Page 1

sea rescue R14.95 | Free to NSRI members | SUMMER 2013

two saved from rip current at lagoon mouth

MEET surfski’s well-known duo nikki and dawid mocke

against all odds: 12 crew rescued from claremont

chobe: see the beauty through a photographer’s eyes



12 34 ANOTHER BUSY SEASON News from the Life boat Circle

8 2 CEO’S LETTER AND READERS’ COMMENTS 8 AGROUND OFF ROBBEN ISLAND Unthinkable conditions, unbelievable rescue – volunteers from three stations save all crew from the Claremont

12 AGAINST THE CLOCK Wilderness, Knysna and Titan helicopter crews evacuate 19 from the grounded Kiani Satu


Up close with surfski legends Nikki and Dawid Mocke

20 CAPTURING CHOBE Photographer Andrew Aveley takes us on a tour of this remarkably rich and diverse area of Botswana

35 A REMARKABLE LIFE Meet Brenda Wintgen, a most adventurous NSRI supporter


Pack the tents – and family – and head off to one of the splendid camp sites around the country. There’s one to suit everyone’s taste




30 IN 1966

A storm and the resulting tragic loss of lives led to the formation of the NSRI in 1967. Andrew Ingram tells us the incredible story


When coxswain John Nicholas was called urgently to assist friends in trouble, he knew he could rely on his fellow volunteers to help


Toe ’n splinternuwe seiljag letterlik op die rotse beland, het elke oomblik getel vir Stasie 34


Fundraising drives, events, station news and 2013 AGM

New WaterWise educator Liza Wigley is making a difference in the Garden Route


More on these small, tenacious and tireless birds



A little grysbok ewe is rescued from certain death

WIN NOW! Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to win a Luminox watch worth R3 500 See page 4 for more details.




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



SUPPOSE THE OBVIOUS dilemma in writing my first letter for Sea Rescue magazine is where to start! It’s certainly been a roller-coaster month since I walked into Head Office but I can only thank everybody in Sea Rescue for their support and welcome, from the chairman of the board to staff and rescue crew. I’ve visited coastal stations from Richards Bay to Still Bay (I will get to everyone this year) and was fortunate on my first weekend to be a guest at the Mossel Bay launch and to witness the passion, emotion and commitment that our volunteers bring to this incredible service. The other night I assisted Station 26 in Kommetjie with their medical screening and I was struck by the diversity of the professions, occupations and social











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




backgrounds of volunteers. These are ordinary people like you and me who are doing extraordinary things, as evidenced by recent rescues at Knysna and Robben Island. After having been involved with professional rescue services for more than 20 years, I am inspired by rescuers who are always out there, always willing and always caring! The human concern and energy displayed by our crews can only be described as awesome; their enthusiasm and compassion for people are infectious and certainly what motivates the incredible support we get to sustain what is a unique essential service in South Africa and Africa. I have a very open style and I welcome anyone with ideas or thoughts that will contribute to our future. My phone number is 082 991 0761 and my email address Please take the opportunity if you think you can make a difference! Lastly, I’ve met some wonderful people in the Life boat Circle – individuals with stories to tell and a real contribution to make – and I look forward to more breakfasts where we exchange anecdotes of Sea Rescue stations and operations, as well as boating in general, and share a couple of laughs. The friendly invitations to visit along the coast are appreciated and will be taken up. Looking forward to meeting everyone!

OFFICE +27 21 434 4011

Produced for the NSRI by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. Copyright: The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or 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 r14.95 | free to nsri members | SUMMER 2013

two saved from rip current at lagoon mouth

meet surfski’s well-known duo nikki and dawid mocke

against all odds: 12 crew rescued from claremont

chobe: see the beauty through a photographer’s eyes

Crewmen Josh Henn (far left) and André Barnard after rescuing two casualties from Fisherhaven lagoon, Hermanus. Dewan Henn assists (far right). Photograph: Mark Eiserman


Write to us and WIN!

WINNING LETTER Thank you to Anthony Alexander for writing the winning letter. Your hamper of Slaley Wines should be on its way to you shortly.

The writer of the winning letter published in the Autumn 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.



uring a recent visit to the Southern Cape our family decided to walk along the beach from Blombos to Puntjie. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. My wife, Daniella, and our two kids, Matthew (16) and Phoebe (12), would walk all the way while I doubled back to fetch and relocate the vehicle to Puntjie. We discussed a general back-up plan and then left without any supplies or communication – very poor judgment on my part. We set out just after 13h00 in mild conditions. After half an hour I turned back to move the vehicle around to Puntjie, and then attempted to walk back along the beach towards Blombos with the expectation of meeting my family half way. In our estimation it would have been a casual two-hour stroll. After some impromptu rock-climbing I quickly realised that they would not get through to me, nor I to them. I then went backwards and forwards between the two venues with the vehicle, followed by

challenging walks/runs to get down to the beach to find Daniella and the kids. Several hours passed and I become worried that they may have tried to climb over or around some of the rocky promontories and perhaps fallen or got in some other sort of difficulty. I called the NSRI station in Still Bay and spoke to station commander Enrico Menezies. Enrico called me back to say he had lined up the local police to assist in the search and had placed his team on standby. We agreed an activation time for him to launch. With much relief I then found my family at Blombos, where they had returned after walking slowly for nearly four hours before realising they were not even halfway towards what we had thought was Puntjie. I let Enrico know and he stood his team down. Just having him on the line and the knowledge that he could activate a large and professional team had been very reassuring. I would like to commend him. Keep up the brilliant work. Anthony Alexander

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

GROOT PLESIER Ons kry gereeld julle tydskrif. Wat ’n plesier om die interessante artikels te lees. Baie dankie vir al julle harde werk, en sterkte vorentoe! Ons is so lief vir die see, maar woon ongelukkig in Roodepoort. Poppie Ernst



swiss made

Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to

WIN A WATCH Using Luminox night technology, Swiss-made Luminox watches give you 25 years of unlimited night visibility. Self-powered by microgas tubes, the watch is visible in all light conditions, and therefore considered essential gear by the US Navy SEALs. It retails at R3 500 FEATURES: 100m water-resistant / Unidirectional revolving bezel/ Hardened mineral glass / Polycarbon reinforced case. For more information, visit or email Doug Sutherland at 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.


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

My Sea Rescue arrived and somehow it was ‘different’: the format seems to have changed and improved. Congratulations! The articles are short and ‘pithy’ – perhaps they appealed to me because so many evoked déjà vu of similar experiences in my own life. I encountered many sharks while diving, lost a diver friend off Protea Banks, had to be towed into Durban when the engine on our trimaran Egoli failed, did the Otter trail, and, more recently, have been involved rescuing boaters and paddlers off the rocky shores of Rooiels. (But, Rieghard, Ironman is one thing I was never tempted to tackle. Well done!) However, it was with great sadness that I read of Ian’s departure. His steady hand on the helm over the past 20 years has been phenomenal and he deserves every accolade that comes his way. But my guess is that we can rest assured that the NSRI will continue to go from strength to strength. Organisations like this one have





a momentum of their own, generated by its selfless volunteers. What a diverse and wonderful crew our skippers have to work with – best of luck to you all! Geoff Harris, Life boat Circle member and coastwatcher, Rooiels

LEARNING CURVE On behalf of St Francis Paddling Club, I would like to say a huge thank you to the NSRI for agreeing to patrol our race on Saturday, 20 July, and for assisting the three paddlers who had difficulties. Special thanks to Paul Hurley and Neil Jones, who were on the rubber duck that accompanied us, and to Brett Firth and Marc May for coming out on the additional boat when one of our paddlers was late in arriving. You guys are real heroes for putting yourselves on the line in very tricky conditions, with the wind gusting at more than 40 knots, considerably harder than forecast! Thanks also to the volunteers at your base, including Dee Love, Sara Smith and Leon Scheepers, and to NSRI Jeffrey’s Bay who I understand were on standby. You said before the race that this would be a useful training exercise, and I think it was! Lastly, huge thanks to James and Karen Jooste for making their boat available to the NSRI. Richard Arderne, chairman, St Francis Paddling Club (Letter has been shortened)

................................................................................................................................................................. ................................................................................ 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 15 February 2014. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Autumn 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.

NSRI DIRECTORS CEO: Dr Cleeve Robsertson; EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS: Meriel Bartlett (Organisational Support), Mark Hughes (Operations), Mark Koning (Finance); GOVERNANCE BOARD CHAIRMAN: Peter Bacon; MEMBERS: Deon Cloete, Viola Manuel, Chris Nissen, Dave Robins, Ronnie Stein, Rob Stirrat, Nontsi Tshazi-Kunene; OPERATIONAL BOARD CHAIRMAN: Eddie Noyens; MEMBERS Dave Roberts, Mike Elliot, Clive Shamley.

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



I donate to NSRI every month and I am very proud to contribute to the fantastic job you guys do in my small way. Every time I read about a rescue or hear about one on the radio, I feel really good knowing that I am part of the team! Thank you for doing such a great job. May God bless you all and keep you safe. Trish Pentecost

WHEREVER YOU GO I read the article ‘Open Water’ on page 6 of your Winter Issue at 06h00 in the morning while having my breakfast. My immediate thought was ‘Wow! I must really make a plan to dive at this dive site!’ I ended up discarding my breakfast, because I was too emotional and teary, and had lost my appetite in the process. (For the record: I’m a 124kg boerseun.) It was so overwhelming to know that wherever I’ll be diving or enjoying our beautiful sea and beaches responsibly, I’ll be backed up by two organisations who are unselfishly and very professionally doing their best to keep me, my family and my friends safe while we’re making use of South Africa’s waters – and, in DAN’s (Divers Alert Network) case, even across our borders!


For this I am very grateful and I’d like to say ‘thank you!’ to both organisations. I am an eager advanced scuba diver and grew up next to the sea. I’ve always had the world’s respect for the NSRI and its volunteers. I am a proud NSRI shore crew member and regret the fact that I don’t have the time to become a trained volunteer. (I work all over the province on farms as a contractor, and therefore my work hours are long and irregular.) Thank you for your time and valued efforts. Gielie Basson



In this colourful children’s book, illustrator and storyteller David du Plessis sketches the travels of Mister King, based on reminiscences and fantasies from his own childhood. Mister King’s adventures – and misadventures – in the South Atlantic include encounters with whales, sharks and other seabirds, making this a delightful page-turner for little ones. We have three copies to give away. To stand a chance to win one, SMS Sea Rescue Mr King, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 February 2014. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Autumn 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.

ERRATUM On page 24 of the Winter Issue of Sea Rescue, we incorrectly referred to the pictured tall ship as the Sedov. It was in fact the Bark Europa. For more information, visit or

Braai in style!

Cadac’s Meridian is an upmarket, high-quality, European-style gas BBQ that comes with a number of user-friendly and innovative features allowing for a variety of cooking methods using Cadac’s modular system accessories. It’s easy to clean (with oven cleaner or detergent), and the drainage channels help to get rid of residue, ensuring a truly pleasant braaiing experience long after you and your guests have enjoyed the last delicious piece of meat. To stand a chance to win this state-of-the-art gas braai, SMS Sea Rescue Cadac, your

name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. Visit for more information. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 February 2014. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Autumn 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.


Safe AND sealed



Congratulations to the winners of our Winter 2013 issue competitions. ›› Sea Life book giveaway: James Dobson, Port Elizabeth; Dirk de Jager, Nelspruit; John Friend, Welkom ›› Jeep Hamper giveaway: Carine van Jaarsveld, Port Elizabeth; Frans van der Walt, Meerensee ›› Breede Rive Lodge Four-night stay for two giveaway: Ronell Ryan, Parow, Cape Town

Sealock’s range of durable, all-purpose waterproof bags are perfect for day activities like hiking, kloofing, boating, fishing and walking, as well as weekends away when you need to ensure that your valuables, clothing and gear stay dry and accessible. We’re giving away a hamper of Sealock products consisting of Sealock Waterproof Dry Tubes, a Sealock Utility Dry Backpack, a Sealock Waterproof Duffel Bag, an iPod Nano/MP3 Player Pouch and a Sealock Waterproof Cooler/Inflatable Tube. To stand a chance to win the hamper, SMS Sea Rescue Sealock,

your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. Visit for more information. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 February 2014. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Autumn 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.


Sheer delight when Mia (six), visited her Uncle Shaun, coxswain at Station 20 (Shelly Beach).

