SEA RESCUE R14.95 | FREE TO NSRI MEMBERS | AUTUMN 2013
PORT ALFRED CREW ASSIST DURING HEAVY FLOODS
RIVER RESCUE FOR RICHARDS BAY VOLUNTEERS
RESCUE 15 LAUNCHES AFTER A LONG JOURNEY
SA SALVAGE MASTER ON COSTA CONCORDIA TEAM
Every Course Charted.
CONTENTS AUTUMN 2013
Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to win a Luminox watch worth R3 500 See page 4 for more details.
2 CEO’S LETTER AND READERS’ COMMENTS 8 A TOWN UNDER SIEGE
Station 21 (St Francis Bay) assists during fires and floods
A day at the beach turns into a nightmare for Andrea Nel
12 THE LONGEST HOUR
31 OUT IN THE COLD
Surfskier David Black beat the odds in high seas as Sea Rescue volunteers searched for him
More about hypothermia
32 BEARS OF THE SEA Seals – an amazing story of evolution
14 BULLETIN BOARD Fundraising drives, NSRI events and station news
34 IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
20 TEAS AND TOURS, ANYONE?
NSRI crewman Tomé Mendes shares the lessons he learnt after going overboard
The latest from NSRI’s Life boat Circle
Station 11 (Port Alfred) crew was ready to protect and serve during the recent floods
35 LUCA’S STORY
When an ordinary day turns out to be an extraordinary adventure
36 FROM THE HEART
We meet Kenneth Gagela, WaterWise Academy’s newest facilitator
24 ON THE FLY
Discover the appeal of fly-fishing
26 JOB WELL DONE! The incredible journey of Station 15’s (Mossel Bay) new 10m rescue vessel
We talk to salvage master Captain Nick Sloane about refloating the Costa Concordia
38 STATION DIRECTORY
28 TRUE COMMUNITY SERVICE Station 19 (Richards Bay) responds to people trapped after the Umfolozi River floods
37 DELICATE OPERATION
40 IT TAKES A VILLAGE Station 33 (Witsand) crew fly to London for IMO Awards
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 01
CONTACT US CAPE TOWN: Head Office, 1 Glengariff Road, Three Anchor Bay 8001, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051 Tel: +27 21 434 4011 Fax: +27 21 434 1661 Visit our website at www.nsri.org.za, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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an you imagine how it would feel to be on the phone with a man who is busy treading water, keeping him focused and relaying information while the rescue boats search for him? It wasn’t a good day to be out in the water, as David Black himself describes it: ‘My surfski broke in pretty extreme conditions. Even though I was in constant cellphone contact with the NSRI, it took almost an hour to locate me in the rough sea conditions, by which point my body temperature had dropped to 32˚C, approaching severe hypothermia. Treading water with a waterlogged tail section, 1km offshore in cold, rough conditions is a scary experience.’ On the other side of the phone was Yvette du Preez, one of our volunteers at Station 10 (Simon’s Town). She joined NSRI in 2006, and although she’s a qualified coxswain, her role on this rescue operation was as one of the shore controllers. Yvette was positioned on the mountainside above Boulders Beach. She stayed glued to the spot because cellphone reception was patchy in the area and she knew she needed to keep talking to David. Just two months before she had been the victim of an armed robbery. Now she was the lifeline in a life-threatening situation. Further along the mountainside, station commander Darren Zimmerman (22 years’ service) had a good vantage point but no cellphone signal, so he communicated with his crew by hand-held radio. Down on the water, the wind was a force-eight gale and the swell was three to four metres high. At the helm of Spirit of Safmarine was coxswain Stuart Buchanan (20 years’ service) and on the 5.5m
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02 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
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PHOTOGRAPH: ANDREW INGRAM
FROM THE HELM
David Black and Yvette du Preez
Eddie Beaumont was coxswain Robbie Robinson (16 years’ service). Operating a rescue boat in those hair-raising conditions is what we are trained for, but the additional pressure of time ticking away while a man is in the water is not for the faint-hearted. It was a stressful call for the whole crew because there was a very real possibility that David might drown while on the phone to us and before we found him. A vital link in this chain was Derek Goldman of Paddler’s Kayak Shop in Simon’s Town, who stood watch on the veranda of his home, spotted David through his telescope and then managed to direct the rescue boats towards him. In this issue you will also read about a 10-yearold boy who kept a cool head to save the life of another child, and how St Francis Bay and Port Alfred crew went all out to assist during the devastating floods and fire that hit the area last year. That’s what it’s all about – people who care about other people.
IAN WIENBURG, CEO
Produced for the NSRI by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. Copyright: The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without the prior permission of the editor. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not the NSRI. Offers are available while stocks last.
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SEA RESCUE R14.95 | FREE TO NSRI MEMBERS | AUTUMN 2013
PORT ALFRED CREW ASSIST DURING HEAVY FLOODS
RIVER RESCUE FOR RICHARDS BAY VOLUNTEERS
RESCUE 15 LAUNCHES AFTER A LONG JOURNEY
SA SALVAGE MASTER ON COSTA CONCORDIA TEAM
ON OUR COVER Erin Barkley (4) is carried to safety from a flooded Port Alfred holiday resort by NSRI volunteers JJ French and Jarred Clur. Photograph: Keryn van der Walt
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LETTERS WINNING LETTER
The writer of the winning letter published in the Winter 2013 issue of Sea Rescue will win a sumptuous hamper of Slaley wines valued at R750. This hamper can also be ordered from Slaley as a promotional gift or for a special occasion. For more information, call (021) 865 2123, visit www.slaley.co.za or pop by and see us on the corner of the R44 and Kromme Rhee Road outside Stellenbosch.
Thank you to the writer of our winning letter, who hiked the Otter Trail with a group of friends. The hikers were caught in strong undercurrents while trying to cross at the Bloukrans River mouth. (Read the story at www.nsri.org.za/2013/01/hikers-swept-out-to-sea/)
I was one of the five who made it to the other side. We entered the river at low tide, crossing where we were supposed to. It was calm and low, but we had no idea how strong the undercurrent from the ocean was or how quickly and how far it would pull us out. It had rained the night before and the winds were strong and the sea was rough. According to the SANParks rangers it wasnt a ‘normal’ low tide. They were surprised we made it out of the water at all. Initially, there wasn’t any sign of danger. The tide was going out when we got to the river at 07h00. We waited, relaxed a bit and put our packs in survival bags. Then we starting walking across the river. For 90% of the way the water reached our ankles. About 5m from the opposite bank it was knee deep. There was a 2m gully we had to swim across on the far side and the water was dark brown and very deep. There was no other way to cross the river but swim that short bit. By all accounts the storm the night before and the rough seas contributed to that undercurrent that pulled us out. We were very lucky to get out on the other side. We were in an SOS area, but the signal was patchy. We called 112 first but kept losing PHOTOGRAPH: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM the connection. Then we called the Bloukrans River is part of the popular Otter Trail the ranger on duty once we got Crossing in the Garden Route a decent signal. We also called 10111. Either of them must have called the NSRI. Mountain Rescue was on the scene first, followed by SANParks rangers. The NSRI called us back to say they were launching a rescue boat (from Plett, I think). They were there in five minutes but couldn’t get any closer to the rocks because of the swells. I dont know who called who. But they did an amazing job. SANParks later recovered all four bags that were swept out to sea. We would like to thank SANParks, the NSRI, Mountain Rescue and the owner of Bloukrans Bungee for the sterling job they did in assisting us. To all hikers, the Otter Trail is spectacular. We would do it again in a heartbeat! But do not underestimate the rivers. Even at low tide. GT (via email)
Send your letters to Sea Rescue magazine, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. (The winning letter is chosen at the editor’s discretion.)
VALUABLE ASSISTANCE FROM NSRI We at the False Bay Inflatable Boat Club (FBIBC) would like to convey our gratitude for your continuous support towards the club’s inflatable racing events. FBIBC was formed 23 years ago and has received the assistance of Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) during many of our events over the years. We are extremely grateful for the commitment of your teams and members during long days on the beach and on the water. Inflatable racing is a unique and special sport in South Africa – but it’s also an amateur sport, so we rely on sponsorships and the assistance of organisations like yours. The South African Inflatable Boat Association (SAIBA) promotes safe racing in a controlled environment, and we have an excellent safety record, thanks to your professional approach and valued assistance. Once again, our special thanks for your continued support – we value your unselfish assistance and time! Hermann van Geems, president: SAIBA and chairman: FBIBC
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 03
WIN A WATCH Using Luminox night technology, Swiss-made Luminox watches give you 25 years of unlimited night visibility. Self-powered by microgas tubes, the watch is visible in all light conditions, and therefore considered essential gear by the US Navy SEALs. It retails at R3 500 FEATURES: 100m water-resistant / Unidirectional revolving bezel Hardened mineral glass / Polycarbon reinforced case. For more information, visit www.luminox.com or email Doug Sutherland at email@example.com. Please post your form to NSRI, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051, or to your nearest regional office, or fax it to (021) 434 1661.
PHOTOGRAPHS: ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
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›› I’d like to commend Station 34 (Yzerfontein) and the South African Whale Disentanglement Network on their untiring efforts to successfully release the entangled humpback whale at Dassen Island on 24 January despite the challenges of, for example, having to cut the ropes so close to its eye. May you be rewarded richly for the excellent work you do on a regular basis. Dagmar Ham ›› Thank you to your team for rescuing the humpback whale from certain death. I am so proud to be a South African. Karien van der Vyver, Department of International Relations and Cooperation
CONGRATULATIONS TO HENNIE SMIT, OUR PREVIOUS WINNER
THANKS TO MARGARET AND THE LIFE BOAT CIRCLE I WOULD LIKE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SEA RESCUE MAGAZINE I WOULD LIKE TO BUY A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION FOR THE PERSON BELOW Full name:...................................................................................................................................... Postal address:......................................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................................................................. ................................................................................ Postal code:................................................
