MOTHER Nature could not have provided a warmer greeting.
Under a brilliant sun and in calm seas off Bar Beach and Merewether, the Newcastle unit of Marine Rescue NSW tested its new boat on Tuesday morning.
Even warmer than the weather's welcome was the reaction of unit commander Ron Calman to the boat's arrival.
"It's just fantastic," said Mr Calman. "We've been putting it through its paces, just to get familiar with it."
Just a few hours earlier, the 10-metre Naiad craft had been unloaded from a truck that had transported the boat from a factory in northern NSW.
The boat was lowered into the harbour at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina at Wickham.
The $450,000-vessel has been bought by the state government and from fundraising by the Newcastle unit. Ron Calman said he was delighted with the boat, because it was the first time the unit had received a brand new vessel.
"All the others have been handed down," he said.
The new boat, which will be simply known as Newcastle 30, is larger than the 8-metre vessel it replaces, and it is capable of carrying 10 people.
It also has more power than its replacement and can reach a speed of 42 knots.
Mr Calman said the new boat would allow crews to travel up to 30 nautical miles out to sea. The vessel will also be used for jobs up the Hunter River, with the unit having gone as far as Morpeth to help boats in trouble.
He said the 10-metre rescue boat was also equipped with the latest technology, including tracking devices and night-vision equipment.
"I think it will be a good asset for Newcastle," Mr Calman said.
Now that Marine Rescue Newcastle has a new boat, the unit's 75 members are waiting for their new home.
After using a string of temporary bases, the unit is to be stationed in a building to be constructed on the foreshore at Stockton.
However, the building of the base has not begun.
"We're very keen to get that building of our own underway," Mr Calman said.
Read more: New base for Marine Rescue Newcastle
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