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10 SUMMER STORM HAVOC When the Lourens River burst its banks, NSRI crew were ready to assist people in the deluge


Enjoy some action-packed, snow-filled winter breaks, without leaving the country



Sea Rescue volunteer Kim Germishuys visits the US Coast Guard’s Aviation Logistics Centre in North Carolina


Photographer Andrew Aveley takes us on a photographic tour of a beloved spot – southern Namibia

Giving up your time and energy for a worthy cause not only has social benefits – it appears to be good for your health too




Rescue swimmer Robin Fortuin put his life on the line to save six people caught in a rip

See page 4 for more details.



Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to win a Canon PowerShot D20.

NSRI assists Cape to Rio race contender Black Cat after she experienced technical problems

Andrew Ingram speaks to a few newly qualified NSRI coxswains about what it takes to lead a rescue team

Fundraising drives, events, competitions and station news



News from the Life boat Circle


36 ALIEN INTELLIGENCE Octopuses might be proof there’s an extraterrestrial presence on earth after all


Meet Dr Megan Laird – marine biologist, adventurer, researcher and dedicated Sea Rescue volunteer





CONTACT US CAPE TOWN: NSRI, 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 or email us at



N MY TRAVELS I’VE OFTEN come across our magazine on coffee tables and in waiting rooms. Friends of mine regularly comment on how much they enjoy reading it particularly because of the quality of the content and the presentation. It really is a wonderful publication and guess what? We’ve just celebrated 10 years with The Publishing Partnership in producing it! Amazing how time flies when you’re rescuing so many people and sharing the incredible stories! And we have once again won a PICA award for publishing excellence – our third! The holiday season and the very hot weather drove many locals and holiday makers into the water to cool off, but it’s been at a risk! The incidence of drowning along the coast and inland seems to have accelerated and Sea Rescue alone attended more than thirty incidents with estimates of the total deaths from drowning probably well over a hundred. (Remembering that statistics don’t include those who recover after nearly drowning or who suffer brain injury with disability.) Our WaterWise Academy teaches children water awareness, water safety planning, self-rescue and basic resuscitation, and seeks to mitigate against at










Meriel Bartlett


CELL 082 994 7555

Mark Beare, John Morkel




Susan Newham-Blake

Andrew Ingram

ADDRESS PO Box 15054,

CELL 082 990 5977

Vlaeberg 8018


TEL +27 21 ­424 3517


FAX +27 21 424 3612

CELL 082 380 3800




OFFICE +27 21 434 4011

least a few of these deaths but South Africans clearly need to be far more aware and far more prepared to deal with the risks associated with water. An interesting take on this season’s statistics is the number of adults who have drowned and the contributing factors. These included rip currents, panic, drinking alcohol (or taking drugs), and crossing flooding rivers. Rip currents on beaches have been a major risk. The greater majority of South Africans are never ‘water orientated’ at school and can’t swim or float – with the result that if they get out of their depth they’re in serious trouble. I believe being water safe is a life skill that should be on the Life Orientation curriculum in junior school but the question is: what do we do now? Government clearly has a role through education, public safety, law enforcement and so on, but the solution really lies in parental and adult responsibility: making sure that your children are supervised, that they are water safe and that you as an adult behave responsibly around water. The water can be fun but not when it’s up over your head! If you have any thoughts on water safety please feel free to share them with us; we can use your lifesaving advice and protect small children from death or life-long disability.


Produced for the NSRI by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. Copyright: The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2014. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in 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.

REPRODUCTION Hirt & Carter PRINTING ABC Press ISBN 1812-0644

sea rescue winnEr of thE 2013 Pica award for ExcEllEncE in magaZinE PubliShing and JournaliSm in thE catEgory buSinESS to buSinESS: ESSEntial SErvicES

r14.95 | frEE to nSri mEmbErS | AUTUMN 2014

Station 6 (PE) hoStS rEach for a drEam youngStErS

voluntEEring: why it’S good for your Soul and your hEalth

bravE rEScuE of Six caSualtiES from a riP currEnt

Snowy wintEr gEtawayS for thE wholE family

Station 6 (PE) crew host Reach for a Dream: Steven van den Berg (left) and Ian Gray. Photograph: Donna van der Watt Photography



The writer of the winning letter published in the Winter 2014 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 or pop by and see us on the corner of the R44 and Kromme Rhee Road outside Stellenbosch.

Congratulations to the Papageorge and Clayton families. Your Slaley hamper will be on its way to you shortly.



wanted to say thank you to the NSRI for their amazing work. My family and some friends were on the Elandskloof Farm near the Helderstroom prison (Caledon Area) over the weekend of 16/17 November when the floods knocked out all access roads to the area. We had arrived for the weekend on Friday afternoon and were supposed to leave on Sunday afternoon to return home. As the rain came down and the water rose, destroying the access roads, we finally realised we could not leave the area by road and, as the rivers swelled, the only way out was by boat. Can you imagine the relief to find the NSRI volunteers from Station 17 (Hermanus) safely carrying stranded


In the Summer 2013 issue of Sea Rescue we made an error in the story on Gareth Woods and Paul van Rensburg, who were swept out of the Bot River estuary mouth when the authorities breached the mouth. Both men were wearing life jackets when their kayak capsized and Gareth took his off after he was helped out the water by a bystander. This was not noticed by our correspondent. Our sincere apologies to Gareth who says that he would never kayak without a personal floatation device. Paul’s life jacket helped keep him afloat until two Station 17 (Hermanus) swimmers could rescue him.

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people from one end of the river (formerly the road) to the other, working tirelessly for hours on end? We did not get the names of the volunteers, but for our children Taylor (4), Alexander (4), Christine (2) and Savannah (9 months old), these men were life savers and special people who would risk their lives in service to strangers. I am very proud to be a regular contributor to the NSRI and pleased that in some way we might have made some tiny contribution to the operation, but you can be sure we will continue (and increase) our contribution going forward. Thank you NSRI for assisting us and our children to get safely home! Families Papageorge and Clayton, Cape Town

A HEARTFELT THANK YOU I am writing this for the crew that was dining at the Ponto restaurant in Mossel Bay on the evening of 18 November 2013. We were passing through town, spending just one night before continuing our journey, and in retrospect my system had obviously reached a state of overload, causing me to collapse – I am told in dramatic style – in the restaurant. I was aware of the attention being given to me, and I do recall asking members of the crew for their names, but for obvious reasons I was unable to write them down, and my memory is not as good as it used to be. I want each crew member to know how grateful I am that you came forward and offered the assistance

Send your letters to Sea Rescue magazine, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. (The winning letter is chosen at the editor’s discretion.)

necessary to resuscitate me while also caring for my wife, Inger. My heartfelt thanks to you all. Mike Lear

WELL DONE, WATERWISE The work you guys are doing is just wonderful and the number of children you are reaching is amazing. Really a project that gives not just a life skill, but a life-long life-saving skill! Thank you for all your hard work!! Ms Charnine Sobey, Department of Agriculture, Western Cape Government


Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to


SAVING THE WHALES The robust and sporty Canon PowerShot D20 is designed to take an active part in all your adventures, whether you’re hurtling down a rapid, climbing Kilimanjaro, exploring coral reefs or sandboarding at the coast. It’s waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dust resistant, so you can capture the moments while still enjoying the ride! FEATURES: 28mm wide-angle Canon lens with 5 x zoom / 12.1 MP HS system / GPS / underwater functions / image stabiliser / panning mode /underwater macro mode/ handheld night mode / slow-motion movie mode / location data (for tagging images) / full HD 1080p movie quality. The Canon PowerShot D20 is not just about capturing any moment, it’s about capturing every moment, in all its glorious detail! For more information, visit or call 082 851 0090. 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. CONGRATULATIONS TO CASSIA MILDNER (GANSBAAI), OUR PREVIOUS SUBSCRIPTION PRIZE WINNER

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:.........................................................................................................................

What a wonderful story – and what an amazing effort by all concerned. A long and difficult operation through the night. It is so encouraging to realise that there are human hearts out there that care deeply (as we all should) about the animals on our planet. This story has made my day. Thank you to all who were involved in the rescue. Whoever made the initial call, may you be richly rewarded. Greg Hine

It is marvellous and so inspiring to know how much effort was put into helping this young whale. Good for all of you. It makes a welcome change from the hideous stories of hunting and poaching of wild animals. Well done, you wonderful people, well done. Judith Calder Visit

HELDE VAN HELDERBERG-STORM Ons het as vrywilligers gehelp met die 4x4 [tydens die vloed in November 2013], en ek kan julle sê dit was ’n belewenis om Francois en sy span van NSRI Gordonsbaai in aksie te sien. Hulle het om 04h00 in die oggend borshoogte in yskoue water van huis tot huis geloop om te hoor of almal OK is. Dan het hulle nog ’n glimlag op hulle gesigte en tyd vir n grappie of twee! (Sien bladsy 10 vir volledige storie.) Christof Cloete



................................................................................ Postal code:................................................

Telephone no: (..............)......................................................................................................... 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 13 June 2014. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Winter 2014 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.

CEO: Dr Cleeve Robertson EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS: Meriel Bartlett (Organisational Support), Mark Hughes (Operations), Mark Koning (Finance) GOVERNANCE BOARD: Peter Bacon (Chairman), Ronnie Stein (Vice-Chairman) MEMBERS: Deon Cloete, Viola Manuel, Chris Nissen, Dave Robins, Rob Stirrat, Nontsindiso Tshazi OPERATIONAL BOARD MEMBERS: Dr Cleeve Robertson (CEO), Eddie Noyons (Chairman), Meriel Bartlett (Organisational Support), Mark Hughes (Operations), Mark Koning (Finance), Brad Geyser, Dave Roberts, Mike Elliot, Clive Shamley.

HONORARY LIFE GOVERNORS David Abromowitz, Allan Cramb, Howard Godfrey, Ian Hamilton, Chris Hudson, Brian Hustler, Ian Strachan, Hennie Taljaard.



Well done Robin Fortuin. I happened to be the Law Enforcement Senior Inspector on duty at Monwabisi Beach when the drowning incident occured on 1 December 2013. I take my hat off to Robin for a sterling rescue operation. You showed exceptional bravery in rescuing six men you didn’t even know. Sadly, the seventh person drowned, but you have done us proud because you tried very hard to reach him. Your heroism really reminded me of Wolraad Woltemade. You are to be commended for such heroism. My heartfelt condolences to the parents of Kwezi Goza who drowned that day. Natasha Coetzee

HARTLIKE DANK As skipper wil ek namens die bemanning van die boot MyChina van hierdie geleentheid gebruik maak on julle te bedank vir die hulp en bystand aan ons verleen op 18 Januarie 2014 by Struisbaai. Dit was vir ons almal ’n openbaring om julle werkswyse te aanskou. Ons het slegs

algehele toewyding en professionalisme ervaar en het net die hoogste lof vir wat julle doen. Nie alleen het julle verseker het dat daar nie verdere drama ontaard nie, julle het ons ook gerus gestel en van ’n aangename reis en goeie geselskap voorsien. Ons wil julle verseker van ons dank en waardering, en sou julle baie graag op ’n


meer tasbare wyse wou vergoed, maar geen geld sal egter genoegsaam wees nie en ons is ook soos julle net doodgewone mense met beperkinge. Maar – uit ons hart – baie dankie en mag julle geseën word in die werk wat julle verrig. Eldo Marais, skipper MyChina

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Tel: +27 31 368 5050 Fax: +27 31 332 4455 Mobile: +27 83 250 3398

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Thank you for Sea Rescue magazine. I took the last issue with me on the plane to read when we headed off to visit our children in New Zealand. BOOK It’s a mighty long flight, so I really needed to take lots to read. I find GIVEAWAY your magazine very interesting and get so excited when I read of all the wonderful rescues you guys do. Well done – on behalf of all those who do not know how amazing you all are – I will say it: ‘You are amazing and so much appreciated.’ WATCHING WHALES I am sending blessings to you all and only the very best wishes for 2014. AND DOLPHINS IN Sandi van Tonder SOUTHERN AFRICA BY NOEL AND BELINDA ASHTON This handy guide will help lovers of marine animals identify what they see when looking out to sea; the best time and place to spot these marine mammals; and the meaning of various behaviours like sky-hopping, breaching and lobtailing. It’s practical and focuses on the most commonly seen sea creatures. Noel Ashton is an artist, sculptor and scientific illustrator with a long association with environmental awareness and wildlife conservation. His wife, Belinda, has worked in the environmental sector for many years, promoting wildlife conservation. We have three copies of Watching Whales and Dolphins in Southern Africa to give away. To stand a chance to win one, SMS Sea Rescue Dolphin, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 13 June 2014. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 13 June 2014. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Winter 2014 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 5. By entering this competition, 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.