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Please find enclosed cheque/postal order for R100 Debit my Visa/MasterCard to the amount of R100
Cardholder’s name:............................................................................................................. Card no Expiry date of card CVV number Cardholder’s telephone no:......................................................................................... Signature:...................................................................................................................................... Terms and conditions: 1. The draw is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 June 2013. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Winter 2013 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 5. By entering this draw, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 6. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
My wife and I wish to thank the NSRI for a great get-together in Fish Hoek on 6 November last year. The venue and the food were excellent, the talk by Martinique Stilwell and Bruce Sanderson’s singing were very good and, in general, the manner in which the whole occasion was conducted was outstanding. This gathering made me feel proud to have been involved with the NSRI for many years, almost from its inception, and to continue in retirement as a member of the Life boat Circle. Jim and Kathy Duncan
HELPING FOREIGNERS TO OUR SHORES We’d like to express our sincere gratitude for your involvement in the assistance of Mr Gartiez. The National Sea Rescue Institute truly is an excellent example of
South African humanitarian services. Please convey our thanks to all those involved. South Africa can be proud of the NSRI Thank you for keeping South African waters safe. Angelika Saake, German Embassy, Pretoria
PRAISE FOR STATION 11 (PORT ALFRED) ›› On behalf of the board of directors of the Port Alfred Small Boat Harbour, I wish to thank Station 11 for assistance rendered to the harbour during the severe weather conditions recently. We are deeply indebted for the prompt and efficient manner in which we were assisted. Angus Schlemmer ›› I just want to commend you for all the selfless work you and your team have done during this disaster. You are all heroes. Well done! Gill Legg
A huge thank you to Station 22 (Vaal Dam), for towing Cloud Nine off Beacon Rock. Having a nine-year-old and a disabled 73-year-old on board made the grounding in strong wind rather worrying. But we could count on you to save the day. Lance van Driel
SUPPORTING THE SURFSKIERS ›› You guys are amazing! I just want to say thank you for being ever vigilant, ever present and ever willing. Our sport would be at a massive loss without you: you make it possible for us to do what we love. Thank you for your assistance with paddlers that needed help. Dawid Mocke ›› Thank you for once again being part of the 2012 Dis-Chem Automall Pete Marlin Surfski race. We can all be very proud of what we achieved, but without your involvement it wouldn’t have been such an epic event. We had just under 190 entries this year, which is by far the largest turnout for a surfski race in East London so far. The feedback that we’ve received from the paddlers has been overwhelmingly positive. Please extend our gratitude to the rest of your team. We look forward to our continued partnership in years to come. Charl van Wyk, race director ›› I recently started surfski paddling again. At each of the races I have participated in so far there has been the watchful presence of a dedicated NSRI crew. I have commented to friends and family how comforting it is to know that we’re being looked after so well in the water. I took part in the New Balance Surfer’s Challenge at Kommetjie. I was bringing up the rear of the field, and hadn’t even noticed the Station 26 (Kommetjie) crew patiently shadowing me as I paddled my way back to shore. I wiped out on a run and got tangled in my leash, and then failed in my first attempt to remount my ski. Seeing me in difficulty, the crew were close at hand in a calm few seconds, and the crewman was in the water and at my side before I had time to even begin worrying. He steadied my ski so I could get back in. My shout of ‘thanks, guys’ as I paddled off is nowhere near appreciation enough for the amazing skill the crew displayed in reading
and handling the situation. So, a massive thank you to all the NSRI volunteers, especially the Station 26 (Kommetjie) crew. David Fox
MIROSHGA RESCUE ›› Compliments to Andrew Ingram on his account of the Miroshga rescue (pictured right). I thought the article was extremely well written; it reminded me of a Wilbur Smith or Clive Cussler adventure – not that one would want to detract from the seriousness or the real-life drama. Well done! Michael Tamlin ›› While I was reading the article of coxswain Andrew Ingram’s personal account of the rescue in Hout Bay, I thought to myself, ‘There are still heroes in the world.’ Awesome, guys! Casper Cloete
PHOTOGRAPH: ERNESTA SWANEPOEL
Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) coxswain Francois ‘Pikkewyn’ Stevens enjoying bedtime stories with his son, Déan. It’s the same routine every evening: Sea Rescue is read from cover to cover – all the stories and all the adverts. SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 05
WITH GRATEFUL THANKS FOR SCATTERING OF ASHES I would like to record my family’s sincere thanks to Attie, Awie and Louis of Station 33 (Witsand), who helped us scatter my husband’s ashes off Bar se Bank, St Sebastian Bay, on 16 December last year. My husband, Tom, was a life member of NSRI and a keen sailor. He was rescued once by the NSRI and also assisted in a rescue at Langebaan. One of his favourite places to stay was Fantasia, the cottage directly opposite your station, on the Infanta side. Tom passed away from pancreatic cancer on 30 November and we
ST FRANCIS BAY UNDER SIEGE ›› Our house burnt down and we lost our life’s possessions but fortunately not our lives, thanks to Kerwyn Allan and his determination in warning us and making sure we left our house before we were injured. Words cannot express how grateful we are. Thank you, Station 21. Beth and Pierre Cerff ›› We’d like to thank the NSRI for their amazing support during the tragic fire at
felt it would be fitting to scatter his ashes. The team at Witsand was fantastic and caring. We have since received a certificate recording the event with the coordinates. We are so grateful and will continue Tom’s support of the NSRI as far as possible. Jane Johnston
NOODGEVAL OP JONGENSFONTEIN Graag wens ek my opregte dank uit te spreek aan Enrico Menezies van Stasie 31 (Stilbaai) vir die uiters professionele en vinnige wyse waarop julle kom help het tydens Oom Nico Venter se hartaanval. Julle is ’n span duisend op wie mens altyd kan staatmaak in enige
St Francis Bay. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by the whole community. AJ Moore, chairman: St Francis Bay Residents Association ›› I want to commend the efforts of the volunteers who put their lives on the line in helping the residents of St Francis Bay to fight the huge fire that rampaged the area. My sister, Julien Nosworthy, stays in St Francis Bay and kept me informed of the news and devastation. I was given Marc May’s cellphone number but spoke
situasie. Dis voorwaar ’n voorreg om in ons klein omgewing nog sulke wonderlike diens te kan kry. Julle optrede is prysenswaardig en sal my altyd bybly, en daarby ook die gerusstelling dat daar nog mense is soos julle wat geen situasie gering ag nie. Nogmaals dankie aan jou en die hele span. Ken van Eck, oordbestuurder: Jongensfontein Seaside Resort
THUMBS UP FROM A YOUNG FAN A huge thank you for the life-saving work you and all your teams do. My two-year-old grandson just loves the magazine. There is one particular one he likes to read, and I
to Paul Hurley as Marc was not there. The news and the pictures that I saw left my skin crawling. Julien could not speak well enough of the volunteers who stepped up to the plate to get the fire under control. I stay in a small town in Canada, and I cannot imagine the feelings of those who lost their homes or how hard the volunteers must have worked. Please pass this message of gratitude on to them. Carol Overbeck, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada TURN TO PAGE 8 TO READ THE FULL STORY
PHOTOGRAPH: DIANE FIRTH
NSRI DIRECTORS CEO: Ian Wienburg; EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS: Meriel Bartlett (Organisational Support), Mark Hughes (Operations), Mark Koning (Finance); GOVERNANCE BOARD CHAIRMAN: Peter Bacon; BOARD MEMBERS: Girish Gopal, Viola Manuel, Dave Robins, Hennie Taljaard, Nontsindiso Tshazi, Rob Stirrat; OPERATIONAL BOARD CHAIRMAN: Rob Stirrat; REGIONAL DIRECTORS David Knott, Dave Roberts, Mike Elliot, Clive Shamley, Eddie Noyons.
HONORARY LIFE GOVERNORS David Abromowitz, Allan Cramb, Howard Godfrey, Ian Hamilton, Chris Hudson, Brian Hustler, Ian Strachan.
06 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
have to answer the same questions each time: ‘Why are the men leaving the ship?’, ‘Where is the hole in the ship?’ and when he sees the life-saving instructions with the doll, he always asks: ‘Why has the man got an eina?’ Thanks again. Hazel Hext
SMALL WORLD While I was packing my car in George, a car guard came up to me. I’d already tipped another guard for helping me unpack, but this man had come across because he’d seen my NSRI volunteer T-shirt and wanted to tell me that he’d been saved by the NSRI in East London about 20 years ago. He was the only survivor of a fishing crew of seven – having been very young at the time, he’d been given the only life jacket. He asked me to thank the NSRI on his behalf, and especially Station 7 (East London). So well done, East London! There is one very grateful man alive and well in George who is an avid Sea Rescue supporter. Debbie Olivier
FROM THE CHILDREN AT PERPETUA HOUSE Thank you for the fabulous outing to the NSRI. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt from it. You created an environment where the children felt comfortable enough to ask questions and I am most appreciative of that. Thank you, too, for the DVD, posters, rulers and stickers; the NSRI will be remembered for a long time by the children at Perpetua House. Carolynn Greaves
In October last year St Francis Bay was cut off by flooding. A month later the town experienced the worst fire in its history. Both times, Station 21 (St Francis Bay) crew was there to answer the call for help
UNDER SIEGE I
Above, from left: Police, rescue workers and community members gather to assist; the fire spreads at an alarmingly speed, showing no mercy for anything in its path; barely a shell remains; the devastation is even more clear the morning after
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD ARDERNE, DIANE FIRTH AND DEREK FRIELINGHAUS 08 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
t had been a slow Sunday afternoon for Station 21 (St Francis Bay) station commander Marc May and coxswain Paul Hurley. They had just taken meat off the braai and were sitting down to enjoy their meal when the emergency Sea Rescue phone rang. It was Caliber Security and the message was short and to the point: ‘There is a fire at the resort. Please come and help.’ Marc was not fazed by the call for Sea Rescue to help at a fire. ‘When there is a problem everyone phones us. Whether it’s a snake in a yard or a car accident...’ A strong westerly wind was blowing, and Marc knew instinctively that down at St Francis Bay, with all its thatch roofs, this was very bad news. The two men jumped into Marc’s car. It was 17h20 on Sunday 11 November: a day that will be remembered for one on the worst fires that the residents of St Francis Bay have ever seen. ‘When we arrived at the fire, there was a security guard with a hose, and some people trying to salvage their possessions,’ says Marc. Within five
minutes at the scene it was obvious that this was going to be a major disaster. The wind was wild, and picked up burning thatch to carry it two and three houses away, where the roofs of those houses started smouldering and then ignited. The local fire-brigade volunteers were on the scene and anyone who could help battle the flames or carry goods out of the houses started arriving. ‘Things were fast getting out of hand,’ explains deputy station commander Brett Firth. To save time he called Jeffreys Bay NSRI and asked them to call out their fire brigade as well as Humansdorp’s ... ‘and anyone else you can get hold of,’ were his words. ‘We have a major fire on our hands.’ Half an hour after the fire started, five houses were burning and it was clear that it was going to be very difficult stopping it before it reached the sea. The westerly wind had strengthened just after 17h00, and it had now reached gale force. The evening light was soft, and an eerie glow spread over St Francis Bay; black smoke and flying thatch
RESCUE OPERATION embers were being blown over thatch-roof houses with amazing force. The sound of gas bottles exploding, their position given away by a bright yellow ball of flame going straight up into the sky, punctured the constant roar of the wind. Every time something exploded, everyone ducked. In the meantime Marc called Mark Mans, his Sea Rescue counterpart at Oyster Bay. ‘I started pulling on my jeans and boots as he was talking,’ Mark recalls. By now most of the St Francis Bay NSRI volunteers had arrived. They were divided into teams, some climbed onto the roofs and started to pull out thatch that was smouldering. Others helped with the evacuation. ‘I asked Sara [Smith, trainee coxswain] to go from house to house asking owners to wet their thatch in the hope that this would slow the fire,’
said to us, “We are just grabbing some things,” and I had to say, “No, you don’t understand, your roof is burning,”’ explains Marc. ‘Those houses went down, one after another,’ he says. ‘While that was going on, Sara got a call from someone who was screaming... They were in a house that was on fire.’ They found the house quickly – the roof had only just caught alight and the Sea Rescue volunteers got them out very quickly. Some people lost pets that had been locked up or forgotten. ‘We tried to save as much property as we could,’ says Paul. ‘The guys would run into a house and carry out what ever they could. Curtains, cutlery, crockery, couches ... anything we could carry. After that we just concentrated on evacuating people from their houses.’ Some crew members noticed that people were being caught between burning houses and the
Marc says. ‘She was back in minutes, tears running down her face, and said, “Marc, there are eight houses on fire.” We went into evacuation mode.’ In the short time it took Mark to get to St Francis from Oyster Bay, ‘the fire was onto house nine or 10,’ he says. Working with former St Francis Bay station commander Bob Meikle, Mark helped with traffic control, and later moved into the joint operations centre at the police station to help with the planning of the firefighting operation. ‘The fire department was at the fire and they were battling. The younger Sea Rescue guys stayed with Garth [Shamley, coxswain] who is skilled in firefighting, but it was becoming an absolute nightmare. The rest of us started warning people who were in their houses, some of whom didn’t even know that their houses were burning. Some
canal, so they fetched a boat and ferried people across the canal to safety. ‘Looking back, we could see that the fire would jump that canal and if that happened…’ Marc’s voice trails off. Marc gathered the NSRI crew on the northern side of the fire and tried to protect the properties house by house. People were standing on street corners watching with morbid fascination as the wind drove the fire towards the sea, destroying everything in its path. ‘We wet the roofs and had the crew up there pulling burning thatch out piece by piece,’ Marc says. They had to physically remove the thatch. The NSRI team also delegated crew members to remove gas bottles in the path of the fire. ‘The geysers were exploding… Cars, boats, jetskis were exploding. It was horrific,’ he says. ‘The other people who played a major part in this
The wind was wild, and picked up burning thatch to carry it two and three houses away...
