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SEA RESCUE R14.95 | FREE TO NSRI MEMBERS | WINTER 2013

DIVE MASTER RESCUED AFTER EIGHT HOURS IN THE OPEN OCEAN

A VISIT TO MOZAMBIQUE: STILL BAY CREW RESCUE LAND OF MANY ALL CASUALTIES FROM TREASURES SINKING VESSEL

TAKE YOUR PICK OF SA’S MOST GLORIOUS INLAND AND COASTAL HIKES


GEAR UP! Page 18

CONTENTS WINTER 2013 16

29 BUILDING BRIDGES

We chat to Zanele Bushwane, WaterWise Academy’s spirited new educator

30 A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE Meet Sea Rescue supporter Rex Lowe

14 2 CEO’S LETTER AND READERS’ COMMENTS 6 OPEN WATER

32 A VERY LUCKY MAN

18 GEAR UP

The latest in must-have outdoor wear and equipment

Station 20 (Shelly Beach) searches for dive master Jean-Pierre Els after he is separated from his dive boat

20 A VERY CLOSE ENCOUNTER

10 SAVING THE CREW OF DANIELLA II

22 UP FOR THE CHALLENGE

Station 31 (Still Bay) evacuates all on board the sinking vessel Daniella II

14 MOZAMBIQUE’S MANY FACES

34 A MAMMOTH TASK

22

Ironman contestant, Rieghard van Rensburg, talks about preparing for and completing this gruelling event

24 BULLETIN BOARD Fundraising drives, events and station news

16 ON THE BEATEN TRACK

28 GET-TOGETHERS GALORE! The latest from the Life boat Circle

A 23-hour tow for Richards Bay crew

36 CHEMICAL BROTHERS

A closer look at nudibranchs – fascinating, beautiful… and deadly

Troy Henri describes what it’s like when a shark starts closing in…

A guided tour of the magical spots

Time to put on your hiking boots and explore a few of the best trails SA has to offer

20

How a chance encounter – with a rescue boat – saved Malan Vorster’s day

38 STATION DIRECTORY 40 AN ODE TO THE SEA AND THE NSRI Ogilvy Cape Town’s new advertising campaign captures the essence of the ocean and those who love it

29

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.


T

FROM THE HELM

CONTACT US CAPE TOWN: Head Office, 1 Glengariff Road, Three Anchor Bay 8001, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051 Tel: +27 21 434 4011 Fax: +27 21 434 1661 Visit our website at www.nsri.org.za or email us at info@searescue.org.za

FIND US ON

his year I’ve walked two of my three daughters down the aisle, and now I am handing over another great love of mine. For Leigh, Dorit and NSRI, I am no longer ‘number one’: now I get to sit in the wings and watch their journeys take a new direction. Dr Cleeve Robertson will be taking over the helm as CEO of NSRI from 1 September. I will stay on for a while to do a thorough handover and then tackle a few special projects for fundraising. So I will still be around, and probably still knocking on a few of your doors. After 20 years, I believe that it’s time for new blood and fresh ideas. Cleeve has been our chief medical advisor for many years, so he is

no stranger in our boardroom and no stranger in our rescue bases. He is very capable, has a wealth of experience and, most importantly, he cares about people. I have had the best years in this job. When I am at a cocktail function and I meet new people, the conversation invariably turns to the work that you do. When people hear that I am at Sea Rescue, their eyes light up and they all say, ‘Wow, that must be an incredible job.’ And they are right. We deal with the cream of the crop. Our volunteers are top-rate professionals who are accomplished in their field of expertise and who also have a heart and a conscience. Our sponsors and donors are kind, committed and incredibly loyal. It’s been a real honour to have led such a great cause. The thing I am going to miss the most... is the handwritten letters I receive from supporters. I love them. They are my favourite treat. So, it’s farewell from me and I look forward to seeing you at all the boat blessings and celebrations. I leave with very happy memories.

IAN WIENBURG, CEO

Ian with his youngest children, Shanon and Gary, for whom he is still ‘number one’.