OVERWHELMED I would like to cancel my subscription to Sea Rescue magazine; not because we don’t enjoy it but because the money spent to send it to Munich, Germany, could be better used assisting people. I have related my own rescue story many times: I was approximately 70km north of East London on my solo circumnavigation when winds suddenly changed direction by 180 degrees and opposed the Agulhas


Thank you David [Haysom] for the tribute you paid to me. It has been a privilege to have been part of Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) over the past years and to have served as secretary (in the days before the chairman had to do it), chairman and treasurer. The dedication and commitment of the Support Committee in raising the funds necessary to cover the station’s operating costs on a consistant basis is something you can all be proud of. The wonderful cooperation of the crew in the fundraising efforts – street collections, golf days, fun runs and whenever else called upon – is a great tribute to the commeradie that exists within the station and all who are associated with it. I am proud to have been associated with you all. Bill Harrison current. At the time, I got inside the 100-fathom line and out of the 45-knot winds. Standing waves of 4-to-6m and growing were crashing down on S/V Arctic Tern 111. I was freezing and exhausted but safe on board when I heard the name of my boat being called on my VHF and saw a ‘vision’ of a small red boat with two Supermen standing on the aft deck ready for action. I could not believe my tired, burning eyes.

I thought to myself, ‘Who would be out in this weather?’ When I found out it was a group of trained volunteers looking for me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I thought, ‘What a wonderful gesture, to do what you do to help me do what I do.’ Keep the expense of sending me your magazine and use it to continue to make this world a better place. Thank you. John Gartiez

Left: Station 4 crew members with representatives from the Freemasons. Below (left to right): Four gentlemen, four Freemasons – Avron Jacobson, Alvin Woolf, Morris Rozen and Jim Duggan.

COMBINED EFFORTS I am a member of the De Goede Verwachting Freemasonry Lodge and we make annual donations to the NSRI as part of our benevolent programme. On reading the articles in the Winter Issue, I came across the wish lists and needs for all the stations around the country. Station 4 (Mykonos) has a boat named The Spirit of Freemasonry, and this piqued my interest. So I made a phone call to the station and discovered they still required a pair of marine binoculars and some towels. I took it upon myself to try to satisfy their requirements. I decided that it would be a wonderful gesture if Freemasonry, as a combined effort from all four constitutions, attempted to fulfil their needs. The name of the boat certainly inspires all of us who are Freemasons. I then wrote to the heads of the four constitutions to enquire whether they would be prepared to assist in this worthy project. Everyone was in favour and prepared to assist financially so that we

could purchase the expensive marine binoculars that are necessary when out at sea. I also used one of my contacts in the linen industry, who did not hesitate to donate the towels for this worthy cause. I subsequently found out that this boat was paid for and donated by the Freemasons of the English Constitution, Western Division. At the time, Commander Raymond Carter, who was in the navy at Simon’s Town, was the inspiration for this donation to the station based at the naval harbour. When a larger vessel was acquired for Simon’s Town, this boat was moved up the coast to the Mykonos station, where it has been based for the past seven years. On Saturday morning, 31 August, four members of the Freemasonry lodges drove

up to Mykonos at Langebaan to hand over the binoculars and towels. We were very well received and the 10 members who welcomed us made us feel at home as their sincere appreciation was shown. This project has certainly been fulfilled with satisfaction to all who took part. Morris Rozen

Your P&I Solution in Africa! P&I Associates (Pty) Ltd Head Office Durban, South Africa

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

Offices throughout Southern Africa



Aground off


Sheer determination helped the volunteer crews from three stations beat the odds in unthinkable conditions. By Andrew Ingram


INTER STORMS HAD BEEN lashing Cape Town for weeks. They had flooded homes, whipped the sea into a fury and caused chaos around the city and up the coast. Snow had fallen on Table Mountain, unusually, and as far away as Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape. A number of people lost their lives, freezing to death in the bitter cold of winter. Mark Thompson, duty coxswain at Station 2 (Bakoven), remembers switching off the lights just after 22h00 on Monday night, 13 August. Although the sea was big, the predicted front had not arrived yet. Two hours later he was dragged from his sleep. The rain was lashing his bedroom windows and a gale-force northwesterly wind was battering Cape Town. It took Mark a few seconds to work out what had woken him, until he looked at his cellphone and saw the SMS: ‘NSRI Rescue 2 Bakoven, contact Port Control.’ He turned to his wife, Barbara, now also awake, and said, ‘I cannot believe this is a Sea Rescue call.’ Now wide awake, Mark


called the Sea Rescue emergency line to be told that a fishing boat, the Claremont, was running aground on Robben Island. Spirit of Vodacom, the large Station 3 (Table Bay) rescue boat, was launching and station commander Pat van Eyssen had asked for Bakoven and Melkbosstrand’s rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) to assist. ‘Call out the crew,’ Mark told the port captain, as he grabbed his Sea Rescue bag. Driving along the beach road, he noticed that the huge surf smashing into the coast was barely visible through the driving rain. Across Cape Town, NSRI volunteers were being woken up as the emergency SMSes went out: ‘NSRI Melkbosstrand call-out. Report to the base’; ‘NSRI Bakoven call-out. Report to the base’… It was just after midnight. Station 18 (Melkbosstrand) coxswain Kobus Meyer had been asleep for just 10 minutes when the message woke him, and he followed the same procedure as Mark did. Arriving at his rescue station, he went straight up to the balcony and, with the aid of the beach floodlights, studied the sea. ‘It

was raining and the wind was howling – but, fortunately, in Melkbos we have good lights,’ says Kobus. Kobus chose two of his most experienced crew members, and Spirit of the Vines was launched. While still in the safety of the bay, behind the kelp banks, Kobus made radio contact with his base, and then turned the bow of the rescue boat out towards the darkness as he opened the throttle. They jumped the first wave easily, but the second wave was too close. If he accelerated into it, the wave might flip the 6.5m RIB, so Kobus pulled back on the throttle as he had done so often in training exercise. It wasn’t a huge wave. Perhaps 3m, Kobus recalls. ‘It broke just in front of the boat and the white water hit us. It flooded the boat and we lost the electrics… and one of our engines. ‘We’re taught that, if you have one motor in that situation, you don’t turn around. It’s too dangerous. You get out first and sort it out [once you’re past the breakers]. Unfortunately, with the boat now heavy

Top: Safely ashore – the crew are assisted off Spirit of Vodacom. Above: Tomé Mendes helps to keep the crew warm after their lengthy time in the water. Right: Marc de Vos helps the Claremont’s skipper, Marcelino De Silva, ashore after the unbelievable rescue efforts.

and slow, we were in the dumping zone for too long.’ The next wave hit the rescue boat with force. It shattered the windscreen and the front console hatch that protected the electrical system. ‘We lost radios, GPS, everything. We lost the second motor as well. Sitting in the wave line, we were dead in the water,’ Kobus explains. The crew had trained for just such an emergency. Their anchor was thrown out to turn the nose into the waves and then, luckily, they managed to get one engine going. The anchor was pulled, and the damaged rescue boat limped out to safety behind the wave line, where the crew could try restore power and get the second engine going. At Bakoven, a crew of four volunteers had launched Rotarian Schipper. In driving rain, with very little visibility, the rescue boat nosed out of the narrow channel from Bakoven beach. The tide was low, so the channel was fairly protected. As it got deeper, Mark pressed the throttle down and the rescue boat jumped forward. ‘We didn’t

have any idea what was waiting for us when we got out there. I knew the sea was big but not how big,’ Mark says. There was no moon – one hundred percent cloud cover. A howling wind and driving rain. It was pitch dark. ‘There was zero visability,’ says Mark. ‘We started picking up massive swells that hit us on our portside.’

them already. ‘At times they were smacking the boat so hard that it spun us through 90 degrees. We would have to reorientate ourselves and get back onto course. Some were so big that they just broke into the rescue boat,’ he says. ‘Conditions were extremely bad. Coupled with the zero visibility, it was very difficult for us to navigate our way to Robben Island. The safety of the boat and the crew was in my mind the whole time. But we were picking up the radio traffic from the Claremont. The skipper was calling desperately for help. That is pretty much what kept us going,’ Mark explains. ‘Hearing how much trouble he was in was a galvanising factor in getting us there. Unless we took a wave that capsized the boat, we were going to keep going so that we could help. ‘His calls for help were getting more and more panicked as we got closer… Initially they were aground, then hard aground, and then the boat started breaking up. At one

‘Look me in the eye. We are going to do this. We are going to get across.’ Because helming in such conditions took all of Mark’s concentration and skill, he had asked Ernesta Swanepoel, standing behind him, to call the incoming waves. All Ernesta could see was the white of the wave feathering just before it slammed into them. ‘Big one to port,’ she would shout. If there was time, Mark would swing the bow of the little 6.5m RIB into the wave, but a couple of times the waves would be on



Above and right: Relieved crew return to the safety of the V&A Waterfront five hours after the call-out started; a job well done – Kim Germishuys and Kobus Meyer.

stage he said, “I am an old man. I don’t want to die.” That was it for me… There was no way we were going back.’ While Rotarian Schipper was fighting her way through the wild seas from Bakoven, sometimes as slowly as four knots, the crew of Spirit of the Vines had got her second engine going. In the lee of Robben Island, she had made good speed to the southwestern corner of the island, where the large Table Bay rescue boat had her spotlights trained in the direction of the spot where Claremont was aground. ‘We couldn’t see the vessel. Even with illumination flares. All we could see was the little flashing lights on their lifejackets,’ said Table Bay station commander Pat van Eyssen. The two smaller RIBs tried to get close to the stricken vessel. They darted in towards it, their path illuminated by flares, but, each time, with breaking waves of between 3m and 4m, they had to retreat. Fast. It was simply too dangerous. A decision was made to try get to the crew by land. The Bakoven and Melkbos rescue boats, each with a rescue swimmer from Spirit of Vodacom, took a very long swimmer’s line and made their way to Robben Island’s Murray Bay harbour. There the NSRI team found the island’s security officers and arranged a lift to where the trawler was.

10 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

Kim Germishuys, one of the rescue The worst part was getting the captain swimmers, takes up the story. ‘Claremont off. He did not want to jump. Kim went was perched up on the furthest ridge of right underneath the bow to where Kobus rock from the island. There were four was, to help, and shouted, ‘Look me in the guys who’d managed to get through the eye. We are going to do this. We are going first gully and climb onto a rock before we to get across. arrived. They had a rope from their boat to ‘Kobus was behind him. We had him the rock. But then they were stuck.’ sandwiched between us – that’s when Kim held the line from the Claremont, I injured my back. A massive swell while Mark tied their swimmer’s line to it. came through and picked us up, and the Once the team had the lines connected, backwash ripped me off the line. Luckily Kobus moved under the boat’s bow. I was holding his hand. I pulled him onto There was a lot of movement on the bow my chest just before my back hit the rock.’ but Kobus was focused. His job was to And then it was all over. The NSRI coach each stricken crew member to volunteers had pulled off a remarkable jump off the bow and then swim him rescue of 12 men in extremely dangerous halfway across the gully, where Kim conditions. ‘It only sank in when we were would meet them and swim the crewman back on the island waiting for a lift to our to the rock so that he could be passed boats,’ says Kim. down the line of rescuers. At 04h45, almost five hours after the ‘You did not dare let go call-out came, the three rescue boats of the line,’ Kim recalls. entered Cape Town ‘I was really scared. It’s at harbour. awards the point when you realise The rescue crews were for the how bad it can actually get ecstatic. Bakoven coxswain claremont rescue: that the fear kicks in. I was Mark Thompson sums up the directors’ thanks was scared that the boat would what it was like watching awarded to be picked up by a wave and the 12 Claremont crew Kobus Meyer, Ryan Minnaar be dumped on us in the being helped ashore in the and Quinton Luck of Station 18 gully. I was scared that we V&A Waterfront: ‘It was (Melbosstrand). would be ripped off the line quite an emotional thing, by a wave… I was scared this whole operation. We Mark Thompson, Luke van Riet, Coralie McDonald and Ernesta for everyone’s safety. have been training to do Swanepoel of Station 2 (Bakoven). ‘You appreciate your this for so long. It’s the training. You appreciate your best thing that I have ever Giles Daubney and Kim skills. This is what you train done in Sea Rescue. That Germishuys of Station 3 for,’ he adds. is for sure.’ SR (Table Bay).




ALONG OUR COASTAL AREAS The occurrence of destructive coastal winds can impact the economy of South Africa negatively. In the fishing industry, where people rely on the sea for their subsistence, it is clear that a day with gale-force winds means no fishing. Apart from the economic loss, there is also a definite threat to life and property, as going out to sea under adverse weather conditions could ultimately mean death or damage to property. Gale-force coastal winds are the main cause of rough or ‘choppy’ sea conditions, which may lead to the sinking of ships and small boats (especially those not equipped for such conditions), the drowning of individuals and other sea accidents. The prevalence of these winds is also a factor that hampers sea rescue operations, as it is equally dangerous to be at sea or in the air when gale-force coastal winds are occurring. VESSELS, PEOPLE AND COASTAL TOWNS IN DISTRESS Gale-force coastal winds can occur at any time of year and are normally associated with weather systems such as cold fronts in winter or tropical storms and severe thunder storms in summer. In July 2011, the tanker Phoenix ran aground at Shelly Beach on the Durban North Coast. Prevailing weather conditions led to four-metre swells and winds of between 25 and 30 knots, with rough sea conditions.