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 09
RESCUE OPERATION was the team behind us: the wives,’ Marc continues. ‘The call went out on Facebook and the response was amazing. People brought food and medical supplies. Church groups donated blankets, people donated water, B&Bs offered free accommodation. The local Spar opened up and gave free water to those who were fighting the fire.’ The Sea Rescue volunteers stood down around 01h30 when they were told that the fire was under control. It wasn’t out – but it was also not going to destroy any more houses. In the cold morning light, the devastation was clear for all to see. Seventy-six buildings, including 68 houses, six flats and office premises, were destroyed or damaged. Mostly they had been reduced to a few walls and piles of ash. ‘I don’t know how to explain that fire, says Marc. ‘It was over the top. Ridiculously dangerous. But the gees here is pretty strong. Whether it be floods, fire or a snake in the house, everyone pulls together. It affects everyone. We are an
extremely tight community.’ ‘It’s not only when we had the fire,’ says Marc, ‘but also when we had the floods [on 21 October last year]. Businesses were cut off. There was no food coming to us. The water pipes washed away. Communications were down.’ The Sand River bridge washed away for the third time in as many years, and the only option for a couple of days, as repairs were being made, was to transport people from the canals up the Krom River, past the Sand River and the destroyed bridge, to the other side of the bridge over the Krom. The NSRI duty crew picked up children at the canals who were writing matric, and took them across the river on the Sea Rescue boat where a bus would be waiting to get them to their exams
10 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
‘When we had the floods [on 21 October last year], businesses were cut off. There was no food coming to us. The water pipes washed away. Communications were down.’ on time. ‘We took the matric students and the police back and forth for two days,’ recalls Marc. ‘We carried dialysis patients, the sick who had to go to hospital... St Francis Bay was completely cut off.’ The town is built on dunes, explains Marc. When the rivers flood in June and July, they literally ‘eat’ the sand away. ‘The water builds up and washes over the road and then it’s toast,’ adds Brett. ‘As soon as the bridge went, there was a mad rush to get out of town. You have women with kids asking if they can get out of town; they have a plane to catch or an appointment that they can’t miss. So we rigged a rope across the river and helped them, sometimes physically carrying them over. At least we could get them safely across.’ People organised lift clubs and some who needed a car on the other side of the river found someone coming to their side and then they would simply swop cars. St Francis Bay is very busy from seven to eight in the morning. People from Humansdorp need to get to work and many St Francis Bay residents must get out to go to work in the surrounding areas – and
Above, from left: Station 21 crew ferried community members across the river; a rope was rigged across the river to aid people needing to get to the other side; the floods caused massive erosion in the area
then at night the trips are reversed. School kids come home to St Francis Bay and those working in the village need to cross the river again to get home. It was a busy time and the only way in or out for a couple of days was by boat. St Francis Bay crew ferried well over 200 people across the river over those days, both to get in and out of the town. ‘Floods, fires... What is next?’ asks Marc. ‘Locusts?’ He gives a lopsided smile, clearly hoping that his joke is just that. SR
When David Black set off from Miller’s Point in Simon’s Town on a downward run in December last year, little did he know that, in less than 30 minutes, he’d be hanging onto one half of his surfski, fighting to stay afloat in very angry sea conditions. By Wendy Maritz
David Black (right) thanks the crew of Station 10 (Simon’s Town). Pictured here with his dad, Mert, and Darren Zimmerman
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW INGRAM
12 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
t was a freak accident’, recalls surfskier David Black. ‘I had paddled for about 3km and was about 1km off shore when an open-ocean wave broke onto the starboard side of my surfski, splitting the seams and tearing the hull.’ The boat quickly became waterlogged, but David realised he would be more visible if he kept it close by. Holding onto it, he called the NSRI. ‘I only had the Table Bay station’s number saved on my phone so I dialled that,’ he continues. Station 10 (Simon’s Town) station commander Darren Zimmerman called David straight away and established that he was in the water somewhere between Boulders Beach and Roman Rock lighthouse, three miles off the coastline. The crew was activated and the station’s 5.5m RIB Eddie Beaumont II, with Robbie Robinson
as coxswain, and the deep-sea vessel Spirit of Safmarine III were launched, with Stuart Buchanan at the helm of the larger rescue boat. Setting out, Stuart already knew it was going to be a tough one. ‘It was the worst sea I have experienced as a coxswain in charge of a rescue,’ he says. ‘The southeaster was blowing. It must have been a force-eight gale. The swells were three to four metres high and the sea was full of holes...’ Out in the water, David was feeling the full force of the elements, which had by now torn his damaged surfski in half. ‘The front section just blew away,’ he says, leaving him treading water fiercely and holding onto the waterlogged tail of his boat. Darren and shore controller Yvette du Preez had positioned themselves on the roadside above Boulders. Darren was coordinating the rescue, while also reassuring David’s family members that the rescue was underway. Yvette was tasked with keeping in contact with David and finding out as much information about his situation as she could. In the meantime Derek Goldman (of Paddler’s Kayak Shop), who was out on his veranda testing some new lenses on his telescope, happened to see the rescue boats in the water and immediately made contact with Darren to see whether he could help. Once he learned of the rescue in progress, Derek stayed on his veranda, glued to his telescope, trying to spot David in the hope of directing the rescuers towards him. The extra pair of eyes from a different vantage point was to prove a godsend, because locating
David in those conditions was becoming more and more challenging. The light was beginning to fade and the sea wasn’t letting up. ‘There was white water all around us and the boat was constantly being sprayed as we negotiated the swells,’ says Stuart. David knew that, with the sun dipping behind the mountain, his chances of being found were diminishing. He was also aware that a long time in the cold water would make him hypothermic. He began questioning whether he shouldn’t have tried to swim for shore, but he knew that if he had been moving it would have been even more difficult for anyone to find him – plus he would have had to abandon the half of the ski that was offering him more visibility. Yvette continued speaking to David, doing everything she could to reassure him that help was on the way. ‘I had to stay confident,’ she says. ‘I could hear he was anxious but I had to keep calm. The sea was rough with huge holes and we had no visual whatsoever from land. I asked David to look towards the land and tell me if he could see our red flashing lights but he couldn’t. Rescue 10 had its siren on but he couldn’t hear that either. ‘Then I heard Derek had a visual on David... But it turned out to be the broken-off part of his ski. My heart sank.’ At the helm, Stuart, too, felt the disappointment, but having located the broken half of the surfski, the crew was able to refine their box search pattern, using the wind, current and drift. ‘About 10 minutes later,’ Yvette says, ‘Derek had another visual and the rescue boats were redirected. I had lost the cellphone signal and wasn’t able to tell David that we had him in sight.’ The crew found David exhausted and hypothermic about an hour after they had launched. He was wrapped up and taken to Simon’s Town base, where an ambulance and relieved members of his family were waiting for him. He was discharged from Mediclinic Constantiaberg later that evening, after his body temperature had normalised and there was no danger of secondary drowning. ‘Yvette sat in that one spot on the coast that had the best cellphone signal, and kept talking to him and relaying the information back to me by handheld radio,’ says Darren. ‘She kept him going when he was on the point of wanting to give up holding onto the ski.’ Yvette believes the role she played was ‘a tiny drop’ in the combined rescue effort. ‘Darren’s calm and professional manner has set the bar for all crew at our station. He has taught us so much and the
LESSONS LEARNT After his experience, David Black advises all paddlers to keep the following in mind: • Avoid paddling in conditions that are beyond your ability. • Keep a mobile phone and pencil flares in a waterproof pouch on your person. • If possible, paddle with a partner. • Wear bright clothing.
DUTY CREW ›› ON SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III Stuart Buchanan (coxswain) Shaun Human Gert Laing Steve Thomas Roz Walden ON EDDIE BEAUMONT II Robbie Robinson (coxswain) Joshua Spreeth Gee Swart Wolf Wiese
›› SHORE CONTROLLERS Yvette du Preez Dennis McKillen ‘Chops’ Craig
David knew that, with the sun dipping behind the mountain, his chances of being found were diminishing. He was also aware that a long time in the cold water would make him hypothermic Back row: (left to right) Wolf Weise, Gee Swart, Dennis McKillen, Joshua Spreeth, Steve Thomas Front row: (left to right) Andre Nortje, Gert Laing, Roslind Walden, David Black, Stuart Buchanan, Robbie Robinson
standard is so high. The guys and girls at Station 10 took a huge hammering out at sea, but the look on the faces of those waiting for David was more than enough gratitude for us... Handling a rescue boat and crew in such trying conditions with the added pressure of having to search for a casualty takes very special people…’ David agrees. ‘I owe a massive debt of gratitude to both the NSRI and Derek Goldman, who got fully involved from his veranda and spotted me through his telescope. I am one lucky paddler!’ SR David Black’s father, Mert, donated R100 000 to Station 10 (Simon’s Town) in gratitude for the efforts that saved his son’s life.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 13
IN THE NEWS
PLETT CREW ALWAYS AT THE READY
Sea Rescue stations around the country were very busy during the festive season last year, and Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) was right up there with the busiest From 10 December 2012 to 22 January 2013, Plett volunteers responded to 17 emergency calls. It’s a small town and because of the station’s unique call-out system, everyone in the town knows when the duty crew is responding. ‘Since about 1974 we’ve used an old World War II air-raid siren, and to this day it’s still a great method,’ says station commander Deon
Truter. ‘We also use the NSRI cellphone call-out system but the siren is extremely effective… The entire Plett community knows that it’s a Sea Rescue call-out and motorists move out of the way for us,’ he adds. ‘On a call-out we’re at the base in under four minutes, and in under five minutes the boats are in the water. A crewman is given 40 seconds to get into his wetsuit
and does not become a seagoing crew members on the first-response vessels until he can do it in that time,’ Deon explains. The Plett fundraising team works hard too. The rescue boats are extremely expensive, as are the fuel and their dayto-day maintenance. Without careful planning and generous supporters, keeping a Sea Rescue station in the black is not easy.
During the holiday season Plett is jam-packed with holidaymakers, and the volunteers use this time to do their fundraising – they held their annual street collection on the first Saturday before Christmas and the Total Beacon Isle NSRI Fun Run on the Sunday before Christmas. The annual golf day took place on 6 January this year. ‘Training takes a huge amount of time and we never know when there’s going to be a call for help. So to put so much effort into fundraising shows incredible commitment… When we’re standing at the stop streets shaking our donation tins, it really helps if everyone had heard the siren a little earlier and seen us responding to an emergency,’ Deon adds, smiling.
NSRI’S HEAD OFFICE IS FUNDED THROUGH OUR FAITHFUL PLATINUM SPONSORS. ALL OTHER DONATIONS CAN THEREFORE BE SET ASIDE FOR RESCUE WORK.
GOLD PARTNERSHIPS: • BAGTECH INTERNATIONAL • DE BEERS MARINE • FISHING DIVISION (FOODCORP) • FREDDY HIRSCH GROUP • ITALTILE • LUSITANIA MARKETING SERVICES • MACS MARITIME SHIPPING • OCEANA • SAPPI LTD • SFG ENGINEERING • SVITZER SALVAGE AFRICA • TMS SOUTH AFRICA LTD • TWO OCEANS MARINE • VIKING FISHING
14 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
Thanks to our loyal supporters from Wavescapes, who again donated the proceeds of their annual surfboard auction to Station 26 (Kommetjie). To date they’ve raised a very generous R200 000 for Sea Rescue.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL 4X4 ADVENTURE DAY FOR STATION 18 Station 18 (Melkbosstrand) held its annual NSRI Adventure Day in the Koeberg Nature Reserve on Saturday 29 September last year This is a unique event because it’s the only time that members of the public are able to tour this private nature reserve in their own 4x4 vehicles or quad bikes. The 4x4 tour includes a four-hour drive that takes in some of the most breathtaking views of the coast and Table Mountain. Quad-bikers also get a chance to experience a very exciting three-hour tour
through some of the most pristine areas of the reserve. The event has become so popular that it’s absolutely essential to book early. To keep visitors entertained, a number of singers and bands such as the everpopular Rocking Horse are included in the line-up. While this is a station fundraiser, there are certain overhead expenses that often can’t be avoided. This is where having an organisation such as Water Weights on your side becomes very important. For the past two years Water
Weights has covered the overhead costs to an amount of more than R30 000. However, while we were preparing for the 2012 event, Water Weights was in the process of selling the business so we thought it would be the last year we’d enjoy their support. This was not the case. It was with absolute delight that we were informed by the new owners of Water Weights that they would continue supporting us in the same way – and that this year’s event,
scheduled to take place on 5 October 2013, would be known as the EnerMech NSRI 4x4 Adventure Day. We are very grateful to Mr Doug Duguid, managing director of EnerMech, and Mr Paul Baines, senior finance manager, for their very generous support of our fundraising initiatives.
