PRETTY, BUT ALSO
SKY LANTERNS ARE GAINING POPULARITY, BUT AS SEA RESCUE WARNS, THEY ARE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS: ANDREW INGRAM
ea Rescue asks people to please not use sky lanterns. These lanterns, sometimes called Chinese lanterns, look very beautiful when they float away on a gentle breeze, bright yellow against a dark sky. Party and wedding planners suggest they enhance special occasions, but if you think about it carefully, you will agree they are a hazard in every way. When they float out to sea, they are often mistaken for emergency flares and reported as such. This causes Sea Rescue hours of fruitless searching, because unless there is a witness who is 100% sure it’s a lantern and not a flare, Sea Rescue will launch a search. Should the lantern float inland and land before the fuel block is completely extinguished, it could cause a fire that could easily destroy property and perhaps even lives. Remember the tourist who carelessly threw a burning cigarette out on Table Mountain? The resulting fire cost a woman her life. People who set off these lanterns do so innocently, thinking only of the atmosphere they will create. But with the number of false alarms that Sea Rescue responds to (when it turns out that the ‘flare’ was actually a sky lantern), we are asking people to please refrain from launching the lanterns. Please share this message with your friends, so we can stop their use before they cost someone their life. SR
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
t was just after 11am on Sunday 15 January and the Wilderness duty crew were winding down after an exercise. Some of the volunteers were chatting in the crew area when station commander Hennie Niehaus took a call on his Sea Rescue cellphone. ‘Hennie’s face changed and I could see straight away that it was a call-out,’ said rescue swimmer Torsten Henschel. Hennie lowered the phone ... ‘Drowning in progress at Swartvlei beach.’ ‘Go,’ he said to Torsten. Torsten took the stairs to the ground floor two and three at a time. Seconds later he was in his car, leaving Wilderness, heading for Sedgefield. Fanus Pauw is a teacher at Die Bult school in George. He was the duty master for the weekend and had decided to take 10 boarders for an outing to the beach at Sedgefield. The sea was rough, and when they arrived at the parking lot above the beach, he read the children the riot act.
12 SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
TORSTEN HENSCHEL HAD ONLY TWO THINGS IN MIND WHEN HE WAS CALLED TO A DROWNING IN PROGRESS – GET TO THE CHILD AND GET HIM OUT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, SAYS ANDREW INGRAM
‘Do not go in deep. Swim only between the lifesavers’ flags,’ he said. Fanus knew the rip currents of that stretch of coastline and had spent time with his young charges explaining what to do in an emergency, and he had taken the time to put the Wilderness NSRI telephone number into his cellphone. When things started to go wrong, he was prepared. Ruan Klopper is a wiry 15-year-old. He is slightly built, like a long-distance runner. His mind is active, darting here and there, and clearly he is up for a challenge. Playing with his friend Evangelo Georgakis in the shallows, Ruan noticed that they were being pulled to the left by a strong current. ‘The next thing, Ruan was just gone,’ said Evangelo. Ruan had stepped off the sandbank and into an extremely strong rip-current channel. ‘I wanted to help, but he was pulled out so fast.’ Fanus saw what had happened and ran to the lifeguards
PHOTOGRAPHS: ANDREW INGRAM
to ask for help. But they did not have flippers. Someone offered them a pair, but they did not fit. ‘Ruan was 30m in when he started to yell. Very soon it was 50m and then 60m.’ In desperation, Fanus threw his keys and cell on the sand and ran to the sea, realising at the last minute that if he went in, it would only mean that there would be two or more people in trouble. Then he remembered the NSRI telephone number that he had put on his cell, and called it. ‘Hennie listened to me and said that they would be there in 10 minutes. But I knew that 10 minutes would be too long... Those were the worst 10 minutes I have ever had.’ Torsten was first to arrive at the parking lot above the beach. He jumped out the car and, standing at the parking-lot rail, took stock of the situation. ‘There was a guy who had binoculars, so I borrowed them and could see that there was a child about 300m out
being battered by huge waves. He was in big trouble.’ Torsten then spotted the lifesavers but could not work out why they were on the beach and spent another few seconds scanning for other people in the water. There were none. Still wearing his Sea Rescue trunks from the morning exercise, Torsten decided that there was no time to put on his wetsuit. It was obvious to him that Ruan was too tired and would not be able to hang on much longer. He grabbed his rescue buoy and flippers, and ran for the rip. ‘I had to run across to the left from the parking lot to get into the rip and use it to get me out to Ruan as fast as possible,’ said Torsten. Ruan remembers being washed off his feet and then the rising panic. ‘I was waist-deep and suddenly there was no sand under my feet ... and Evangelo was doer anderkant,’ he said. ‘It was impossible to swim against the current, so I waved