Congratulations to the winners of our Summer 2014 issue competitions. ›› Mister King’s Incredible Journey book giveaway: R Muller, Sun Valley; I Gonzaga, Westville; G Mederer, Cape Town ›› Cadac Meridian: Don Helling, St James ›› Sealock hamper: Hennie Janssen, Rustenburg ›› Tide Clocks: P Bantjies, Vryheid; P Oliver, Kuilsriver; S Holtzhausen, Paternoster; D Smith, Lonehill; G Thomson, Rondebosch ›› Surfski with the Pros book giveaway: Gert Terblanche, Hartswater; A Mills, East London ›› Village & Life getaway: K Frazer, Cape Town


MAKING A DIFFERENCE On behalf of the ratepayers and visitors to Nature’s Valley, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for the support provided by the NSRI in helping to make the beach at Nature’s Valley safe for holiday makers this season. This support was particularly evident on New Year’s Day, when a jet-ski was patrolling the waters along the full length of the beach and other back-up vehicles were provided in case of emergencies. It is impossible to achieve 100 percent safety, but the NSRI’s presence makes a big difference and is much appreciated. Doug Blaine, Chairman, NVRA

THANKS FOR LOOKING OUT FOR US On behalf of the Pete Marlin Surfski event and the Border Canoe Club, thank you to Station 7 (East London) for once again assisting us. We can all be very proud of what we achieved, but without your contribution and involvement it would not have been possible. It is a pleasure to work with you and the rest of your team!

We had just over 170 entries this year, which is remarkable, and I have no doubt that the 2014 event will attract at least 220 entries and be bigger and better. Please extend our gratitude to the rest of your team. Thanks again, and we look forward to our continued partnership in the years to come. Charl van Wyk, Race Organiser


An entity of the Department of Environmental Affairs

LOST IN THE FOG The main danger that fog presents to vessels and their crews is the lack of visibility, which also hampers the search for boats that lose their way. The risk of running aground also increases as was the case with the fishing trawler Eihatsu Maru that ended up on a sandbank near Cape town’s Clifton beach. WHAT IS FOG? Fog, like any cloud, usually forms in two ways: by the cooling of air, (such as radiation or ground fog, advection fog and upslope fog) and by the evaporation of water and the mixing thereof with relatively dry air, (such as steam fog and frontal fog). The type of fog that occurs along the coastal areas is known as advection fog. Advection fog is always associated with the movement of air and it develops when a relatively warm air mass moves in horizontally over a cold surface and cools down to below dew-point temperature so that condensation takes place. Differences in temperature between the land and the surface water near the coast, or even differences between two currents (such as the Agulhas (cold) and Mozambique (warm) currents often result in advection fog. Meteorologists distinguish between two phenomena that affect visibility in

the atmosphere. The criteria that is used looks at the maximum distance at which a dark object, of suitable size, can be seen and recognised for what it is. When this maximum distance is less than 1 000 metres, we refer to it as fog. However, when the maximum distance is greater than 1 000 metres, we refer to the phenomenon as mist. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS Anyone trying to steer a boat in fog will soon lose his/her sense of direction as landmarks become obscured and visibility reduces. They literally don’t know where they are going. There are a number of ways to reduce the danger, for instance, crew should drop anchor and wait for the fog to clear or for help to arrive. Always make sure communication devices are working before launching. VHFFM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. (Although cellphones are

a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.) Also remember the following: • Check the local weather prior to launching. Weather can change rapidly and you should keep a watchful eye on the forecast conditions. • If possible, carry nautical charts of the area you are boating in and a global positioning device on board. • Keep up to speed with boating safety regulations, and make sure your vessel has passed all safety checks and is completely seaworthy. • Always wear a life jacket. • Make sure a friend or relative knows where you are going and what time you anticipate you will be back. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let this person know. • Make sure all equipment on board is in good working order before launching.

On 12 May 2012, the 50m Japanese fishing trawler Eihatsu Maru ran aground near Clifton in dense fog


ASK THE LOCALS As coastwatchers we seldom get to see the ‘real action’. Our reports may well assist NSRI volunteers to pinpoint a person or vessel in trouble, but that’s usually about as far as it goes, until we are told to ‘stand down’ – and usually, thankfully, it’s off to bed. The Coastwatchers’ Manual says, ‘You are not part of the sea-going rescue crew. You may not even be required to leave your home in the course of your duty as an observer.’ And later, ‘Your local knowledge could be vital…’ Perhaps the occurrence on 28 December 2013 illustrated this point. I was standing on the Rooi Els slipway, and had just decided the sea looked angry enough for it not to be an inviting prospect for kreefing on my paddle ski. The offshore reef was growling and baring its white teeth every so often. My ‘vessel’ could remain in the garage – the kreef were safe for another day. Suddenly, a vaguely familiar person came jogging down the slipway, and to my surprise greeted me with, ‘Geoff, any problems here? A drowning-in-progress has been reported off Rooi Els, somewhere at the end of a red road where there is concrete, and this is the only place I know that comes anywhere near that description.’ The face ‘gelled’ and I recalled Anton Prinsloo from Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay), where Lynn and I had received our 18-Year Service Awards a few weeks previously. With the advantage of local knowledge, I agreed with Anton’s assessment. Just then another call advised us to explore Ocean View Drive,

which we did after being joined by the medics in their ambulance. Another call advised that police were on scene and the victim was visible about 30m off shore. Then we became aware that a group of visitors were looking through binoculars in the direction of Pringle Bay. There, on a point perhaps halfway across the smallholdings, somebody seemed to be waving a red shirt or flag. In the meanwhile, we had seen Station 9’s RIB Spirit of Surfski searching immediately off the Rooi Els coastline. A red rescue chopper arrived and started hovering over the area where the red shirt was visible. We needed to get there, and this is where my local knowledge and access to Porter Drive came in useful – but how would we get through the locked gate? I made a call to Anthony Urbaniak, who owns one of the smallholdings, and the gate was unlocked. We pulled up behind the police van and ran towards the scene. By this time two NSRI boats were circling offshore almost under the chopper, which was sending large quantities of spume into the air from the raging sea. What a deadly place those folk had chosen to go kreefing! There was no further sign of the casualty and eventually the search had to be abandoned, I decided there was nothing further I could do and walked back to Rooi Els for a late meal with my family. This gave me time to think about what had occurred and the unnecessary loss of life.

The sea conditions off this coastline demand respect – ample evidence lies in the many crosses marking the lives lost; and now another one would join them. From this experience, it seemed clear that local NSRI coastwatchers could, and perhaps should, be playing a more positive on-the-ground role. In my 18 years of coastwatching, this is only the third time I have been actively involved in a local rescue (as opposed to offshore observations, exercises, and so on) – and two of those occasions were purely fortuitous; I just happened to be ‘on the spot’ at the right time. And the records show that there have been many incidents where we might have been useful, but that we only heard about later. This is not a criticism, merely a suggestion that, as locals we could be useful if alerted and consulted and that this should be routine, not the exception. In this latest incident, Anton was holidaying in a nearby village when he received the call-out and came rushing over; and I happened to be on the spot and available. However, I like to believe that on this occasion my presence was more help than hindrance. So, my suggestion is that local coastwatchers should automatically be alerted to assist where possible. There are many opportunities for us to serve; be it local knowledge, crowd control, sustenance, etc. Just endow us with appropriate NSRI authority and insignia and let’s see what we can do! Geoff Harris, Coastwatcher

Call for Yanmar solutions



Bottom (left) to right: Station 17 (Hermanus) crew help to ferry people across a flooded road; assisting wardens from the Helderstroom Prison near Caledon when the Riviersonderend River overflowed.


STORM HAVOC Five Sea Rescue stations were kept busy during the torrential storms that hit the Cape in November last year. And everyone involved kept a cool head. By Cherelle Leong PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEON LANGENHOVEN



N FRIDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2013 AT AROUND 16h30 it started to rain in Somerset West. Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) volunteer and deputy station commander Francois Stevens didn’t take much notice as he finished up the week’s work. The weather services had predicted heavy rains in Cape Town and surrounds but what he didn’t expect was that half an hour later, the water would already be up to floor level of his 4x4. As he drove down the main street he could see the water levels rising. This was going to be a big storm. Still going about his normal routine, Francois made his way home. His wife had asked him to drop her at a function and then the rest of the evening was his. With the rain not letting up Francois figured that, if anything, it wasn’t going to be a quiet evening spent at home. He packed his wetsuit and booties just in case and, sure enough, at 21h30 the call came through. The Lourens River had burst its banks, flooding the surrounding area. The Vergelegen Mediclinic was underwater and patients needed to be evacuated – and NSRI crew were asked to assist. After a short briefing at the joint operations committee (JOC), Gordon’s Bay crew made their way to the Mediclinic, but they didn’t get far: the road was completely flooded. On the road outside six cars with occupants were stuck. By now the water was so high it was flowing over the bonnets of the cars, with the currents washing over some of the roofs.

The first car they approached held a couple and an older woman. It turned out she was 97 years old and had just had a hip-replacement operation. A second car held a family with a six-year-old child. As Francois was helping the elderly lady out of the one car he felt something snag around his leg. He reached down to untangle it, thinking it was a branch or bunch of reeds washed up by the river. Instead his hand found an IV bag from the hospital. It was then that it dawned on him how bad the flooding really was. If IV bags were floating free, that meant that half the hospital was underwater! A few months earlier, local emergency services had practised a scenario of the Lourens River flooding and that training would prove invaluable. Throughout the operation, crew members worked efficiently in buddy pairs, always keeping an eye on one another. Systematically they helped people from their cars and through the flooded streets to safety. While this was happening, NSRI vehicles led ambulances with patients through the flooded streets ensuring that the ambulances didn’t run the risk of driving into open manholes or potholes. Once all the car occupants were cleared the NSRI was tasked with checking on the flooded residential homes. By this time, Station 10 (Simon’s Town), Station 18 (Melkbos) and Station 23 (Strandfontein) had arrived and joined in the rescue efforts. At times, NSRI volunteers were wading through water up to

their armpits. All through the night the calls kept coming through. At 02h00 they were directed to a house where a 78-year-old woman was stranded in her flooded home. On another street a house was collapsing. From there the crew members moved through a private security estate checking homes. As they rounded one corner, they were met by a security vehicle floating down the street. Sure enough, right behind it was the security guard who had also been washed off his feet! By the time dawn broke the crew members were tired, cold and wet but still operational. As a bit of fun they floated through the gates of the security estate to the car park outside the local Spar supermarket. It was just past 06h00 and the owner was opening up. ‘You guys look like you could do with some coffee,’ he said, and, not caring about their muddy footprints, he invited them into the store for free coffee all round. To Francois and his crew nothing could have tasted better. Around the same time, in the Overberg, Station 17 (Hermanus) volunteers were called to an emergency at the Helderstroom Prison near Caledon. The flooded Riviersonderend River had cut off access to the prison and they couldn’t make their warden shift change. The 4.2m RIB Le Jenmar II was dispatched to ferry wardens across the 500m stretch of water. Just as they were finishing up, a wedding party of 70 guests approached the NSRI for assistance. They too had been stranded by the flood waters and needed to get back to the other side of the N2. In relays of four, all 70 guests were ferried across the river. Somerset West and the Overberg were not the only places keeping NSRI volunteers busy that weekend. In Hout Bay massive mudslides on Chapman’s Peak Drive and Victoria Road near the top of Suikerbossie had completely closed off two of the three access routes into the valley. For a time Hout Bay was completely cut off when trees and rocks blocked Hout Bay Main Road on Constantia Nek as well. With no road access in or out of Hout Bay the NSRI base was set up as a JOC to coordinate responses to any emergencies. Two vehicles had been caught in the mudslide on Chapman’s Peak. Quick action by a local police officer ensured the occupants of the first vehicle were helped out moments before it was pushed over the side of the mountain. A second vehicle was firmly wedged in the mud between rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the road. The driver had to climb out of the window to escape.