Bookings for the 4x4 and quad-bike tours open on 1 August 2013. Call the station commander, Rhine Barnes, on (021) 550 4610 to reserve your spot.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 15
STATION 5 (DURBAN) AWARDS EVENING VARIOUS AWARD RECIPIENTS From left: Mbuso Mthethwa (Best Trainee Award), Salim Dadabhay (Crew’s Crewperson Of The Year Award), Wendy Serfontein (Most Improved Crewperson Award), Station Commander (Station 5) Clifford Ireland, Pam St Clair-Laing (Team Player Award), Timothy Edwards (Best Crewperson Award), KZN Regional Director Eddie Noyons
LONG-SERVICE AWARDS (15 YEARS) From left: NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg, Wendy Serfontein, Sean Serfontein, Malcolm Manion, Andre Fletcher, Pam St Clair-Laing, KZN Regional Director Eddie Noyons
LONG-SERVICE AWARDS (20 AND 25 YEARS) From left: NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg, Clifford Ireland (20-year Award), Paul Bevis (25-year Award), KZN Regional Director Eddie Noyons
LONG-SERVICE AWARDS (10 YEARS) From left: NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg, Ashley St Clair-Laing, Stanley Hamilton, Paul Dawson, KZN Regional Director Eddie Noyons
THE BEST CREW AWARD WENT TO PORT CREW From left, back: Timothy Edwards, Paul Dawson, Roy Wienand, Lorenzo Tavern-Turisan, Mbongiseni Miya, Ian Livermore, Richard Gibbs. Front: Quinn Kennedy, Karen Kennedy, Salim Dadabhay, Ashley St Clair-Laing, Sean Serfontein
16 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
THE AWARD FOR SERVICE TO NSRI WENT TO STANLEY LIPSCHITZ From left: NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg, Clifford Ireland, Stanley Lipschitz, KZN Regional Director Eddie Noyons
A NEW RESCUE BOAT FOR MOSSEL BAY Careful planning and teamwork ensure the safe arrival of Station 15’s new rescue vessel After the rescue boat from Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) was burnt out during her refit, we launched a special appeal. And thanks to your generosity, we were able to purchase another Brede-class rescue boat that had served in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution before it was sold to a private individual. She received a complete refit at Tree Tops Marine, after which the Simon’s Town crew prepared her for the 250nm journey to Mossel Bay. This included loading extra drums of fuel that had to be placed carefully in order to trim the boat. They loaded 450l, split between the bow and the stern, and secured them down using heavy-duty cargo straps. Station commander Darren Zimmerman
did the navigation planning and routing with about 20 waypoints programmed into the GPS, while a backup route was plotted
onto paper charts. Yvette du Preez took care of the padkos for the journey. Darren, Robbie Robinson (Station 10) and Cameron Davidson (Station 15) sailed at midnight and were met in Mossel Bay with great fanfare. All the ships were pumping water from the firefighting monitors and blowing their horns.
... ships were pumping water from the firefighting monitors and blowing their horns
Special thanks to: • Gerry Staverees for his assistance in getting all the SAMSA certificates. • the Mossel Bay crew for their warm welcome – the level of appreciation made the delivery worthwhile. • the False Bay Yacht Club for allowing us the two weeks of docking on the marina for free. • James Scott of FBYC who kindly assisted with programming the operating frequencies into the HF radio. • Louis Duimelaar and Ian Hamilton for assisting with lift shuttles by road.
STATION 4 (MYKONOS) ROUNDUP
THE SPEED OF YELLOW Red and yellow Fast and dependable Doing what it takes to get there in time Helping people when they need you most Its NSRI & DHL. A match made in heaven.
›› Motion Perfection Industries for their kind donation of LED emergency lights and other fittings, including a very effective spotlight for our 4x4 vehicle and our 9m rescue craft.
In the words of DHL MD Hennie Heymans, ‘At DHL we believe in the speed of yellow, which means going above and beyond the call of duty, and this is what NSRI does on a daily basis. We are pleased to join in as Platinum Partners, involved in the day-to-day running of your business, and we are looking forward to a long relationship with NSRI.’ Station 4 (Mykonos) deputy station commander Casper Frylinck and Alfonso Niemand from Adesign, with the newly donated HP notebook
›› Treecycle, TSS and Polarcap, as well as Jannie van der Merwe from JFK General Contracting for assisting us with kitting out our 4x4 rescue vehicle with an aluminium drawer system to store our rescue equipment and medical supplies.
Station 4 (Mykonos) and Station 34 (Yzerfontein) recently honed their sailing skills through the kind gesture of Jaco Pieterse of Sail Due South in Langebaan. Pictured here (from left): Arno Smit, Cedric Brown, Morné du Plessis and Shane Field
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 17
JJ Fourie from Tyger Valley won two Mitsubishis – a Pajero 3.2 Diesel 4x4 LWB and the ASX 2.0L (Classic) in the 2012 Double Mitsubishi Draw. Western Province and Springbok rugby legend Corné Krige handed the keys to the new cars to JB Wiese, who received them on behalf of JJ.
Lesley Waterkeyn from Green Point won the second prize, a Gemini Waverider 470 rigid inflatable boat plus trailer; and the third-prize winner, Elaine Rainier from Cowie’s Hill, won a trip for two to the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
The other seven finalists, all of whom walked away with fantastic prizes, are: Mr B van Rensburg from Hyper By The Sea (camera), Mr P Groenenstein from Gordon’s Bay (flat-screen TV), Mr R van der Walt from Ashwood (flat-screen TV), Mr L Wacher from Knysna (flat-screen TV), Mr G Burger from Wellington (flat-screen TV), Mr P Verhoef from Atlasville (iPad3) and Mr V van Zyl from Westville (flat-screen TV).
PHOTOGRAPHS: RIEGHARD JANSE VAN RENSBURG/RRAD PHOTOGRAPHY
TO OUR WINNERS
SUP BOARDS FOR J-BAY When Captain John Quinn, one of our trainee crew at Station 37 (Jeffreys Bay), watched our crew use one of the lifeguards’ ‘dolphin boards’ during the search for a young boy who drowned in December, he decided to build and donate a SUP board to Station 37. John works in the Mediterranean as a ship’s captain but also owns Africa SUP in Jeffreys Bay. The board was tested at our practice training session and Africa SUP has now committed to teach all our crew how to use the board successfully for rescue situations. Used in Hawaii for surf rescues, these boards can be launched quickly, which will be a great help, especially on the J-Bay main beach. Visit www.nsri.org.za for more information.
Stand-up paddle boards have been used successfully overseas in rescue situations. Captain John Quinn of Africa SUP generously built and donated a SUP for use at the main J-Bay beach. He is pictured here with station commander Rieghard Janse van Rensburg.
YOU HAVE TO ENTER TO STAND A CHANCE
For only R50 per month, you could have two tickets for our monthly draw, in which you stand a chance to win five monthly prizes to the value of R10 000 each, as well as entry into the grand annual draw for R100 000. Leighton Greene from Durban won the annual R100 000 cash prize in the NSRI Debit-order Competition.
18 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
For R595 you can enter the 2013 NSRI Double Mitsubishi Draw. The number of tickets are limited to 28 000, so the odds are in your favour and your contribution will help fund NSRI.
Top to bottom: Thank you to Bianka Jansen van Vuuren (our winner), Taylor Luck and Vos Hattingh for entering our competition
We recently hosted a series of colouring-in competitions at a local Spur restaurant, in the Cape Argus Jelly Bean Journal and in our magazine. What a colourful spread we received! Here are some of our favourites. We so enjoyed the letters accompanying the entries that we have decided to launch a club for our young fans. We’re looking for a suitable name, so get your thinking caps on and send your suggestions to info@ searescue.org.za or fax (021) 434 4011. The winning entrant will be invited to spend the day as a rescuer (accompanied by one of their parents). Terms and conditions: 1. The competition is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. The competition closes on 15 June 2013. 3. The winner will be selected at the discretion of NSRI and will be informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Winter 2013 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 5. By entering this draw, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 6. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Above: Six-year-old Bernard Lombaard drew and coloured in this picture after his two-month-old labrador puppy ‘ate’ his first attempt
KNYSNA BOATHOUSE REVAMPED Station 12’s (Knysna) boathouse has undergone a complete facelift. Thank you to all those who got involved offering their time, expertise and for donating materials. Special thanks to Italtile who so generously initiated and funded the project. Above: Station 12 volunteers in front of the new station; far left: Chris and Mandy Stubbs, Rhiannon Chancey and StatCom Graeme Harding; left: Alex Nurse, Jonathan and Claire Sydow
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 19
LIFE BOAT CIRCLE
Bob Crisp of Ballito smiling proudly after having his badge pinned on by national bequest officer Margaret Mcculloch.
Gauteng bequest officer Rona Manack with a few of the crew from Station 22 and their dog, after the Round the Island Race on Vaal Dam.
TEAS AND TOURS, ANYONE? O ur bequest officers are a little like friendly seagulls: flying off to public talks and coffee mornings, sharing the stories of dramatic rescues, and wherever they are, there’s always something delicious to eat. Margaret McCulloch has been heard to say very often of late: ‘I’m not really fat, I’m just full of love.’ While on leave in his home town of Port Elizabeth, Bruce Sanderson (Cape West Coast and Northern Suburbs) met up with bequestor Kenneth Cloete and his wife, Mary, for a breakfast in Sea View. Here Ken’s bequestor badge was handed over. Janet Burgess (KwaZulu-Natal) entertained residents of Amberglen in Howick with exciting accounts of rescues and, of course, the usual delectable cake! Margaret enjoyed a Valentine’s Day ‘coffee and crew stories’ session with supporters from Hout Bay, accompanied by some huge fruit-and-nut muffins. And then we do have some slightly more serious moments when we pause to acknowledge the forethought of those who’ve chosen to leave a gift in their will to Sea Rescue. SR
CALLING ALL BAKERS
As you can see our bequest officers are busy spreading the Sea Rescue word among our retired members. If you would like to show your support for these gatherings by ‘donating’ your baking skills, by making cakes or muffins, please contact Margaret McCulloch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bequestors Mary and Kenneth Cloete with bequest officer Bruce Sanderson (centre) during Bruce’s visit to his home town, Port Elizabeth.
THANK YOU FOR THE DONATIONS RECEIVED SPECIAL OCCASIONS: Ian and Adrienne Saunders (in lieu of Christmas gifts) • Wendy Butler (70th birthday) • Juliet and Ian Lomberg (40th wedding anniversary) • John Barnard (85th birthday) • Stuart Ferguson (80th birthday) • Monty and Marilyn Hiltowitz (hospitality) • Chris Kirschhoff (50th birthday) • Patrick Knight (60th birthday) • Eli Leibowitz (birthday) • Lucille Levin (birthday) • Bob Sperry (80th birthday) • Phyl Hewitt (90th birthday) • Barry Cox (Christmas greetings) IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES: Captain John Drummond • Gavin Willard • Mr TC Johnston • James Buckingham • JE Davis • Anke Timmerman • Craig Eksteen • Margaret French • Neville Haller • Captain Sven Israelsson • Mark Koen • Captain Jan Mors • Carlie Norval • JR Parnell • Athalie Schroder • DG Steyn • J Wighton • Claire Wyngaard ASHES LOG: (Our respects were paid and the details of the following scatterings recorded in the ship’s log) • Horst Martz in Table Bay • Thomas Cecil Johnston in St Sebastian Bay • Allan Edgar Coltham in Simon’s Bay • Commodore (RNR) Ian Duncan in Hout Bay.
Life boat Circle is a society for retired persons. For more information, contact Margaret McCulloch on 082 990 5976 or email email@example.com.
20 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
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NSRI Port Alfred assisted the municipality, traffic services, police and the emergency services in the devastating floods in October. PHOTOGRAPHS BY KERYN VAN DER WALT, DAVID MACGREGOR AND JO ANN BETTS
22 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
t 02h00 on Thursday 18 October the first call for help came in to Station 11 (Port Alfred) volunteers. In just three days 200mm of rain had fallen. The rivers were swollen and large sections of the area were underwater. Driving along flooded streets and dodging debris in the early hours of the morning, station commander Juan Pretorius knew they had their work cut out for them as he worked his way to the Meadolina Caravan Park where people were trapped. The Port Alfred crew’s first rescue mission was to help an elderly couple from Johannesburg who were trapped in their caravan by the rising flood waters. Carrying the couple’s cat in their arms, with the lady secured into a stokes basket stretcher, the Sea Rescue volunteers waded out of the caravan park in the early morning darkness, and made sure that the couple got to the safety of higher ground. Then at 06h45 the marina dredger in the harbour come loose. There was a grave risk of it being swept out to sea. Juan and his team quickly joined the marina staff and helped to secure lines to the dredger and, using only manpower, pulled her out of the critical flow of flood water and into an eddy where it was secured and out of harm’s way. In the early morning light six or seven whole
jetties were spotted floating down the Kowie River. Not only could they cause serious damage to other jetties and boats, but once they reached the mouth they would be washed out to sea and cause a very real shipping hazard. The NSRI team went back to the base and launched the 8.5m rescue craft Lotto Challenger, heading upriver to secure the jetties to the bank. Often they stopped to help residents battling with their boats and jetties along the way. From there, the calls just kept coming. The water level was so high in some places that, while evacuating guesthouse owners Mike and Joan Beaumont, their guests and pets, one of our crew stepped into their swimming pool and disappeared! Another frantic phone call saw the volunteers literally swimming down to the end of a street to search for a missing person, who was thought to be stuck on the second floor of a house. Climbing through an open window the team searched for almost half an hour before they found out he’d been traced to Johannesburg. Thursday blurred into Friday and then Saturday. Day after day the now exhausted NSRI crew would fetch, carry, tow, search and, most of all, reassure those who needed a kind word.
