the EPIRB on board, I don’t think we would be having this conversation’.

Rob’s Note: GME EPIRB’s are made right here in Australia, I use them personally and they are credited with more Australian rescues than any other brand.


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