Above: The NSRI assisting people across flooded roads.

If IV bags were floating free, that meant half the hospital was underwater!

A complex of flats, No 1 Chapman’s Peak, was swamped with mud and debris. Concerned about further mudslides and possible unstable ground, the decision was made to evacuate residents. Working with the fire department, NSRI volunteers helped to carry out some of the elderly residents with stretchers. In some areas the mud was knee deep and rescuers had to carefully consider where to place their feet as they waded through. Back in Gordon’s Bay, Francois was just making his way home when he got a call from his friend in the Strand. The friend’s house was flooded and he needed help to evacuate his family. Despite having had no sleep, Francois got back in his car and drove to his friend’s house. He had to park two blocks away and wade through waist-deep water to get there. Children, clothing and basic necessities were carried out in relays. As Francois exited the house, a paddler came past in his canoe down the middle of the street. Canoes, cars and security guards floating down streets – now he’d seen it all! For two other Gordon’s Bay volunteers who had been up all night, sleep wasn’t an option either: Ryan Holmes and Neil Slater barely had enough time to shower and put on a fresh set of clothing before having to drive through to Cape Town. There they sat a four-hour ENS (Electronic Navigation Systems) exam. Both passed, one of them with the highest marks in the class. It was an unusual weekend for NSRI volunteers in the Western Cape. Accustomed to rescues involving boats and angry seas, volunteers instead spent the night wading through muddy waters – and did so with smiles on their faces. It’s an incredible testament to the teamwork, training and dedication of the NSRI volunteers. Everyone knows their role and simply gets on with the job. SR



NE OF THE MOST COMMON questions asked of NSRI volunteers is: why do you volunteer your time and effort? There is no simple answer because it is different for each individual. In addition, a recent Masters study reflected that what motivates most people to become a volunteer is often different to the reasons they stay a volunteer. Volunteering adds an entirely different dynamic to organisations that is about far more than just the bottom line. People are not working to get paid. Whatever their reason, they are there because they want to be there. When you ask a volunteer about the benefits, they will often pause, unsure of how to answer. Could this be because the benefits actually go much deeper than most people think? In 2013, a professor in psychology from the University of North Carolina, in the US, published research findings relating to the effects and benefits of volunteering. Professor Barbara L Fredrickson and her team found that there is a biological

reaction that occurs on a molecular level that differentiates between pleasure derived from noble acts of service (eudaimonic wellbeing) and acts of self gratification (hedonic wellbeing). In other words, there is a different kind of happiness that takes place on a cellular level when you are serving others rather than yourself. In collaboration with Professor Steven W Cole at UCLA, Fredrickson’s study revealed that the cellular responses to different types of service can impact general health. Eudaimonic wellbeing has a positive impact on a person’s health by improving their immune system, reducing inflammation and helping them cope with stress. By contrast, hedonic wellbeing can have a negative impact on a person’s health, resulting in more stress. Mother Teresa is believed to have had an incredibly strong immune system and low levels of inflammation despite the environment that she worked in. Scientists believe this could

be linked to her life of devotion and service of others. Perhaps it’s this eudaimonic wellbeing that is at the heart of the success of volunteer organisations. Nicci Wright of FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre certainly agrees. FreeMe ( is an indigenous wildlife rehabilitation organisation based in northern Johannesburg. Nicci admits the organisation would certainly not be able to function as effectively if it weren’t for their volunteers. FreeMe processes on average 10 000 cases a year of 450 different species. These include birds, mammals and reptiles that are sick, have been injured or orphaned. There are more than 60 volunteers who give their time in the field. They don’t even seem to mind doing the dirty work like cleaning out cages and chopping up food. Nicci reflects that most people join because they want to make a difference. They have a love for animals and they want to be able to help, so becoming a volunteer fulfils

Giving your time and energy to a cause seems to have benefits far beyond what we generally expect, says Cherelle Leong

Why do


do it?



VOLUNTEERS that personal need. But as they get involved many volunteers find that they enjoy the physical labour and being surrounded by nature in the reserve. It’s an escape from busy city life. They meet other people with common interests and make new friends. At FreeMe, volunteers come from all walks of life. There are ballet teachers, physiotherapists, retirees and students. Some teams have volunteered together for more than 10 years. Sometimes students who volunteer in their holiday breaks go on to become veterinary surgeons or obtain degrees in zoology or conservation. It is true that many volunteers join organisations to gain experience to help them develop their personal career paths. They learn from the experience – and the organisations benefit from their service, knowledge and experience. Many a doctor, paramedic or nurse started out as a volunteer with organisations such as St John’s Ambulance or another emergency medical service. Within the NSRI family many of our crew have gone on to work on yachts and charters overseas. Some of our volunteers have chosen careers in the shipping industry becoming marine engineers, chief navigators and even Class I commercial ship captains. Others have become fulltime paramedics or are studying medicine.

Below left to right: Port Alfred crew rescued all on board the capsized Kowie; safety training for Wilderness crew and Metro; a poisoned eagle gets a second chance at life.

Take a look at the video on NSRI volunteer induction and training at

Above: A FreeMe volunteer takes care of a baby honey badger.

Then there are those volunteers who never deviate from their chosen career paths as lawyers, accountants, property brokers, business managers, IT professionals or entrepreneurs. Volunteering is simply something they do in addition to everything else. Most of the time, the learning and benefits of volunteering happen unconsciously. Almost all volunteers will agree that they grow as individuals. As a volunteer you learn to work with others, often under challenging circumstances. Stress and pressure bring out the best and worst in people and you learn to deal with that. You learn how to

assess situations and recognise things that could make the situation either escalate or improve it. Whether it is working with the aged, injured wildlife or people in a trauma accident, as a volunteer you learn to remain calm under pressure because those you are working with are relying on you to help them. Certainly there is a heart factor involved, a personal need to make a difference. On the positive side this can stem from an overwhelming empathy and love for people or animals. It might also be due to a sense of guilt or feelings of being unfulfilled. According to a study headed by E Gil Clary in 1998 this is known as a protective function. Perhaps a person has been immensely successful financially and they feel the need to do something for others. Perhaps they wish to find an escape from their personal problems and volunteering makes them feel better about themselves. Another motivation identified by Clary is the social function of volunteering. This is the need to be part of a group or to strengthen social relations. Have you ever seen a volunteer group interacting socially or at work and been amazed at the camaraderie? Most volunteer teams are close. They need to be because they trust and rely on one another, sometimes in difficult circumstances. They will often refer to the organisation they’re involved with as their second family. Certainly this is true at most stations within the NSRI. While volunteering is a subject that still requires a vast amount of research, there are several things that are fairly clear: volunteering builds individual lives and enhances communities; it can be good for your health; and it’s certainly good for the organisations and others in need. SR

Sources: Cunningham, C. (2013). Sustainability of a Nonprofit Organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Unpublished: a dissertation submission for MBA. University of Sunderland. • Clary, E.G., Copeland, J., Haugen, J., Miene, P., Ridge, R.D., Snyder, M., Stukas, A.A. (1998). Understanding and Assessing the Motivations of Volunteers: A Functional Approach. Joumal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 6, 1516-1530


Due to the exceptional bravery of NSRI rescue swimmer Robin Fortuin, six people were rescued from a treacherous rip current at Monwabisi STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW INGRAM


T WAS SUNDAY, 1 DECEMBER, AND THE START of the busiest time of the year for Sea Rescue crews around the country. The weekly equipment check and base clean-up were well underway at Station 16 (Strandfontein) when coxswain Vaughn Seconds arrived after church, as is his custom. Strandfontein Sea Rescue station is one of the most exposed NSRI stations on our coastline. It is whipped by the southeaster in summer, battered by the northwester in winter and assaulted by sea spray all year round. A few kilometres from Muizenberg, the rescue base is close to the Strandfontein Pavilion, on a beautifully desolate strip of beach. Visited mainly by wetsuit-clad fishermen with long surf rods, and by a few people walking, the narrow stretch of beach, which runs for many kilometres from Muizenburg to Gordon’s Bay, is not a particularly safe place. It has a reputation for muggings and has no shortage of dangerous currents. Which is why many people who live in the area visit either the


Strandfontein Pavilion or the Monwabisi Pavilion. During the summer season both have safe tidal pools, and lifesavers on duty. Monwabisi also has a large sea wall, built many years ago to make a safe area for people who would prefer to swim in the sea rather than the tidal pool. But the wall achieved exactly the opposite: the sea at Monwabisi is lethal. ‘The sea wall creates a vicious rip current. Lifesavers have their hands full when they are on duty there, but when they are off duty it is an extremely dangerous place to swim,’ says Dr Cleeve Robertson, NSRI CEO. It was with this in mind that Vaughn took NSRI volunteer rescue swimmer Robin Fortuin (22) on a routine patrol in the Strandfontein NSRI rescue vehicle, covering the 12 or so kilometres from their rescue base to Monwabisi. ‘It is our busiest and most treacherous beach,’ explains Vaughn. Arriving at the parking lot above the beach, the two NSRI volunteers took in the scene below them. The wind was picking up, as was the swell. White caps were starting to blow off the top of waves and both men knew that as the afternoon wore on, the southeaster would get worse. There were people swimming in the tidal pool,


Far left: The sea wall at Monwabisi has created unpredictable rips, which make it a treacherous place to swim. Left: Vaughn Seconds (left) with rescue swimmer Robin Fortuin who saved six people.

and the beach was busy, with many people in the sea water. ‘We felt that there was something not quite right, and then Robin noticed what it was. There were no lifesavers on duty,’ recalls Vaughn. At about the same time Vaughn and Robin noticed three men being swept out from the beach in the notorious Monwabisi rip current. ‘I grabbed my torpedo buoy and ran in,’ says Robin. He swam for the nearest man first, and using his rescue swimmer skills, he gave the man his torpedo buoy and swam him back to safety. ‘There wasn’t time to take him all the way out of the water, so as soon as I could stand, I pulled him and the torpedo buoy towards me and pushed him out as the swell came up to us.’ Robin swam back for the next man, and then the third. Three swims and three people rescued, one after the other, requires some strength and skill. ‘It was about 15 minutes later,’ explains Robin, ‘that we noticed another four men caught in the same rip. The weather had deteriorated, the wind picked up, the swell picked up… These were not conditions for anybody to be swimming.’ ‘I asked Robin if he would go in again and I got on the line to the other services – Skymed, METRO – the situation was tense,’ remembers Vaughn. ‘The currents were strong and while I was swimming for my fourth casualty, I could feel my

‘I can’t save everyone. That’s something as a rescue person you have to come to terms with.’

body being pulled by the currents. My plan was to swim as hard as I could. Just don’t give up, I told myself. It’s what we are trained to do. I had decided to swim three of them back to shore and the last guy out to sea and wait for the boat,’ Robin explains. ‘The rip was pulling the guy fast as Robin went after him. The waves were picking up so much that I started to worry about his safety. I could see that after the six people that he had pulled out that he was starting to tire,’ Vaughn says. ‘I swam my heart out but I just could not get to him. He went down right in front of me. I looked at him; he looked at me and shook his head. He put his arms up and just went down,’ Robin recalls. Robin was about 5m from him when he slipped under and that was when Vaughn decided to pull Robin out. ‘For the first time I feared for one of my crew. I feared that I would lose one of my own,’ Vaughn explains. ‘I was physically exhausted,’ Robin says. ‘If I did not have my torpedo buoy with me I probably would have drowned. As a wave came I threw the buoy in front of it and it pulled me to the shore. Luckily I landed on a big flat rock but I could not climb. Fire and Rescue pulled me up. I had no energy.’ ‘When he got back to shore Robin had to be treated for exhaustion. He put his life on the line – and six people owe their lives to him,’ says Vaughn. ‘Six out of seven. I still see his face, you know. But I can’t save everyone. That’s something as a rescue person you have to come to terms with,’ Robin explains, slowly shaking his head. SR Robin Fortuin will be presented with a Gallantry Award, Silver Class, at the NSRI AGM in August this year.