Some people had lost their homes and their all of their possessions. For many of them, the safety of their pets was their greatest concern, and something that the team could easily help them with. It is very hard to just pack a few things and leave your home. In a fire things happen so fast. People don’t have time to think, but in a flood they do have time. The devastation creeps up slowly. People want to hold out just a little longer... but the NSRI crew had to gently coax them to safety before it was too late. Port Alfred is a small community and the residents all know each other. Although the Sea Rescue team was tired and cold, they knew that there was another
street full of people to help. And then another. The greatest gift they could give traumatised homeowners was kindness. To pause and to listen to the residents’ fears. To put their arms around them and then to go back into the flooded house one more time to fetch a precious photograph that means so much. On Sunday yet another emergency call came through, this time requesting crew with strong backs and spades to assist the municipality. Hundreds of sandbags had to be filled and then packed carefully in place... to temporarily rebuild a road and bridge that was the only access into a residential suburb. The crew jumped in, boots and all. Thinking on her feet, coxswain Keryn van der Walt also called in two dozen students on a gap year, who she had recently met through her dive school, to swell the volunteer numbers. As Port Alfred resident Tricia Border put it: ‘It was a desperate week but you guys gave us new hope.’ SR
Left to right: Pieces of jetty floating down the Kowie River; volunteers and community members carrying sandbags to build a temporary bridge; the flood caused extensive damage to roads
DUTY CREW Juan Pretorius (Statcom) Dylan Burgers Werner Faca Stephan Lemmer Candice Norden Marlene Odendal Darryl Olivier Ryan Owsley Sonai Owsley Sid Purdon Stephen Slade George Smith David Steck Keryn van der Walt Aidan Wood (Deputy Statcom) Mike Webster Howard Butler
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SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 00
Clockwise (from top left): Attie Gunter’s smile says it all; fellow Station 33 crewman Leon Pretorius with his catch of the day; Craig Thom is equally at home fishing on the mighty Orange River or on tiny Holsloot
ON THE FLY The gentle yet challenging nature of fly-fishing lends this popular sport its appeal – both inland and at sea. Andrew Ingram tells us why PHOTOGRAPHS BY ATTIE GUNTER, LEON PRETORIUS, ED HERBST AND ANDREW INGRAM
24 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
his is food for the soul,’ says Sea Rescue’s operations director, Mark Hughes. He has just released a 20cm rainbow trout, caught on a tiny dry fly. We are deep in the Du Toitskloof mountains. The stream – a small one, often no wider than a few metres – is remote. It is this remoteness, the high canyon walls and the constant gurgle of the water over rocks that make it such a special place. I watch Mark make another cast. His fly line whooshes behind him, and with an effortless forward cast his dry fly lands gently and bobs back towards him on the current. The trout that he has cast to is not rising to his imitation this time. After a few more casts, Mark moves on up the stream. The fish knows that there is something not quite right and won’t be tempted out of his safe position by the caddis imitation tied to Mark’s tippet. The great beauty of the places that fly-fishers frequent has a lot to do with the ‘food for the soul’, but there’s another factor involved: the complete concentration required to cast the line and trick a fish into believing that the fly is food helps to keep the angler’s mind focused. This, too, is one of the powerful attractions of fly-fishing. ‘Fly-fishing is synonymous with trout,’ says
small-stream fly-fishing expert Ed Herbst, ‘but for many years now fly anglers have been catching everything from carp to marlin with great success.’ Trout were first imported to South Africa in 1880, when 2 000 fry were released into a number of rivers along the Drakensberg. But it’s only relatively recently that fly-fishing has become so incredibly popular. So why then did it take about 100 years to become a sport that many people took up with such great passion? ‘A River Runs Through It,’ says Ed. Robert Redford’s 1992 film, starring Brad Pitt, was not about fly-fishing per se. It was about life – as Norman Maclean, the narrator of the story, says, ‘In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly-fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly-fishermen and that John, the favourite, was a dry-fly-fisherman.’ Not only did Brad bring droves of people to the rivers with fly rods in hand, but the movie had a strong influence on the property market in Montana! In South Africa, according to Ed, there was another great trigger aside from the film: in 1985, Theo van Niekerk made a breakthrough in fishing technique and fly design when he proved that yellowfish could be caught on a fly. ‘Yellowfish are spooky, tenacious and strong,’ says Ed. And, of course, they live in beautiful settings. Take, for example, the Sterkfontein Dam. The waters
And there is not much that gets the pulse of a fisherman going quite as fast as watching a fish rise to a dry fly…
are crystal clear, and large – sometimes very large – and yellowfish can be seen cruising the shallows. They can be cast to and caught on a dry fly. And there is not much that gets the pulse of a fisherman going quite as fast as watching a fish rise to a dry fly… As with any sport there are those who push the envelope, and over the past decade or so, dedicated anglers have worked out how to catch almost any fish that you care to name on a fly rod. With our country surrounded by sea, the saltwater branch of the sport has grown in leaps and bounds,
Great winter break
Above: Fly-fishing paradise – Ed Herbst at Holsloot near Worcester
The Breede River Resort & Fishing Lodge
and anglers carrying fly rods and specially designed flies are no longer a strange sight on our estuaries and along the shoreline. Craig Thom is the owner of StreamX, a Cape Town fly-fishing shop, and a certifiable fly-fisher. He has cast a fly line on most of our waters, from the mighty Orange River to the tiny Holsloot stream near Worcester, and recently he has spent a lot of time catching grunter, a notoriously difficult estuary fish to tempt with a fly. ‘The Infanta side of the Breede River mouth is accessible and a place where the fish can be found reliably,’ says Craig. ‘You can walk everywhere and sight fish from grunter and garrick to elf and cob…’ His voice trails off. ‘But grunter provide the biggest challenge.’ The place where Craig loves to fish for grunter, the Breede River mouth, brings us to another couple of NSRI volunteers: Witsand station commander Attie Gunter and fellow crewman Leon Pretorius. When I call Attie to talk fishing, he laughs. ‘Leon has a yellowfin tuna on at the moment. We are about 2km off the Duiwenhoks mouth, but he is struggling. His tackle is a bit light,’ he explains. Attie loves fly-fishing for the whole experience it gives him. He ties his own flies and uses them to fish for a multitude of different species: garrick, elf, grunter, kabeljou and cape moonies. ‘It’s just more of a challenge,’ says Attie. And let’s face it, a challenge in such a beautiful environment is about as good as it gets. SR
This mariner’s haven is situated at the mouth of the mighty Breede River, South Africa’s largest river estuary. The Breede River flows into San Sebastian Bay at Witsand, and is well known for the excellent fishing in the river and at sea. The Lodge itself offers the highest standard at affordable rates with luxurious self-catering units and beautiful double rooms that open up straight onto the lodge’s private harbour. Come visit us! You’ll love it! For more information, visit www.breederiverlodge.co.za SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 25 or call (028) 537-1631 or fax (028) 537-1650
WELL DONE! It took a great deal of planning and goodwill to transport the 10m Brede to Cape Town and transform her into Rescue 15. Andrew Ingram describes the incredible journey PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW INGRAM AND ELAINE VAN DER TOON
T Top right: Lyonesse, before her journey began Main photograph: A warm welcome for the new vessel
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he logistics of getting a 10m rescue boat from the United Kingdom to Cape Town was no small operation. Through the hard work of NSRI volunteer Andy Connell and the following people and companies who all donated their time, expertise and equipment, Lyonesse was delivered to Cape Town at absolutely no cost to Sea Rescue. A very big thank you to Lochan Marine, Safmarine UK, Safmarine Cape Town (especially Jaco Visagie), Tilbury Container Services, Toll Group Logistics UK, Pronto Clearing, Godfrey Visser of GF Trucking, and Verdus de Jongh and Donovan Liedema of TPT. Without their generosity the transformation of Lyonesse to Rescue 15 may never have happened! The former Royal National Lifeboat Institute
(RNLI) deep-sea rescue boat replaced the one lost in the Gordon’s Bay shipyard fire, and is the seventh Brede brought to South Africa by NSRI. She was offloaded at Cape Town harbour on 1 February 2012. ‘Late that evening I was writing a host of thank-you letters, deeply silent as I tallied the total commercial cost. More than R400 000 had been absorbed by these wonderful companies that came to assist the greater seafaring community to move “the last Brede lifeboat” from the UK to Cape Town,’ says Andy Connell. ‘I’d like Station 15 to feel the huge amount of warmth and goodwill that flowed so freely, every time they put to sea. I’m sure they will always remember that she is there with the help of many very committed people who answered a call and came to assist.’
Left: The cradle that was designed for Rescue 15 Below: Rescue 15 – home and ready to serve
After being offloaded from the Safmarine ship, Lyonesse was sailed from Cape Town harbour to Hout Bay, where the electrical work and interior woodwork was done before she was moved to Treetops boatyard just outside of Cape Town for respraying.
On the 6 November 2012, Lyonesse had been transformed into Rescue 15 at Treetops and she was put back in the water at Royal Cape Yacht Club While all this work was happening to the rescue boat in Cape Town, the Mossel Bay volunteers were hard at work making alterations to the cradle that would need to launch the Brede. The cost of building a slipway that would allow the traditional rail launch was prohibitive and some really creative thinking was needed. Rising to the challenge, the Mossel Bay volunteers worked with Art Welding to design the first cradle for a 10m rescue boat that can be steered, saving NSRI in excess of R500 000! On the 6 November 2012, Lyonesse had been transformed into Rescue 15 at Treetops and she was put back in the water at Royal Cape Yacht Club. Just under a month later she sailed into Mossel Bay with a very proud crew of Sea Rescue volunteers aboard. The welcome for the newly refurbished rescue boat was nothing short of spectacular – ships were pumping water from their firefighting monitors and blowing their horns. The Mossel bay seafaring community once again had a deep-sea rescue boat. At last Rescue 15 was home and ready to serve! SR
Dear Andy I have no words to describe my sincere appreciation for the enormous effort you went through to ensure the safe landing of our new rescue boat. Not only did I learn during this whole process that it’s not just a matter of loading and offloading but a real challenge to ensure every little detail is in place. I also learnt about a lot of new terms like flat rack, tracking/transport plan and shipping instruction, and of places like Newhaven and Tilbury. I got to know a lot of very kind, unselfish people too. I should not start with names, but to name a few: yourself, Craig, Howard, Simon, David, Jaco, Lucy, Jakes, Andy, Bernie, Paula, the captain and crew of Del Kalahari and so forth. I don’t think I will ever meet all of these wonderful people, so please convey
our sincere appreciation to each and every single person who had a hand in the operation. I could not make it to experience the offloading due to work constraints, but my mind was in Cape Town Harbour all day. I have opened a new file on my computer called ‘Brede’ where all your emails are saved. Please extend an invitation to all involved: whenever anyone of them comes to Mossel Bay, they are most welcome to call for a visit and look at the new place of operation of the boat. Once again, the only words I can say are thank you, thank you, thank you. Regards, Dawie Zwiegelaar, former station commander, Station 15 (Mossel Bay)
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 27
In November last year, flooding caused a bridge on the Umfolozi River to be washed away, leaving members of the St Lucia and Monzi community stranded. Station 19 (Richards Bay) responded, bringing all 11 people and one faithful dog safely to shore. By Wendy Maritz PHOTOGRAPHS BY DORIAN ROBERTSON AND TAMMY HODSON
he call came through at around lunch time on Sunday 11 November: 11 people, ranging in age from 13 to 50, had crossed the Umfolozi to tend to crops. Rain in the catchment area further upriver seems to have caused the flooding that had washed away the low-level bridge they had used and quickly turned the land they were working on into an island. They had no way back – and the water was rising. A local induna (headman) had been alerted to their plight. He called the South African Police Service (SAPS), who then notified the NSRI. Richard’s Bay senior coxswain Dorian Robertson was on duty that day. ‘The Umfolozi often floods in the summer months,’ he explains. ‘We’ve been
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involved in river rescues before but not at this particular location.’ And as events unfolded, it would appear it was a unique rescue for other reasons too. The crew responded in the station’s 4x4, towing the 3.7m rescue vessel Rotary Ann, as well as one other private vehicle. They rendezvoused with the SAPS and its Sea Border Line Unit before heading off on the rural road that would take them to the river bank. ‘It took us about an hour to get there, firstly travelling on a tar road, then about 6.5km on a dirt road, and the last kilometre was just mud,’ says Dorian. The rescue crews were met by concerned locals, including the community’s chief, who had gathered on the river bank to help. The next challenge was an almost impossibly steep and overgrown bank they would have to negotiate in order to launch the rescue boat. ‘We do carry an axe and bush knife on the mobile but it took only one request to the local chief, and soon the men, women and children who had come to help were cutting a path down to the water. Within 10 minutes the boat was on the river bank,’ Dorian smiles. Thankfully, at this stage of the rescue, the water had
REAL-LIFE RESCUE 4
1. Trapped community members stand close to where the bridge used to be. 2. Locals and crew help carry the rescue boat to the launch area. 3. Jacques and Jaco ‘test the waters’ before launching. 4. Rotary Ann and crew on their way to the opposite river bank. 5. Locals assist crew with the RIB after the rescue, while one of the casualties, a dog, trots along beside them
subsided and seemed to be keeping a constant level, so the people who were trapped – about 30m from the shore – were no longer in immediate danger. But conditions on the water still proved to be challenging. Crew members Jacques Kruger (coxswain), Jaco van der Walt and Ryan Chase launched Rotary Ann, but, as Dorian recalls, ‘The water was very muddy and flowing quite fast, so they had to keep a sharp lookout for any floating debris or trees coming down the river.’ Once on the island, Jaco was dropped off to stay with those who were trapped, while Jacques and Ryan brought all 11 ‘casualties’ and their dog safely to shore in five relays. The remaining crew members, Andrew and Tammy Hodson and David le Roux, stayed on the shore to help as the community members disembarked. The day’s events stand out for Dorian for a number of reasons. ‘Firstly, I was amazed at how calm the people were while they were trapped,’ he says. ‘Once they were told that help was on the way, they stayed where they were. No-one tried to swim or get across on their own. And secondly, the effort of all the bystanders was amazing and made a huge
The effort of all the bystanders was amazing and made a huge difference to launching and recovering the rescue boat on that steep embankment difference to launching and recovering the rescue boat on that steep embankment. ‘The presence of the SAPS was also reassuring,’ he adds. ‘Although they had their boat on the scene, they did not launch and they left us to do the operation that we are trained to do.’ It took less than an hour for the skilled crew to get everyone to safety. Once they were assured noone was injured, they left the scene and were back at the base by 17h00. SR
Station 19 (Richard’s Bay) covers the area from the Mozambique border in the north to the Tugela River in the south. Most of the station’s call-outs involve towing yachts, as it is the first port of call for international yachts travelling down the east coast of Africa. These vessels are assisted into port, many of them suffering some kind of damage after weeks at sea.