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
and shouted, but the waves were too high. I started to lose hope. The people on the hill were so far away and the waves were very big,’ he continued. Ruan had not seen Torsten get into the rip and started to swim his heart out. And just as the child was giving up, when he had no more to give, suddenly Torsten was in front of him. ‘He was exhausted,’ said Torsten. Normally Torsten would have handed the torpedo buoy to Ruan, making the initial contact safer. But the boy was just too tired. ‘I grabbed him and held him tightly. I did not want to lose him.’ Digging deep, Torsten swam the two of them out to behind the breakers so that they would not get continually battered, and then looked to the shore for the rescue vehicle and little rescue boat that he knew were on the way. ‘I could see the rescue vehicle but they were not coming down onto the beach. There was a problem, but I could not work out what was wrong.’ The crew were unable to open the parking area boom to tow the 4.2m Sea Rescue boat Serendipity onto the beach, so they had started to carry the boat down the dune. Meanwhile Torsten took the decision that he would have to swim Ruan to the beach. Alone, this would be a long, hard swim; swimming a semiconscious boy through pounding surf is an epic challenge. ‘I was tired,’ said Torsten. ‘A huge wave hit us and as we were pushed down, I heard the zzz of an outboard engine at full revs. ‘That was music to my ears.’ The utterly exhausted child was hauled onto the rescue boat and minutes later he was safely on the beach. A complete disaster had been averted, with only seconds to spare. ‘If we had not been at the rescue station, it would have taken us too long to get to the beach. Ruan would not have been able to hang on,’ said Torsten. A few weeks later, we arrive at the school to meet Ruan and his teachers. Torsten gets a warm welcome from Die Bult headmaster Lodewyk Meyer, and when Ruan spots him, the boy’s face breaks out in a huge smile. ‘Hello Torsten,’ he says, as he flings his arms around the Sea Rescue swimmer. Later in the day, Torsten and I are standing on the beach at Sedgefield. He shows me the rip, and is describing the huge waves that were pounding the beach when he dived in and started to swim to Ruan. I turn to him and ask why, in those conditions, he decided to go before the boat arrived. ‘I am a dad,’says Torsten. ‘There was no other option.’ SR
14 SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
This is the letter that the headmaster of the Die Bult school wrote to the NSRI to thank them. Geagte Mnr Niehaus en NSRIspan te Wildernis Ons telefoniese gesprek vroeër vanoggend verwys. Graag wil ek op hierdie wyse weereens die NSRI-stasie te Wildernis van harte bedank vir u flinke optrede wat daartoe gelei het dat Mnr Torsten Henschel spoedig op die toneel kon wees en verhoed het dat ‘n leerder van Die Bultskool by Swartvlei verdrink. Ek het reeds vroeër met Mnr Henschel geskakel en ons opregte dank en waardering aan hom oorgedra. Hy is baie beskeie en het gemeld dat die ondersteuning van die hele span by so ‘n reddingspoging nodig is. Graag versoek ek u om ons dankbetuiging ook aan die ander onbekende persone wat betrokke was, oor te dra. In my gesprek met die seun se moeder, het sy ook haar hoogste waardering uitgespreek vir die wyse waarop u span opgetree het. Wees verseker dat elke persoon wat by u organisasie betrokke is se onbaatsugtige diens en opoffering nie ongesiens verbygaan nie. Ek het vroeër vanoggend met Jackie Kruger van Die Burger gesels en op haar navraag oor die gebeure ook versoek dat die koerant moeite moet doen om groot erkenning te verleen aan die diens wat u organisasie lewer. Dit is iets wat so maklik as vanselfsprekend aanvaar kan word, solank as wat jy nie persoonlik daardeur geraak word nie … tot op ‘n dag! Ons sal u en die span nooit na behore kan vergoed en bedank nie. Weet egter vir seker dat die hele personeel en leerders van hierdie skool u ewig dankbaar sal wees. Die uwe, L Meyer, Hoof: Die Bultskool
IN YOUR HONOUR
On 7 January 2012, a team of 10 men and women, eight from Italtile and two NSRI crewmen, set off to climb Kilimanjaro. Their aim was to raise funds for Sea Rescue but the journey was also a personal pilgrimage and tribute in memory of those who lost their lives on 8 February 2011 when the light aircraft they were flying in crashed into the sea off Plettenberg Bay: Gia Celori, Aletsia Krause, Marilize Compion, Sava Di Bella, Gianpaolo Ravazzotti Simon Hirschberg, Jody Jansen van Rensburg, pilot Bronwyn Parsons and co-pilot Alison van Staden. In the words of Tasmin Mulder, â€˜It is with much gratitude that we acknowledge the support, sponsorship and generous donations towards the NSRI bases in Plett and Knysna through our Kilimanjaro expedition. So far we have raised an incredible R857 132, and Italtile is matching every cent donated. No-one should have to witness what the volunteers of Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) and Station 12 (Knysna) had to on those days, and it is with the utmost appreciation that we shared this experience with Darren Berry and Marc Rodgers (and their bases).â€™ Here, Darren and Marc share their journey...
