Hundreds of volunteer firefighters and their families from brigades around Australia turned out for a fantastic day on the water over the weekend of 14-15 March with members of the boating community. Families arrived at event hubs for a BBQ in the morning before they stepped onboard a variety of boats, including active and cruising sailing vessels, and motor cruisers.
Neil Driscoll, the Founder & Managing Director of Above and Beyond Boating, who established this charity event said it was amazing to see the boating community and volunteer firefighters come together for this day after months of preparation and discussions with multiple organisations to make it happen.
“My wife and I started talking about this event after seeing the devastating fires and the impact it had upon the firefighters. We came to the conclusion that although people signed up to be firefighters, no one signed up for the fire events we’ve seen over the last summer. It must have just been horrendous for the families and our idea was to organise a day on the water to give the families a chance to reconnect.”
The pristine waterways of Northhaven (South Australia), Sydney Harbour and Pittwater (New South Wales), provided a perfect environment for a day of reconnection and relaxation for all involved.
“Today almost makes up for all the days fighting fires” said Ravick Gomes, one of the firefighters.
Peter Lewis, the commodore of Middle Harbour Yacht Club, commented on the importance of this event to their club.
“It’s our little way of thanking those who do so much for us and we need to be supportive of this group of people who volunteer and save lives and property for everyone around Australia. We look forward to continuing this program.”
Boat owner Jon Linton was one of the first people to sign up to this initiative after it was first announced. He welcomed a family of three onboard his boat Llama 2 for the day.
“Today was a fantastic opportunity for boat owners across Australia to show their appreciation for everything the Firefighters and their families sacrificed to keep us safe. A fun filled day on the water for all has created a link between the two communities that will continue in the future. Thank you to Above and Beyond Boating for giving us the opportunity to show how grateful we all are to the real heroes”.
Australia has experienced an extraordinary combination of environmental extremes in fire and flood, and is now experiencing the pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19.
The fires and floods strained and stressed communities in the impacted areas which were primarily regional, and COVID-19 has added to that through social and economic implications of international consequence of an unknown scale and duration.
Boating Industry Association President Darren Vaux says it is a time for looking after each other.
“That is why it was so good to see the Firefighter family day on the water event get off to a great start last weekend,” he said. “Congratulations to all involved and to Neil Driscoll of Above and Beyond Boating for developing the idea.
“The motivation for this initiative was to help share the joy and feel-good benefits of boating with these first responders. Let’s support more opportunities like this where boating can help in the recovery process; to share the benefits of getting out on a boat and out into a clean, fresh environment.”