A FAMILY-friendly volunteer-run club that takes pride in providing sailing training to youth and adults in the community was left reeling after its much-loved rescue boat was stolen in November last year.
“It was a crime of opportunity, simple as that,” Lauderdale Yacht Club commodore Darren Flanagan said.
“The thieves came for the scaffolding we had in place at the time and instead, saw something much more valuable.”
Five jerry cans of fuel were also stolen, along with valuable sailing equipment, marker buoys and life jackets.
“Parks and Wildlife eventually recovered the boat at the top of Mt Rumney the next morning, but it had been burnt out and the outboard removed and taken,” Mr Flanagan said.
“It was just such a shame as the boat was only a few years old and we had just finished paying it off.
“We never imagined something like this could happen.”
Originally belonging to the long-term club member, the stolen rescue boat was the most popular piece of equipment at the club, regularly being used for training, rescue and even the occasional finishing trip.
But, most importantly, the boat was used to run the Lauderdale Boat Club’s children’s program.
“We have more than 100 members at the club and two-thirds are children,” Mr Flanagan said.
“As a result of the theft, we had limited resources for our training program, which was really hard on the children as many were stuck on the beach waiting for their turn.”
With a new rescue boat estimated to cost up to $28,000, Mr Flanagan set out to search for methods of fundraising and decided to try his hand at the online “Go Fund Me” page.
“In the first two-days, the page raised $3000, with donations coming from all over Australia and even the United Kingdom and United States,” he said.
“I think people were really sympathetic to our plight, as our young members were the ones most affected by this incident.
“We also raised an additional $1000 through in-person donations for members of the local community – it was a truly humbling experience to receive so much support.”
Just four-months after the theft occured, the Lauderdale Yacht Club had raised enough money for the purchase of a brand new rescue boat.
The new boat features a centre console, club and sponsor logos, as well as increased working space, seating and storage.
In early March, club members, sponsors and local community members converged at the Lauderdale Yacht Club to witness and celebrate the launch the new rescue boat.
“Everyone was absolutely thrilled with the new boat,” Mr Flanagan.
“In response to this experience, we have also installed a number of security cameras around the club to help ensure nothing like this happens again.
“This whole experience has been a roller coaster of emotions, but we’ve managed to emerge from it stronger than ever.”
For more information about the Lauderdale Yacht Club, visit www.lauderdaleyachtclub.com.
Caption: Young members of the Lauderdale Yacht Club are thrilled with their brand new rescue boat.