In January 2012, the owner of the yacht San Diego was struggling in very stormy seas close to Hout Bay, with gale-force southeasterly winds of more than 65 knots (120km/h). The owner was fortunate enough to raise an alert and could be saved in time, as the yacht was heading directly for Vulcan Rock, which could have cost him his life and his boat. In November 2012, a group of divers at Shelly Beach, KwaZulu-Natal, was rescued 18km from their original diving spot when four-metre swells and strong winds caused them to lose sight of their charter boat. Gale-force coastal winds are not only limited to the ocean. Sometimes coastal cities are also affected severely. In November 2012, winds gusting at 100km/h contributed to the destruction of several thatched-roof houses by fire in St Francis Bay, Eastern Cape. In the same month, 20 people were injured and one person died when a stand collapsed in high winds at the Cape Town Stadium.

DID YOU KNOW? ■ The Cape Southeaster, a persistent southeasterly wind typically occurring across the Cape Peninsula, is also known as the ‘Cape Doctor’ or ‘Devil’s Whistle’. It is the best-known regional wind system in South Africa. ■ It usually blows from November to March at speeds ranging from 17 to 40km/h, with gusts of up to 120km/h. ■ The Southeaster often blows for several consecutive days and is generally at its strongest in the afternoons. ■ Although the Cape Southeaster is a relatively dry wind, it usually causes the famous ‘tablecloth’ on Table Mountain, which occurs when air is forced up the mountain, causing condensation and cloud formation. As the air leaves the mountain on the other side, it warms up and re-absorbs the moisture as water vapour. This results in both sides of the mountain being free of cloud, while the top itself is covered in cloud.

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICE South Africa has a very long coastline that starts from the Cape West Coast, around the southern coast, through the southeastern coast up to the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. The South African Weather Service, as obligated in terms of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, provides maritime forecasts or MET-ocean services to one of the largest maritime areas, extending from six degrees south to the coast of Antarctica and latitudinally from 20 degrees west to 80 degrees west. These services comprise daily marine forecasts that are routed to shipping through a satellite-based network and broadcast via NAVTEX and radiotelephone.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES ■ Plan with the weather in mind Take heed of weather forecasts on radio, television or other media several days in advance to help you decide whether or not to continue with your plans.

■ Before going out to sea Pay close attention to detailed marine weather forecasts, and take note of cautionary statements about high winds and waves.

■ When you head out Look out for signs of approaching storms, such as dark, threatening clouds, an increase in wind or waves, and lightning flashes. And stay tuned to the radio for special weather forecasts – you may not be able to see weather changes nearby or heading your way.

IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN A STORM OR GUSTY CONDITIONS... • Put on your personal flotation device and prepare for rough seas. • Stay below deck if possible. • Keep away from metal objects that are not grounded to the boat’s lightning protection system. • Don’t touch more than one grounded object at the same time or you may become a ‘shortcut’ for electrical surges passing through the protection system. | Weatherline: 083 123 0500 | SMS line *123*555# | Follow us on Twitter @SAWeatherServic


Against THE Caught in a violent storm, the Kiani Satu lost engine power, leaving 19 crew members at the mercy of an angry sea. Knysna and Wilderness crews launched and, in a joint rescue operation with the Titan helicopter crew, managed to save all those on board. By Cherelle Leong

PHOTOGRAPHS BY Bianca Rautenbach

12 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013



n 8 August, the fully laden 168m bulk carrier Kiani Satu experienced mechanical failure and broadcast a distress call at about 3am. With no engines to keep her on course, the stormy seas were relentlessly pushing her towards the coast. Just before dawn she was less than a mile offshore. Even though her anchor was deployed, it was dragging in the surge and wind. It was just a matter of time before the ship ran aground. NSRI Stations 12 (Knysna) and 23 (Wilderness) responded, each towing their 5.5m RIBs to Buffalo Bay in order to launch at first light. At George Airport, Station 23 rescue swimmers Donald Olivier and Torsten Henschel met with the local Titan helicopter crew to plan the casualty evacuation. Dawn broke over a grey, angry sea. The helicopter would soon be airborne, but for the boat crews it would be a cold, wet and bumpy ride. Getting past the back line was the first challenge. Then they faced several miles directly into the wind and swell. Weather conditions made visibility poor and radio communications difficult. On the shore the two stations’ rescue vehicles were placed on standby. By now Kiani Satu was stern aground, with her bow and anchor line out to sea. Every few minutes the ship’s deck disappeared under a deluge of white water. The two 5.5m RIBs took up position just behind the back line. As planned, their role would be as standby safety for the helicopter hoists.

Kiani Satu rocked violently from side to side as the helicopter circled above it. A small section of the deck outside the bridge measuring about 3mx3m appeared to be the only place from which to conduct the hoisting. As Donald, the first rescuer, was lowered, he saw 19 expectant pairs of eyes staring out of the window below. As he was about to touch down, he suddenly felt airborne again. Before he had time to wonder why, a massive swell broke, engulfing him in spray. He looked back towards the windows of the bridge. The stricken crew’s hope had turned to panic. Just then the ship started to move. The anchor chain had broken and the pounding waves pushed the vessel broadside. As rescue crews watched from land, sea and air, the Kiani Satu finally settled parallel to the shoreline. The helicopter made a second approach. On the deck Donald unclipped and sent the hoist back up for Torsten. Inside, he met the captain and crew, few of whom could speak English. Donald quickly divided them into groups and prepared them for the hoists. A massive set of waves crashed against the windows. Where was Torsten? Looking outside Donald saw the helicopter hovering nearby. Torsten was still on board, signaling that they were coming in for a pick-up. It was time to start the evacuation. Outside, the deck was patchy and slippery: the rubber matting covering the surface was being torn away by the storm. The strop was lowered and the


Left to right: The grounded vessel Kiani Satu is mercilessly pounded by the sea; all 19 crew were successfully evacuated in a the joint effort by the Titan helicopter crew and Sea Rescue rescue swimmers; the stricken vessel is barely visible in the angry ocean.

first casualty prepared for hoisting. They had to hurry – already they could see another huge set of waves building. Donald placed the strop over the casualty and secured his bags to the hook. He gave the signal and the casualty was lifted. Within minutes the empty strop re-appeared. Next one… He had to be quick… Go. As soon as the casualty was airborne, Donald sprinted back inside. He dived through the door and it was closed behind him just as another huge wave hit. The helicopter could take three to four casualties at a time. He had to get another lift in. He could hear the helicopter approaching again, so he secured the casualty but the bags were becoming a hindrance, wasting valuable time. Ready! Donald gave the signal to hoist. While the helicopter was ferrying the casualties

to shore, Donald made the decision that one bag per casualty was the limit. ‘Only one,’ he said, holding up his index finger. He lined up the next group and watched the surf through the window. He could hear the helicopter closing in. Nodding to the crewman next in line, he steered him outside. Without the extra bags, he was ready to be hoisted in seconds. Donald signalled the lift and glanced at the sea. Just enough time for another lift, then another sprint and dive inside before the waves came crashing over. In the helicopter there was absolute focus. Torsten watched the waves and coordinated signals with Donald, while the flight engineer managed the winch and relayed information to the pilot. Several times they had to ascend quickly to avoid being engulfed in spray. If water got into the engine intakes, they’d all go down. The pilot executed precision flying, calmly manoeuvring in and out of position. The ship was still unstable. The sooner they could get everyone off, the sooner they could get back to dry land.

Just then the ship started to move. The anchor chain had broken and the pounding waves pushed the vessel broadside

AWARDS FOR THE KIANI SATU RESCUE: THE DIRECTORS’ THANKS WAS AWARDED TO Donald Olivier of Station 23 (Wilderness). THE CEO’S LETTER OF APPRECIATION WAS AWARDED TO Helicopter crew of Jaco Steinberg (pilot), Andy Crawford (co-pilot), Rob Woodrup (engineer) and Station 23 rescue swimmer Torsten Henschel


REAL-LIFE RESCUE Below: Penguins are released after the clean-up operations.

Down below, Donald was running between securing casualties for hoists and then sliding his way back to shelter inside the bridge. It felt like he was on a rugby field, sidestepping as he tried to maintain footing on the patchy nonslip matting. But this was no game. If he didn’t make it back inside in time, he could easily be washed overboard. Lastly it was the captain’s turn. Slowly he walked to the ship’s wheel, bending down to embrace it one last time. How many hours had he spent at the helm, navigating around the world? With a final tender kiss of the wheel, the captain turned to the door, his slow steps showing the weight of this farewell. The ship felt eerie to Donald, now left alone. The massive bulk of steel groaned under the sea’s torment. A clank of metal outside was Donald’s signal to go. With all 19 crewmen safely ashore, the rescue had been accomplished. He would be the final lift. But what fate would await the ship? SR

THE AFTERMATH: AN UPDATE The grounding of the Kiani Satu raised multiple concerns. Once its crew members were safely evacuated, the ship’s 200-tonne fuel load became the primary concern. If the integrity of the hull was compromised, an oil leak could spell disaster for this pristine stretch of coastline. While tired rescue crews returned to base, those in the joint operations committee continued to coordinate efforts with government, and environmental and conservation organisations. The initiative started with the bulldozing of sand barriers over the Goukamma River mouth to prevent oil from getting into the estuary. Over the next 12 days, Knysna and Wilderness Sea Rescue stations would stand by as SAMSA and salvage crews attempted to refloat the Kiani Satu. Environmental teams assessed possible impacts and made contingency plans. Thanks to well-coordinated efforts, the environmental impact was minimised. An oil leak did occur but it was contained, and affected sea birds were collected, washed and returned to the ocean a few weeks later. On 17 August the Kiani Satu was refloated and towed out to sea by the tug Smit Amandla. While underway, teams continued to salvage the ship’s fuel load until she started taking on water and became too dangerous to work on. On 21 August 2013, in the early hours of the morning, the Kiani Satu sank. She lies approximately 110nm out to sea at a depth of 1 000m. More than 330 people from various organisations were involved in the rescue and salvage operation. They are to be commended for their tireless efforts and incredible teamwork. Special thanks go out to the ship’s owners for their generous donation to Stations 12 (Knysna) and Station 23 (Wilderness) following the rescue.



Harbour Towage, In-Port Bunker Delivery ENERGY SOLUTIONS

Offshore Marine Services, Offshore Terminals & Subsea Services, Cargo & Fuel Transhipment, Marine Advisory GOVERNMENT & SHIP OWNER SOLUTIONS

Vessel Management, Environmental Protection & Marine Emergency Response, Special Projects SMIT Amandla Marine (Pty) Ltd 31 Carlisle Street, Paarden Eiland 7405 Tel: +27 (0)21 507 5777 Email: A Level 3, Value Adding Contributor to B-BBEE



A two-night stay for two

at a Village & Life hotel



Village & Life hotels, situated in the Western Cape, offer guests an exceptional and individual experience. There are four exclusive hotels in the group, and one Sea Rescue reader can win a two-night stay for two at one of the following (valued at between R3 300 and R6 200):


Boasting superb Atlantic Ocean sunsets and views of Lion’s Head, the five-star The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay offers a blend of elegance and comfort. Four swimming pools with decks and 2 four restaurants allow guests relaxing sun-filled days and great dining in the evening. Camps Bay Retreat, a five-star boutique hotel, is set on four acres of lush green nature reserve and offers two swimming pools, a private tennis court, a spa and a fine-dining restaurant. Situated above the old harbour in Hermanus, the Harbour House Hotel is the perfect getaway for the city-weary traveller. The hotel 3 has been modelled on the original thatched-roof seaside manor built in 1920. Along the West Coast, The Farmhouse Hotel overlooks the tranquil Langebaan Lagoon and is a welcoming escape for travellers and families who appreciate the area’s warmth and hospitality.



4 4

We’re giving away a two-night stay for two people sharing at one of the above Village & Life hotels. To stand a chance to win, SMS Sea Rescue Village&Life, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. For more information, visit

Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers and entries close on 15 February 2014. 2. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 3. The winner’s name will be printed in the Autumn 2014 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 4. This prize is not transferable and is subject to availability. 5. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash, and no cash refunds will be paid if the prize is not utilised. 6. Transport or transfers to and from the resort is the responsibility of the winner. 7. All additional costs (excluding breakfast) are the responsibility of the winner. 8. The prize must be taken during these validity dates: The Bay Hotel and Camps Bay Retreat: 1 May - 30 September 2014; Harbour House Hotel and The Farmhouse Hotel: 1 May to 31 August 2014. 9. By entering this competition, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 10. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Tide Clocks are essential for anyone going out on the ocean – whether it’s a day’s fishing trip or a session of surfing. The clock will ensure you always know where the tide is and whether it’s coming in or going out. The lunar day is 24 hours and 50 minutes, and the clock is designed to rotate once every 12 hours and 25 minutes (twice each lunar day). All you have to do is look at where the hand is on the tide clock – it’s that simple to use. We have five Tide Clocks to give away. To stand a chance to win one, SMS Sea Rescue TideClock, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. Visit for more information. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 February 2014. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Autumn 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.



