Albany husband and wife sea rescue stalwarts call time
In his 35 years with Albany Sea Rescue, Stan Morley has never aborted a rescue attempt.
Not every trip has been a success, but the sad endings have not come through lack of trying.
Mr Morley built his own boat at the age of 16, putting it together on his mother’s veranda in Youngs Siding.
Together with his wife, Joyce, he would venture into local waters to go fishing when the fish were far more plentiful.
His transition into Albany Sea Rescue came naturally.
“They had radios and they were looking after me when I went out on the boat,” Mr Morley said.
“I thought I should do the same myself, so I got involved with the volunteers.”
Mrs Morley soon joined him as a volunteer, taking on the dual role of rescue-support and fundraiser.
“When I first started we didn’t get money from the government or anything like that,” Mrs Morley said. “We had to do lamington drives, street stalls — all of that.
“If there was a big rescue on, you would make some rolls because the boys would be out there a long time.”
One memory that has stuck with Mr Morley was the death of four men in a light plane crash near Albany in March, 1996.
Pilot John Bell, an expert whale spotter, was killed along with Federal Police officer Det-Sgt Steven Hill, Customs officer Peter Siep and CIB Detective Sen. Const. Charles Scott.
They were looking for evidence of suspected drug importation near the mouth of the Waychinicup River.
Their Cessna 337 crashed into rocks near Mt Manypeaks.
The first Mr Morley knew about it was a phone call at 3am from the president of Albany Sea Rescue.
He went out in the pitch black early hours with strong winds and a big swell causing havoc.
“We saw the plane, nose into the rocks and the bush,” Mr Morley said.
“We couldn’t get near it because there was a big swell going in.
“They sent two helicopters in and we stayed with them because there was a lot of down-draft and we thought what if there’s another accident?
“We stayed there all day and went home when it was dark again. It was a rough one.”
Over the years, the Morleys have seen the resources and equipment of sea rescue units improve significantly.
Enhanced communications on the rugged south coast has been one of the most important advancements.
They have also made plenty of friends, including current Albany Sea Rescue Commander Derek Ryall.
Mr Ryall said going out on the water with Mr Morley was a “great learning experience”.
And he said Mrs Morley’s commitment to the service would be sorely missed.
“When we had the incident at Salmon Holes a few years ago, we met Joyce at Whale World. She had made up a lot of sandwiches and rolls and she was wading into the water to pass them to us on the boat,” Mr Ryall said.
“I think they set an excellent example in the fact that people can see that if you’re prepared to work and learn, you can be a very effective volunteer until you reach a great age.”
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