For my column in this issue, I’d like to tell you about a Club Marine employee who has just logged up a very notable milestone. Phil Johnson is our National Claims Manager and has recently clocked up 30 years of service to the members of Club Marine. Phil, or ‘Strapper’ as he is known around the traps, is one of the foundations upon which Club Marine has been built; a valued and indispensable member of the Club Marine team, and a great mate.
Having joined Club Marine as a fresh-faced boy in short pants (they were long on him, but short by any normal standard) at just 18 years of age, Phil has spent most of his life helping our members manage claims. He met his beautiful wife, Michelle at work and has built an amazing network of industry contacts, many of whom have become life-long friends.
Phil has lived and worked through all the worst things we have had to face over the past three decades, including cyclones, storms, floods, earthquakes, bushfires, crime-waves, the fateful 1998 Sydney Hobart race and some simply horrendous accidents and incidents. But none of these has ever come close to stopping him from delivering the kind of professional, friendly service that our members trust Club Marine to deliver in their times of need.
Whenever we have a major weather event or other catastrophe, Phil Johnson is always amongst the first people we put in place on the ground to activate our response plan. There is simply no one else with more experience, or more capacity to do his job in this country than Phil. And he does it all with a measure of dignity and respect for others that I have rarely seen.
So, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Club Marine members you have helped and worked tirelessly for over the past 30 years, I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to Strapper. Read our tribute to a great guy and a good friend on P40 of this issue.
Elsewhere in this edition you will read about the recent move by NSW Maritime to introduce a new on-water skills component to boat licence testing. This follows on from the successful introduction of the Skippers Ticket program in WA; and we commend both of these excellent initiatives.
The claim files and data we have collected over the past 40 years tell us that when it comes to avoiding problems on the water, there is no substitute for experience. People who are new to boating, by definition, don’t have the benefit of this experience, but at least by ensuring they have a minimum level of skill and awareness, we can equip them to begin their boating career and start to accumulate that experience with confidence.
Training and assessment should not be seen as a barrier to entry to boating for novices. Rather, it can be a real enabler, a gate-keeper that can clear the way for a new boatie to take to the water, confident in their own ability to handle their boat.
Give a poor man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to catch his own, and he will eat for a lifetime. The same is true for a new boatie. Passing a multiple-choice test on a computer at the local motor registry to gain a licence might get someone into a boat and onto the water. But one bad experience might see the end of their boating adventures – or worse, an injury or loss of property or life. But if a person is given all the right skills at the start of their boating career, they stand to enjoy a lifetime of precious experiences with family and loved-ones; safe, happy and memorable times to look back on forever.
Read more about the new NSW regulations first-hand from the Hon Joe Tripodi, NSW Minister for Ports and Waterways, on P16.
Hope you enjoy our latest edition.
Publisher and CEO
Club Marine Limited