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF ITALTILE
‘Nothing I was told or read beforehand prepared me for the experience we had climbing Kilimanjaro. Some aspects were easier than expected, while others, like the summit night, were massively more challenging than anything I have undertaken to date. Reaching the summit had little to do with basic fitness and everything to do with mental strength! ‘My Kili experience was significantly enriched by the group of people I was with and our reason for being there. The folks from Italtile showed great inner strength during what must have been a tough emotional rollercoaster. I think the time spent on the mountain provided them all with an opportunity to consider the loss of their friends and colleagues, and also to help in the healing process. I cannot thank Italtile enough for allowing us to be a part of what was a truly amazing experience and also for their support for the NSRI in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed Tanzania and its proud people. The guides and porters on Kili are unique and the true unsung and inspirational heroes of the mountain. They work tirelessly and with superhuman strength to ensure that your trip is as smooth and successful as possible. Watching the train of porters, with bags balanced on their heads weighing as much as they do, effortlessly scaling the Barranco Wall, was humbling. Other
highlights along the way included the constantly changing topography, our perpetually cheerful guides, our diminutive, smiling, laughing waiter Bariki, reaching the Barafu base camp, being the only group on the mountain to enjoy a cup of hot tea at 5 000m (more thanks to our guides) and the constantly changing moods of the mountain. ‘The summit itself deserves a special mention because nothing else on the mountain can prepare you for the occasion. You can’t help but be emotional at finally reaching the crater rim at Stella Point. The sunrise we witnessed from Stella was breathtaking. We had exceptional weather with clear skies in all directions which allowed us to soak up the amazing scenery (while trying to breathe and stay warm at -15ºC). We were also extremely privileged to have the ultimate summit at Uhuru Peak to ourselves for 15 minutes, which is unheard of on Kili (considering there are 20 000 climbers annually). This moment alone created a special opportunity to remember the friends lost in the plane crash with a banner made especially for the occasion and to celebrate the achievement. ‘A trip where lifelong friends were made, one to be cherished and never to be forgotten…’ Darren Berry, Knysna
On the morning of 13 January, as the team was summiting, our Plettenberg Bay and Knysna volunteers went to the Italtile crash site off Plettenberg Bay’s Robberg peninsula to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the crash, as well as to the late Ray Farnham of Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) and the late Wally Hyman of Station 12 (Knysna).