THE CREW

SEA RESCUE

THE PUBLISHING PARTNERSHIP

WEB www.nsri.org.za

MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Maritz

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:

ART DIRECTOR Ryan Manning

ORGANISATIONAL SUPPORT

ADVERTISING Jean Ramsay

Meriel Bartlett

EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

CELL 082 994 7555

Mark Beare, John Morkel

EMAIL merielb@searescue.org.za

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

MARKETING MANAGER

Susan Newham-Blake

Andrew Ingram

ADDRESS PO Box 15054,

CELL 082 990 5977

Vlaeberg 8018

EMAIL andrewi@searescue.org.za

TEL +27 21 ­424 3517

NSRI SPOKESMAN Craig Lambinon

FAX +27 21 424 3612

CELL 082 380 3800

EMAIL wmaritz@tppsa.co.za

EMAIL lambinon@mweb.co.za

02 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

HEAD 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 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 | WINTER 2013

DIVE MASTER RESCUED AFTER EIGHT HOURS IN THE OPEN OCEAN

A VISIT TO MOZAMBIQUE: STILL BAY CREW RESCUE LAND OF MANY ALL CASUALTIES FROM TREASURES SINKING VESSEL

TAKE YOUR PICK OF SA’S MOST GLORIOUS INLAND AND COASTAL HIKES

Jeremiah Jackson (left) and Glen Preston who found dive master Jean Pierre Els after he went missing off Shelly Beach (page 6). Photograph: Andrew Ingram


LETTERS WINNING LETTER Thank you to Andries and Charmaine Prinsloo, who submitted the winning letter. Your hamper of Slaley Wines is on its way to you. Andries, we hope you are recovering well after your accident.

I

was one of three fortunate people (one of the others was Julian Venter) who were rescued and treated by members of the NSRI when we were swept off the Yzerfontein harbour wall on 27 April this year. I sustained a fracture to my spinal cord, five broken ribs, tears in the muscles and rotor cuff of my left shoulder, and several cuts and bruises. I was discharged from hospital and recuperated at home, mostly lying on my back, wearing a brace, with further surgery scheduled for 30 May to repair the damage to my shoulder. I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of NSRI for their assistance in saving our lives and the medical treatment we received. Your unselfish efforts to assist people in trouble and placing your lives in danger cannot be ignored. Hopefully I will have the opportunity one day to thank each and every one of you in person. To Hester, who sent me an SMS inquiring about my wellbeing, thank you very much. Jim Reeves, the famous singer, sang a song titled ‘A stranger is just a friend you do not know’. This can be said of all of you. Andries and Charmaine Prinsloo

During a tour of the Garden Route, we drove around the beautiful Sedgefield/Swartvlei Lagoon and saw a reminder of the NSRI. Got me thinking, ‘Was that fish saved from drowning by the gannet?’ I had to smile. Harry Braun

Write to us and WIN! HELP ALONG THE WAY

The writer of the winning letter published in the Summer 2013 issue of Sea Rescue will win a sumptuous hamper of Slaley wines valued at R750. This hamper can also be ordered from Slaley as a promotional gift or for a special occasion. For more information, call (021) 865 2123, visit www.slaley.co.za or pop by and see us on the corner of the R44 and Kromme Rhee Road outside Stellenbosch. Send your letters to Sea Rescue magazine, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. (The winning letter is chosen at the editor’s discretion.)

THANKS AND FAREWELL, IAN I was prompted to write this as a result of your letter dated 29 May, in which you acknowledged receipt of my donation. How you find the time – and the inclination – to attend in this way to such ‘trivial’ matters, I do not know! Anyway, I really do appreciate the sentiments expressed in your letter. I was (still am!) a member of the Society of Master Mariners, which in the 1960s had the foresight to establish the NSRI. What you and others before you have done

since then is a truly remarkable achievement and one of which we can all be very proud. I have vivid memories of the original ‘rubber duck’ crewed by Bobby Deacon and Ray Lant! Who ever would have thought that that would have lead to what we have today? I see that you are due to retire as CEO shortly – you must feel very satisfied with what you have achieved while you have been ‘in command’. Well done, Ian. With my best wishes for the continued success and development of the NSRI, John Richardson