Take a look at the video at



UNIQUE Sea Rescue volunteer Kim Germishuys couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the US Coast Guard’s Aviation Logistics Centre


Top left: The Coast Guard’s Sikorsky helicopter. Top right: The swimming pool at the Rescue Swimmer Training Facility provides ‘real-life’ rescue scenarios created by, among others, wind generators and a theatre system.


CHANCE W HENEVER OUR VOLUNTEERS TRAVEL, they can’t resist the opportunity to visit other rescue centres. When Kim Germishuys, a volunteer at Station 3 (Table Bay) and Station 29 (Airborne Sea Rescue unit) was going on holiday to the US and Canada, she secured an invitation to visit the US Coastguard (USCG )Aviation Logistics Centre in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Dave Cadorette, a USCG Aviation Survival Technician (AST) wanted to make contact with similar services around the world with the aim of sharing information. ‘Arriving at USCG Air Station Elizabeth City was an absolute dream come true for me. As a helicopter rescue swimmer, we look up to the Coast Guard. They have set the standard for pretty much everything we do. ‘I was first taken to the Aviation Logistics Centre (ALC), which is located at the USCG Air Station, essentially a Coast Guard airport. They are responsible for setting the equipment standards for all the aviation survival equipment used by all the USCG Air Stations. I was then taken to Air Station Elizabeth City, one of the busiest in the country. Their aircraft include Sikorsky MH-60T helicopters and Lockheed HC-130J airplanes. I was shown

around the “shop”, which houses more than enough equipment and rescue tools to make any NSRI crew member green with envy. ‘Hanging on the walls are lifejackets of the various vessels that the Air Station has assisted; each is labelled with information about the mission, the numbers of lives assisted and the names of the air crew involved. I was given a tour of the two different aircraft, and it was amazing to see the technology and types of equipment used. ‘The following day I visited the Rescue Swimmer Training Facility, which was opened in 2012 and is home to the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School and the Coast Guard’s Underwater Egress Trainer, aka The Dunker. The rescue swimmer pool is divided by a moveable boom that allows for two classes to take place at the same time, and has three wind generators for simulating surface winds of up to 70 knots and helicopter rotor wash. In addition to the wind, the generators can lash “rain” across the pool’s surface. There is also a wave generator in the pool, which can generate swell of up to three feet. Instructors can truly test a student’s capabilities by also utilising the theatre system that is used


Left: The Coast Guard’s Underwater Egress Training Centre. Below left: Lifejackets commemorating the various rescue operations and people saved. Below: Chief Brian Goodbody, AST Dave Cadorette, Kim Germishuys, AST Scott Beitel, Rick McElrath and AST Brian Doolittle.

Hanging on the walls are lifejackets of the various vessels that the Air Station has assisted; each is labelled with information about the mission, the numbers of lives assisted and the names of the air crew involved to simulate day or night conditions, along with an impressive array of sound effects. ‘The Helicopter Rescue Swimmer course consists of two phases: a six-week build-up course, and a gruelling 18-week Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Course. This course is known as one of the most difficult in the US armed forces, with a 70 percent drop-out rate. ‘When I arrived at the pool area, there were two classes in progress: the build-up course on the one side of the pool, and the Helicopter Rescue Swimmer

Course on the other. I was fortunate enough to meet with the school’s chief and other instructors, who gave me insight into the course and how students are tested. The students in the pool at the time were running through a parachute disentanglement exercise, used when rescuing a downed airman. Of the original class of 18, only eight students still remained and they still had quite a few weeks to go. ‘The Dunker is where boat crews and air crews are taught how to escape from a capsized boat or a downed helicopter. The centre is modular with both boat and helicopter simulators. The pool itself has a large ball which can generate swell, and two wind and rain generators. ‘Just imagine capsizing at night, in 70-knot winds with driving rain, the flash of lighting and the crack of thunder so loud that you almost forget that you are indoors, inside a simulator, in a pool, which is miles away from the ocean. The facility mind-blowing. ‘I am truly fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to visit USCG Air Station Elizabeth City and I would like to thank Dave and the team at the Aviation Logistics Centre for allowing me to shadow them during my visit. I learnt a lot and will definitely use the new knowledge to enhance our training at the ASR Unit.’ SR


We accompany Andrew Aveley on a tour of one of his favourite places: the wide open, unspoilt southern region of Namibia STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW AVELEY

Oceans of space W

Above: The rough bark of a quivertree – from a different perspective. Below: One of the many abandoned houses in the ghost town of Kolmanskop.


HEN ONE THINKS OF NAMIBIA, I AM sure the first image that springs to mind is of the famous trees of Deadvlei and the wildlife of the great northern Etosha regions. My visits to these places have been special in every respect, and I would encourage anyone who enjoys the openness of the coastline of South Africa to visit this ocean of space and light at least once in their lives. The endless vistas and red dunes are places where you can lose – and find – yourself at the same time. The first stop on any one of my trips is the small campsite just north of Keetmanshoop in the wellknown Quivertree Forest. After a hard day’s driving, you can set up camp within a few metres of the many

rocky outcrops and quivertrees. As the sun sets or rises, you can be alone in a setting of peace and quiet with the golden glow of light on the incredible patterned quivertree bark. I find myself lying in the short grass under a quivertree, watching the light change and engulf the trunk from the bottom to the top. It’s as if the tree is moving and stretching out into the deep blue dawn sky. As the golden light starts to fade and the light blue sky takes over, I stroll back to the campsite and sit down with a strong cup of my favorite coffee, and listen to the sounds of the small birds and geckos taking over their kingdom after sharing it with me briefly. I enjoy the southwestern section of Namibia because of the space and the feeling of true isolation. Heading due west to Lüderitz for the famed Kolmanskop ghost town, you will be transported back in time to when the miners and townsfolk left it after the diamonds were no longer worth mining. In some places things have been left as is, for over a hundred years. On a good day you can also find yourself engulfed in a thick fog from the cold Atlantic Ocean as it drifts over the dunes into the hot desert. The buildings often share sounds and shadows that give you more than your imagination bargained for, and I have often felt as if the old townsfolk were watching me from the derelict buildings.


The rainbow continued to glow and shimmer and I tripped the shutter of my camera far too many times

The hidden gem for me in this region is, however, the Namib Rand Conservancy. These privately owned farms have unique rock formations surrounded by grass plains and patterned red dunes. Many of these have camping facilities and welcome most guests with open arms. The best time for landscape photography is in late February and early March: you often have massive storm cells building throughout the heat of the day and unleashing raw power through bolts of lightning and ghost rains across the plains. It was on one of these trips that I decided to test my own endurance by trying to scale one of the sand covered ‘mountains’ in order to get a better vantage point and perspective of what appeared to be a promising storm cell to the north. While doing an early dawn shoot I had used this little geographical feature as an anchor point in one of my images and it really looked like an enjoyable hike for sunset. Well, to say that my frame lacked traction in some

Below and right: The red dunes and grass plains of the Namib Rand Concervancy make for captivating moments, for the camera and the soul.

of the loose sand and animal paths on the ascent is a massive understatement. Add to this the humid and heavy air on my lungs and you have the makings of a scene from Survivor. I dragged myself up to near the summit and found a rocky outcrop where I could sit, take in the vista and watch my mates down below shooting from a small dune close to the plains. The next 90 minutes were so worth the threehour climb: as the heavens opened and the sun set, a golden glow mixed with deep blue sky peeking through the clouds made it spectacular indeed. As the storm cell moved along to the east, I turned around and was speechless to see the most perfect rainbow stretching across the farm. It continued to glow and shimmer for close on 20 minutes and I tripped the shutter of my camera far too many times, but each and every one was worth the pot of gold I imagined at the bottom of the rainbow. SR



TOWING BLACK CAT Black Cat skipper Dudley Dix describes the events leading up to their safe tow back to shore after technical problems plagued their Cape to Rio attempt



HE WEATHER BRIEFING TWO days before the race start told us there was bad weather expected, and the advice was to sail due west as fast as possible to get through the system to the high that would follow. My navigator, Dave (Wavy) Immelman, and I decided to follow that advice as the most logical route. We sailed through the first night in gradually strengthening wind which started to intensify around daybreak. Feeling a bit overpowered in the squalls we were reefing the mainsail when a squall of over 40 knots hit us. I changed from our westerly course to a north-west heading, taking pressure off the sails but the wind over the deck increased, with gusts of over 50 knots that shredded our new carbon jib, leaving us under main only. While changing from the number 1 jib to the smaller number 3 we were running before and gaining speed rapidly. Wavy was standing on the foredeck at the forestay, hauling down the tatters of the jib when we took off down a wave, accelerating to


22 knots. The waves were very short and steep and we ran straight into the back of the next wave, washing Wavy aft against the shrouds, spraining his ankle and inflating his automatic life-jacket. At the same time the tiller went sloppy in my hands. Although Black Cat was running fast and straight down the wave she was doing it on her own; we had no steering. We dropped all sail and elected to sit out the worsening conditions before setting up a jury rudder to take us back to Cape Town. Black Cat was comfortable and in no danger. The wind and sea moderated quite quickly from that first storm and we put our minds to making a jury rudder from lazarette floor boards. It worked reasonably well but we treated it gingerly for fear of breaking it. We motored on for Cape Town but as the day progressed the conditions slowly deteriorated as a second storm started to move in. I saw that we were not going to lay Cape Town so elected rather to head for the closer and easier Saldanha Bay.