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
‘Climbing Kilimanjaro with Italtile in memory of their loved ones was an honour. This was to be done over the period of seven days, and even though it had been a lifelong dream of mine, I had very little idea of what I was getting myself into. Physically, the first four days were a breeze, and even though it wasn’t mentioned, looking into the eyes of my climbing partner Darren from Station 12 (Knysna), I was thinking this is too easy and had visions of standing at the top sipping champagne with Darren as others struggled their way towards us. This all changed on summit night, when the inability to breathe properly due to the altitude brought on an internal struggle between the physical effort and mind games, when nothing else mattered besides one foot in front of the other and the alluring thought of the summit sign post. I was absolutely drained when I did finally reach it, with the thoughts of our wise guide thumping through my head to the beat of my heart: “You are only half way!” After what I am sure was only five minutes, turning around changed it all, downhill and the rapidly increasing quantity of oxygen made me feel almost superhuman, and then came the
18 SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
emotions. Unexpectedly and uncontrollably tears began to roll, for those who passed on in the plane crash, for Ray Farnham, our former station commander, for my wife and nine-month-old son who were sitting at home and whom I missed so much, and then for the new family to whom over the last seven days I had grown so close. The physical effort had drained every last bit of energy and every last thought out of my body and suddenly there was space for emotions to flow. I had realised a strange phenomenon that we experience as NSRI volunteers: our family increases in size with the most fantastic people, but often, sadly, through the passing of someone’s loved one and a complete stranger to us. ‘After returning, and having a month to reflect on what we had been though, the parallels become clear. It was not about the summit. It was the journey, and very much about what you do on the way, who you are with and how you take it all in that made all the difference. Some of us didn’t make it to the summit, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.’ Marc Rodgers, Plettenberg Bay SR
HONDA OUTBOARD ENGINE
FOR WINTER STORAGE Your outboard engine, specifically your Honda 4-stroke, will form a major investment component on any boat package that you purchase, so if you’re not going to be using it over winter, it’s essential that you take a few easy-to-follow steps to ensure that it will always operate at its optimum level.
Exterior clean Thoroughly clean the exterior of your engine with an appropriate cleaning solvent mixed with water (consult your local Honda Marine dealer for cleaning-solvent advice), in order to remove salt water and any grime deposits that may have settled on the cowlings and cover during usage.
Full engine flush It’s then crucial to give your Honda outboard a good full flush through proper muffs covering either side of the gear-casing flush points. The specific Honda hoseflush mount connection (used for flushing when at a mooring) should not be used in this instance, as this will flush the cylinder head only, whereas for longer-term non-usage you must flush the whole engine. Once done, remove the engine cover and spray the engine down with moisture-repellant oil spray.
Fuel systems Whether you run a ‘portable tank’ or a ‘built-in tank’, it’s important that you run them as near to empty as possible. If you leave any amount of fuel in your tank, you run the risk of condensation build-up, which leads to water getting into the fuel. Also, if unleaded fuel sits for too long, sediment can form in the bottom of your tank which, when you start up again, can be sucked into the filters and block the fuel flow. On smaller Honda carburettor engines (2.3hp to 30hp), disconnect the fuel line running from the fuel tank to the engine and run the fuel in the engine carburettor float dry. All larger-capacity Honda engines (40hp to 225hp) have programmed electronic fuel injection, so you don’t need to disconnect the fuel line.
Electrical system It’s advisable to disconnect your battery – if left unused for long periods of time the battery will slowly start to discharge itself, as the alternator can only keep the battery fully charged if the engine itself is running.
All Honda outboards have a normal fuel filter. All the Honda 40hp to 225hp outboards are equipped with an additional ‘water trap’ fuel filter that will automatically catch any water in your fuel system and set off an alarm, allowing you to check and empty the trap. Once you’ve reconnected your battery, filled up with fresh unleaded petrol and primed your fuel system, keep an eye on this water trap filter, just to make sure that there’s been no condensation build-up during the winter lay-off period.
Maintaining your hull • Thoroughly wash down the hull, removing any salt water, grime or algae, preferably with a high-pressure hose. • Wash down the decks, seating, upholstery and stainless-steel rails. • Remove accessories, such as your radio/GPS Fishfinder units, and store in a safe place. • Lubricate/spray all electrical connection points with moisture repellant oil spray. • Ensure that your boat is safely stored under cover to protect it from the elements, particularly harmful UV rays.
... and trailer
• If you’re launching in salt water, thoroughly wash down your trailer after use and, if launching in fresh water, wash before storage to remove dust, dirt and any grime. • Check that your wheel bearings are sufficiently greased. • Ensure that your tyre pressure is correct before storage. (Should there be insufficient air or should they go flat, irreparable damage may be caused to your tyres.) For any queries, please consult your local Honda Marine dealer. Wishing you safe and happy boating!
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
MULTITASKING ANDREW INGRAM TRAVELLED TO THE VAAL DAM TO ENJOY A WEEKEND WITH HIS INLAND SEA RESCUE COLLEAGUES, AND SPENT MOST OF IT WATCHING IN AMAZEMENT AS THE SMALL GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS MULTITASKED TO MAKE THEIR COMMUNITY A SAFE AND HAPPY ONE TO LIVE IN
t’s a normal kind of Friday evening braai. The group sitting around the table varies both in age and profession, and despite the fact that we’re on the shore of the Vaal Dam, many kilometres from the sea, the common thread running through the group is Sea Rescue. The meat has just come off the fire and the salads uncovered when Dick Manten’s cellphone rings. Dick, Vaal Dam’s station commander, becomes serious. Conversation around the table stops as everyone focuses on him.