Unfortunately the crew has also witnessed a fair amount of drownings. As senior coxswain Dorian Robertson explains, there are few protected bathing areas in the area so people swim at unprotected beaches, which has led to tragedy and loss of life. The station, which currently has 32 crew members, also responds to river rescues, mainly due to flooding.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 29
Andrea Nel was blown nearly 1.5km offshore when the tractor tube she and her boyfriend, André Zeelie, were floating on was pulled beyond the breakers
ADRIFT! When Andrea Nel and her boyfriend André Zeelie packed their bags for the beach, they had no idea of the drama that awaited them PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW INGRAM
t was one of those perfect days. At around midday on 2 January 2013 –– Andrea Nel, 29, who has been going to her family’s holiday home in Struisbaai for their annual holiday for the past 15 years, and her boyfriend, André Zeelie, went down to the beach, taking along a huge tractor tube to float on. The couple claimed their spot on the beach, put up an umbrella and rolled the huge tube down to the water’s edge. There was a light breeze blowing. It was hot, and getting into the water to cool down felt good. ‘I was scared of what was under me in the water so I got on top of the tube and André pushed me in,’ explains Andrea. ‘For about half-an-hour or 45 minutes, the water would pull us out and push us back in, but then, all of a sudden, we were behind the waves. Then André said to me, “This is not right. I need to push you back.”’ André is young and strong. His gaze is calm and his handshake firm. He isn’t someone who’d panic. Andrea says he got off the tube and tried to push her back to the shore, by going underwater and pushing off the bottom. ‘The wind came up out of nowhere, and when André realised that he couldn’t push me back towards the shore, he started swimming, trying to get out,’ she recalls.
SEPARATION ANXIETY Without her glasses, Andrea’s vision is bad, and as the wind started blowing her out to sea, she soon lost sight of André. She was now in a terrible situation. The tube was so big that she couldn’t touch the water – and there was no way she was
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going to get off it, for fear of what may be in the water under her. The wind was getting stronger and the land was an out-of-focus blur. She could hear André shouting for help but she couldn’t tell whether he was in trouble or whether he was calling for someone to come help her. Lifeguards on the beach had heard the commotion in the meantime and Sea Rescue was called as a lifeguard swam out towards André. ‘I told him that I was fine, I can get out, and asked him to go after Andrea,’ André explains. ‘He tried to swim after her but she was being blown out faster than he could swim.’ When André got out the water he was completely out of breath, but he knew that he must keep Andrea in sight at all costs, so he started jogging along the beach, keeping pace with the tube as it was blown out to sea.
OUT OF SIGHT ‘There was nothing I could do,’ says Andrea. ‘I knew I would drown if I got off the tube. There was no way I’d have been able to swim back to the shore.’ ‘After a while the Sea Rescue bakkie arrived,’ André explains, ‘and I told the guy that I knew where she was because I hadn’t taken my eyes off her. He could not see her.’ At 14h32 the NSRI volunteers launched I&J Rescuer II on their second call-out for the day and, 13 minutes later, guided by André, who had literally not taken his eyes off his girlfriend, they lifted Andrea, shaking violently from shock, off the tube into the safety of their 4.7m rescue boat. By that time she had been blown an incredible 1.5km off the Struisbaai main beach. ‘At first I couldn’t see them but I heard their engine,’ said Andrea. ‘At that moment I just wanted to let go. My body was shaking I was so afraid. From the moment we were separated, I didn’t know what was happening to André, and when I got back to the harbour in the rescue boat, I still couldn’t see him.’ André stayed with the crew until he was reunited with Andrea. It was an emotional moment, and a day they’re not likely to forget. Asked whether she’ll use the tube again, Andrea laughs and says, ‘I won’t get on it again any time soon... I am too scared of it now.’ SR
The lifeguard tried to swim after her, but she was being blown out faster than he could swim
MEDICAL CASE STUDY
Andrew Ingram spoke to Dr Cleeve Robertson, Sea Rescue’s chief medical adviser and senior manager of Emergency Medical Services: Western Cape, about the life-threatening nature of hypothermia PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERNESTA SWANEPOEL
ne of the most common conditions that Sea Rescue volunteers come across is hypothermia, which, if left untreated, can progress to severe illness and even death. Hypothermia is a condition that involves the core body temperature (the temperature of structures deep within the body, like the heart, lungs and brain) dropping below 35˚C. Body temperature is usually maintained at a constant level of between 36.5˚C and 37.5˚C. If a person is exposed to cold and the internal mechanisms are unable to replenish the heat that is being lost, a drop in core temperature occurs. As body temperature decreases, characteristic symptoms such as shivering and mental confusion occur. Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. When the body gets cold, it will try to prevent further heat loss by shivering (which keeps the major organs at normal temperature), restricting blood flow to the skin, and releasing hormones to generate heat. However, these responses use up energy and may not be enough to maintain body temperature if the body is exposed to the cold for a long time. When the body runs out of energy, it gradually begins to shut down. Shivering stops and the heartbeat starts to slow down. Hypothermia makes you sleepy, confused and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realise how desperately you need help – that makes it especially dangerous.
Dr Cleeve Robertson explains, ‘The colder you get, the less you are able to help yourself, and in a water environment the obvious consequence is that you’re going to drown because you won’t be able to swim.’ (Another reason to wear a life jacket and fasten it properly – after 30 minutes in the Atlantic, you will not be able to fasten anything.) ‘People do not realise the threat of cold water,’ Dr Robertson continues. ‘Take the three women who were trapped in the Miroshga [the Hout Bay charter boat that capsized in October last year]. They are unlikely to have survived if they had been fully immersed in the water. They were able to survive longer because they got out of the water and into an air pocket… If they had been in that water for two hours, they would not have survived. ‘The first thing you should do is get out of the water and then get out of the wind. And then you want to keep dry.’ Each scenario is different but, according to Dr Robertson, the ideal is to remove wet clothing and then start warming up the patient. This is often simply passive re-warming, using blankets and space blankets. In most cases, re-warming for mild and moderate hypothermia can be done passively. In other words, the patients warm themselves up – you just need to prevent them from losing further heat. The core body temperature is measured with a rectal thermometer, and if this measurement is below 30˚C, it will be classified as severe hypothermia. ‘Severe hypothermia requires ICU support to nurse the metabolism and the body back to a normal state,’ concludes Dr Robertson. ‘Most at risk are the elderly and small children – and if there is any doubt, get professional help.’ SR
Because hypothermia happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realise how desperately you need help Rescue divers and crew realised the urgency of getting the casualties from the Miroshga out of the water as soon as possible, due to the threat of hypothermia and drowning
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 31
BEARS For creatures that appear to move so laboriously on land, seals are remarkably agile in their preferred watery environments, says naturalist Georgina Jones PHOTOGRAPHS BY GEOFF SPIBEY
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OF THE SEA
nce upon a time there was an animal that looked rather like a bear. It lived beside the sea, catching fish and crablike animals for food. But as time wore on, the animal spent more and more time in the sea, and slowly and over generations its descendants began to change. So much so that 23-million years later (according to genetic evidence) its many-times-great-grandchildren now spend almost all their time in water. This is the history of the South African fur seal, known to scientists as Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus. Its Latin specific name, pusillus, means ‘small’ – a definite misnomer, given that this species is the largest of the fur seals, with big males weighing in at as much as 360kg and the females clocking a not-inconsiderable maximum weight of 120kg. The inappropriate name came about because the species was originally described from a drawing of a pup. Standards for scientific description were clearly somewhat less demanding back in 1775, when the species first came to the attention of classifying scientists. Fur seals differ from what are known as the true seals in that they have external ear flaps and are still able to rotate their back flippers for getting
about on land, whereas the true seals have smooth heads and are forced to creep when on land, rather like enormous leeches. Although fur seals are better at moving around on shore than their more marineadapted cousins, they still present a rather comical sight on the rocks as they waddle about, puffing and barking at each other and intruders, often sliding backwards into the sea with what seems to be an expression of sheer amazement.
UNDERWATER ATHLETES Once underwater, all notions of ineptitude vanish, and the differences between true and fur seals are remarkably small. These are animals that are superbly adapted for a life at sea. They are insulated by a double coat of fur and a thick layer of blubber, which also helps protect them from any collisions when getting into and out of the sea. Their eyes have flattened corneas for better underwater vision, and their pupils are capable of extreme dilation to improve sight in dark water. In addition to being able to see well underwater, fur
THE BIG BLUE seals also have extremely sensitive whiskers. Recent evidence suggests that seals are able to use their whiskers as a form of echolocator. So sensitive are these hairs that seals have been shown to be capable of detecting the passage of a fish underwater in complete darkness 30 seconds after it has passed. Like all marine animals, seals can slow their metabolism when they dive, allowing them to stay underwater for longer periods due to a reduced need for oxygen. When they dive, automatic physiological processes slow their heartbeat down to between 4bpm and 15bpm (about one-eighth of normal rates), peripheral blood vessels constrict and oxygenated blood concentrates around the brain and heart. They also have a high tolerance for carbon dioxide and lactic-acid build-up, both of which accumulate in blood and muscles when not breathing. Lactating females have been recorded to dive for an average of 2,1 minutes per dive to average depths of 45m, with maximums of 7,5 minutes and 204m. Within five to 10 minutes after surfacing, their heartbeat had returned to normal and their blood was re-oxygenated. Fur seals mostly eat fish but they also eat squid, octopus and a variety of crustaceans. They tend to catch their prey and then shake it to death before eating it. A 100kg animal will typically eat 5kg to 7kg of food in a day. They are incredibly agile underwater, using their fore-flippers for propulsion and relying on their specially adapted interlocking vertebrae for sudden changes of direction, as well as an ability to bend almost backwards that most other animals could only envy. It certainly outguns most sharks. In False Bay, great white sharks lie in wait for their preferred meal of unwary seals. The undersea topography allows the sharks to hide on the seafloor at a depth of 27m, from where they watch overhead for juvenile seals setting forth on their first foraging trips. The sharks swim upwards at great speeds to catch the careless – but if they miss their first strike their chances of catching the nimble seals are very low indeed. To avoid being preyed upon by sharks, which are their main predators along with orcas, seals tend to travel in groups and swim with a low porpoising movement that enables them to spend more time watching for dangers underwater. If they spot
Today the biggest challenge seals face is human fishing – it forces them to hunt further and further away from shore a shark at the surface, they tend to stick around the shark’s dorsal fin, making it impossible for the predator to bite them. Seals will also eat sharks given the chance: a seal was recently observed off Cape Point making a meal of the livers of five blue sharks that it caught.