As evening approached the storm grew progressively more violent. Around dusk there was a massive bang, a noise that sounded like the boat being ripped apart. Sean had shouted a warning from the cockpit (one that I can’t repeat) but none of us heard it. Suddenly we were upside down and the cabin was filled with flying bodies and objects. Then just as suddenly she was upright again and we were left with an awful mess of food packages, cabin sole panels, tumblers, containers and anything else that managed to find its way out of its allotted place. And there was water everywhere, including over the chart table, the lid of which had ripped right off, and in the electrical panel and electronics. The two satellite phones and main VHF radio were drowned, leaving us with only a hand-held VHF of limited range with which to communicate. The crew set about sorting out the chaos. The day fridge, which had been bolted into the saloon table, had relocated

Left to right: Black Cat at the RCYC; Spirit of Vodacom leads the tow; Black Cat prior to the Cape to Rio race; the jury rudder made from plywood boards screwed and strapped to the remains of the original rudder; Black Cat crew (from left to right) Sean Collins, Dudley Dix, Dave Immelman, Gavin Muller and Adrian Pearson prior to the race.

itself to the settee (on which I had been lying only 30 seconds earlier). Three fire extinguishers had been ripped out of their brackets and become lethal missiles. During the inversion process the tail of the mainsheet had gone over the side, attaching itself to the propeller and winding itself up to the point that it stopped the diesel motor and pressure from the rope over the guardrail punched a stanchion through the deck. Time stands still in these situations. I have no idea how long it took us to clean up the boat but she was back to a semblance of shipshape before too long. The hole in the deck was plugged as well as possible with some muti we had brought on board. Sean says he did not see the wave coming but became aware of it as it loomed over the boat. It was very large and broke as a hollow tubing wave completely enveloping Black Cat. She rose up the face of the wave, rotating as she rose until she was hanging from the roof of the tube. Then she was thrown down the face of the wave with the mast going in first. While this was happening I looked into the cockpit for Sean and he was hanging from whatever he had been able to grab as the wave reared up. I required that all crew be hooked on with safety harnesses before going on deck but Sean was hanging on so tightly that his harness had no work to do! The worsening storm and loss of major

Although Black Cat was running fast and straight down the wave she was doing it on her own; we had no steering. communications prompted us to ask Cape Town Radio to put out a Pan-Pan message to warn of our location in the shipping lane and to ask for the NSRI to be called to our assistance. We advised that we were in no immediate danger but would appreciate assistance when it could be provided. Initially the assistance came in the form of the fishing vessel Miriam Makeba heading our way. When they were still a few miles away, the navy frigate SAS Isandlwana took over control of the widespread rescue efforts and released the fishing vessel to continue fishing. Once we had confirmed that we were in no immediate danger they headed off to take care of people and boats that were in much more serious situations. In the early afternoon NSRI’s Spirit of Vodacom and crew arrived from Cape Town.

They offered us the choice of continuing under our own steam to Saldanha Bay or accepting their tow back to Cape Town. Proceeding to Saldanha Bay presented logistical problems for crew and boat, so we took the tow and headed for Cape Town at 10 knots. Manoeuvring into the Royal Cape Yacht Club basin proved to be difficult because the jury rudder boards added to the starboard side of the rudder severely limited rudder movement in that direction. Add a pomping south-easterly gale and we sorely needed the welcoming hands on the dock to catch us as we came in at rather high speed and with negligible control. We were disappointed that our race had to end this way: we were going so well and must have been in with a reasonable chance for a top result. But we were glad to be back on land safely and were very grateful to NSRI and the crew of Spirit of Vodacom for their part in it, as well as the Miriam Makeba and SAS Isandlwana. And thank you to our friends, family and supporters for all of the good wishes that poured in following our experiences in the Cape to Rio Race. I also want to thank the crew of Black Cat for being such great and capable shipmates, always ready to do the right thing and with a smile. SR

Take a look at the video on



RIGHT STUFF NSRI coxswains not only skipper our boats, they also lead the team. Andrew Ingram spoke to a few of the newly qualified coxswains


T’S NOT EVERYONE WHO CAN – OR WHO would even want to – become a Sea Rescue coxswain. It’s a position that carries enormous responsibility and a position that, sometimes, demands split-second decisions that can save lives. For those who have decided to take up the challenge, and who have the seamanship, courage and leadership that’s needed, it is a position that defines who they are. Being a Sea Rescue coxswain is extremely demanding: it needs complete dedication not only from the volunteer, but also the backing of the person’s family. Once a rescue boat has launched, it’s the coxswain who is responsible for the safety of the vessel. It’s the coxswain who must lead the team of rescue volunteers, carry out the rescue and safely bring the crew back to their families. The coxswains know their stretch of coastline intimately, they are one with their craft and they understand the strengths and weakness of their crew members. Although it’s not a job that has any financial reward, the joy of saving someone’s life is not something that can be measured These are the men and women who lead their crew members through vicious seas and back, to rescue someone whom they have never met. In 2013 a remarkable 37 volunteers were awarded their Sea Rescue coxswain certificates. They are from 17 different stations around the country and across four different classes of boats, from the small 4.7m surf boats to the 12m deepsea rescue boats. Andrew Ingram spoke to five NSRI coxswains to find what inspired them to take up the challenge.


Neal Stephenson, Station 14, Plettenberg Bay Why did you join NSRI? I grew up at the coast surfing and enjoying the sea. I started Nippers at age eight, going through the ranks at the local lifesaving club (Plett Surf), eventually working as a pro lifeguard on the beaches most of my summer school holidays. I enjoyed saving lives and using my knowledge of the sea to help people. After losing my leg to a shark attack while surfing, some of my friends who were members of Station 14 rendered assistance to me when I needed it most. I decided that when I had recovered, I would give back, and so I joined Station 14 What motivated you to become a coxswain? It is the ultimate responsibility, being in charge of a rescue boat and making sure your crew and yourself come back safely. Is there a moment that stands out for you? Probably the night we were called out up the Keurbooms River to the hut right at the top of the river. We went through the river mouth with the 7.3m Ian Hepburn and 4.2m Spirit of Engen and all the way up as far as the boats could go. We got to the hut where a student had broken his neck in a rugby tackle gone wrong. He was strapped onto our back board and transported to the boat, then down the river to the N2 bridge to a waiting ambulance.


Craig Maltby, Station 4, Mykonos

What motivated you to become a coxswain? In my case, it was purely a matter of the right time mixed with the necessary experience, confidence and enthusiasm that the privileged role of coxswain finally presented itself.

Why did you join NSRI? As a father of three waterbabies, event organiser, and sports coach in Langebaan, I have naturally been drawn to the incredible lagoon on our doorstep. I have called on the professional services of our local sea rescue station whenever I was involved in organising any Langebaan water-based competition, including the Cape Town Surfski Series, Down Wind Dash, Cape Point Surfski Qualifier and the annual Around the Island Swim. The attitude of the crew never failed to impress me; nothing was a problem, regardless of the fact that they were volunteering their precious time. I decided to attend an evening station meeting just to check it out. That was about six years ago.

Is there a moment that stands out for you? Many very different situations stick out – however, despite the tragic outcome, there is one in particular that highlights the esprit de corps, the involvement of other agencies and, I guess, my reason for continuing to offer my time in service of our community. The call came through for a capsized fishing boat in St Helena Bay, just off Shelley Point. One fisherman had managed to swim ashore and had raised the alarm. However, three crew members were still missing. We managed to recover two bodies but unfortunately could not find the other man.

Gerhard Esterhuizen, Station 3, Table Bay

Waldo Strydom, Station 30, Agulhas

Why did you join NSRI? From a young age, I spent time on the sea sailing. Apart from making me a safer sailor, volunteering with the NSRI allows me to give back some of that reassurance.

Why did you join NSRI? I’ve admired the work that the NSRI does for as long as I can remember. They always gave me the impression of being reallife heroes when I was a child. It becomes your life, and I cannot think of a better way to live.

What motivated you to become a coxswain? Being a rescue coxswain took me out of my comfort zone and provided the opportunity to learn a variety of things that make me a better mariner.

What motivated you to become a coxswain? My motivation to become a coxswain was always something that was kind of inevitable. I am one of those people who just loves to be hands-on. I prefer being in the thick of things, rather than looking in from the outside.

Is there a moment that stands out for you? I am always moved by the relief you hear in the voice on the other side of the radio when you make contact the first time and they realise that there is hope of rescue.

Is there a moment that stands out for you? I really cannot pick one out. Every one is special for its own reasons. To battle the storm and bring someone back home clinging onto their last hopes of life; to bring a husband and father back after they have been missing at sea for hours; towing your friends back after they broke their steering – they are all special. Each and every life we touch, even in a small way, is special to me.



JOIN US ... Dr Kerry Sink will be giving a talk on coelacanths in Cape Town in July 2014, in aid of NSRI. If you would like to attend, please email your name and contact details to so that we can add you to the mailing list and send you a personal invitation closer to the time.

Robyn Silverstone, Station 3, Table Bay Why did you join NSRI? I did a school project in Grade 10 called ‘Gemilut Chasadim’ (Hebrew for ‘the giving of loving kindness’). I joined NSRI, and long story short, I never left.


What motivated you to become a coxswain? It was a natural progression from trainee to crewman and then giving myself a goal. Is there a moment that stands out for you? I’m fortunate enough to have been on a lot of call outs over the last 13 years. The capsizing of the Miroshga off Hout Bay stuck out the most. It speaks more to how a community can pull together at a specifically tough time. SR



André Fraser


Station 15 (Mossel Bay)

Bjorn Gussenhoven


Station 8 (Hout Bay)

Cornel Du Toit


Station 19 (Richards Bay)

Paul Hurley


Station 21 (St Francis Bay)

David Spangenberg


Station 19 (Richards Bay)

Luke van Riet


Station 2 (Bakoven)

Johann Lensink


Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay)

Jeremiah Jackson


Station 20 (Shelly Beach)

Alan Mieklejohn


Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay)

Judd Smook


Station 15 (Mossel Bay)

Arno Cloete


Station 15 (Mossel Bay)

Justin McCarthy


Station 15 (Mossel Bay)

Geoff Stephens


Station 8 (Hout Bay)

Craig Maltby


Station 4 (Mykonos)

Jaco Niemand


Station 3 (Table Bay)

Jaco Van Der Walt


Station 6 (Port Elizabeth)

Douglas Aschmann


Station 3 (Table Bay)

Marc De Vos


Station 3 (Table Bay)

Gerhard Esterhuizen


Station 3 (Table Bay)

Tomé Mendes


Station 3 (Table Bay)

André Beuster


Station 18 (Melkbosstrand)

Robyn Silverstone


Station 3 (Table Bay)

Roland van Wezel


Station 18 (Melkbosstrand)

Sean Geyser


Station 2 (Bakoven)

Waldo Strydom


Station 30 (Agulhas)

Casper Kruger


Staion 14 (Plettenberg Bay)

Kobus Meyer


Station 18 (Melkbosstrand)

Adrian Scholtz


Station 26 (Kommetjie)

Neal Stephenson


Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay)

John Nicholas


Station 32 (Port Edward)

Shaun Thomas


Station 8 (Hout Bay)

Mick Banks


Station 32 (Port Edward)

Ryan Chase


Station 19 (Richards Bay)

Joshua du Pisanie


Station 37 (Jeffreys Bay)

Ivan Bauser


Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay)

Gareth De Vry


Station 6 (Port Elizabeth)

Craig McIver


Station 8 (Hout Bay)


The lecture called, ‘South African Coelacanths: Surprises, Secrets and Opportunities for Science’, is a personal account of Kerry’s experiences in South African coelacanth diving and research. The lecture tracks local developments from the first discovery in 1938 to the most recent research expedition in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, 75 years later. Dr Kerry Sink, who is the Marine Programme Manager of the South African National Biodiversity Institue (SANBI), has a long history of involvement in South African coelacanth research, starting with the Wright Canyon Coelacanth Expedition in 1998. Kerry manages the catalogue of individual coelacanths in South Africa and she pioneered the use of a remotely operated vehicle for researching coelacanths and their deep-water habitats in South Africa. Kerry also initiated the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative in 2002, and is currently developing new opportunities for citizen science in South Africa’s coastal and marine environment.




for the hills Skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing are just some of the fun activities in store this winter. And you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy them STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY CATHERINE HOFMEYR

THRILLS AND SPILLS IN LESOTHO Have you ever wondered how those snowboarders and skiers you see on TV doing gravity-defying stunts learn their moves without killing themselves? I found the answer at Afriski: they use a giant, blow-up air pillow (like a jumping castle but without the castle bits) for a soft landing. Snow sports are not generally synonymous with African conditions but at Afriski in Lesotho, you’ll find a mini-replica of a European resort, from a snow-making system right down to the heisse schokolade and cold beer. Perched 3 222m up in the Maluti Mountains, a four-hour drive from Gauteng, Afriski is a place of thin air, subzero temperatures and high-adrenalin action. For those not seeking big air, there’s a 1km main slope serviced by a T-bar lift and three beginner lifts in a dedicated learning area. Thrill-seeking skiers and boarders will love the revamped Snow Park. Learn to ski, try bumboarding, throw


snowballs, enter a ski race or take a freestyle lesson. The whole family is welcome, and children from age three can have their own ski lessons and snow fun in the company of Pudi the goat. Phone central reservations on 086-12-374-754 or go to A TASTE OF THE ALPS Tiffindell Ski Resort in the Eastern Cape is a long way from anywhere but it’s a worthwhile and scenic trip to make. Established in 1993, the resort was temporarily closed in 2011 but is up and running again in the Southern Drakensberg Mountains, near the village of Rhodes. At the end of a long and winding road, you’ll find, somewhat incongruously, a bustling resort of snug timber chalets, ski lifts, a restaurant, ski shop, ski school and pub. At Ice Station 2720, high up on the slopes of the towering Ben McDhui Peak, the schnapps and gluhwein just taste

