21 December 2004

NSRI warns beachgoers to be prepared

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was involved in five rescues at the weekend, including aiding six people on board a six-metre ski-boat that capsized near Gordon's Bay, and two yachts in difficulty near Robben Island.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said a rubber duck carrying two people capsized in Zeekoevlei at midday on Sunday.

Local law enforcement officials witnessed the incident and called the Nokia rescue helicopter for assistance. However, the pair were able to swim to safety without being airlifted.

Shortly after that, another rubber duck with two passengers capsized in Big Bay. Two police officers on duty at the scene swam out and rescued the two men. No one was injured.

An eight-metre boat, Le Petite Paris, ran into difficulties after three-metre swells and a 45-knot south-easterly wind pushed it against the rocks at Cherry Rock, Clifton.

The five people on board managed to swim to safety with the help of Clifton lifeguards.

The NSRI crew on the way to tow the boat to shore then spotted another two men in kayaks who were also in distress.

The men were not adequately prepared, said Lambinon. "They were being blown out to sea and if the NSRI crew had not been there to help, they would have landed up in serious trouble."

The Le Petite Paris was eventually towed to the Oceana Powerboat Club.

Lambinon said the high swells and strong winds along the Atlantic seaboard should die down on Monday. But people should ensure adequate preparedness.

Lambinon advised: "Have communication devices in proper working order. Have the correct distress equipment and check the weather forecast.

"Also, let another responsible person know where you're going and how long you'll be."

Late on Saturday afternoon Cape Town Port Control sent out an alert that the Countess ski-boat had capsized in the surf line. Lambinon said the NSRI launched two rescue boats.

"The Nokia Rescue Helicopter, Metro Rescue, Strand Fire and Rescue and the SA Police Service responded."

NSRI Gordon's Bay station commander Stuart Burgess said witnesses reported seeing the boat capsize.

"All six people on board clung to the hull until it sank. The crew aboard Sanlam Rescuer rescued the two women and four men. They were unhurt and, after giving them time to recover at our base, we took them home to Harbour Island."

The V&A Waterfront NSRI was alerted to a plea for help from yachts off Robben Island.

Station commander Pat van Eysenn said: "We found the yacht Naledi with 10 people on board, a snapped mast and engine trouble."

The second yacht, with seven people on board, was making good headway towards Granger Bay but had no engine power.

No crew members were hurt.


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