LOVE ON THE ROCKS
Left hand page: (left to right) Underwater ballet; seals’ eyes have flattened corneas for better underwater vision; seals are curious underwater and will come close to divers This page: (top) Small ear flaps distinguish the fur seals from true seals; (above) Seals have an impressive set of teeth to grab at their prey
Fur seals reproduce on land. Males haul out in October, usually onto rocky areas, and set about establishing their territories. Pregnant females return from the sea in late November and almost all pups are born in the first week of December. The females will mate with their chosen male about a week after giving birth. Pregnancy is about 51 weeks, although the actual implantation of the fertilised egg is delayed about four months, so effective pregnancy is about eight months and pups are always born at around the same time each year. Pups weigh about 5kg at birth and fatten up quickly on the fat-rich milk produced by their mothers. Although the youngsters are usually weaned after about a year, they also forage on their own by about seven months. They are sexually mature at about four to five years, but males are usually not able to hold territories and therefore mate until they are about 11 years old. They can live for up to 25 years. South African fur seals aren’t endangered but their population was under severe pressure due to hunting for their pelts, particularly those of the pups, which have luxurious soft fur. Harvesting was outlawed in South Africa in 1990. Today the biggest challenge seals face is human fishing – it forces them to hunt further and further away from shore, and seals are seen by many fishermen as robbers of ‘their’ fish. Although seals are notorious for attempting to come on board low-lying boats to take caught fish, their hunting methods have been shown to have no impact on trawled fish, but they may well interfere with line fishermen’s catches. In addition, they are affected by plastic pollution. Seals may be seen relatively frequently with plastic straps around their necks slowly strangling them as they grow. It’s a world their bear-like ancestor could hardly have imagined. SR
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 33
BLINK OF AN
It was only a matter of seconds from the time NSRI crewman Tomé Mendes was busy on the foredeck of the racing boat Silky to when he found himself in the water, hanging onto a piece of the boat’s pulpit. We spoke to him to find out what it felt like to be ‘man overboard’. By Wendy Maritz STILLS FROM VIDEO BY STEVE SEARLE
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omé Mendes looks like a man who can keep his cool under pressure. As a fifth-year medical student, he has been involved in emergencyroom work at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. He’s also a trainee Class-3 coxswain, and has been crewing for Station 3 (Table Bay) since the beginning of 2011. So it’s not surprising that when he recounts his experience of falling overboard, he does so with a wry smile rather than the subdued panic one would expect. Yet he’ll be the first to admit that luck was on his side that day: ‘luck’ in the form of a life jacket, a fastacting crew, and the fact that he was able to hang onto the remnants of the pulpit (still in his hands) and the safety lines of the boat. ‘It all happened very fast,’ Tomé explains. ‘I was on the foredeck, in front of the mast of the sailing vessel. There were 30-40-knot winds, and it was raining. It was day two of racing, and we were on our second downwind leg when the boat broached. We were busy recovering the sail when the pulpit I was holding onto broke clean off the deck... ‘I went overboard. I hit the water, and I was very confused, still holding onto the broken piece of pulpit, (which was luckily attached to the boat via the safety lines.) When I realised I was overboard, I made sure to not let go. ‘I focused on holding on, but I was being moved backwards alongside the boat as we still had some forward motion. My life jacket had inflated,
but my foulies and booties had taken on water so I felt very heavy, and very helpless. I tried to to pull myself out of the water but it was impossible.’ Thankfully the crew noticed he had disappeared and they worked quickly to get him back onto the boat. The life jacket Tomé wore that day was selfinflating, so as soon as he hit the water it was operational. He realises things could have been very different if he had been flung into the water without a life jacket and something to hold onto. ‘If I was separated from the boat,’ he says, ‘the life jacket would have kept me afloat and visible…’ He’s also quick to add that, in the event of being knocked unconscious, the self-inflating life jacket is a life-saver. Tomé grew up in a ‘sailing family’ in Gauteng. ‘I sailed with my dad, brothers and sister on Emmarentia, Hartbeespoort and the Vaal,’ he says. He’s currently a member of the UCT Yacht Club, crews regularly at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and he has a South African Sailing day skipper’s licence. So he’s clocked up a fair amount of sailing hours. But no-one can foresee being flung overboard, and even though events conspired to keep Tomé safe that day, the importance of wearing a life jacket cannot be stressed enough. It is your life belt on the ocean. SR
Watch the video at
Clockwise (from far left): Luca is in his element on the water; dad Adrian helps Luca to launch; Gia, Hayley, Adrian and Luca Ceruti
Luca had had the presence of mind to hold onto the paddle, which was attached to his surfski by a leash. ‘I was getting a little worried, so I tried to push off the bottom of the lagoon with the paddle. But it was too deep.’ He managed to calm down the frantic boy, eventually getting him to hold onto his waist, while he pulled the surfski closer to them. He told the boy to hold onto the surfski and then helped him up onto it. He then pulled himself up, and with huge effort started paddling against the tide in the direction of the shore. They had been pulled out about 400m in the direction of the bay. ‘The surfski was also tipping,’ Luca says, bending his hand backwards to show the effect of the extra weight. Luca paddled hard to bring the child safely to shore, before setting off back up the channel to find his own family. Lynne, in the meantime, was wondering why Luca was taking so long. When he eventually caught up with her, he simply said, ‘Gran, I saved a guy.’ ‘He said it so nonchalantly,’ Lynne says, with something of the surprise she must have felt at the time. ‘I wasn’t quite sure whether to believe him.’ But as the details of the story emerged, the enormity of what Luca had done began to sink in. Hayley is hard pressed to talk about it: ‘I think I’m still processing it. It blows me away…’ she says before her voice trails off. Hayley believes Luca acted on instinct. It obviously helped that he is a competent young paddler who feels at home on the lagoon. Still, one can barely imagine the range of emotions that a parent in such a situation would feel, the number of ‘What ifs?’ they might ask themselves. But it all turned out well that day. WaterWise Academy manager Andrew Ingram commends Luca on his bravery, for keeping a cool head and for wearing his life jacket. Hayley and Adrian run Atlantic Sailing in Langebaan, and are very safety conscious, a fact that contributed to Luca’s being able to help that day. SR
LUCA’S STORY T
o call Luca Ceruti a water baby is something of an understatement. The 10-year-old will grab any opportunity to be on – or in – water. He loves swimming, surfskiing, surfing and ‘scurfing’ (being pulled behind a motorboat riding a surfboard). In summer, there’s nothing better than an earlymorning paddle with his dad, Adrian, (often before school during term) or going on family paddles where mom Hayley and little sister Gia join in. Their favourite spot: the lagoon at Langebaan, where they live. On Sunday 13 January 2013, the family planned to go paddling with Luca’s grandparents, Lynne and Brian Pearson, and two friends. It was spring tide and the current was ripping out, so the group of eight decided to split up. After some time, Luca was asked to check up on the friends who were now out of sight. He turned back and, paddling parallel to the beach, headed north in the direction of Pearly’s restaurant. It was then that Luca saw what he thought was a seal about 10m from the shore, and he couldn’t resist going to take a closer look. ‘I love watching seals,’ he says, smiling. But he soon realised that it wasn’t a seal: it was a child struggling in the water. He also noticed an adult chest-deep in the water, shouting hysterically. Luca paddled up to the boy, who couldn’t have been more than about seven years old. He could tell the child was in trouble. ‘He was shouting “Mamma, Pappa!”,’ Luca says. ‘I got off my surfski, and he grabbed me around the neck. I had my life jacket on but he was pulling me down. I was kicking my legs like mad,’ he says.
In January this year, a regular family outing turned into quite an adventure for young Luca Ceruti. By Wendy Maritz PHOTOGRPAHS BY ANDREW INGRAM
SAFETY TIP FROM THE WATERWISE ACADEMY
Memorise the emergency NSRI number and save it on your phone so that you can call for help when necessary.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 35
For Kenneth Gagela, there is nothing better than waking up in the morning knowing that he will spend the day spreading the water-safety message that will save hundreds of children’s lives. By Wendy Maritz
Waterways in Soweto are notoriously dangerous, especially after flooding
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hen I ask Kenneth Gagela why he jumped at the chance to join the NSRI as a WaterWise Academy educator, he simply says, ‘For the love of it.’ And when you see him in action, it becomes clear that the seemingly shy man has a special gift for communicating with children. ‘The kids love him,’ says NSRI marketing manager Andrew Ingram. ‘He’s motivated and passionate, and he believes in the programme. But it’s more than that: he puts everything into making the workshops interactive, like using mime, to make the message come alive.’ Kenneth joined the WaterWise Academy in November last year, and organises workshops at schools in Soweto. The need for an educator in the area is evident from alarming Medical Research Council statistics indicating that Gauteng has the highest rate of drowning in children in South Africa, and that most of these cases happen less than 100m from the child’s home (in rivers and waterways where the children play) or at the home (in baths and washbasins). Generous funding for the WaterWise Academy from Transnet National Ports Authority last year meant that the NSRI could fulfil this need in Soweto, where tens of thousands of children come into contact with water every day. A problem
Left: Kenneth Gagela puts heart and soul into the WaterWise workshops he runs in Soweto Above: Storm-water drains are a popular place for children to cool down during summer
particular to Soweto, says Andrew, are the stormwater drains. ‘Children love to play in these waterways, and there is a real risk of unexpected flash floods, especially in summer when it rains.’ The children either don’t see the warning signs or disregard them. It’s a need that Kenneth is very familiar with, having worked at the Johannesburg Water Project as a community liaison officer and volunteered at Rand Water. His background, together with a recommendation from Sporting Chance, made him more than suitable to become a WaterWise Academy educator in the area. To date, Kenneth has visited more than 40 schools, and so far the response from principals and teachers has been very good. Sometimes it can be a bit challenging, because he might have to deliver the workshop at assembly, not in smaller groups, which is preferable. But in cases like this, he says he ‘makes the most of it’. And what do the children have to say? ‘The best way to teach is to deliver the message in an entertaining but also concerned way. Then you get a positive response,’ Kenneth smiles. ‘And the children ask lots of questions too, like, why don’t we do mouth-to-mouth any more, and how CPR can save a person’s life.’ Another popular question is, ‘Is it only children who drown all of the time?’ While the answer is perhaps a little more complex than a simple ‘No’, the efforts of people like Kenneth and other watersafety educators mean that there will be fewer and fewer children succumbing to water-related incidents. And to all of you, we say thank you for spreading this message simply for the love of it. SR
OPERATION South African salvage master Captain Nick Sloane was asked to join the Costa Concordia refloating project as senior slavage master. We caught up with him to find out about this special challenge. By Wendy Maritz
Below: Much work is being done below the Costa Concordia to stabilise her
ust before 22h00 on 13 January 2012, the massive cruise liner Costa Concordia struck rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the Tuscan island of Giglio. It caused a 50m gash to the portside of her hull and parts of her engine room flooded. The subsequent loss of power to her propulsion and electrical systems led to her drifting towards Giglio, where she ran aground just 500m north of the village of Giglio Porto. Her precarious position against the steep seabed and the danger of her sinking into deeper waters have resulted in one of the most spectacular salvage operations in maritime history. The project includes the stabilisation of the wreck to prevent her slipping and sinking; the preparation of a false bottom on which the wreck will rest after rotation; the rotation – or parbuckling – of the vessel using a system of cranes; and then refloating her. And that’s the short version… For Captain Nick Sloane, this assignment is unlike anything he’s experienced. ‘Every salvage operation is different, challenging and exciting, but this one is off the wall on all counts,’ he says. ‘We’re implementing techniques that have been used in the salvage industry before – but never all together, and never on this scale. The project is setting new boundaries and pushing the envelope of what can be done. The team is continuously working out how to do things better, or to redesign components and installation procedures.’