Clockwise from top left: Matroosberg – a perfect getaway for the whole family; snowman sculpting; Tiffendell Ski Resort offers myriad snow activities; little ones enjoying a bit of a rush; thrill-seeking skiers will enjoy the 1km slope at Afriski in Lesotho.

better, especially after a hard day’s skiing or boarding. And if nature doesn’t deliver the necessary dump of white stuff, snowmaking cannons guarantee snow for 100 days during winter. Skiing and snowboarding aside, there’s tobogganing, snowball fights, snowmen to be made, bumboarding and evening entertainment that may find you downing schnapps while suspended upside down from skis bolted to the ceiling – that’s après-ski Tiffindell-style. It’s a great family destination as even tiny tots are catered for. Access is by 4x4 only but shuttles are available from Rhodes. In summer the resort is open for fly fishing, mountain and quad biking, the famous Eight-Passes route


bungalows, chalets or a hiker’s cabin to suit your budget. Check it out at www. or phone (058) 7136361/2 (or 073 228 7391 – as lightning sometimes knocks out the landline).

for motorcyclists, and hiking. Find out more at or phone reservations on (011) 781-2620. SOAR WITH VULTURES AT WITSIESHOEK Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge is not a ski resort, but time your winter visit just right and you could be crunching through freshly powdered snow on your way to breakfast. Situated at 2 220m above sea level at the foot of the majestic Sentinel Peak, it’s the highest bed you’ll find in Northern Drakensberg. With views over the Mont-Aux-Sources mountain range, the lodge is a springboard for hikers and rock climbers as well as mountain bikers and adventurous families. A must for hikers is the climb up Sentinel Peak via the notorious chain ladders to the source of the Tugela Falls, where the secondhighest waterfall in the world cascades in several tiers to the foothills below. Another draw card at Witsieshoek is the endangered bearded vultures which are frequent visitors to the ‘vulture restaurant’. On fine days, the resort’s bird whisperer, Jeremia, puts out bones from the kitchen which brings the handsome raptors close to the lodge and makes for fantastic photo opportunities – pack the zoom lens. All beds come with breakfast and a spectacular view but you can choose from

ON TOP OF MATROOSBERG When winter unleashes its fury on the Western Cape, there are few places I’d rather be than hunkered down in a ski hut in front of a fire while a northwester storm hurls snow and sleet against the windows Matroosberg, in the Hex River Mountains near Ceres, was one of two mountains (the other being nearby Waaihoek) where a bunch of intrepid mountaineers first tested the Cape’s skiing potential back in the 1920s. Their efforts and enthusiasm led in time to the formation of The Ski Club of South Africa on Matroosberg. A rudimentary ski lift and a mountain hut were added and the club is still going strong today. Club facilities are reserved for members, but the formation of the Matroosberg Reserve on the farm Erfdeel, has opened up the mountain to the public, including Matroosberg Peak, which at an altitude of 2 249m, is the highest in the Boland. A not-for-sissies 4x4 trail winds right up to the peak and the 7km circular route at the top takes in spectacular scenery as well as the dizzying sheer drop of Groothoek Kloof. Other activities include snowboarding (if you’ve got a board), ice climbing, abseiling, hiking, mountain and quad biking. Bed down in the 100-year-old Goatherds’ House, the wood-and-stone Ski Hut, a lakeside chalet or, for real die-hards there’s a camp site. Book your winter berth on (023) 312-2282 or go to www.


Garmin has introduced a new high-definition action camera series to its range of products, the Garmin VIRB and Garmin VIRB Elite™. The cameras are compact, waterproof and easy to use, and combine a host of features that make it fun – and easy – to capture your memories, including: • aerodynamic design • rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can record three hours of HD video with one charge • digital image stabilisation • lens distortion correction • GPS* • WiFi capabilities* • level settings. In addition, the 1.4-inch screen uses ambient light insead of backlight to illumniate the screen, making it easier to use in bright sunlight. (*Elite only) Visit for more information.


Who says you need sun and sand to play outside? Nite Ize has introduced a fun new addition to its range of LED-lit gadgets – the Flashflight. This flying disc is perfect for wintry evenings, when you still want to enjoy the outdoors. The disc is aerodynamically engineered, and comes with readily available, replaceable coin-cell-sized batteries. Each flying disc only uses one single ultra high-brightness LED and features nine fibre optics that push light to the outer rim, balancing the light distribution evenly across the surface. Visit for more information.





MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE ON SATURDAY 8 FEBRUARY, 10 children from the Reach for a Dream Foundation spent a morning with the crew from Station 6 (PE). The Foundation recognises that children have big dreams, and it focusses on making these dreams come true for those who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. One of their national projects is called Captain Courage, a boys’ only initiative that aims to recognise and reward these youngsters for their bravery.

‘Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is a very challenging experience for a young boy. By taking part in courageous activities, they are given the chance to show their fighting spirit,’ Reach for a Dream’s Kaylene Booth explains.
 WaterWise Academy educator Marcus Oshry and Station 6 crew members made sure the morning was packed with fun and educational activities. ‘We did the WaterWise workshop, taught them about rip

Ten youngsters from Reach for a Dream spent a fun-filled day with the PE crew, which included watching a simulated rescue and a WaterWise workshop.

currents, and then took them out into the harbour to show them a simulated rescue of some guys who had been ‘attacked’ and had fallen from the harbour wall,’ explains Marcus. The Harbour Master had kindly agreed to clear the crew to take the kids into the harbour for the demonstration, as well as to see the container ships, tug boats, environmental patrol boat and fishing fleet. At the end of the morning’s events, Marcus presented each of the boys with a medal. ‘It

was a moving experience for all of us,’ he says. ‘They said it was the best outing they ever had. This really touched me,’ he adds. Afterwards there was lunch and goodies at the Ocean Fresh Restaurant in the harbour. ‘We would like to thank Marcus and the NSRI team, and also Oresta, the owner of Ocean Fresh, for donating her venue and the lunch, and for being so willing to help,’ Kaylene says.




A big thank you to Station 34 (Yzerfontein) station commander, Rudi Rogers, and his crew who have worked tirelessly over the last three years planning, negotiating, fundraising and campaigning for a boat house. Thank you also to the Yzerfontein residents, municipality, visitors and neighbours for all your support and your generous donations – we really appreciate all the help in making this dream a reality.



SEW provides vital equipment to the NSRI

Thank you to SEW-EURODRIVE, which has been sponsoring drive equipment for many years, and has supplied several of our rescue bases with SEW inverters and geared motors. As Station 3 (Table Bay) station commander Patrick van Eyssen says, ‘NSRI needs reliable winching equipment as we cannot have a problem launching a rescue craft in an emergency. SEW-EURODRIVE has generously supplied Station 3 with two drive units and controls for our big 14-ton boat Spirit of Vodacom, and the 5.5m Rotary Endeavour.’

DOING THE DUSI… ON A SUP Dean Bottcher (son of our Operations Board Chairman, Eddie Noyons) recently completed the Dusi on a standup paddle – together with his friends Brendon Germaine, Jon Ivins and Corran Addison. On Day Two, Dean almost withdrew after losing 45 minutes when he had to save himself from a dangerous weir and his board became stuck in the recycle. He then had to go back in and, one by one, save the overeager local kids who had all leapt in and tried to help. Congratulations, Dean! What an achievement and, we believe, the first of its kind in the world on a SUP.

We welcome and thank our three new Platinum sponsors: Robertson and Caine: ‘Robertson and Caine are extremely proud to be associated with the good work done by NSRI. Our board decided this was the best way to give something back to the marine industry.’ Ellian J Perch, Director, Robertson and Caine MCS: ‘In the words of John A Shedd: “A ship in the harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” I know that I am safe, even outside the harbour because of the Sea Rescue services and know this feeling can be shared by everyone leaving the harbour. I feel it is a tremendous honour being able to sponsor an institution that is prepared to save lives, even during the most difficult conditions.’ Monty McLoughlin, Director, MCS.

TOP: The containers that were Station 34’s home. ABOVE: Work begins on a new boathouse, thanks to the tremendous planning and fundraising efforts of the Rudi Rogers and crew.

Italitile: ‘Italtile Limited is privileged to be associated with the NSRI. The courageous and selfless contribution that this organisation makes to the people of our country is a source of inspiration and comfort to us all. From the experience we went through as a company, we were reminded of some very important values – bravery, teamwork, and leading meaningful lives that make a difference. No organisation lives up to those values better than the NSRI.’ Gianni Ravazzotti, CEO, Italtile SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2014 • 29


IT WAS ABOUT 11H30 on Sunday 16 February when retired NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg and his friend Rob Stirrat, also an NSRI board member of many years, set sail on their 37-foot sloop Alseba. They had invited four other family members and friends, and as they turned out of the Granger Bay marina they raised a jib and reefed the main sail to the second spreader. It was a great day for sailing in Cape Town. The sky was clear and a 15 to 20-knot east southeast wind was blowing. Alseba was in the shipping channel, between #1 and #2 lead in buoys when Ian heard a loud crack. Ian was in the cockpit and Rob was on the wheel. Dane, Rob’s son, had just gone onto the port side to retrieve a fender that was over the rails, and the boat, on the port tack, was sailing close to the wind. In a fraction of a second the forestay had come adrift and the mast, boom, rigging and sails came crashing down, with the mast landing exactly



where, a few seconds earlier, Dane had been standing. In the ensuing chaos the crew checked that nobody was hurt – which was nothing short of a miracle considering where Dane had been standing, – and

out his cell and called Cape Town Port Control, asking them to put Station 3 (Table Bay) on standby. ‘We then realised that the rig over the side was acting as a massive rudder and asked Port

‘We then realised that the rig over the side was acting as a massive rudder and asked Port Control to activate the Station 3 (Table Bay) rescue boats.’ then went to work stabilising the mast. The VHF aerial was on top of the mast, which now was a few metres underwater on the port side of the yacht, so Ian took

Control to activate the rescue boats,’ continues Ian. When the rescue boats arrived on scene they were surprised to find who the crew was, but as coxswain Ian Gross

said, ’It made no difference to us who was on board. We had a job to do and we did it.’ At first the rescue crew tried to lift the top of the mast out of the water to get to the top attachment of the roller furling gear. If that could be loosened, the entire forestay, furling gear and jib could be hauled on board, making about two thirds of the problem go away. Unfortunately, after about two hours of trying to save the mast it was decided that the safest thing to do was to cut the rig loose. ‘We were very grateful to be on the receiving end of the Sea Rescue crew’s professionalism. Thank you to everyone who came to our aid,’ says Ian.

On Monday 16 December last year, Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) proudly launched their new 5.5m rescue boat named Ray Farnham in memory of the station’s beloved late station commander. The boat was very generously sponsored by Jahn and Jennifer Hohne of Kimberley. 30 • SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2014

‘It was a very positive experience for the crew. They were absolutely humbled and, without a doubt, grateful to have been a part of it.’

