Hundreds of volunteer firefighters and their families from brigades around Australia turned out for a fantastic day on the water 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 and Managing Director of Above & 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.
Darren Vaux, President of the Boating Industry Association, said, “A great day out on the water can make a positive and lasting difference to people’s lives and it was an excellent and appropriate way for our industry and boaters to show our thanks and support to firefighters and their families.
We have no doubt that this will become a tradition as boaters continue to share the joy of the boating lifestyle to those who volunteer their time to protect their communities.”
Peter Lewis, the commodore of Middle Harbour Yacht Club, commented on the importance of this event to their club.
“Its 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.”
Some event Hubs decided to postpone their events ahead of the weekend, due to potentially unfavourable weather conditions, and not cause long travel distances for some families. However, the structure of the wider Firefighter family day event has allowed for the majority of the connected boats and families to arrange an alternative date to still meet up for a great day on the water.
Above & Beyond Boating would like to extend their thanks to all of the boat owners and charter vessel operators that have provided their boats, to the event Hubs, supporting businesses and all of the volunteers involved for their organisational support to make this event happen.