I took part in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the Hout Bay cut-off, and the Rotary crew had already left. But your amazing team of volunteers made sure we were all safe and looked after. A very special thanks to Tom Coetzee, an extraordinary leader, who took control and organised us all buses and ensured we got home safely. We need more people like the NSRI volunteers in the world. Please keep up the inspiring work. Chris Canning

THANKS TO STATION 10 I would like to thank Darren and his team for their quick response in assisting the vessel Dabulamanzi. You guys do a fabulous job. May God bless you and keep you safe on land and sea. Marianna Jordaan, Acting Harbour Manager (Kalk Bay Harbour), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 03


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 www.luminox.com or email Doug Sutherland at doug@sutherlandgoodman.co.za. Please post your form to NSRI, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051 or to your nearest regional office, or fax it to (021) 434 1661.

CONGRATULATIONS TO J ERASMUS (PE), OUR LATEST WINNER

I WOULD LIKE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SEA RESCUE MAGAZINE I WOULD LIKE TO BUY A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION FOR THE PERSON BELOW Full name:...................................................................................................................................... Postal address:......................................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................................................................. ................................................................................ Postal code:................................................

Telephone no: (..............).........................................................................................................

This beautiful scene was captured by Shan Biesman-Simons while she was at her holiday home in Rooi Els.

CALLING ALL EXPLORERS Southern African Sea Life – A Guide for Young Explorers By Sophie von der Heyden, with photographs by Guido Zsilavecz This 88-page, full-colour guide for young explorers combines scientific facts, fascinating tidbits, brilliant photography and detailed illustrations to bring a variety of ocean creatures to life. Children can learn about the various marine habitats, how to identify plant and animal species using field guides, and why the ocean is important and how they can help preserve it. We have three copies to give away. To stand a chance to win one, SMS Sea Rescue Sea Life, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 30 September 2013.

BOOK GIVEAWAY

Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 30 September 2013. 3. Winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winners’ names will be printed in the Summer 2013 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.

Please find enclosed cheque/postal order for R100 Debit my Visa/MasterCard to the amount of R100

Cardholder’s name:............................................................................................................. Card no

NSRI DIRECTORS: CEO: Ian Wienburg; EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS: Meriel Bartlett (Organisational Support), Mark Hughes (Operations), Mark Koning (Finance); GOVERNANCE BOARD CHAIRMAN: Peter Bacon; BOARD MEMBERS: Deon Cloete,

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 30 September 2013. 3. The winner will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The winner’s name will be printed in the Summer 2013 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 5. By entering this draw, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 6. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Viola Manuel, Dave Robins, Hennie Taljaard, Nontsindiso Tshazi, Rob Stirrat; OPERATIONAL BOARD CHAIRMAN: Rob Stirrat; OPERATIONAL BOARD MEMBERS: David Knott, Dave Roberts, Mike Elliot, Clive Shamley, Eddie Noyons. HONORARY LIFE GOVERNORS: David Abromowitz, Allan Cramb, Howard Godfrey, Ian Hamilton, Chris Hudson, Brian Hustler, Ian Strachan.


IN TIMES OF NEED At approximately 11h30 on 24 March, the yacht Black Cat put to sea from Royal Cape Yacht Club with me and Stefanie Peters as crew. We regularly sail together, mostly on Black Cat. After leaving the harbour, we turned west towards Granger Bay and Green Point, where we raised a two-reefed main. Although we had a number-three jib ready on the foredeck, we did not raise it. We had a really enjoyable sail towards the island. About one mile before Whale Rock, I decided to heave to where we donned harnesses with the intention of reducing sail to the three-reef main and a storm jib for the trip back. Stefanie had donned her harness and was in the process of passing me mine when the yacht moved violently and the main sheet hit me on the head. I was slightly concussed and unconscious for a moment or two. After recovering consciousness, I realised there was quite a lot of blood

on my skull as well as on my left wrist. I decided it would be difficult and perhaps dangerous to continue under these circumstances and radioed Port Control for assistance. Some time later, Rescue 3 approached us, by which time we had drifted across to the general anchorage area. They put a medic on board who assessed my head wound, put me in a neck brace and asked me to lie still while he assisted Stefanie to remove the sails, which they did quite easily. We were then taken in tow back to Station 3 (Table Bay), where I was transferred to an ambulance and taken to Mediclinic Cape Town. Following X-rays and inspection, it was discovered that I had no back, neck or serious head injuries but had fractured my left arm. I would like to record our appreciation for the assistance organised by Cape Town Port Control, and the skilled and professional action of those aboard Rescue 3. Clive Dick

WIN

a Jeep clothing hamper!

Jeep Apparel has always been associated with outdoor living and adventure. Now you can stand a chance to enjoy one of two hampers valued at R1 000 each. Simply SMS Sea

Rescue Jeep, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 30 September 2013.

Terms and conditions: 1. The giveaway is open to all Sea Rescue readers. 2. Entries for the giveaway close on 30 September 2013. 3. Two winners will be selected by random draw and informed telephonically. 4. The prize may differ from the image above. 5. The winners names will be printed in the Summer 2013 issue of Sea Rescue magazine. 6. The prize cannont be exchanged for cash. 7. By entering this competition, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 8. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

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SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 • 00


Open water

Dive master Jean-Pierre Els drifted at sea for nearly seven hours after being separated from his dive boat. Andrew Ingram spoke to the Station 20 (Shelly Beach) crew, many of whom knew Jean-Pierre personally, about the search PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANNE HARRIS

T

UESDAY 26 FEBRUARY STARTED OFF AS just another day in the office for Jean-Pierre Els. The 30-year-old Uvongo-based diver has a job that many envy. His office is under the surface of the Indian Ocean off Shelly Beach, where he, as a dive master, takes responsibility for a group of recreational divers. It was 12 days before JeanPierre’s wedding, and although the sea conditions were not great, it was certainly a dive day. About 7.5km off Shelly Beach is a reef famous for the large congregation of sharks with which divers can swim. This is where Jean-Pierre and his group were going to dive: Protea Banks. It’s one of the richest tuna grounds in the world and is frequented by great numbers of sharks. Zambezi sharks; scalloped hammerheads (often hundreds of them); black-tips that dart in and out of a diver’s vision; giant guitar sharks; ragged-tooth sharks; and, topping the bucket list, magnificent tiger sharks. Protea Banks is quite simply one of world’s best shark dive sites. If you picture a dive master in your mind’s eye you will, quite probably, have a snapshot of Jean-Pierre. He is a little under six foot, with a mop of sun-bleached hair. He is fashionably unshaven and has a steady gaze. And he is

06 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

strong. Jean-Pierre is someone who is clearly comfortable in the water and has nerves of steel. He is a natural leader on a dive that is for experienced divers only. The small band of commercial operators who take divers out to this magnificent reef have, over the past 20 years or so, perfected a system of introducing their clients to the natural wonders of Protea Banks. A fossilised sand bank, the reef is about 6km long and 800m wide. At its deepest point it is around 60m, but most of the reef is between 27m and 40m in depth. When the dive boat arrives at the reef, it is the bait master’s job to lower a chum bucket, which is attached to red buoys on a 12m rope, into the water. He then follows it down and checks for sharks while his clients are getting their dive gear on in the boat. When sharks following the chum slick to the bucket arrive, the bait master will surface, tell his clients that there are sharks, and they then follow him down for an adrenalinefilled experience that will not easily be forgotten. This entire experience takes place while the boat is drifting, so the top man, often also the skipper, is responsible for watching the buoys


