No one who sets sail at Doubtless Bay, assuming they submit a trip report, does so without Far North Radio and Sea Rescue president Annette Hall knowing about it.

And she had plenty of people to watch over during the first days of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Up to 70 recreational boats had been "out the back of the Cavalli Islands" on the first day of the lockdown, she said, and while numbers toing and froing at Doubtless Bay had not been that high, and had eased off considerably over the last couple of days, some fishers had been reluctant to heed increasingly unambiguous demands from various authorities to stay off the water.

Commercial boats were still working, Hall said, but the concern was that recreational fishers ran the risk of getting into difficulty, which raised the prospect of infecting those who went to their rescue with coronavirus.


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"I told one bloke who didn't want to listen that three of our volunteers have children and the other is over 70, so which one would he like me to send out to save him?" she said.

"I assured him that he would not want me coming out to rescue him, but for goodness' sake, the Prime Minister has said it 32 times - don't go fishing."

One determined individual had said on Tuesday that he was allowed to go out because a police officer had told him he could the previous Thursday.

Meanwhile, it was not uncommon for the aggrieved to question why commercial operators could head out while they couldn't, or to point out that some boats were already out there, and they should be allowed to join them.

Some weren't aware of the lockdown, or were unclear as to what it meant, she said.

Hall's advice to those who were reluctant to heed the warnings had also included that a lot of people would be watching from the safety of their self-isolation decks, and that the police site set up for the reporting of isolation breaches had been so heavily patronised that it had crashed.