UNSTOPPABLE For professional paddlers Nikki and Dawid Mocke, getting to the top of their game has been their life’s work, but as Andrew Ingram discovers, they’ve had a lot of fun along the way PHOTOGRAPHS BY Owen Middleton


itting at a table outside the Fish Hoek Bistro, almost on the beach, it is easy to appreciate the little seaside town’s beauty. A team of 10 men are working on the shark-exclusion zone in the corner of the beach, and a light offshore wind riffles the sea. The sky is a deep winter blue and the beach sand a startling white in the bright morning light. It is a day for kicking off your shoes and walking along the beach, to feel the sand between your toes and listen to the sound of the waves lapping the beach. Opposite me, enjoying a good cup of coffee, are husband-and-wife surfski legends Nikki and Dawid Mocke. They’re not quite what one would expect of athletes who have reached the pinnacle of their professions. These two are wonderfully

16 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

down to earth and very comfortable with each other. Nikki pokes fun at Dawid and often finishes a sentence for him. Nikki is talking about how she got into surfski racing and says to Dawid, who had chipped in, ‘Hey Daw, you’re next.’ He turns slowly to her, bright blue eyes sparkling, and smiles. Nikki carries on. ‘I got into paddling through Nippers at the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club. I was a little fatty and couldn’t do any sport, but my friends were all doing Nippers so I went down and joined in. I always took the longest to do everything. All of a sudden, when I was 15, I had learnt to swim and paddle and everything. It all just clicked into place. And I started to do really well. I made my first Western Province team when I was 15 and went on my

first international tour when I was 17, for canoeing and lifesaving. I went on my first Springbok Lifesaving tour in 1999.’ She has lived in Fish Hoek since she was 12 years old. ‘It is difficult to leave,’ Dawid explains. ‘Once you are here, you are here,’ chips in Nikki. But Dawid has the final word on this one. ‘It’s a perfect place.’ Nikki continues her story: ‘I did lots of marathon tours, a lot of sprint tours – the Beijing Olympics in 2008. K4. So there were four of us in the canoe. And we did the 500m. We came seventh.’ ‘Would you say that was the culmination of…?’ asks Dawid. ‘Ja. I think that everything kind of led to that point, you know,’ laughs Nikki. I ask Nikki how they met. ‘I first noticed Daw when I was about


‘We teach new paddlers the ABCs of paddling: we give them a surfski, a paddle, a life jacket and a really cool introduction to paddling.’




13 or so at the Lifesaving Club. But he was 16 at the time. So he was way too cool to hang around with a 13-year-old. We were like family friends. And then – when I was a little bit older – he noticed me,’ she says, and they both laugh. ‘Ja. We have been together since I was 16 or 17.’ ‘17,’ says Dawid. ‘So we’ve been married for 11 years and we went out for five years.’ ‘We got married really young,’ says Dawid. ‘I was 22,’ adds Nikki. ‘We’ve been training partners and friends forever. We’ve been on loads of tours together, which is really nice, and we started the surfski school together. It’s our 10th birthday this summer…’ She looks at Dawid, seeming surprised at how fast the time has gone. ‘We teach new paddlers the ABCs of paddling: we give them a surfski, a paddle, a life jacket and a really cool introduction

to paddling. After Ocean ABC, they can go on to Ocean Paddler and then to Ocean Expert, where we will teach them to race. ‘There is something for everybody at the school. We’ve had loads and loads of paddlers coming into the school as non-paddlers and ending up doing races. The main thing for us is the safety and competency of a paddler,’ says Nikki, looking out onto the bay. Dawid started surf lifesaving when he was 11, as a Nipper at Fish Hoek and followed much the same route as Nikki to climb the ladder in this sport. He has won more than 20 International Ocean Surfski titles and has been the Surfski World Series Champion for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012. His first international victory was in 2004 in Auckland, New Zealand, where he won the King of the Harbour, and since then successfully defended the title for four consecutive years. Then there was the Dubai Shamaal in 2007. (‘That was the richest race,’ grins Dawid. ‘$20 000!’) And don’t forget the USA surfski champs, which he has won five times…


BY KEVIN BRUNETTE Surfski with the Pros provides information that paddlers at all levels can use to improve their skills, helping them to progress from the moment that they put their ski on the water for the first time to the day when they are ready to compete in an event. The book draws on the experience of Dawid and Nikki Mocke, who have both played a major role in the evolution of surfskiing around the world. The content of Surfski with the Pros ranges from the basics of balancing on a ski to harnessing the power and rhythm of the sea when paddling downwind. We are giving away two copies of Surfski with the Pros. To stand a chance to win one, SMS Sea Rescue Surfski, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 15 February 2014. Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 15 February 2014. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Autumn 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.



‘Never sacrifice stability for speed... You can always paddle faster than you can swim.’ Calling all paddlers... The latest project the Mockes are working on, in conjunction with Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club, is the Cape Town Surfski Series. There are 10 races, one every weekend, starting on 6 October and culminating in the epic Cape Point Challenge. For more information, go to



Clearly Dawid Mocke is a professional athlete who has been riding the crest of the wave for almost a decade. And he shows no signs of slacking. It is this love of what he does – for fun and as a job – that others can learn from at the surfski school. ‘Surfski paddling is an adrenaline sport,’ says Dawid. ‘So each paddler must be aware of the conditions and of his capabilities, and must know his limits. ‘Safety is very important. Having a bodyto-boat leash is non-negotiable. A paddle leash is a good idea, and then also a brightly coloured life jacket, something to signal with, and a cellphone in a dry bag. And make sure that you have airtime

Often, one of the most difficult tasks of Sea Rescue crews is locating the person who needs their help. Even if someone has a cellphone in a waterproof pouch that allows them to remain in contact with rescuers, it can take a long time in difficult sea conditions to find and rescue a distressed individual. ADT recently launched a smartphone application that will change that. This clever application, called ADTFindU, could make a rescue much easier by accurately pinpointing the position and location of its user. David Hitchcock, who heads up ADT South Africa’s New Monitoring Services, is excited about this service. He grew up in Muizenberg and, from the age of 15, spent a lot of his spare time waveskiing. ‘That migrated into surfski paddling as well as K1 paddling. Since 2005 I’ve been involved in racing on the Berg River, the Fish and the Breede,’ says David. With his love for the ocean and his understanding of paddling and the risks that go with it, he sees the enormous benefit that ADTFindU could offer smallcraft users. ‘Anyone can download the application, and the service is really affordable,’ he explains.



Previous page: Hitting the water at the Cape Point Challenge, one of the most gruelling one-day events in the surfski calendar. Above left and right: Dawid and Nikki Mocke – more at home on the water than off.

and that you know who to call,’ he adds. Then there is boat choice. ‘Never sacrifice stability for speed,’ is Dawid’s advice. ‘You can always paddle faster than you can swim,’ he warns. ‘This is not cycling. The stability of the boat is linked to your skill. If you don’t fall off, you will paddle more and therefore will enjoy paddling more,’ says Dawid as he watches a whale frolicking in the bay. SR

‘It’s available to everyone, not only to ADT customers. It’s useful for other rescue platforms as well and not restricted to water rescues. ‘The great thing about ADTFindU is that it allows rescue crews to have advanced warning of your exact location. It updates every 15 seconds and if you are using a modern cellphone, the circle of probability around you is two to three metres,’ says David. When an ADTFindU subscriber heads out on the water, the application needs to be active, and tracking starts immediately. If it is then triggered in an emergency (either by shaking the phone, a double tap or a finger swipe, depending on the phone), the ADT monitoring centre is alerted to an emergency. This also automatically triggers the activation of the cellphone’s audio and video recorder – recordings are transmitted to the monitoring centre, from where operators will then call the subscriber to check on the situation. ‘If there is no answer from the cellphone owner, ADT will assess the video, sound and position, and alert the nearest Sea Rescue authorities. We will be able to pass on the exact position of the casualty, effectively taking the search out of search and rescue,’ says David.

15284 ADT FindU Print Ad LIFE 276x210mm R3_FA.indd 1

10/22/13 4:18 PM




From peaceful dawn to magical dusk, we accompany photographer and former Station 12 (Knysna) crew member Andrew Aveley as he travels along the Chobe River in Botswana


any people are drawn to the Chobe region of Botswana, and in particular the Chobe River that forms the border between northern Botswana and Namibia. The town of Kasane, situated on its banks, is a hub for all kinds of tourist experiences, and the starting (and disembarking) point for many adventures. Africa is intoxicating and offers so much for photographers to see and experience. For me, the Chobe is a dream opportunity to capture moments through my lens. And the very best way to do this is to stay on one of the houseboats that travel up and down the river from Kasane. I use Ichobezi Lodge, which operates

20 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

a lodge and houseboat on the river – the only one that has overnight docking rights along the Namibian side of the river in Chobe National Park. Far away from the lights of Kasane and the other lodges, this option allows me access to the perfect places in the early morning and evening when the golden light floods the river and plains. Our first night is spent at the incredible Elephant Bay, a natural shallow bay with easy access to a multitude of animals – especially, as the names suggests, the great African elephant. These majestic creatures head down to the water in massive herds throughout the day. A special moment for

me is watching young babies shelter under their mothers while drinking water from the river (the threat of crocodiles and hippos is constant). The low rumbling sounds of the matriarch communicating with the mass of elephants reverberate around the small bay. When the sun sets and the golden light fades, the twilight reveals a mystical sky full of the brightest stars you’ll ever see. You’ll also hear unique sounds as night falls – the rasping call of a male leopard searching for a mate or a distant roar of a lion from inside the park. After drifting off to sleep to the sound of the water lapping along the boat, you awake to the bush coming alive as a new


Clockwise from bottom left: A little patience goes a long way when capturing the more petite of birds, the pied kingfisher; each sunset is different on the Chobe, and each offers the opportuity to create a new lasting memory; perfectly protected – it’s unlikely this little guy will run into trouble any time soon; the fish eagle’s strength, precision and power perfectly captured; an elephant baby enjoys a drink in the shelter of its mother’s body.

day dawns on the river. On a dedicated early-morning photography boat with only a few fellow adventurers, you are presented with countless moments to capture through the lens. The call of a fish eagle echoes around you and you know you are in Africa. During a cruise upriver later in the morning, I am reminded of the simple nature of the people who depend on the river for their everyday survival. Our local guide approaches one of the small dugouts on the river and greets a young fisherman pulling his nets. After a heartfelt and animated discussion, he hands us some fresh fish. As we move off, I ask the guide what they talked about – and to my surprise he tells us that the youngster had a close encounter with a lion a few weeks back. He had been walking from his village to the river, unaware that a lion had crossed over from the park to the flood plains in search of a meal. (The area is always full of buffalo and various antelope species that sustain the many predators in the dry season.) The guides on a nearby houseboat, who had been watching the lion, noticed the young man walking directly into the big cat’s path. Luckily they managed to call out a warning and he did not end up a statistic. The rest of the day is spent at leisure on the top deck of the houseboat as we

‘The days seem to fade one into the other during this amazing trip.’ travel even further upriver, passing many open plains on the Botswana side and the contrasting ramshackle structures of the local people scattered along the Zambezi bank. As the vessel moves along, you may see many different species that come to the river for a drink in the heat of the day. We round a long bend in the river and approach our overnight docking spot opposite the derelict Sorondela campsite. This gem

is about an hour’s journey from Kasane on a high-speed skiff, and rarely visited by any photographers during the golden hours or overnight. As on the previous day, I again enjoy an incredible late-afternoon cruise shooting landscapes, birdlife and the most inspiring sunset with a small herd of elephants moving across the expansive flood plains. The clear night sky is the key to the ultimate star-filled evening – lying on the top deck of the houseboat taking in the sounds of the night, I enjoy a true African moment. One day seems to fade one into the other during this amazing trip. The ever-changing landscape and animal life that the rich Chobe has to offer are simply overwhelming. The activity along the water’s edge and the flood plains means that you keep your eyes trained on the banks, where you’re likely to spot swimming elephants, Cape buffalo feeding on the juicy water plants shoulder deep in croc-infested waters, and continuous streams of water birds. You may even get to savour the highlight of any Chobe adventure: the sighting of the beautiful sable antelope in the heat of the day. I find it difficult to convey the feelings without images, but once you’ve been to this region and met its people you’ll be able to feel even more connected to your images and memories. Photography must be about more than capturing an image. You should be inspired, motivated and challenged to immortalise moments that reflect the destination as well as your own spirit. SR

Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013 • 21





Catherine Hofmeyr takes us on a tour of camp sites around the country that will surprise and delight all nature lovers PHOTOGRAPHS BY CATHERINE HOFMEYR TSENDZE, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK Several Kruger rest camps include camping but, with the exception of Letaba, they’re often dusty, featureless and inevitably next to a fence. Tsendze, near Mopani, is different. It’s a rustic, minimalfacilities setup for campers only. The 34 sites are carved into the natural bush for good privacy and, even though it’s fenced, you really get the feel of the wild when you pitch your tent under a magnificent leadwood or mopane that may just harbour a leopard. The area is well known for large buffalo herds and elephants. And at night you’ll hear the archetypal whoopwhoop of hyenas on the prowl. There’s no electricity – and generators aren’t allowed – but the thatched ablutions are great and outdoor showers allow for stargazing. Call (012) 428 9111, email reservations@ or visit MAHAI & INJASUTI, DRAKENSBERG As mountain retreats go, Mahai camp in the Royal Natal National Park, Northern


Drakensberg, must be one of the most dramatic. Level, grassy terraces shaded by pine trees are surrounded by the highest peaks in South Africa that make up the world-renowned Amphitheatre. Activities here are all about walking and hiking, with routes ranging from short ambles suitable for kids to serious onslaughts of the High Berg. It’s a large camp, with more than 80 stands, half of which are electrified. Facilities are spick-and-span, and an added bonus – particularly when frost lies thick on the ground – are the camp kitchens where boiling water is dispensed. Call (033) 845 1000 for reservations or visit for more information. Another lovely and more intimate Berg camp site is Injasuti, near Giant’s Castle (booking details as above). KWAZULU-NATAL SOUTH COAST On the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, with its beautiful beaches, warm sea, lush vegetation and myriad golf courses, is where you’ll find the four-star, multi-award-

winning Mac Nicol’s Bazley Beach Resort. The Mac Nicol family have been running caravan parks for 35-odd years and, by now, they know exactly what guests want – a cup of tea on arrival and assistance with pitching camp, for example. So that’s what you get at the vast nature park on the north bank of the Ifafa Lagoon, near Scottburgh. It’s a sociable place with tea and scones served twice a day at the pool, and regular communal pancake or braai evenings. For the youngsters there’s a huge recreational hall with indoor games. Canoeing, fishing, bird-watching, nature trails… You don’t need to leave the resort, unless it’s to swim or surf at a ‘secret’ beach nearby. Call (039) 977 8863 or visit For a prime beachside location, pitch up at Rocky Bay Resorts. The 160 sites here are elevated above a beautiful ‘wild’ beach, where the sound of ‘tjops and boerie’ sizzling on the braai is accompanied by crashing waves. Call (039) 977 8863 or visit MORGAN BAY About an hour’s drive from East London, the Morgan Bay area is tops for tents. A cliff-top track from the village of Morgan Bay takes you to the scenically spectacular Double Mouth Reserve campsite, situated

Far left: Mahai camp in the Royal Natal National Park offers a base from which to explore the dramatic Berg. Left: Tietiesbaai in kreef season – roughing it West Coast style. Below: Idyllic camping for the whole family along the banks of the Keurbooms River.


with its tree house. Call (043) 841 1598 or visit PLETTENBERG BAY, GARDEN ROUTE The Forever group’s resort near the mouth of the Keurbooms River, just outside Plettenberg Bay, has all the makings of a perfect camp – level, grassy and electrified sites under a canopy of indigenous hardwood forest, with a whiskey-coloured river running past. Add excellent facilities, generous pricing and windless nights, and you have everything a camper could wish for. Canoe up the Keurbooms River to look for Knysna turacos and fish eagles, hike along the nature trails or hit the beaches and restaurants of Plett. The resort offers boat excursions, tennis courts, a swimming pool and organised kids’ activities in school holidays. Call central reservations on (012) 423 5600 or visit www. where two rivers meet in a pristine estuary. The 30 stands are on two terraces overlooking a vast lawn, the beach and the Wild Coast breakers beyond. Ablutions have seen many generations of happy campers, and are a little tired but still functional. The views from every stand more than make up for it. Call (043) 701 9600. Morgan Bay camp site itself is a great hang-out for fishers of all ages. The small camp (33 electrified stands) is run by the Morgan Bay Hotel and offers grassy sites and shady trees right on the banks of the Inchara Lagoon. There’s also a bowling green in the park. Call (043) 841 1062 or visit For a tranquil and quirky experience, head upriver from Morgan Bay to Yellowwood Forest with its Hobbit-like ablutions on the banks of the Inchara River. Kids will love the natural-stream pool and the playground

TIETIESBAAI, WEST COAST West Coast camping is for die-hards. Yet when kreef season opens, you won’t find a gap at the windy, treeless crescent of beach overlooking a sheltered cove of icy Atlantic water that is Tietiesbaai. Camping here in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve near Paternoster is a sandy affair, with a functional ablution block offering cold showers. Bring a big brollie, lots of sun cream and your diving gear, because the crayfish are just waiting to be bagged. In the evenings the air is redolent with the smell of braaiing kreef, smoking mussels and other seafood. There’s also fishing, safe but chilly swimming and kayaking in the cove, and picturesque Paternoster offers several restaurants. Call 083 992 2237 or (022) 752 2718. Bookings must be faxed to (022) 752 2015. SR


The Cadac Safari Chef is a portable and versatile gas barbeque, weighing only 4kg, that includes five interchangeable cooking surfaces. These are the camping stove, the BBQ, the non-stick reversible griddle with flat and ribbed sides and the pot (that can also be used as a dome). All parts fit snugly into a carry bag. Ideal for camping, hiking, fishing, caravanning and sports events. Visit for more information.


The Sierra four-person tent is ideal for you and your family. It has a light polyester fly sheet, a PVC floor, two mesh windows and an 8.3mm spring steel frame. Light and convenient for your camping adventures. Size: 3x3x2.25m.

The Campmor Safari Bush Combo five-person canvas tent takes style into the bush. Made from Jackaroo ripstop canvas, this waterproof, UV protective, fade- and rot-proof tent comes with a verandah and height extension, and a lifetime guarantee on the zips. Perfect for those excursions where spending hours just chilling is manadatory. Visit for your tenting requirements.




Good news for Station 6 (Port Elizabeth) Our crew at NSRI Station 6 (Port Elizabeth) have moved to a temporary location and will be operating out of containers in the port for five to six months while their boathouse undergoes a major revamp. Operations control and coordination during searescue emergencies will be run from Port Control facilities. When we say ‘moved’, we mean that the rescue crew themselves were again at the forefront, doing all the work – from sourcing the containers to

arranging security, measuring, cutting, welding, painting, arranging for phone lines to be diverted, packing everything in boxes and unpacking it all on the other side. It has been a mammoth task that took many hours, over and above their normal commitment to rescues and training sessions. The major revamp of the station includes the gutting of the existing building and the addition of a new wing to accommodate our 10m Spirit of Toft, extending her life span

considerably while at the same time improving crew safety and emergency response time. An upgraded control room, new change rooms and bathrooms, and a new roof are also on the cards in the revamp, which will cost R3-million. The new boathouse will be named The Archie & Alta Rabie Rescue Base, as the renovations are being sponsored very generously by the Rabie Family Trust, in memory of the late Dr Archie Rabie. Special thanks go to Algoa Bay Yacht Club, PEDSAC, Portnet, Safmarine (for containers), Container Trust

Left: The current PE station building with its extensive – and dedicated – crew. Above: StatCom Ian Gray with Daniel Rabie.

(for containers), Xtreme Projects (for an office container), Milltrans (for transport of containers), Atlas Security (for the security alarm), Bidfreight Port Operations, and Rob from On Tap (for supplying us with a water meter, pipes and fittings for our temporary home). The last time renovations were done was in the early 1970s. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution in cash, in kind and in man hours, and a special thank you to the families of the rescue crew who have been so patient and understanding.

Platinum Sponsors

GOLD PARTNERSHIPS: • COHESIVE • bagtech international • De Beers Marine • fishing division (foodcorp) • freddy Hirsch group • Lusitania Marketing Services • macs maritime shipping • Oceana • Sappi ltd • SFG Engineering • Svitzer salvage africa • tms south africa ltd • Two oceans marine • viking fishing

24 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

Tuna & Marlin Challenge

Tim Christy of St Francis Whale Charters (centre) hands over a cheque of R21 000 to Dee Love and Daniel Chipps of Station 21 (St Francis Bay). The funds were raised at the recent Tuna & Marlin Challenge held at Port St Francis.

We can always count on Safmarine The 10m rescue boat at Station 15 (Mossel Bay) was recently launched at a formal blessing ceremony, and again it was an opportunity for us to thank our loyal friends at Safmarine for their role in ‘bringing her home’. The ex-RNLI lifeboat was brought from Tilbury Docks in the United Kingdom to Cape Town harbour at no cost to NSRI through the generous support of our friends in industry. The project to bring the

Lochin-made boat to Cape Town was managed by NSRI volunteer Andy Connell. His incredible powers of persuasion saw her reaching our shores free of charge. A very big thank you to the following: Jaco Visagie of Safmarine Shipping Line, who facilitated the sponsorship with his principals; Simon Thomas and David of Lochin Marine, who prepared the lifeboat for her sea voyage and moved her from Newhaven to Tilbury Docks; Lucy Hornett of Safmarine

UK, who helped Lochin and the forwarders get the lifeboat through Tilbury Port; Bennie Gilson of Tilbury Container Services for organising the stevedoring and lashing of the lifeboat onto the flat rack; David MacLean of Toll Group Perishables, who facilitated the forwarding formalities out of England; Craig Garrow and Terence du Toit of Pronto Clearing, who performed the import-clearing formalities and documentation to release the lifeboat in Cape Town; Verdus de Jongh of Transnet Port Terminals, who facilitated the discharge of the vessel and its lift into the water; Trevor Francke of Diamond Shipping, the agents for the vessel the MV DAL Kalahari, who facilitated the planning operation between Safmarine and the port terminal; Godfrey Fisher of GF Trucking, for moving the lifeboat in Cape Town Terminal and turning in the used flat rack and cradle; and Donovan Liedeman of Dole SA for arranging port formalities, entry and NSRI hospitality in the port.

Call for Yanmar solutions

Thank you, Oceana

Special thanks to Oceana, which has come back on board as a Platinum Sponsor. Our Platinum Partners help fund our head-office overheads so that all other donations go directly towards the true costs of rescue – in other words, boats, buildings, medical supplies, protective clothing for crew, fuel, insurance, maintenance and training. ‘In making social investments, Oceana strives to foster long-term partnerships that will ultimately contribute towards uplifting and benefiting the coastal communities in which we operate. As the largest fishing company in Africa, our seagoing employees spend many hours and days at sea, which makes partnering with the NSRI a necessity. We are pleased to announce our platinum partnership with the NSRI, effective immediately,’ says Francois Kuttel, Oceana Group CEO.


SAVED FROM A RIP Due to the high level of water in the Bot River estuary and the imminent threat of more inclement weather which would threaten property, the authorities decided to breach the estuary early on the morning of Saturday, 24 August. This is the largest estuary in the Western Cape and breaching results in millions of cubic metres of water rushing out to sea at more than 50km per hour. It’s a very dangerous situation for anyone who is on the water, as the power of the outflow will suck them into the middle, where they cannot escape being swept out to sea. Two kayakers, Paul van Rensburg and Gareth Woods, who were weekending at the lagoon, were on the water when the mouth was breached and got caught up in the sudden rush of water into the sea. While trying to get to the safety of the shore, they capsized and in seconds Paul was pulled out of the mouth and into the sea. Gareth, struggling against the current, managed to attract the attention of bystanders before getting himself close enough to the bank that he could be helped out by a bystander,


Despite Gareth desperately wanting to help his friend, he knew that in his exhausted state and with the hectic conditions of the ocean, he too would have been swept out to sea, making a rescue attempt all the more difficult. Paul was swept out through huge waves beyond the breaker line. Luckily he too was wearing a life jacket. After about 30 minutes the NSRI arrived on the scene, and Joshua Henn and André Barnard risked their lives in a brave rescue. In the enormous waves it took the two rescue swimmers an hour to swim Paul back to safety. By that time he was suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia and had to be taken to Hermanus hospital by helicopter. Images: Mark Eiserman


GREAT SUPPORT FROM DURBAN YACHT CLUBS The NSRI Barrel Race is an annual event hosted by all the yacht clubs in Durban. This year it raised a handsome R80 000 for the NSRI.

FAREWELL TO MARGI BENSON Margaret Denise Benson has retired – this astonishing lady has served Station 8 (Hout Bay) for the last 25 years, and built up quite a reputation as ‘the dragon lady’ and a loyal crew member and friend. Margi continued to add to her list of qualifications throughout her years of service, including obtaining her Maritime Radio Telephone Licence, First Aid Level 3 and a firefighting qualification.

