Home' Afloat : AFLOAT August 2015 Contents 58 AFLOAT.com.au August 2015
The transformation of the Watsons Bay Pilot Station into a
Boating Safety Education Centre is complete, with the official
opening by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan
Gay and Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton on 30th June.
“ This is such an innovative transformation for this old heritage
beauty – breathing new life into and giving purpose to a building
that had so much potential but wasn’t being used,” Mr Gay said.
“ Thousands of young people are expected to visit this centre
and learn about boating safety through education and practical
training from experts. It is critical children learn boating skills
early and what better way to teach them than with other children
and in an interactive and fun environment.”
The NSW Government has worked closely with key partners
such as Boating Industry Association (BIA), Marine Teachers
Association, Yachting NSW, Paddle NSW and Sailability to turn
this boating centre into a reality. They provided $1.2 million
towards the project to make available an industry class facility
that will be a legacy to boating safety educational activities for
many years to come.
Restoration work started in 2014 and included complete
refurbishment of the building, installation of change room
facilities, boat storage on the lower floor and a large pontoon
and ramp for the launching and recovery of vessels.
Ms Upton said the beautiful end-result of the boating safety
education centre was thanks to the feedback and support of the
“ The history of the Pilot Station has helped define the marine
character of Watsons Bay, and I am pleased to see that the
historical integrity of the building has been maintained today,”
Ms Upton said.
The journey has been a long one – the warren of corridors and
offices were ripped out and replaced with a huge boat storage
area, classroom and changing rooms and the outside restored,
painted and fitted with brand new privacy screens.
Makeover for Watsons Bay
In addition, the BIA has been successful in applying for
funding from the NSW Government through its Water Safety
Black Spots Fund, enabling the centre to be fully equipped with
state-of-the-art teaching equipment, vessels, safety gear and
resources to make the whole educational experience and fun
and fulfilling one.
Interest has also come from Sydney Heritage Fleet, Sydney
Institute of Marine Science, Tribal Warrior, Sailability and Sailors
with disAbilities, .
Purchases also include Hansa sailing dinghies and a C-Crane
to accommodate those with limited mobility. The centre is also
equipped with a chair lift and wheelchair accessible facilities.
Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka was delighted
that the upgrade also gives kids with disability access into the
harbour from an iconic location.
“Everyone deserves to access one of the most beautiful
harbours in the world – and through initiatives like this and
organisations like Sailability – there are no boundaries,” Mr
BIA president Alan Blake said there will be kids from all
walks-of-life coming to this facility to learn more about boating
safety and that can only be a good thing. Getting into the right
safety habits from an early age, like putting on a lifejacket before
you go out on the water can save lives.
“One of the great things about this initiative is that it will
provide opportunities for people with disability to enjoy on-water
activities. Giving everyone the chance to excel and reach their
full potential is what it’s all about,” Alan Blake said.
The Pilot Station has already been busy: Marine Teachers
and High School students have taken to the water in kayaks and
sailing dinghies as part of their Marine Studies, Paddle NSW have
held a couple of training sessions there and Yachting NSW will
use the centre to run motor boat courses.
The pontoon will also become the location for an exciting
research project looking at the marine growth and development
on the new structure. h
Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, Minister for Roads, Maritime
and Freight Duncan Gay and Chairman NSW Maritime Advisory
Council Darren Vaux.
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