20 SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
It’s quite obvious this is a rescue call. ‘Ja... Ja...OK,’ says Dick. The guys on duty are already standing up from the table. Dick kills the call and says ‘There’s a snake in Oom Daan’s yard.’ I am the only one whose jaw drops... The duty crew are already on their way. ‘Wear your glasses,’ Dick shouts after them as they hop into a car. ‘It’s most probably a rinkhals, and they spit at your eyes. Very accurately,’ Dick tells me with a shake of his head. A snake? Sea Rescue? I am amazed. ‘This is a small town and we do all sorts of things,’ laughs Dick as he sees my expression. ‘Sea Rescue on the dam, firefighting, especially in winter, anti-crime patrols, snake catching... You name it.’ We carry on with the meal and a little while later the guys return. ‘It was a rinkhals,’ says Dirk. ‘We let it go behind the police station.’ Station 22 (Vaal Dam) is one of Sea Rescue’s unique stations. It’s one of three Sea Rescue stations that is not on the sea, and yet the Station 22 volunteers cover the largest stretch of
PHOTOGRAPHS: ANDREW INGRAM
VAAL DAM CREW
‘coastline’ of any one of our stations – more than 800km – and they’re on standby to help what is arguably the highest concentration of boats on South African waters. The coastline of the dam stretches over three provinces: Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State, and this huge area is covered from Manten Marina, a family-run business that is located in Deneysville, a stone’s throw from the Vaal Dam wall. Deneysville is a charming small town, with about 1 800 permanent residents and an influx of weekend holiday-makers that can take the population up to 4 600. ‘Winter is very quiet for us as far as Sea Rescue goes, and it’s very dry in this area over the cold months,’ says Dick. ‘It takes the fire brigade about 30 minutes to get here, so we started up a volunteer firefighting unit to fill the gap.’ Dick tells me that just a few days before they were called to a shack fire and, taking two unimogs, which also double up as vehicles to launch boats in his marina, he and Dirk set off to fight the fire. ‘I got a hell of a fright as we got there. Three 9mm shots were fired right behind me. I am not saying that they were aimed at me, but they were very close,’ says Dick. Despite the scare, the blaze was extinguished. The week before that the NSRI volunteers were called to help with a house that was on fire at the exclusive Club 40, a development below the dam wall. ‘The thatch roof was well alight when we got there, so all we could focus on was saving the houses on each side.’ Which they did. The anti-crime patrols came about after a friend of Dick’s was shot at his home. ‘It was the last straw,’ says Dick. So he got the community to pull together and started an anti-crime watch. A vehicle was donated and each evening two patrols go out to make sure that the residents can sleep easy. ‘Previously the town was divided into English and Afrikaans speakers, but this project has got everyone to work together,’ says Dick. Saturday saw the start of the ‘Round the Island’ race weekend. A SAMSA-sponsored yacht race, it is billed as the biggest yacht race on inland waters in the world, and when you see all the sails set for racing this is easy to believe. The Sea Rescue volunteers decided to have the official launch of their new Mitsubishi Triton and Discovery Rescue Runner over this weekend as the town was filled to capacity, and they would be needed to stand by for any drama during the racing. It was a happy official launch, crowded with race goers, and the support for Sea Rescue was overwhelming. The following morning was an early rise and the main sailing event was off at 08h30. You have never seen so many sails. It was truly a sight to behold, and as usual there was a fair share of accidents. Nothing serious, but certainly enough to keep the 5.5m rescue boat Harvey’s Fibreglass and the new Discovery Rescue Runner busy.