ANNUAL SKI BOAT FESTIVAL At the Annual Ski Boat Festival – South Africa’s largest ski boat event attracting teams from around the country – R20 000 was presented to Clifford Ireland, station commander of Station 5 (Durban). From left: Clifford Ireland, Shaun Lavery and Hilton Kidger.


Below: Coen Birkenstock and Thandi Mlangeni of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) accept the Alric Simpson Trophy. Pictured here with NSRI’s WaterWise educators.

Right: Stephane le Roux (right) receives his Long Service Award (25 Years).



We thank our donors and volunteers for their invaluable contributions

Above: Ian Wienburg presents Annette Poole from Richards Bay with the CEO’s Letter of Appreciation. Annette, an unpaid volunteer, has collected R1.9m from shipping agents.

Above: Station 33 (Witsand) StatCom Attie Gunter (left) receives the Operation Director’s Trophy for Most Improved Station from Mark Hughes.

Long Service – 20 Years: • Stuart Buchanan – Stn 10 (Simon’s Town) • Keryn van der Walt – Stn 11 (Port Alfred) • Andre Jerling – Stn 14 (Plettenberg Bay) • Craig Lambinon – Stn 2 (Bakoven) • Garth Shamley – Stn 21 (St Francis Bay) • Hendrik Niehaus – Stn 23 (Wilderness) • Grant Skinner – Stn 3 (Table Bay) • Andre Fletcher – Stn 5 (Durban) • Malcolm Manion – Stn 5 (Durban)

• Andrew Matthews – Stn 8 (Hout Bay) • Spencer Oldham – Stn 8 (Hout Bay) • Nigel Pepperell – Stn 9 (Gordons Bay)

Long Service – 25 Years: • Edward Noyons – NSRI Operational Board • Graeme Harding – Stn 12 (Knysna) • Dudley Reid – Stn 12 (Knysna) • Stephane le Roux – Stn 14 (Plettenberg Bay) • Dawie Zwiegelaar – Stn 15 (Mossel Bay) • Brian St Clair-Laing – Stn 5 (Durban) • Margie Benson – Stn 8 (Hout Bay)

28 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

Long Service – 30 Years: • Erwin Selk – Stn 10 (Simon’s Town) • Michael Elliot – NSRI Operational Board • Johnny Albert – Stn 2 (Bakoven) • Howard Bell – Stn 2 (Bakoven) • Ian Klopper – Stn 26 (Kommetjie) Long Service – 35 Years: • Mark Hughes • Rudi Fisch – Stn 3 (Table Bay) Long Service – 45 Years: • Allan Cramb



BRAVERY AWARDS Hearty congratulations to our colleagues in

emergency services Fabian Higgins (rescue diver and paramedic, Western Cape Emergency Medical Services) and Constable Heino Uhde (SAPS diver) on the well-deserved certificates of commendation they received from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for their valiant rescue efforts during the Miroshga capsize incident last year. This award is the second highest recognition by the IMO for acts of exceptional bravery at sea. The Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea this year goes to two US Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmers and, posthumously, to a Chinese crewman who lost his life trying to save a passenger following a collision. The awards will be presented in London on 25 November.

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.


PREMIUM PERFORMANCE Left: Station 5 (Durban) Statcom Clifford Ireland accepts the Pat O’Sullivan Station Efficiency Shield. Pictured here with (from left) André Fletcher, Malcolm Manion and Brian St Clair-Laing.

FOR MARINE PROFESSIONALS Southern Power Products 021 5110653


In 1966

The formation of the NSRI in 1967 was prompted by a terrible storm that claimed the lives of 17 Still Bay fishermen the year before. Andrew Ingram had the honour of speaking to Gerhard Dreyer, who survived the horror of April 1966

F Top: Gerhard Dreyer and his crew survived gale-force winds and angry seas off the coast of Still Bay. Above: Seventeen crew from three other vessels lost their lives that night.


OR THE RESIDENTS OF STILL Bay, about 50km west of Mossel Bay on the Southern Cape coast, 1966 had not got off to a good start. In January, a boat returning in the dark of night from a long day’s fishing had misjudged the approach to the harbour and capsized. Three of the crew survived, but six men drowned within a stone’s throw of safety. Then the fish stopped biting. In February and March, the boats went out before first light each day to return with very poor catches. Families who depended on the success of these fishermen went hungry. But then, one day in early April, to the delight of the Still Bay fishermen, the fish came back on the bite. Gerhard Dreyer, then skipper of Bakvissie, takes up the story: ‘We took our skuit out at three or four in the morning and went down to the Jongensklip side. That day the fish were really biting. As fast as you could pull, you caught them.’ The men caught so many fish that they decided to head back to Still Bay to offload

the catch in the late morning. Because times had been so hard, Gerhard agreed that, after a quick lunch, they would go back out to carry on fishing. The skippers of Charmaine, Seabird and Taljaard also went back out. Still they pulled in fish hand over fist. At about five in the afternoon, Bakvissie crewman Willem Beuker pointed to the clouds in the west and predicted that a terrible storm was on the way. Gerhard decided to pull anchor and head for home. He trusted Willem’s instinct. The rest of the crew, however, put up a strong argument to carry on fishing. The fish were biting again and there was no way that they wanted to stop fishing then. Gerhard felt for his men, so against his instinct he dropped anchor again. They carried on fishing. ‘I did not have a watch, but it was about nine in the evening when the current suddenly changed. We had been lying with the bow pointing east, and suddenly we were facing west,’ Gerhard recalls. Then the wind arrived. It was gale force, gusting up to 130km/h, and it stood the sea on its head. ‘We pulled our anchor and I turned for the deep sea,’ he says ‘It was up one wave and then down the other side. Huge seas. ‘I told the men to throw everything overboard. Everything. And to pump water. They didn’t want to throw the fish over, and got angry with me. I said to them, “If you don’t listen to me…” ‘We threw everything off. Lines. The lot. That’s what saved us.’ Gerhard and the crew knew that they were in seas that were far beyond the capability of the little open boat, with its single in-board diesel engine. But there was no chance of any help. They could

Left: Gerhard and his wife, Renee, look through maps and newspaper articles as they recall the 1966 tragedy.

only rely on their seamanship. Using all his skills, Gerhard had kept Bakvissie’s bow into the sea, and with the crew constantly pumping water from the hull, they survived waves that sometimes were more than 15m high. ‘At about three in the morning the sea was a little calmer and I turned back for Still Bay,’ he says. By then the waves were still big, but the wind had died down and the sea was not as vicious as it had been. ‘We had lanterns on the skuite back then, and in the first light we saw a lantern in the distance... When we got to

the lantern, we found planks, fish, jerseys and stuff floating. There was one man in a life buoy.’ That man was John Arries, the sole survivor from the three other fishing boats that had not gone out to the deep. Two of these boats disappeared without a trace. ‘It was a terrible storm that night. Trees blew down in Still Bay, roofs blew off,’ says Gerhard. ‘Seventeen men lost their lives in the sea that night. It was a terrible storm.’ The next day an Air Force helicopter was sent from Langebaan to search for survivors, and with Gerhard guiding them to the east of Still Bay, they found only one boat. It was hard aground. ‘There was only a green jersey on the bow,’ Gerhard recalls. ‘Later I read in the paper that in England they had something like what the NSRI later

became, and an English woman pleaded that they start something similar here.’ The woman he refers to was Patti Price, a Simon’s Town schoolteacher who had read about the Still Bay tragedy. Her life had been saved by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the English Channel, and because of her letter-writing campaign to the press, the Society of Master Mariners donated the first rescue boat to what was then called the South African Inshore Rescue Service (SAIRS) the following year. The first SAIRS volunteers, Ray Lant and Bob Deacon, had a 4.7m rubber duck called Snoopy, which was based at Three Anchor Bay, a stone’s throw from where Sea Rescue’s head office is now. From that modest start in 1967 grew the NSRI. Today, more than 940 volunteers serve on 97 rescue boats at 35 bases around the country. Two of these boats, a 7.3m rigid inflatable boat called Spirit of St Francis and a 4.2m rubber duck called Colorpress Too, are based at Still Bay – in the hope that never again would such a tragedy strike the little seaside town. SR

call away Just a

When a coastal walk turned into a life-threatening situation, coxswain John Nicholas knew his fellow Sea Rescue volunteers would be there to offer assistance. By Andrew Ingram PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW INGRAM


tretched out on his bed in the little seaside resort of Hagga Hagga, Port Edward coxswain John Nicholas (51) was enjoying the mid-year break with his family. Lunch had been good; his 13-year-old son, Jonathan, was off on a coastal walk with friends; and John had a good book to read. The weather was fine, even if overcast, and there was a light southwesterly wind blowing. It was a perfect afternoon for putting your feet up and relaxing. And then the holiday home’s silence was broken by the ringtone of John’s cellphone. Jonathan’s name was on the little screen, and the sound of his boy’s voice got John’s adrenaline flowing. ‘Dad, somebody has got hurt, please come to the path with your first-aid kit.’ John knew the path that Jonathan and family friends Wesley Dragh (33), Dafre Trotsky (43) and their four children (aged between six and 13) had taken. It is a popular walk south of the resort that takes hikers

32 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

A relieved John Nicholas with his son, Jonathan. Right: This Google image shows the length of the trail and treacherous sea below.


along a cliff path down to Pullen’s Bay. Without even pausing to put on shoes, John ran for his bakkie. It was 14h15. Leaving the vehicle in the parking area at the start of the trail, John swung his medical bag over his shoulder and started down the trail towards Pullen’s Bay at a brisk pace. It was spring tide and the sea was high and had turned nasty, he recalls. Four-metre waves, at very short intervals, were pounding into the cliffs. John’s cell rang again. It was Jonathan. ‘You must hurry, Dad. Wesley can’t move.’ John started running. A few minutes later the hiking group came into sight. John remembers seeing Jonathan and thinking, ‘Phew, at least he is OK.’ Wesley was at the base of the cliff, too close to the sea. The tide was flooding fast, and a quick glance at Wesley’s right leg

he noticed that Dafre was being pulled away by the receding wave. It was an extremely dangerous situation. ‘I stepped down, grabbed her hand and held on.’ Dafre’s eyes showed her shock. ‘She was terrified.’ ‘The kids were sitting behind Wesley and I managed to get her onto the rock and then followed her up.’ John waited for the water to recede and, in a gap between the waves, he got the group moving fast, scrambling off the rock and scurrying for higher ground. John then picked up Wesley and turned for the path. ‘I could see the waves coming towards me and just had to move,’ he says. ‘It was pure adrenaline. If I’d have dropped Wesley the sea would have got us.’ Once on higher ground and safely back on the path, John did another patient

Where john parked his bakkiE

the scene of the accident

John made 50 metres, and then had to rest. Then another 50 metres... He was fast becoming exhausted when two fishermen arrived. They immediately offered to help. John had called his wife, Suzy, who arrived with a plank and some rope to make a stretcher, but the plank was too narrow. The ropes were slung under the board and the two fishermen helped John and Jonathan lift Wesley off the ground. The small team made painfully slow progress – 20 metres at a time. Then a rest, and another 20 metres. After another call to Mick their spirits were lifted… The chopper boys were on the way. It wasn’t long before the East London EMS helicopter circled above them. ‘When I heard that helicopter, I wanted to jump for joy,’ grins John. ‘I was exhausted. And freezing. Really, really cold.’

‘Dad, somebody has got hurt, please come to the path with your first-aid kit.’


confirmed that there was a break just above his ankle. The bone was clearly deformed. John helped Wesley onto a shelf at about waist height and, using a piece of driftwood, he fashioned a splint for the injury. He gave Jonathan his cellphone and told the boy, ‘Call Uncle Mick. I need help.’ Jonathan started dialling the number of Port Edward station commander Mick Banks. Dafre was standing with her back to the sea, next to John, looking on as he splinted Wesley’s ankle, when a wave, much bigger than the others, washed up and swirled around the adults. Jonathan yelled a warning but he was too late. There was simply nowhere for John and Dafre to go. And Wesley could not move. ‘I was waist deep in water but managed to hold on to the rocks,’ says John. Then

assessment. There was no way that they would get Wesley off the trail without help. He called the Port Edward station commander. ‘I need help, Mick. Some sort of rescue service with a stretcher. We’re not going to be able to get him out of here like this.’ Dafre was freezing cold, and everyone was suffering from the wind chill. Hypothermia was a real danger, so the children, under the watchful eye of their mother, walked ahead to get to the warm safety of the holiday home. Wesley was now going into shock so John wrapped him in a space blanket, before putting his medical bag on his back and picking up the injured man. The path was a mere half-a-metre wide, uneven and rocky. And the going was tough.