PHOTOGRAPH: LAURA LEZZA/GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES
Captain Nick Sloane is an avid supporter of Sea Rescue, and has worked at Svitzer Marine, Safmarine and Smit salvage company
The team he refers to is a particularly large one, and the resources required are extensive. About 450 people of 19 nationalities, including salvage experts, marine engineers, oil-abatement specialists and environmentalists, are working on location in Giglio. On the mainland, five shipyards and a further seven fabrication facilities are in the process of manufacturing the structures and mechanisms needed in the refloating operation. Nick is travelling extensively around Italy, visiting the fabrication facilities, consulting with engineering subcontractors and attending government meetings. To date, 30 000 tons of steel have been used. The Parbuckling Project, as it has come to be known, makes use of extreme methodology to preserve as much of the environment as possible. Until the grounding of the Costa Concordia, Giglio was a sanctuary for nature and water lovers, with high ecotourism earnings. ‘Now there are a lot more day tourists,’ Nick explains. ‘Even in Italy, Giglio was not that well known but that has changed forever. A lot of locals hate the sight of the vessel but have been incredibly supportive of the team, even though it has been a huge imposition on their lifestyle. ‘We also have to remember that a huge tragedy occurred that night, and many people have been affected by it permanently. We have to continuously respect the fact that this is still a crime scene, managed by the state prosecutor.’ The tragedy seems compounded by the fact that the vessel, once refloated, will be delivered to a port still to be nominated by the state prosecutor. After remediation and possibly further investigations, she will be scrapped. A five-year rehabilitation plan for the recovery of the grounding location, with the replanting of sea grass and giant clams in the area, will be put in place once the Costa Concordia is gone. And hopefully the villagers can resume the quiet life they once knew. SR
The US marine wreck removal and salvage company Titan and the Italian offshore-rig company Micoperi won the joint bid for the Costa Concordia salvage operation. The work commenced in May last yeat and will be completed by the end of September 2013. Visit www.theparbucklingproject.com to see detailed illustrations of the various phases and the progress the multinational team is making with this fascinating project.
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 37
STATION DIRECTORY STN 2
STN 14 PLETTENBERG BAY
StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Bruce Davidson 082 990 5962 Rotarian Schipper 6.5m – RIB Waterproof digital camera
StatCom: Lyall Pringle 082 372 8792 Craft: MTU Nadine Gordimer – 10m rescue craft, Albie Matthews – 7.3m RIB, Nedbank Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Croc for casualty evacuation, Pelican cases, sailing gloves
StatCom: Deon Truter 082 990 5975 Craft: Ian Hepburn – 7.3m RIB, Sally Joan – 5m RIB, Airlink Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 2 NEEDS: Pelican case for medical kit, waterproof binoculars
STN 15 MOSSEL BAY
StatCom: Pat van Eyssen 082 990 5963 Fuel sponsor: Total Craft: Spirit of Vodacom – 13m rescue craft, Rotary Endeavour – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Flat-screen TV for training, two waterproof pouches
STN 4 MYKONOS StatCom: Gerard Brune 082 990 5966 Craft: Spirit of Freemasonry – 9m rescue craft, Gemini Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, TNPA Rescuer One NEEDS: Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars
StatCom: Clifford Ireland 082 990 5948 Craft: Eikos Rescuer II – 10m rescue craft, Megan II – 7m RIB, Spirit of Svitzer – 3.9m rescue craft NEEDS: Inflatable raft pump, fold-up camping table
StatCom: Ian Gray 082 990 5970 Craft: Spirit of Toft – 10m rescue craft, Eikos Rescuer IV – 7.3m RIB, Boardwalk Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars
StatCom: Geoff McGregor 082 990 5972 Craft: Spirit of Lotto – 13m rescue craft, Spirit of Rotary East London II – 5.5m RIB, Lotto Rescue Runner NEEDS: The services of a doctor to perform crew check-ups
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StatCom: Nigel Pepperell 083 625 0481 Craft: Jack Riley – 14m rescue craft, Spirit of Surfski – 5.5m RIB, Inge – Swedish Rescue Runner NEEDS: Airconditioner for training room
STN 10 SIMON’S TOWN
StatCom: André Fraser 082 990 5954 Fuel sponsor: Total Craft: Rescue 15 – 10m rescue craft, Vodacom Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Vodacom Rescuer IV – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: HF base station radio, roller garage doors
StatCom: Darren Zimmermann 082 990 5965 Fuel sponsor: False Bay Yacht Club Craft: Spirit of Safmarine III – 10m rescue craft, Eddie Beaumont II – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Two Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars
STN 16 STRANDFONTEIN
STN 11 PORT ALFRED
STN 17 HERMANUS
StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Juan Pretorius 082 990 5971 Lotto Challenger – 8.5m rescue craft, 5.5m RIB (still to be named), Discovery Rescue Runner 5 Data projector for training
STN 12 KNYSNA StatCom: Graeme Harding 082 990 5956 Craft: Colorpress Rescuer – 8.5m RIB, Jaytee III – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of KYC – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Waterproof binoculars, aquapacks
StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Mario Fredericks 082 990 6753 Spirit of GrandWest CSI – 5.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer III – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 3 Fuel sponsor
StatCom: Henk Henn 082 990 5967 Craft: South Star – 10m rescue craft, Hunters Gold Rescuer – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of Le Jenmar II – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: The services of a doctor to perform crew check-ups
STN 18 MELKBOSSTRAND StatCom: Rhine Barnes 082 990 5958 Craft: Spirit of the Vines – 6.5m RIB, Men’s Health Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 4 NEEDS: GoPro camera would be useful
SEA RESCUE CONTACTS
To reach NSRI after hours, please call Meriel Bartlett on 082 994 7555 or Craig Lambinon on 082 380 3800. For general information, please call NSRI’s head office in Cape Town on (021) 434 4011.
THE NSRI IS MANNED BY 980 VOLUNTEERS AT 32 BASES AROUND THE COAST AND ON THREE INLAND DAMS. OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE DAY JOBS BUT WILL ALWAYS RESPOND TO YOUR EMERGENCY.
STN 19 RICHARDS BAY
STN 24A LAMBERT’S BAY
StatCom: Cornel du Toit 082 990 5949 Craft: Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m rescue craft NEEDS: Two waterproof torches, two long-distance binoculars
STN 20 SHELLEY BEACH
StatCom: Mark Harlen 082 990 5950 Fuel sponsor: Caltex Craft: Caltex Endeavour – 7.3m RIB, Caltex Challenger II – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of Le Jenmar I – 4m rescue craft, Discovery Rescue Runner 8 NEEDS: Pelican case for medical kit
STN 21 ST FRANCIS BAY StatCom: Marc May 082 990 5969 Fuel sponsor: CBF Motors, Humansdorp Craft: Spirit of St Francis II – 8.5m RIB, Eikos Rescuer I – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Pelican case for medical kit
STN 22 VAAL DAM StatCom: Dick Manten 083 626 5128 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Harvey’s Fibreglass – 5.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 11 NEEDS: GoPro camera would be useful
STN 23 WILDERNESS StatCom: Hennie Niehaus 082 990 5955 Craft: Spirit of Rotary 100 – 5.5m RIB, Serendipity – 4.2m rescue craft, Die Swart Tobie – 4.2m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 1 NEEDS: Data projector for training room
• iPad for Craig Lambinon • Blankets • Towels • Prizes for fundraising • Bottled water • Energy bars
Ron Selley 082 922 4334 Private vessels are used for rescues
STN 25 HARTBEESPOORT DAM StatCom: Rod Pitter 082 990 5961 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Afrox Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Tool set, Tectyl protective coating, bottled water
STN 26 KOMMETJIE StatCom: Tom Coetzee 082 990 5979 Craft: Spirit of Winelands – 5.5m RIB, FNB Wavescapes – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 7 NEEDS: Two air hoses (8m) with connections
STN 27 VICTORIA LAKE, GERMISTON StatCom: Graham Hartlett 082 441 6989 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Vodacom Rescuer V – 4.7m RIB NEEDS: Torches and binoculars
STN 28A PORT ST JOHNS StatCom: John Costello 082 550 5430 Craft: Walvan Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft, Freemason’s Way – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Waterproof binoculars
STN 29 AIR SEA RESCUE StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
André Beuster 082 990 5980 PJ1 – collapsible 4.7m, PJ2 – collapsible 4.7m Funds for EPIRBS
STN 30 AGULHAS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Reinard Geldenhuys 082 990 5952 Vodacom Rescuer VII – 8.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer II – 4.7m RIB Data projector for training
STN 31 STILL BAY StatCom: Enrico Menezies 082 990 5978 Craft: Spirit of St Francis – 7.3m RIB, Colorpress Too – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Medical supplies
STN 32 PORT EDWARD StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Mick Banks 082 990 5951 Wild Coast Sun Rescuer – 7.3m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 6 The services of a doctor to perform crew check-ups
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 Wet and dry vacuum cleaner, waterproof pouches, plastic interlocking floor square (18sqm)
STN 34 YZERFONTEIN StatCom: Rudi Rogers 082 498 7330 Craft: Rotary Onwards – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Iffley – 4.2m rescue craft, Discovery Rescue Runner 10 NEEDS: Funds towards new boathouse
STN 36 OYSTER BAY StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Mark Mans 083 653 6387 Pierre – 4.7m RIB, Oyster Bay I (jet ski) Whiteboard for training room
STN 37 JEFFREYS BAY StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:
Rieghard Janse van Rensburg 071 896 6831 Loved 1s 24: – 4.2m rescue craft, two jet skis, Discovery Rescue Runner 12 Air-conditioning units for station’s lecture and operations rooms, Pelican cases for medical kit
SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 39
AWARDS Left: Quentin Diener, Leon Pretorius and Attie Gunter meet the Canadian rescue crew Below: Leon with Stuart and Keith (from the RNLI), Attie and station dad Rob Wilson and Quentin (front)
Last year, Station 33 (Witsand) volunteers Attie Gunter, Leon Pretorius and Quentin Diener were invited to the International Maritime Organisation Awards ceremony in London. Thanks to the support received from a special fundraising drive, they were able to attend
ur pledge to funders is that their donations are used only for rescue efforts, training and maintenance – which means that travel costs for our crew to receive awards aren’t covered. The day we announced a special fundraising appeal on our website, on Facebook and in our magazine (Summer 2012 issue), we received a phone call from a very excited volunteer. She said that she would like to pay in the equivalent value of half of each of the three air tickets for Attie, Leon and Quentin to go to London. She felt that it could just as easily have been her on one of the rescue boats that night, and said she’d love to ‘be part of ensuring that the crew could receive their awards personally’. The money that she earmarked was her inheritance from her mother, who passed away earlier in 2012. This generous lady has chosen to remain anonymous, and we all feel humbled by her incredible kindness. The next phone call was from Cape Town businessman Anthony Sedgwick, who has a holiday home at Infanta (across the river from Witsand). He generously booked three return air tickets and insisted that the crew stay on a few days to ‘see a few sights’. The South African Institute of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects made a donation of R5 000, as
40 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013
did the executive mayor of the Hessequa Municipality. Thank you to everyone else who contributed towards the costs of accommodation, visas and daily travel expenses, including Greg West and the crew of Gulliver; Rob Wilson and two of his neighbours; Kobus Baard and the Witsand Hengelklub; Dr FA Weber; the Welsh family; Peter Buchanan; Martin Green; Ian Andrew; Meriel Bartlett; Judy Haigh-Smith and her customers from The Sands Supermarket in Witsand; and Hendrick Gericke. Because it was their first trip to Europe, the three young men persuaded deputy station commander (and ‘station dad’) Rob Wilson to join them. Rob generously paid for his own flight, despite the fact that he, too, is an unpaid volunteer. Thanks also to Glenda Visser of Grindrod Travel, Liz Armstrong of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Krista Lazzari of NSRI head office, who made all the travel arrangements. We also thank MP Denise Robinson for making sure that a motion of congratulations was read out in Parliament. SR
To read Rob Wilson’s account of their trip, visit
THE EVENTS ›› 15 June 2011 The 40-foot catamaran Gulliver capsized. Station 33’s (Witsand) 5.5m rescue boat Queenie Paine was launched, with Attie Gunter, Leon Pretorius and Quentin Diener on board. It was a difficult rescue: the Breede River had been in flood, it was minutes before a total lunar eclipse, and outside of the shelter of the bay the swell reached 8m. At 22h33 all four of Gulliver‘s crew – Greg West, Frans Strung, Mike Morck and Shaun Kennedy – were rescued out of their life raft, 12nm off Witsand.
›› 8 July 2011 The badly damaged yacht was found washed up on a farm at Eersterivier, near Oyster Bay.
›› 28 August 2011 The rescue crew was honoured with Sea Rescue’s Gallantry Award: Silver Class. This is the highest award yet given by NSRI.
›› 26 November 2012 The UN honoured the crew in London at the International Maritime Organisation Awards for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, where they were presented with certificates of commendation in recognition of meritorious services rendered.
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