Gladstone has long been recognised as the boat capital of Queensland, with the highest number of boats owned per capita. This comes as no surprise given our tropical climate, naturally deep harbour, and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef.

Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Gladstone data shows that between 2017 and 2020, an average of 3651 vessels logged their voyages with the organisation.  It is estimated that only 25% of vessels logon with VMR before departing the harbour.  This means that at any given time there are 75% of private vessels at sea where in some cases no one knows their intended destination or is aware if they did not arrive back safely at the intended time.  VMR respond to approximately 70 incidents at sea per annum.

It is very surprising that so many private boat users don’t utilise the VMR service.  Is it lack of awareness, or a ‘she’ll be right’ mentality?  It doesn’t cost anything to register a trip yet logging a trip could be the difference between life or death during an incident at sea.

For as little as $100 per year, private boat owners can also become a member.  This covers the individual, and it can be transferred to whichever boat/vessel they are on.  It does not have to be their own boat.  For members there is no callout fee and the first $500 of fuel used in providing assistance is free.

For non-members, a rescue trip can quickly add up:

  • Towage from Rock Cod Shoals back to the Marina Ramp is free members but it will cost a non-member about $1060.
  • Towage from Northwest Island back to the Marina Ramp will cost a member about $400 and about $1860 for non-members.

VMR genuinely believe that their $100 membership is about the best investment a boat owner can make, and for good reason!

VMR are a not-for-profit organisation and were established in 1971.  They provide volunteer marine search and rescue services to the public from Cape Capricorn in the north, and as far south as Bustard Head, and 50 nautical miles seaward to the reef islands. One of the most important services they provide is a free radio-based service for the public to log their trip, irrespective of whether they are a VMR member or not. When contacted, VMR collect details of the boat, the occupants, where they are leaving from, where they are going and when they intend to be back.  If a boat does not arrive back at that intended time, VMR attempt to contact them and if this is not successful, a search and rescue operation is initiated using the information that has been provided by the boat owner at the time of departure.


LOCATIONS estate agents have recently added VMR to their list of nominated beneficiaries as part of our Community Donation Program.  Sellers who settle a property with LOCATIONS are invited to nominate their preferred beneficiary, and what better cause than VMR.  We strongly recommend that all members of the community who own a private boat or vessel consider VMR membership, and as a minimum, log ALL trips with the organisation.  For more information, contact the VMR Gladstone team via the website –

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