Because of the terrain, the helicopter pilot was forced to land in the parking lot on the other side of Hagga Hagga. But John knew that the ordeal would soon be over. Suzy took the bakkie to fetch the helicopter crew. The exhausted team had about 250 metres to go when the two paramedics arrived with a stretcher. They did their patient assessment, administered some pain relief to Wesley, and now there were five adults to carry him. ‘The amazing part of this for me was having this organisation behind you,’ says John. ‘When you are in trouble you know that they are going to be there for you. I was alone. But I knew that there was someone I could phone and that they would sort this out for me.’ SR

Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013 • 33


Right: Our new CEO, Dr Cleeve Robertson, with Irene Riley and Eleanor Simpson at a ‘Coffee & Crew’ stories morning in Somerset West.

Below: After the recent talk on Antarctica by conservationist and photographer Andrew Schofield, Life boat Circle members enjoyed home-baked treats by volunteers Jessica Garschagen and Charlene Gordon. Spar Cape Quarter also donated delicious savouries that were enjoyed by all. From left to right: Rose Craddock, Bruce Sanderson, Adrian von Gesau, Margaret McCulloch, Susan Kennedy and Kathy Penn.


busy season

Below: After a Woman’s Day talk to members of two Athlone (Cape Town) ladies’ groups by our newest bequest officer and long-time NSRI employee, Theresa Medicine (far right), many new members joined the Life boat Circle.

Generous NSRI supporter John Moot was treated to a boat ride at Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay). When coxswain Johann Lensink remarked on the lovely day and calm seas, John quipped, ‘I might have preferred the wilder weather!’ John Moot (seated on the bollard) is pictured here with Angeline For Ming and Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) crewman Paul Germishuizen.

THANK YOU FOR THE DONATIONS RECEIVED Special occasions (birthdays): • Anton Gillis 30th • Janice Hurly 50th • Tyrrel Murray 50th • Bernie Krone 60th • David Knott • Dr Ivor Shaskolsky 70th • Joe Glezer 75th • Joan Wilkins 80th In memory of loved ones: • Noel M Gray • Anne Kirby • Lionel Edwards • Jenny Levings • (Mildred) Ann Robertson • Wenda Watermeyer Catherine Thorpe • Basil Gordon • Sheena Trotti Ashes log: (All respects were paid and the details of the scattering recorded in the ship’s log) • (Mildred) Ann Robertson in Hout Bay • Wenda Watermeyer in False Bay • Calvin Bernard Rich in Hout Bay • Graham Hughes in False Bay Life boat Circle is a society for retired persons. For more information, contact Margaret McCulloch on 082 990 5976 or email

34 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013



From nursing and topography during World War II to exploring lighthouses and rock engravings at ancient sites... Brenda Wintgen is a prime example that life is as interesting – and fun – as you choose to make it. By Cherelle Leong

remarkable LIFE T UCKED AWAY IN THE SMALL TOWN OF McGregor in the Western Cape is a house that offers NSRI volunteers a holiday haven. This was once the home of Brenda Wintgen, who donated it to NSRI as a living memorial to her late husband, Peter Wintgen, who was a Life Member of Sea Rescue in Germany and South Africa. Donating your home to an institution isn’t something most people would do. But, then again, Brenda isn’t like most people. She’s a most entertaining woman who has led a very interesting life. At 17, Brenda joined the Red Cross as a VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) nurse to do her part for the war effort. As a member of the Sea Point 51st Detachment, she spent her weekends nursing merchant seamen survivors of U-boat attacks at the temporary Sea Point hospital, Rapallo. On weekdays she was employed as a topographical draftswoman in the Cadastral Department of the Trigonometrical Survey Office in Mowbray, where she compiled maps from aerial photographs. Having been brought up as a true colonial, brainwashed to regard the United Kingdom as ‘home’, Brenda set sail for the UK in 1948, returning thankfully in 1951 to her real ‘soul home’: South Africa. In 1953 she joined SAA as an airhostess and met her future husband, Harry Sullivan, a passenger on a flight from Durban. They were married in 1954. However, in 1970 Harry, a highly qualified accountant, was drawn back to his alluvial diamond-digging roots. Very unwillingly, Brenda and their three daughters moved from Johannesburg to Bloemhof, and from there on to Boskuil. In 1971 boredom drove her to visit engraving sites on rocky hillocks in the area, a happenstance that developed into a lifelong, continent-spanning quest to learn the truth about the

identity of those early engravers. Upon Harry’s death 15 years later, Brenda returned to Cape Town and managed a hotel in Fish Hoek before becoming a Satour guide. During this period she published a series of stories for the children of Africa. It was in 1991, during her years working as a freelance tour guide in Pretoria, that Brenda met Peter Wintgen, who had been on holiday from Germany at the time. Afterwards, their friendship was cemented when Brenda, having learnt of his passion for lighthouses, sent him information about South African lighthouses he had not been able to access during his brief stay. Later, when they travelled together, it gave Peter and Brenda great joy to explore lighthouses and ancient sacred standing-stone sites all over the world. One amusing incident happened when they were visiting Hong Kong. While browsing a local bookshop, they asked about books on Chinese lighthouses. Their question was met with a thoughtful pause. The shop assistant disappeared and, a short while later, returned with a book on how to make houses from paper. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘lightest houses you can build.’ Brenda laughs easily. She loves life and finds traditional cultures particularly inspiring. ‘Did you know that the Celts and Zulus share 50 exact customs and traditions?’ she asks. And so starts another conversation. What a fascinating woman! SR

Clockwise from top left: Brenda in her Red Cross uniform on her way to Rapallo to do hospital duty; Brenda, aged 17, newly qualified as a member of Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD) 51; the VAD 51 annual inspection – taken on 13 December 1945; Brenda enjoying a braai on the stoep of her home in Darling.





For photographer and NSRI supporter Liza Wigley, joining WaterWise as an instructor in the Eden District of the Garden Route has been a chance to give back to the community she loves

36 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013

started visiting the rural and farm schools in the George area, her first being Touwsranten Primary. At the schools she teaches children of all ages about rip currents: what to do – and what not to do – if they find themselves caught in one. She also teaches the children to “have a plan” when they go to the seaside or when they go swimming in one of the many farm dams, rivers or lakes in the area,’ Nicholas continues. The WaterWise programme teaches children to use simple devices, for instance an old cold-drink bottle with rope attached to it or an intonga (stick), to assist them if they or a friend should find themselves in trouble. They’re also taught to memorise the emergency number 10177 and to call it without delay. Liza recently qualified as a CPR instructor, and with the help of Little Junior, the CPR doll, which Nicholas calls ‘the latest member of our household’, she teaches children from Grade 4 and up CPR techniques. ‘It’s been awesome’, Liza says. ‘The kids are enthusiastic and listen eagerly!’ And it’s not only the kids who are benefitting: the teachers are also learning a thing or

Top and left: Children are taught the 10177 emergency number in such a way they won’t forget it. Above: Everyday items, like a rope, can be used to save a life.

two. ‘One teacher admitted that he’d got caught in a rip, and had been helped out by a friend,’ Liza explains. ‘He said they often go swimming and aren’t always aware of the dangers; that you can find yourself in a rip even if there are no waves… Another teacher from St Paul’s Primary said that he was excited about the programme, and very pleased it’s being presented in the Eden District.’ By mid-September Liza had already visited six schools and taught about 3 000 children. ‘With Little Junior and props and posters at hand, Liza is on a new journey in life and one in which she hopes that the lessons she imparts at the schools across the Eden District may equip a child with the knowledge to save their own life or the courage to save that of a friend,’ says Nicholas, smiling. SR



ne of my favourite stories about Liza unfolded on the day we were sitting at the Touw River mouth in Wilderness watching a group of children riding the tidal surges under the railway bridge, when suddenly one of the kids was swept past, in distress. Liza came dashing past me and jumped in, clothes and all, to pluck an obviously shaken but thankfully unharmed child from the current. She then promptly lined up all the kids and lectured them on water safety and watching out for each other.’ Liza’s husband, Nicholas Cole, proudly recounts the story, adding that it epitomises his wife’s caring for others, especially those less advantaged. ‘She is dogmatic about water safety,’ he says. ‘She believes all our kids should be swimming fit and aware of the perils of sea and river!’ So when Liza was asked to join the WaterWise Academy programme in the Eden district, she was thrilled to be able to give back to the community in which she lives. In fact, it couldn’t have come at a better time, and she quite literally dived in boots and all. ‘Through sponsorship from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Liza











Links: Die digte mis by Dasseneiland. Bo: Die nuwe seiljag het letterlik op die rotse beland.

Partykeer tref die ongeluk jou sommer van alle kante – selfs al is jy ’n ervare seeman. Vir die bemanning van ’n splinternuwe seiljag het die teenspoed een aand in Meimaand in die vorm van digte mis, kreefnette in die water, en die rotse van Dasseneiland gekom. Deur Pieter Malan





ERBEEL JOUSELF JY RY êrens heen in ’n kar waarvan al die ruite met swart papier toegeplak is.’ Dit, sê Rudi Rogers, bevelvoerder van die NSRI se Stasie 34 op Yzerfontein, is hoe dig die mis was toe hulle pas ná sononder op Woensdag 15 Mei vanjaar die oproep kry dat ’n seiljag in die nood is naby Dasseneiland. Rudi en sy enigste bemanningslid, Gerhard Visagie, was dus totaal afhanklik van die Rotary Onwards se navigasietoerusting om die 11km na die eiland af te lê. Ines de Beer, 58, die skipper van ’n 38-voet dubbelrompseiljag, sê hy en sy bemanning van twee het net voor sononder by Dasseneiland aangekom en was besig om ’n ankerplek te soek toe die noodlot hulle tref. Hulle het vroëer die dag uit Kaapstad vertrek op ’n transatlantiese vaart na Fort Lauderdale in Florida om die splinternuwe Leopard 39 vir sy nuwe eienaar te gaan aflewer. Hulle plan was om by Dasseneiland te oornag voor hulle die Atlantiese Oseaan sou oorsteek. Ines, ’n skipper met amper drie dekades se seilervaring, sê dat hy visserskuite in die omgewing kon hoor toe hy die eiland nader. Weens die digte mis en die feit dat hy geen radar gehad het nie, het hy besluit

glasveselromp onafwendbaar. Rudi se operasionele verslag ná die redding som die situasie goed op: ‘Ongelooflike uitdagende operasie. Pogings om by die seiljag uit te kom was so te sê onmoontlik. Die sig was letterlik so swak dat ons nie meer as ’n paar meter verder as die boeg van ons eie vaartuig kon sien nie.’ Die NSRI vrywilligers moes uiteindelik die om so gou as moontlik anker te gooi om ’n Leopard se bemanning vra om ’n fakkel af te ongeluk te vermy. Sy keuse vir oornagplek vuur sodat hulle kon sien waar hulle is. Die was die gewilde Huisbaai aan die noordweb van toue en die bamboes naby die kus oostelike kant van die eiland, ’n ankerplek het beteken dat dit onmoontlik sou wees om wat hy goed ken. Sy besluit om die gevaar hulle per boot van die seiljag te haal. Hulle van ’n moontlike botsing te vermy, het het dus eerder by die hawehoof in die baai hom egter reg in ’n web van kommersiële vasgemeer en is strandlangs na die vaartuig. kreefnette gestuur. Die drie bemanningslede, Ines, Lindani ‘Dit was regtig erg,’ beaam Rudi. ‘Die hele Mchunu, 30, en Rossalind Copeling, 57, is toe baai was ’n spinnekopweb met ’n tou-en-katrolstelsel van toue. Ek het dit nog land toe geneem. nooit so erg gesien nie.’ ’n Bergingsmaatskappy Ines sê wat gevolg het, het die seiljag ’n paar dae was ’n klassieke geval van later van die rotse gesleep ’n klomp klein dingetjies tot op ’n nabygeleë strand, wat verkeerd loop – en voor waar noodherstelwerk ‘Dasseneiland is ’n jy jou oë kan uitvee, het jy ’n gedoen is. Ines sê hy gewilde hengel-area vir ramp op hande. Eers het ’n het die grootste lof vir beide professionele en tou in die bakboordenjin se die professionele wyse naweekvissermanne. aandryfskroef vasgedraai, waarop die YzerfonteinSeiljagvaarders oornag wat hul vermoë om te vrywilligers hulle gehelp ook graag in die stuur erg aan bande het. ‘Yzerfontein is een van beskutting van Huisbaai. gelê het. Daarna het die NSRI se kleiner stasies, Kreefnette en -toue is die anker in kreef-fuike maar met hulle toegewyding egter ’n wesenlike gevaar verstrengel geraak, en skort daar niks.’ in die omgewing. Ek raai teen die tyd dat hulle die Ines het na afloop skippers aan om altyd anker losgekry het, was ’n van die operasie ’n nuwe iemand op die boeg te hê onaangename ontmoeting GPS-eenheid aan die om op die uitkyk te wees tussen Dasseneiland se Yzerfontein-stasie present vir enige obstruksies in rotsagtige seebodem en die gegee om hulle te bedank die water as hulle naby Leopard se splinternuwe vir hul reddingspoging. SR díe eiland is.’