For me it had been an interesting weekend. Never had I dreamed that Sea Rescue volunteers could wear so many hats, or that so many sails could fit into such a small start area ... or that catching a rinkhals could be part of an NSRI volunteer’s duty. SR
Opposite page: Vaal Dam crew in action on the water Top: Station 22 station commander Dick Manten thanks Mike Darroll, Brand Sales Manager of Mitsubishi Motors, East Rand, for the donation of the Triton Above: (back row) Johan Geyser, Deon Pretorius, Phil Metlock, Armand Niemand, Dirk Manten and Dicky Manten, (middle row) SJ Labuschagne, DM Lubbe and JJ Barnard, (front row) JB Labuschagne, deputy station commander Jake Manten, Kathy Manten and Janette Viljoen
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
THE NEXT GENERATION
In many ways Sea Rescue is a family affair. Once the salt water gets in your blood it becomes contagious. There’s no doubt in our mind that these tykes will be following in the footsteps of their heroes.
Clockwise from top left: Rob Miles of Station18 (Melkbos) with his wife, Lesley, and their son Joshua; Stephen van den Berg of Station 6 (PE) has family in East London and his nephew, Sebastian, specially asked for a Sea Rescue party. Madeleine Pirzenthal of Station 7 (East London) joined the party and gave the kids a fun WaterWise workshop; Station 23 (Wilderness) kids – Torsten Henschel’s sons Mark (left) and Kai, with Shaun Vonk, the son of new volunteer Mike Vonk
MySchoolMyVillage MyVillage Income R 18 000 R 16 000
R 14 000 R 12 000
R 10 000 2010 R 8 000
R 6 000 R 4 000 R 2 000
This loyalty card continues to be a fundraising success. Shoppers received the card at no cost and each time they swipe it at participating stores (Woolworths, Engen QuickShop and many more participating stores), the merchant (not the shopper) donates a portion of the transaction. We currently have 2 520 supporters using cards and raise R10 000 a month. Imagine if all 52 000 readers of this magazine signed up! To get your free card, send you contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0860 100 445 during office hours. Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper card also raises funds for NSRI, and since June has raised R21 000 for us.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
ZIMKHITHA’S STORY A YOUNG GIRL IS GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE AFTER STATION 18 (MELKBOSSTRAND) CREW RESCUE HER. BY ANDREW INGRAM
Unit. We got the Metro chopper into the air and then we all went out there in our vehicles,’ said Geoff. ‘Johann and Mercia were clever. Once they realised they were lost, they stayed in one place until help arrived.’ Johann explains: ‘We heard a helicopter fly over but never thought that it was for us. We expected guys on foot. Then they called and said that the helicopter was looking for us. ‘We started to look for an opening in the trees and left a trail of toilet paper along the route that we took.’ Johann and Mercia found the opening in the canopy that they had been searching for, but it was a little down a hill ... and there was no cellphone reception from that spot. Mercia climbed back up the hill and, when she got a signal, she could tell the crew which way to fly by listening to the sound of the helicopter. ‘I stayed in the glade and when they flew over me I was swinging my coat at them,’ says Johann. Opposite page: Station 7 Statcom Geoff McGregor with other member of the search party This page clockwise from below: Geoff Mcgregor and the dogs from the K9 Unit, Mercia and Johann van Tonder with Steve Leslie; Mercia is escorted out of the thick forest
‘The guy in the helicopter waved and gave me a thumbs up ... and then people came out of the bush from different directions. They had found our toilet-paper trail.’ It took the rescue team an hour and twenty minutes to get the couple back to their car. The use of the Metro helicopter had made it possible to find the lost couple, and walk them out of the woods before dark. This had been a big concern as the operation swung into gear earlier in the afternoon. ‘They really took care of us,’ smiles Johann. ‘They took a lot of time walking us out slowly, letting us rest, and often cutting a path through the bush for us.’ There is no doubt that the decision to call for help was made at the right time. If Johann and Mercia had waited any longer, there was a good chance they would have spent the night in the bush. And despite the quick response of the multi-agency rescue team, the outcome may not have been so happy. SR
signal, I resigned myself to the fact that there was just no way I was going to succeed. I stopped at a house along the road and asked the owner where I could get a cellphone signal. With her broad Eastern Cape smile, she laughed at me. She invited me into her house and showed me her landline. I paid her R20 to call my wife. It was the best R20 I have ever spent. She had a few home-made curios that I bought as well, just to repay the favour.