BIG BAY, CAPE TOWN, WAS host to the third Adapted Surfing Day event in December last year. Adapted Surfing Day is a joint initiative between Extreme Abilities and Surfing South Africa, which, with the support of the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, wishes to create a unique surfing experience for individuals who live with disabilities. Extreme Abilities’ Dries Mallard explains, ‘The idea with the Adapted Surfing Day is to take a person with a disability, put him in the water

and change his perspective on his own disability and his own capabilities.’ Dries, who was involved in a car accident during his final year of school that left him paralysed, has been surfing with his disability for the past few years. Station 18 (Melkbos) volunteers were among about a hundred people who lent their support and assistance to the 70 people who registered to participate. Melkbos station commander Rhine Barnes says, ’It was a

very positive experience for the crew. They were absolutely humbled and, without a doubt, grateful to have been a part of it. We don’t know what overcoming adversity is, until we see these guys. I received

a few phone calls from people who thanked me for having my crew there and for their friendliness and willingness to get involved. Many were simply blown away by the positive attitude of the volunteers who were there. I am very proud of my guys.’





MAKING LIFE EASIER A big thank you to Bruce Morgan of GreatSoft. The company has donated their BoardPad application to enable our board meetings to become paperless – an important cost saver as well as of benefit to the environment. Bruce has been a loyal NSRI donor for many years and is a regular guest at our annual wine auction. He faithfully purchases a ticket in our car competition and remarked, ‘Your fundraisers are so nice when they call to sell you a ticket, it’s impossible to say no.’

Chris Wilson, our pro bono company secretary who negotiated the donation, visits the rescue base with James Macaulay from ICSA Software in the UK, Mark Patterson and Bruce Morgan, MD of GreatSoft.


Say cheese! Port Alfred is a small holiday town and we have to work quite hard at fundraising in order to make some form of contribution to our evergrowing station expenses. Slaley Wines are regular contributors in our Sea Rescue magazine and very kindly agreed to ship wine up to us for our Cheese and Wine event. Funds raised on the evening will cover the costs of replacing the epoxy floor in our radio room. Above: Candice Pretorius, Michaela Kemlo, Marlene Odendal and Sonai Owsley (front).


AT SEA RESCUE, A BOAT IS NOT JUST A boat; she becomes part of the family. Before she is launched for service, she is named and blessed in a ceremony where the sponsor pours champagne over her pontoons and says the words: ‘I name this boat …; may God bless her and all who sail in her.’ It’s a very special tradition. Last year we hosted a competition for the naming rights of an inshore rescue boat. Tickets sold for R3 000 each and R174 000 was raised. The draw took place on 27 November 2013 at the offices of auditors Cecil Kilpin in Cape Town and the winner was Elize Taljaard. Elize named her rescue boat ClemenGold Rescuer 1 in honour of her husband’s business. (A ClemenGold is a citrus fruit that just happens to be the exact colour of an NSRI lifejacket.) Alison Smith, our chief fundraiser, visited Elize and discovered that she and her husband are farmers, originally from Tzaneen, who have recently moved to Stellenbosch. They have a holiday house on the banks of the Keurbooms


Elize Taljaard (left) proudly names her rescue boat. Here with NSRI fundraiser Alison Smith.

River and have watched Station 14 crew in action. Elize says that her husband and son love the sea and she loves to support Sea Rescue. Thank you to everyone who participated in this campaign and well done to Elize.

Anglers, clients and friends of Seaport Supply Cape Town came from as far as Elands Bay for their final social get-together for 2013. NSRI was invited to a social at Seaport Supply Cape Town to receive a cheque, thanks to an initiative of Ismail Sonday of www.boatfishing. All members of the forum donated and they ended up with a final figure of R16 800. A big thank you to Ismail for organising this and to everyone who participated.

Call for citizen journalists


Safety on board your vessel is of paramount importance, and wearing a life jacket could save our life. Zero’s range of Oceanic lifejackets provides wrap-around torso flotation with a chest buckle and webbing for a secure and safe fit. This life jacket also has an integrated whistle and lifting loop, which is considered an essential safety item for any deep-water expeditions. For more information, visit or call 0800 003 051. We have three sets – valued at R1 200 each – of two Zero Oceanic life jackets to give away. To stand LIFE JACKET a chance to win a set, SMS Sea Rescue Oceanic, GIVEAWAY your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 13 June 2014. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 13 June 2014. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Winter 2014 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 5. By entering this competition, 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.

NEW FLOOR FOR STATION 5 WHEN STATION 5 (DURBAN) required new flooring for its boatshed, Concrete Laser Flooring (Pty) Ltd, Sika South Africa and the Surf Ski Paddling Company came to the rescue by sponsoring the project. Concrete Laser Flooring supplied the labour while Sika donated epoxy flooring. The flooring project had to take place over a weekend and, because of the locality of the NSRI in Durban’s harbour, work could only be undertaken when the tide was at its lowest. The 280m2 floor area

was prepared by the Concrete Laser Flooring team, prior to application of the Sikafloor-2530 W. This high performance flooring product is a two-part, water-dispersed, epoxybased coating that is odourless, solvent-free and easy to apply. It provides good mechanical and chemical resistance and is available in various colour shades. This successful project was completed on time with the new epoxy floor ready for action on the Monday morning.

Have you ever been stranded at sea, or in dire need of rescue? Did you wish to express your heartfelt gratitude after your rescue, but didn’t have the means? Over the past two years, Media24 has launched a number of web- and mobi-sites for its well-known and respected community newspapers across South Africa to establish what is commonly referred to as Citizen Journalism. Citizen Journalism gives everyone an equal opportunity to raise their ‘loudhailer’ and speak up about the prominent news in their area: whether it’s that beautiful sunrise they witnessed, their children’s first day of school, or a valorous rescue by the NSRI. If it is newsworthy, we want it! Visit a participating community website and register on-site and receive your confirmation or login immediately via the Facebooklogin, and click ‘Tell your story’. A picture is worth a thousand words they say, so click ‘Upload your photo’ to send your images to us. Do you have interesting events happening your area? We want those too! Go to our Entertainment/ Events page, click ‘Add Event’. To find your local community publication visit www.



UNBEATABLE IN TORQUE AND FUEL EFFICIENCY Do you think that advanced, electronically controlled diesel engines are not heavy duty? Think again. The new Volvo Penta D13 MH is your investment in uptime and a sustainable tomorrow.


eThekwini Mayor, his worship, councillor James Nxumalo, handed over a cheque for R200 000 to Station 5 (Durban) on behalf of the City of eThekwini and challenged all other cities to do the same. Station commander Clifford Ireland (left) and chairman of the Operations Board Eddie Noyons are speechless as they receive the cheque.

Gilly Ord of Emthunzini Hats recently donated 10 of their wonderful Explorer sun hats to Sea Rescue’s WaterWise Academy instructors. Sometimes the instructors are not able to teach water safety to children in their classrooms and have to resort to teaching outdoors. These hats, with a SPF factor of 50+ protect them while they give children skills to keep them safe in or near water.


Southern Power Products 021 5110653


OUR WINNERS Drumroll, please.... we are thrilled to announce the winners of our amazing prizes The winner of the 2013 double Mitsubishi draw was announced on Friday 10 January 2014. Judge Zaba Nkosi won first prize of two Mitsubishi vehicles: the 3.2 DI-DC GLX LWB and the ASX 2.0L (classic). A big thank you to Mitsubishi Motors for their generous sponsorship. To enter the NSRI Double Mitsubishi competition, call Dina on (021) 430-4703 or email





Second prize of R250 000 cash was won by Paul Herrmann (left), and the third prize, a trip for two on the Queen Mary 2 to Southampton, including return flights, was won by Gustav Schulenburg (right).

Wonderful Windfall The winner of the R100 000 debit order competition was Wesley Zondagh. Pictured here with Erin (6) and MC for the event Kieno Kammies. Stand a chance to win monthly cash prizes by calling Lianne on (021) 430-4701 or email monthlydraw@




You can win in 2014

• Your once-off donation of R595 will get you a ticket to enter the NSRI Double Mitsubishi Prize Draw. You may take as many tickets as you wish. Tickets are limited to 28 000 so you have an excellent chance of winning twoMitsubishi vehicles: a Pajero and an ASX. Second prize is R250 000 cash, and third prize is a trip for two on the Queen Mary 2 with return flights worth R80 000. • Sign a monthly debit order of R50, and you will have two ticketsfor our cashprizes draws. Win five monthly prizes of R10 000 each and gain entry into the grand annual draw of R100 000.


A busy


ANNIVERSARIES David and Ann Alston (golden) • Raymond and Hazel Hirsch (40th) • Mr and Mrs Bob Goldblatt (60) BIRTHDAYS Michael Halperin (50th) • Dorothy Tyndale-Biscoe (80th) • Jonathan and Jacqui Herbert (60th) • Dr Y Bosman (80th) • Lucia Murray (50th) • Geoff Grylls (70th) • Derek Russell (70th) • Jed Wood (65th) IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES Michele and Anthony Batstone • Rob Meek • Robert Fraser • Geoff Stuart • John Guest • Ian Hetherington • Garth Howell • Chris le Roux • Paul McRobert • Charlie Shapiro • Cynthia Wright • Tony Foster • Professor Alastair Kerr • Allan M Kerr • Helma Tisdall • Bob Burdon • Carlo Talevi • Alison van Staden (née Saunders) • Mr Riphagen ASHES LOG (All respects were paid and the details of the scattering recorded in the ship’s log) • Douglas van Rooyen • Alex van Rooyen • Prof Paul Alexi’s ashes off Melkbosstrand • Hendrik Westrat and Glenison Valerie Younghusband in Table Bay • Janet Gray Patterson off Durban • Michael J Leigh off Durban • Walter NJ Ames off Durban

Life boat Circle is a society for retired persons. For more information, contact Margaret McCulloch on 082 990 5976 or email


LUNCHEON FUN Life boat Circle members enjoyed a morning of rescue stories, entertainment and a great lunch at Eat restaurant in Hemel en Aarde Village, Hermanus. Owner of Eat Petri Hendrikz is a fantastic supporter, and graciously supplied a wonderful meal at a special price for NSRI. After sharing the miraculous rescue of two men by young crew from Station 17 (Hermanus), deputy station commander Deon Langenhoven awarded Bequestor Certificates and badges to proud members, including station secretary Marion Spencer. As usual, Bruce Sanderson’s singing had everyone tapping along.

SAILING AWAY When the QM2 sailed past Station 5 (Durban) at daybreak, on a cool and overcast morning, there was a group of Life boat Circle members, well warmed on hot coffee and Buck’s Fizz – not to mention the croissants and cheeses – to cheer her into harbour.

In memoriam Robert Gardner Meek 19 August 1951 – 1 January 2014 Rest in peace Rob Meek, urban designer and architect extraordinaire, top-drawer sailor and, more especially, beloved husband to Di and father to their daughters, Claudia and Louise. Here is an extract from the eulogy by Andrew Flint, Rob’s partner at GAPP Architects: ‘He brought a special touch to the practice of urban design with his unique understanding of everything maritime, which was firmly anchored in his deep love of sailing. Rob was also a practical and talented architect and his portfolio of projects demonstrates that he was able to combine the best of all his talents in the various waterfront developments with which he has been involved over the years. Rob led the pioneering project for the conversion of Quay 4 and the new facilities for the NSRI at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.’

Alex and Olga Blaikie Alexander Pearson Blaikie (born 1898) was a successful businessman and farmer. He founded his company A Blaikie & Co in Durban in September 1925; it was a business that went on to become one of the largest timber organisations in the country. In 1945, Alex married his second wife, Olga Helen Clahane, and they had one daughter, Melinda. Alex Blaikie had a deep concern for the needs and misfortunes of others. His kindness and generosity were unceasing, an expression of his noble charity of mind and large heart. After his death on 28 February 1967, the Alex Blaikie Trust was formed, and many South Africans have benefited from it, thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Trustees and,

in particular, Olga Blaikie, who dedicated her life to continuing Alex’s benevolent spirit. When Noel Horsfield moved to Knysna with his young wife Leslie Ann, Olga was convinced her grandchildren were going to drown in the lagoon (despite Noel being an Olympic yachtsman) and she donated the Alex Blaikie to NSRI prevent this. Her long-standing relationship with station commander Mike Elliot and the various volunteers over the years meant that Knysna held a very dear place in her heart. She was very proud of the great work done and the many lives saved by the boat she donated and maintained over many years. Olga passed away peacefully on 6 October 2013 at the grand age of 98. (For full dedication, please see za/2014/03/rip-olga-blaikie/)



ALIEN intelligence Georgina Jones believes there might be extraterrestrial life on earth after all.