Yachtport SA is a purpose designed and built marine lift facility. We cater to luxury yachts and commercial fishing vessels. Our marina is situated in the Port of Saldanha, 60 nautical miles northwest of Cape Town. Located in South Africa’s largest natural deep-water port, the marina also has a fully equipped boatyard with the only indoor yacht maintenance and repair workshop in Southern Africa. The main purpose of the facility is to launch newly built yachts/fishing vessels and to provide facilities for the preparation of the yachts for their delivery voyage. The facility is also open to other boat owners and operators, as it is able to accommodate other pleasure crafts in the Western Cape or those passing around our shores requiring haul out, inspection, repairs or refurbishment. The marine lift facility has the largest travel lift in the country and is capable of handling catamarans and mono-hulls with a 26m load or 9m beam width and up to 100 tons displacement. Yachtport SA offers the following services: • Refuelling • Boat valet and full provisioning services • High-pressure cleaning • Winterising of boats • Yacht Maintenance • Ablution facilities for visiting yacht crew and marina visitors • Lounge and café facility for yacht crew and marina visitors • Secure car parking • Easy access and availability for crew and guests

FOR GREAT PRICES CONTACT US NOW! CINDY: 073 420 2836 | GLENN: 082 565 2713 | NATANIA 084 784 1474

Small, tenacious and tireless, terns are quite the frequent flyers of the bird world. By Georgina Jones

A bird measuring less than half a metre in length and weighing in at barely 100g travels 17 500km in the course of one migration

40 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013


t’s an astonishing prospect. A bird measuring less than half a metre in length and weighing in at barely 100g travels 17 500km in the course of one migration. And that’s not all – these annual wanderers turn around at the end of each season and travel the 17 500km back again. The bird in question is the Arctic tern, and its long annual journey from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to the icy shores of Antarctica every year makes it the record holder among the birds of the world for the longest annual migration. Because they are at both poles in their respective summers, they probably see more daylight than any other animal. Arctic terns visit South Africa en route south and again on their long return journey north. They’re often confused with common terns, which are also migrant visitors here. Terns, as a group, are seaand water birds beautifully adapted to their aquatic lifestyle – from the form of their wings to the shape of their eggs. We are fortunate in having no less than 19 species of terns known in South Africa: occasional vagrants include the gull-billed, royal, black-naped, white-cheeked and bridled terns, while non-breeding migrants include that tireless voyager the Arctic tern, as well as the lesser crested, sandwich, common, Antarctic (which visits in winter), little, sooty, white-winged and black terns. There are five species of tern that breed in South Africa: the swift or crested tern, the Caspian tern, the roseate tern, the Damara tern and the whiskered tern. These are colonial nesters, except for Caspian and whiskered terns, which are solitary. Although both sexes incubate the egg, incubation is mostly the work of the female tern and usually

starts with the first egg laid – except in the case of the whiskered tern, which only begins incubating once the last egg has been laid. The shape of their eggs is determined by their nest structure, which in most cases is a simple scrape on the ground lined either with stones or grass. Nests may be in a relatively precarious position on a cliff edge, or, in the case of the whiskered tern, on floating reeds. The eggs are broadly rounded at one end and tapered to a sharp point at the other. This shape is important because if the egg is knocked over, it will spin, rather like a top, and tend to right itself automatically, saving it from being lost. Whiskered terns also breed asynchronously so that one chick hatches while the other eggs remain in the nest. Once hatched and if alarmed, the fledgling will dive into the water and hide under the reed nest until danger has passed. Whiskered terns are highly nomadic and usually don’t breed in predictable spots, so little is known about them. They may breed on semi-perennial vleis or in farm dams throughout the interior of the country. Rather more is known of the Damara tern, although what we know is not encouraging. Fewer than 50 pairs of birds are thought to nest in South Africa, with the balance of the breeding population appearing to be from Namibia. These birds usually make their nests in dunes and are under severe pressure due to human disturbance. Northern Cape




the big blue



Above: The Arctic tern is a frequent visitor to South Africa, sojourning here en route to the south, and then again on the way home. Below: Terns are adept at ‘surface-dipping’ to catch prey in flight.


nesting sites have been abandoned due to mining and human recreational activities, and those in the Southern and Eastern Cape are similarly threatened by off-road vehicles. Most unfortunately, their peak nesting period coincides with the festive season, which exacerbates the pressure. Swift terns, by contrast, are seen as indicators of ecosystem health. They easily shift their breeding sites over the years – or even within a breeding season – as conditions fluctuate. Even though they are able to lay two eggs, they usually lay just the one, and if conditions are right, their colonies can comprise spectacular numbers: in a good year, a single colony on Robben Island totalled 13 000 pairs of birds. Terns in general are communal breeders and roosters. Most tend to roost along shorelines at night. This means they need protection from terrestrial threats. Most species thus prefer predator-free offshore islands for roosting. While these two important aspects of their lives are communal, terns prefer to forage alone, usually in clear shallow water, in search of small fish,

If terns are seen breeding, it is very important not to physically disturb their nesting sites. However, information on nesting sites of whiskered or Caspian terns would be very useful to conservation authorities. Please send a GPS position of the site and a nest count as well as an image (if possible) to Bruce Dyer at Bdyer@ Damara tern nesting sites, on the other hand, should be avoided as much as possible because their excellent camouflage makes it easy to step on either eggs or chicks – and also because Cape Nature already has a monitoring programme in place.

insects, frogs and crustaceans. They have relatively long narrow pointed wings that aid them in their foraging behaviour by enabling them to fly low over wave surfaces (particularly waves about to break), as they scan for prey. They use the air currents above waves for lift, and their wing shape allows them to fly buoyantly with little turbulence. They are only able to hover for short periods when flying into a headwind, and when conditions are right terns may be seen pattering. This is when birds come down to the water surface to get food floating on surface or small items just below the surface, all while still in flight. They do this by holding their wings open and facing into a headwind, then extending the legs and walking (pattering) across the surface while jabbing at prey. It is thought that the disturbance of the water’s surface by their feet is a way of attracting prey. Terns also hunt for prey by surface-dipping. When hunting for food, they sometimes fly close to the water surface and then dip their bills into the water for the prey, without actually getting into the water. They may also plunge-dive to get at prey just below the surface. Prey is usually swallowed head-first in flight. The sooty tern, which mostly forages at night, is often seen feeding alongside schools of tuna out at sea, usually eating invertebrates. They may rest on floating debris, but stories of these birds sleeping while they’re flying are dubious. The Arctic tern, on its epic migration journey, must come down to rest periodically, be it on land or on water.SR

Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013 • 41




StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Bruce Davidson 082 990 5962 Rotarian Schipper – 6.5m RIB 8 small dive torches, waterproof headlamp



StatCom: Lyall Pringle 082 990 5964 Craft: Nadine Gordimer – 10m rescue craft, Albie Matthews – 7.3m RIB, Nedbank Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft Needs: Inflatable stretcher, Pelican cases, sailing gloves

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: Four knives for harnesses, Mae West life jackets



StatCom: Pat van Eyssen 082 990 5963 Fuel sponsor: Total Craft: Spirit of Vodacom – 13m rescue craft, Rotary Endeavour – 5.5m RIB Needs: Flat-screen TV for training, two waterproof pouches


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



StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Clifford Ireland 082 990 5948 Eikos Rescuer II – 10m rescue craft, Megan II – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Svitzer – 3.9m rescue craft Waterproof torches, flat-screen monitor



StatCom: Ian Gray 082 990 5970 Craft: Spirit of Toft – 10m rescue craft, Eikos Rescuer IV – 7.3m RIB, Boardwalk Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft Needs: Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars



StatCom: Geoff McGregor 082 990 5972 Craft: Spirit of Lotto – 13m rescue craft, Spirit of Rotary East London II – 5.5m RIB, Lotto Rescue Runner Needs: Crew medicals

42 • Sea Rescue • SUMMER 2013



StatCom: Nigel Pepperell 083 625 0481 Craft: Jack Riley – 14m rescue craft, Spirit of Surfski – 5.5m RIB, Inge – Swedish Rescue Runner Needs: Two binoculars, funds for refurbishment of ops room

STN 10 SIMON’S TOWN 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

STN 11 PORT ALFRED StatCom: Juan Pretorius 082 990 5971 Craft: Lotto Challenger – 8.5m rescue craft, 5.5m RIB (still to be named), Discovery Rescue Runner 5 Needs: Data projector for training, wet/dry vacuum cleaner

STN 12 KNYSNA StatCom: Graeme Harding 082 990 5956 Craft: Colorpress Rescuer – 8.5m RIB, Jaytee III – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of KYC – 4.2m rescue craft Needs: Glue guns


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: 42-inch flat-screen monitor, computer, dehumidifiers

STN 16 STRANDFONTEIN StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Mario Fredericks 082 990 6753 Spirit of GrandWest CSI – 5.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer III – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 3 Station administrator, b/w laser printer, 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: Waterproof Pelican case


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.



Cornel du Toit 082 990 5949 Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7.3m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m rescue craft GoPro camera, good-quality stackable outdoor chairs





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


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: Waterproof binoculars and torches, GoPro camera

Rod Pitter 082 990 5961 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Afrox Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Tool set, Tectyl protective coating, bottled water


Dick Manten 083 626 5128 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Harvey’s Fibreglass – 5.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 11 NEEDS: GoPro camera


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 Laptop

additional needs

Tom Coetzee 082 990 5979 Spirit of Winelands – 5.5m RIB, FNB Wavescapes – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 7 Mastercraft toolbox




Graham Hartlett

Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Vodacom Rescuer V – 4.7m RIB NEEDS: Torches, binoculars


John Costello




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

Craft: NEEDS:


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



• iPad for Craig Lambinon • Blankets • Towels • Prizes for fundraising • Bottled water • Energy bars • GoPro cameras for training

Mick Banks

☎ 082 990 5951 Craft:


Wild Coast Sun Rescuer – 7.3m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 6 Paint


Attie Gunter

☎ 082 990 5957 Craft:


Queenie Paine – 5.5m RIB, Falcon Rescuer – 4.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 9 GoPro camera, data projector


Rudi Rogers

☎ 082 498 7330 Craft:

☎ 082 550 5430 Craft:

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


☎ 082 441 6989

STN 22 VAAL DAM StatCom:



Pieter Coetzee (Deputy)

☎ 082 990 5950



Rotary Onwards – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Iffley – 4.2m rescue craft, Discovery Rescue Runner 10 Funds for new boathouse, garage doors


Mark Mans

☎ 083 653 6387 Craft: NEEDS:

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...

Barry Matthews of New Teltron for the three Pentax 7x50 Marine Hydro binoculars they sponsored recently. Two pairs went to Knysna and one to Port St Johns. SEA RESCUE • SUMMER 2013 • 43


Left and below: The little grysbok ewe realises she can’t make it to the opposite shore; Andrew and Mark guide her to safety



When a little antelope got into trouble, NSRI crewmen Andrew Ingram and Mark Hughes were there to give her a helping hand. By Ed Herbst Clockwise from top: In safe hands, being towel-dried; the grysbok is covered and kept warm; well recovered, she makes her way back into the brush.



RECENT FLY-FISHING TRIP BY NSRI Operations Director, Mark Hughes, and Public Education Manager, Andrew Ingram, to Lakenvlei Dam near Ceres, turned into a rescue mission with a happy ending... Andrew and Mark, who have 68 years of unpaid service (between them) as voluntary crew members on NSRI boats (both are coxswains) took to the water on the second day, Mark on a kayak and Andrew in a rubber inflatable. Andrew tells the story: I saw something, which I initially thought was a duck, slip into the water


about 200 metres from where Mark and I were fishing. Then I spotted a dog, which when it got to the water’s edge turned back into the bush... I drew Mark’s attention to something swimming away from the shore and he realised that it was a small antelope. Soon it realised that it would not reach the far shore of the dam, more than a kilometre away, and turned back towards the shore. But the water was really cold and it quickly became apparent that the tiny antelope was not going to make it. Mark got to it first and grabbed the back of its neck, holding its head out of the water. This made the kayak very unstable so I took over and he helped me propel the inflatable to shore. A metre from the bank the little animal gave a violent kick and I lost my grip, but it only ran a metre or two before collapsing. Exhausted. It was hypothermic and shivering violently. I walked up to it and covered its eyes before picking it up; keeping its eyes covered reduced its fear and it stopped struggling. We dried it with a towel and then wrapped it in a sleeping bag and I lay in a foetal position, hugging it close to me to restore its body warmth. After half an hour it stopped shivering from cold and this was replaced with the sort of trembling you feel in an animal when it is taken to the vet – cold had been replaced by anxiety. When I let it go it bounded away, seemingly none the worse for its experience. We later identified it as a Cape grysbok ewe. SR

Conserve. Explore. Experience.

Profile for The Publishing Partnership

NSRI Sea Reascue Summer 2013  

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 Reascue Summer 2013  

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

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded