Carol Miell is the lone voice of Australian Radio Rescue Services, call sign: VMR American River Radio.
It’s a voice all yachties want to hear when they radio in their movements in the waters around Kangaroo Island, and definitely a voice you want to hear when you might be in a spot of trouble, as I was when I got lost trying to find her house for a chat about her work.
Supreme irony, she had to come out in her car to find me, and I followed her to her home.
Safe passage, indeed!
Carol who lives with her two rescue greyhounds in American River, has been doing this for 16 years in November, completely voluntarily with no assistance, apart from her SeaLink sponsorship, allowing her to travel to the mainland for a conference once a year.
Carol said, “I’m an ex-yachtie and we got into trouble at sea one night, and in those days there was nobody on radio at night, so we started off doing night watch, the first ever in Australia.”
“We started up the radio station with all my own equipment, which I bought. I do around Australia and local. I’m the only one that does it.”
“In a normal January, I am averaging about 2,000 calls.”
“For example, I’ll get a call saying, ‘This is Vessel named ‘whatever’. We’re two on board. We’re going to go to Port Vincent. We’re from the Squadron and we’ll be there at 14.00.’ If they are not there at 14.00 I’ll go and hunt for them.”
“It’s their safety net. If they haven’t contacted family then at least the family will know where to find them.”
“I look after all the yachts and recreational vessels who want to be kept safe.
“I’m affiliated now with the coastguard in Kingscote which is good and means I can go into town and leave the house.”
Her house has speakers around the walls as she has to listen to every radio broadcast. She also has a shed in the back yard containing all her vital radio equipment.
“I listen to seven channels, around the clock, 24/7. Most of the rescues are at two or three in the morning. I also do twice daily weather reports.”
“I’m 68 and I wouldn’t change it for quids. I love doing what I do. All the charter boys look after me.
“The yachties organised $10,000 for solar panels for me last year. I couldn’t believe it.
“The reward is amazing, but when they get off their yachts, I’m forgotten.”