Octopuses are curious creatures and will very occasionally venture out of their lairs to inspect visitors to their domain.



STRONOMERS HAVE SPENT YEARS attempting to communicate with alien intelligences and the search has so far proved fruitless. Many biological scientists, however, now think that the search for alien intelligence is as simple as the inspection of a rock pool. Here, and in deeper water, is the home of the octopus, possibly the most intelligent of the invertebrates, and so far as alien intelligence goes, it’s hard to beat the differences between the intelligence that inhabits those amazingly mutable bodies and ours. Humans are (mostly) terrestrial, air-breathing mammals with a centralised brain that directs

operations in and of the body and depends on sensory information from usually subordinate nerve systems. We’re also vertebrates, which might seem like a trivial point, but the fact is, given rigid skeletons, there are only so many configurations our limbs can assume (various yogis and Houdini not included). Our physical make-up gives us a rather specific way of understanding the world and the other life forms around us. So, how do we start to understand a decentralised intelligence that for starters has three-fifths of its neurons outside of its brain? On top of that, this is an intelligence which lives inside a body that is almost perfectly flexible: octopuses can squeeze their bodies through minute openings, limited mostly by the size of their beaks, and have no bones to simplify the location and relative angle of their arms to their bodies. Working out where the tip of an infinitely bendable arm is at any given point is decidedly more complicated than knowing where your baby finger is when it’s

THE BIG BLUE behind your back. This may explain why there are so many neurons in octopus arms, and certainly explains why, when detached from their bodies, octopus arms will seek out food and attempt to pass the food on to where the mouth would have been: part of their consciousness resides in their limbs. But it means that an octopus doesn’t have a centralised intelligence like ours, so how does it decide what to do? Stories of what octopuses can do are legendary: in captivity, they have shown they can recognise their feeders, all but climbing out of their tanks to greet them. They are escape artists of impressive ability, finding ways out of even the most cleverly closed tanks and can solve complex three-dimensional puzzles to get at food. One octopus could even open the child-proof cap of an aspirin bottle. Laboratory octopuses have been observed playing ball in their tanks. They prefer some people to others and will squirt jets of water at handlers they don’t like. This might sound understandable to a human mindset but the origins of octopod intelligence are unlike ours. It is generally agreed that the advent of human intelligence arose as a result of our social interactions and our need for increased understanding of the subtle cues given by other people over our long lives. Octopuses, by contrast, are short-lived, solitary creatures that will mate once in their lives, brood their eggs (in the case of females), and then die. On top of this, captive octopuses that have mated lose their intelligence and seem to become senile in the short time they

Above: As well has being useful for grabbing prey, octopus suckers can taste. Above right: Octopuses retreat to lairs to avoid the attention of predators, though this one might not have been the best choice. Below: A mimic octopus in the process of making itself look like a lionfish.

have left before death. It is thought that the impetus for the development of their intelligence was the loss of the ancestral molluscan shell. Far back in their history, octopus ancestors crawled or swam about in heavy protective armour. Losing this protection freed the animals to move and hunt more easily but it exposed them to interest by their predators: an octopus after all represents a decent meal of very high quality protein. In addition, octopuses eat animals that require varied hunting strategies. The octopus has to decide whether to ambush its prey, or set off on a jetpropelled chase or even emerge from the water to pursue its prey there. It’s an intelligence driven by completely different cues to ours, though we can see some of the outcomes of it. There is evidence of octopuses using tools, moving rocks in front of their caves so that they can sleep safely, collecting coconut shells to use for shelter, and using their bodies to confuse prey and predators alike. In addition, they can make their bodies resemble sea snakes, flatfish, lionfish, crabs or even jellyfish. As well as having flexible bodies, octopus skin can vary in texture and colour – they have three layers of three different types of cells that produce a huge range of colours. The colour and texture changes seem to be under conscious control but how does an octopus decide what to look like? Particularly since they seem to be colour-blind – in their eyes, at least. Recent research on cuttlefish, close cousins of octopuses, has shown the presence of light-sensing retinal genes in their skins. Which suggests that, possibly, octopuses may be able to see with their skins. Perhaps searchers for extraterrestrial intelligence need to start in our oceans. If they can successfully communicate with octopuses, talking to aliens from another solar system will probably seem like child’s play. SR





StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Bruce Davidson 082 990 5962 Rotarian Schipper – 6.5m RIB 8 x Small dive torches



StatCom: Lyall Pringle 082 990 5964 Craft: Nadine Gordimer – 10m rescue craft, Albie Matthews – 7.3m RIB, Nedbank Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Sailing gloves, waterproof pouches for handheld radios

StatCom: Pat van Eyssen 082 990 5963 Fuel sponsor: Total Craft: Spirit of Vodacom – 13m rescue craft, Rotary Endeavour – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: 52” Flat-screen TV, 3 x GoPros, aircon

STN 4 MYKONOS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Gerard Brune 082 990 5966 Spirit of Freemasonry – 9m rescue craft, Gemini Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, TNPA Rescuer One – Rescue runner Motorised garage door, concrete, blinds, booties



StatCom: Clifford Ireland 082 990 5948 Craft: Eikos Rescuer II – 10m rescue craft, Megan II – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Svitzer – 3.9m rescue craft NEEDS: Waterproof binoculars, glass tumblers, picture frames



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: Stackable tables



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: A doctor willing to perform crew medicals





STN 14 PLETTENBERG BAY StatCom: Deon Truter 082 990 5975 Craft: Leonard Smith – 7.3m RIB, Sally Joan – 5m RIB, Airlink Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 2 NEEDS: Snorkels, masks, fins


StatCom: Nigel Pepperell 072 448 8482 (Duty crew) Craft: Jack Riley – 14m rescue craft, Spirit of Surfski – 5.5m RIB, Inge – Swedish Rescue Runner NEEDS: Funds for refurbishment of ops room

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: Datapro projector or flat- screen TV for trianing



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: Hydraulic bolt cutter

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 or flat-screen TV for training, GoPro

StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Graeme Harding 082 990 5956 Colorpress Rescuer – 8.5m RIB, Jaytee III – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of KYC – 4.2m rescue craft Prizes for Golf Day


Mario Fredericks 082 990 6753 Spirit of GrandWest CSI – 5.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer III – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 3 Printer, floor tiles, paint, tip- up garage door, binoculars

STN 17 HERMANUS 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: Waterproof binoculars

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: Washing machine and dryer for towels after beach rescues


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.


STN 19 RICHARDS BAY StatCom: Cornel du Toit 082 990 5949 Craft: Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7.3m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m rescue craft NEEDS: 2 x Waterproof dive torches, gazebo


Pieter Coetzee (Deputy) 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: Waterproof camera

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: 2 x Waterproof grab bags, waterproof phone

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 for training

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: Cellphone handset

additional needs • Blankets • Towels • Energy bars • Prizes for fundraising • Bottled water • GoPro cameras for training

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: Mastercraft toolbox

STN 27 VICTORIA LAKE, GERMISTON StatCom: Graham Hartlett 082 441 6989 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Vodacom Rescuer V – 4.7m RIB NEEDS: Torches, binoculars


John Costello 082 550 5430 Freemason’s Way – 5.5m RIB, Walvan Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft Waterproof binoculars


André Beuster 082 990 5980 PJ1 – collapsible 4.7m, PJ2 – collapsible 4.7m Thermalwear for dry suits, waterproof backpack

STN 30 AGULHAS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Reinard Geldenhuys 082 990 5952 Vodacom Rescuer VII – 8.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer II – 4.7m RIB Compressor, water pump

STN 31 STILL BAY StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Enrico Menezies 082 990 5978 Spirit of St Francis – 7.3m RIB, Colorpress Too – 4.2m rescue craft Binoculars, new PC


Mick Banks 082 990 5951 Wild Coast Sun Rescuer – 7.3m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 6 Paint

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 GoPro, LCD flat-screen TV

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: Fridge, urn, vacuum cleaner, microwave, white boards

STN 36 OYSTER BAY StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Mark Mans 083 653 6387 Pierre – 4.7m RIB, Oyster Bay I (jet-ski) Crew lockers


Rieghard Janse van Rensburg 079 916 0390 Loved 1s 24: – 4.2m rescue craft, two jet-skis, Discovery Rescue Runner 12 Air-conditioning units, Pelican cases

Thanks to...

Oceana Group for sponsoring an iPad Air for Craig Lambinon.





Dr Megan Laird is as comfortable on land as she is at sea – as long as there is adventure involved! By Cherelle Leong


experience being up close to a whale while scuba-diving. Instead of swimming away, the whale stayed and interacted with them. When Megan heard the story, she knew her future career would involve the sea. While studying for her undergraduate and honours degrees, Megan tutored biology and volunteered as a field-work assistant at UCT. Projects involved collecting Berg River mud samples, panning and diving for marine samples in Namibia, and servicing shark receivers for research at Seal Island in False Bay. One expedition saw her trekking up the Wild Coast with fellow marine biologist and NSRI volunteer Karen Tunley to map beach access points. The two set off on horseback for five days and then hiked for a further three-and-a-half days, unsupported. To Megan and Karen it was a memorable and grand adventure. Megan decided to join NSRI following a boat accident. She was on a shark cage diving boat that capsized in Gansbaai. ‘I was so relieved when the rescue boats arrived

on scene. It made me realise that I, too, wanted to be able to help those in distress at sea.’ Megan admits to having flashbacks of the accident, but her time at sea with the NSRI has helped her overcome this ordeal. ‘Being part of a rescue team has taught me how to assess situations better, understand people, and avoid panic.’ Recently, while on a research vessel 125nm out to sea, she helped co-ordinate a casevac with the NSRI of a geologist who was chronically seasick. Megan’s adventures don’t stop when she

Instead of swimming away, the whale stayed and interacted with them is on land. She is a runner and road cyclist, and recently she’s taken up mountain biking. Megan loves exploring, being outdoors and enjoying fun times with friends. The social aspect of the NSRI was not something she expected. ‘Life gets more complex,’ Megan says simply. ‘NSRI helps you prepare for that by giving you training, support and a station family that cares about you.’ SR



R MEGAN LAIRD IS SMART, fun-loving and adventurous – which is just how we like our NSRI crew! Don’t let her easy smile fool you, though – she is one tough lady to keep up with. This year for her birthday she roped her friends into doing the Xterra off-road triathlon in Grabouw! Megan recently graduated with a PhD in Marine Biology with a thesis focussing on invertebrate biodiversity. She’s also a Class IV commercial diver and supervisor, and is currently participating in the challenging six-month coxswain training course at Station 8 (Hout Bay). When asked about her achievements, she goes a rich shade of pink. ‘Don’t you have someone more interesting to interview?’ But that’s just Megan – always humble and focussed on others. Megan was born in Cape Town and developed a love for the ocean at an early age. Both her father and grandfather are recreational divers. A family holiday house near Jacobsbaai cemented this ocean obsession. Weekends were spent snorkelling and exploring rock pools. Once, her father and grandfather got to



Profile for The Publishing Partnership

NSRI Sea Rescue Autumn 2014  

Sea Rescue magazine is published three times a year for the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa and showcases the rescue efforts o...

NSRI Sea Rescue Autumn 2014  

Sea Rescue magazine is published three times a year for the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa and showcases the rescue efforts o...

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