PHOTOGRAPHS: MARCUS OSHRY
DURING THE RAINS ,THEY WERE TRAPPED AT THE SCHOOL FOR TWO WEEKS...
weather cleared, I headed off into the Baviaanskloof. The trip into this magnificent reserve is breathtaking. The views from the top of the mountains to the marshy river crossings in the valleys are amazing. The day before I left, I had phoned the owner of a camp site that looked close enough to the school and asked her for a spot for the night. Her response was typical of the friendly people of the Eastern Cape. She said, ‘We aren’t there at the moment but you are welcome to camp over. Just pop R60 under the door and close the gate on your way out.’ I love the Eastern Cape! During my trip to the Doringkloof Camp Site, I counted no fewer than 53 low-level bridge crossings. Of these, 23 had water flowing over the top of them. Some of them were flowing river beds that had to be traversed. This is a staggering amount of water that covers this mountainous area and one can only imagine the logistical nightmares the local children must have just getting from home to school on a daily basis. After a great night’s rest at Doringkloof, I set off to find the school. I was early so, after locating it, I went in search of a high point to get cellphone reception to let my wife know I hadn’t fallen off a cliff or drowned crossing a river. I hadn’t spoken to her since entering the reserve at 2pm the previous day. After travelling for another 50km and having stopped on every koppie, lifting my phone up to the gods searching for a
After my successful search for a telephone, I headed back towards Zaaimanshoek Primary to present my WaterWise workshop. The little settlement is only accessible by crossing a low-level bridge. The learners packed themselves into their tiny school hall. They ranged in age from seven to 15 years. Normally my talks are centred around rip currents but today they needed to be modified to ‘How to get to school safely’. I also included what they should do if they are washed off one of the low-level bridges and taught them bystander CPR. The class was very interactive, and when it came to my asking how many of them have to cross rivers or streams to get to school, at least half put up their hands. They spoke of a place below the school called ‘Die Gat’. It’s a small section of the river about 50m from their classrooms where they go to swim if it’s hot. It’s not particularly deep but there are holes caused by the eddies and also broken glass. This causes all sorts of problems for the bathers in the pool as they stand on the glass and cut themselves. It also causes them to lose their balance and if they can’t swim, they could drown. The holes caused by the eddying currents also cause the smaller children to lose their balance and fall over. I managed to show them how to make a throw line with an empty 5l container. They are now going to keep one next to Die Gat. After the WaterWise workshop, the principal told me that during the rains, they were trapped at the school for two weeks. They couldn’t get out of Zaaimanshoek and nobody could get in. He says that the river can rise by 2m very quickly, and that they have watched people’s cars being swept off the road when the water comes down. Too often the assumption is made that water safety is relevant for coastal school children only, and not enough attention is given to inland schools such as Zaaimanshoek Primary. I hope that the water-safety education they have been left with will never be needed; however, in the event that it is, I hope that it dramatically changes the outcome. Even if just one child’s life is spared, it would had made this trip worth while. SR
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012
STN 18 • MELKBOSSTRAND
STN 28A • PORT ST JOHNS
StatCom: Rhine Barnes (082 990 5958 Craft: Spirit of the Vines – 5.5m RIB, Men’s Health Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 4 Needs: Karcher high-pressure hose
STN 19 • RICHARDS BAY
StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Dorian Robertson (082 990 5949 Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m deep-sea rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m RIB Wet and dry vacuum cleaner
• SHELLEY BEACH
StatCom: Mark Harlen (082 990 5950 Fuel sponsor: Caltex Craft: Caltex Endeavour – 7.3m RIB, Caltex Challenger II – 5.5m RIB, Caltex Discovery – 3.8m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 8 Needs: Fridge, spotlights for mobile, fibreglass sheeting
STN 21 • ST FRANCIS BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Marc May (082 990 5969 Spirit of St Francis II – 8.5m RIB, Eikos Rescuer I – 5.5m RIB Sea bags for crew
STN 22 • VAAL DAM StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:
Dick Manten (083 626 5128 Sasol Harvey’s Fibreglass – 5.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 11 Head torches
