15 March 2005

French yachtsman runs aground in Cape waters

A French yachtsman and his dog, Joe, were shipwrecked on Monwabisi beach early on Monday after strong winds and currents snapped the two anchors of his 7,4 metre sloop.

Jean-Claude Royer, 58, from Saint Etienne in France, is spending three months sailing around South Africa. En route to Gordon's Bay he anchored the boat five miles out to sea to sleep. Next thing he was knocked against the jagged rocks of a narrow cove on the beach, which broke the engine and rudder.

The boat's 9.9 horsepower engine was suitable for pulling out of a harbour but not for the open ocean, said Vaughn Seconds, station commander of NSRI station 16.

"It looks like a gypsy yacht to me."

The NSRI would either tow or escort Royer to Simon's Town where he could have his boat fixed, said Seconds.

"No one has ever crashed out here," he added.

An eyewitness, Lloyd Marshall, spotted Royer as he was driving to work. "He was quite bedraggled and trying to wave traffic down like a wild man."

Although his English was limited, Royer managed to utter the magic words "National Sea Rescue" and Marshall called NSRI coxwain Wally Panday.

An attempt to push the yacht out to sea failed and when the NSRI returned later in the afternoon with high tide, it was decided that it would be best to secure the boat and try again the next morning in the hopes of better weather.

To prevent it from bashing against the rocks they secured the yacht with several tow lines.

"We have advised him not to go anywhere near the boat," Seconds said.

Instead, Royer planned to crawl into a cave about 10 metres away and spend the night there. He has been treated for minor leg injuries and was given food and blankets.

The NSRI also alerted law enforcement officials from the nearby recreational park who would check on him during the night.


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