New lease of life for pilot station

Photos by Eli Demeny

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The old Pilot Station at Watson’s Bay in Sydney has been transformed into a community boating safety education centre.

Opened yesterday by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay and Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, the centre will be used to help educate young boaties on how to be safe and responsible on the water.

“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.”

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Chris Mitchell, Jackie Kay and Oliver and Suzanna from Sailability Manly

The BIA bought 3 Hansa 303 Breeze’s to add to their fleets here.  They also have a crane to assist launch and to help sailors who may have a disability to transfer into a Hansa boat. Hansa Sailing’s Chris Mitchell and Jackie Kay were on hand at the ceremony along with Neil Anderson, Sailability NSW Vice President & Chair of the National Sailability Committee.

Ms Upton said the beautiful end-result of the boating safety education centre was thanks to the feedback and support of the local community.

“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.

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Back L-R. Neil Anderson (Sailability NSW Vice President & Chair National Sailability Committee), Paul Tayler (Sailability NSW Treasurer), Stephen Couling (Project Manager), Corrina McMillan (Education &Training Co-ordinator, Boating Industry Association of NSW). Front L-R. Jason Elwes & Grahme Rayner from Port Stephens

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 Ajaka said.

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.”

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