STN 23 • WILDERNESS StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Hennie Niehaus (082 990 5955 Spirit of Rotary 100 – 5.5m RIB, Serendipity – 4.2m RIB, Die Swart Tobie – 4.2m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 1 Sea bags for crew, medium-sized bearing puller
STN 24A • LAMBERT’S BAY StatCom: Craft:
Ron Selley (082 922 4334 Private vessels are used for rescues
STN 25 • HARTBEESPOORT DAM StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:
André Kachelhoffer (082 990 5961 Sasol Afrox Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Vodacom Rescuer V – 4.2m RIB Office equipment (stationery) and medical supplies
STN 26 • KOMMETJIE StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Tom Coetzee (082 990 5979 Spirit of Winelands – 5.5m RIB, FNB Wavescapes – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 7 Sea bags
STN 27 • VICTORIA LAKE, GERMISTON StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:
Graham Hartlett (082 441 6989 Sasol Vodacom Rescuer VI – 4.7m RIB White board for training
John Costello (082 550 5430 Walvan Rescuer – 4.2m, Freemason’s Way – 5.5m RIB
STN 29 • AIR SEA RESCUE André Beuster (082 990 5980 Harnesses
STN 30 • AGULHAS StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Reinard Geldenhuys (082 990 5952 Vodacom Rescuer VII – 8.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer II – 4.7 RIB Data projector for training room
STN 31 • STILL BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Enrico Menezies (082 990 5978 Spirit of St Francis – 7.3m RIB, Colorpress Too – 4.2m RIB 2 x 17 pitch cleever Yamaha props, shark-attack kit
STN 32 • PORT EDWARD StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Mick Banks (076 617 5002 Wild Coast Sun Rescuer – 7.3m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 6 UPS (uninteruptable power supply)
STN 33 • WITSAND StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Attie Gunter (082 990 5957 Queenie Paine – 5.5m RIB, Falcon Rescuer – 4.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 9 2 x typist’s chairs, dehumidifier, head torches
STN 34 • YZERFONTEIN StatCom: Craft: Needs:
Rudi Rogers (082 498 7330 Rotary Onwards – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Iffley – 4.2m RIB Funds towards new boathouse
STN 35A StatCom:
STN 36 StatCom: Craft: Needs:
STN 37 StatCom: Craft: Needs:
• WAVECREST, WILD COAST (083 306 3037/047 498 0042
• OYSTER BAY Mark Mans (083 653 6387 Pierre – 4.7m RIB, Seedoo jet ski 4x4 tractor (can be second hand), heavy-duty trailer
• JEFFREYS BAY Rieghard Janse van Rensburg ( 071 896 6831 Two jet skis, Discovery Rescue Runner 12 Sea bags for crew
OTHER • Blankets and towels for casualties (eg from PEP stores). • We also welcome any prizes that can be used for fundraising events. To assist with the above, please call our head office on (021) 434 4011.
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION, PLEASE CALL NSRI’S HEAD OFFICE IN CAPE TOWN ON (021) 434-4011.
IN A WONDERFUL INITIATIVE, MSC STARLIGHT CRUISES OFFERED NSRI SUPPORTERS REDUCED RATES ON THEIR CRUISE SHIPS SINFONIA AND MELODY, AND DONATED A PORTION OF THE FARE TO SEA RESCUE Over the festive season, MSC Starlight Cruises came up with a novel and socially responsible way of avoiding empty beds. Instead of setting sail with unsold cabins, these were offered to Sea Rescue supporters as a last-minute special at greatly reduced rates. A portion of the cruise fee was donated to the NSRI. This initiative offered our supporters the opportunity of a
lifetime and, to date, has raised more than R140 000 for NSRI. Given the success of the project, we are confident that MSC Starlight Cruises will make a similar offer for the next cruise season. To be informed of all future offers, visit www.nsri.org.za and sign up for our newsletter. The information arrives at relatively short notice, so you would need to respond quickly. SR
HERE ARE LETTERS FROM OUR SUPPORTERS WHO TOOK UP THE OFFER: The cruise is something you have to experience once in your lifetime. We had loads of fun. It is the most beautiful ship I have ever seen. As for the staff, I salute them – they work so hard and always had a smile on their faces. I will definitely go on another cruise; we had the time of our lives. It wouldn’t have been possible without Theresa, Alison and Tracey-Lee. You all helped create a memory that I will forever cherish. For that I thank you. Phume (via email)
Thanks to the NSRI and Sinfonia! We had a very nice time and cannot wait to book for another trip. The food, the entertainment, the staff … and everything else was fantastic. My son was very tired… they did so much, but he had a very good time – he just wants to go back. Thanks, Theresa, for all your help. Much appreciated. The Burgess family from Durban (via email)
I had a wonderful trip on the MSC Sinfonia. Would do it again – worth every cent. Avril (via email)
I was on the Sinfonia for four nights and it was really great. Thanks, NSRI. Eric (via email)
40 SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2012