REAL-LIFE RESCUE

that are attached to the chum drum, and the divers’ bubbles, to make sure that they are not separated from the boat. Most of the time the current on Protea Banks is gentle, pulling the divers slowly over the reef, but sometimes it can be fierce, pulling divers, chum and boat along at up to 7km/h, and occasionally even faster. On this day, as luck would have it, when Jean-Pierre dived there were sharks. Within minutes, the chum had attracted two tiger sharks, two Zambezis and seven black-tips. This is what makes Protea Banks so special. Jean-Pierre surfaced, told the other divers the good news and then turned and dived again, following the rope of the chum bucket back down. Six minutes went by. He looked at his watch and started to think there was something wrong. After 15 minutes he had still not seen another diver. As he started for the surface, Jean-Pierre had the feeling that he’d been separated from the dive boat. Surfacing in an explosion of bubbles, he did a quick 360-degree scan of his surroundings, and his premonition was confirmed. The dive boat was nowhere to be seen. Jean-Pierre was not particularly worried. The divers had been through the sequence of events that would follow should one of them, or a group, be separated from the dive boat – as had happened three months before. He had a set of emergency gear with him, including a horn, flares, glowsticks, a whistle, a torch, a metal reflector and a GPS-equipped marine VHF radio. So he held onto the buoys, which were relatively easy to see, and gave a good blast on the horn. And waited. Nothing. No response. No boat. Just the empty sea and the sky. Jean-Pierre was totally alone. He pulled out his VHF radio, and started sending out his position. Every 15 minutes he did this. But he was too low in the water and too far away from the boats that were searching for him for the VHF radio signal to be properly heard. The weather started deteriorating, the wind speed increasing. White caps were forming on waves and the current was very strong. Jean-Pierre was being pulled extremely fast down the coast. Sea Rescue volunteer Jeremiah Jackson, known to his friends as Jerry, was at work when the callout came in the form of an SMS to his cellphone: ‘Diver missing. Call out. Report to the base.’ He felt a burst of adrenaline as he ran for his car. Less than three months before he had been on a dive boat that had lost sight of nine divers. He knew exactly what that felt like. Arriving at Station 20 (Shelly Beach), Jerry heard that it was not a group of divers that was missing,

but Jean-Pierre. Shelly Beach is a small community and everyone knew Jean-Pierre. They also knew his fiancée, 24-year-old Crystal van Niekerk, and they knew how hard it is to find a head in the ocean. The other Sea Rescue volunteers were preparing for launch. Everything was happening fast: wetsuits pulled on, coxswains chosen, and a briefing of a few minutes. The crew had trained for this situation and knew exactly what to do. First out of the rescue base was the 5.5m rescue boat Caltex Challenger. At the helm was Shaun Harris. Shaun, a jeweller, had made the wedding rings for Jean-Pierre and his bride-to-be. Shaun’s job was to get to the position where the diver had gone into the water, drop in a dummy and track its drift for 10 minutes. From this, the NSRI volunteers, including Jerry back at the base, would plot the speed and

direction of the drift – and hopefully the position where they would find Jean-Pierre. Wayne Harlen was the coxswain of Caltex Endeavour, the 7.3m rescue boat. His job was to get to the search area as quickly as possible and start running search patterns. Not long after the distress message went out, there were more than 11 boats searching for JeanPierre, including the two Sea Rescue boats from Shelly Beach and one from Port Edward. As time wore on, the search moved down the current. The Sea Rescue team at Shelly Beach worked out new positions, and the boats continued running their search patterns methodically. Three times Jean-Pierre saw a rescue boat pass him, but its crew did not see him. After five hours, Jean-Pierre saw a helicopter – but the chopper’s crew did not see him either. By

... the current was very strong. JeanPierre was being pulled extremely fast down the coast.

Main photograph: Shelly Beach’s 5.5m rescue boat Caltex Challenger sets out in rough conditions. Above: A sunburnt but relieved Jean-Pierre Els after his nearly sevenhour ordeal. More than 11 boats, including the three NSRI rescue vessels, answered the call to search for him.

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 07


‘I have never seen a guy smile so much! He was full of jokes, and extremely sunburnt.’

Above left: Happy to be back on dry land again. Above right: Acher Aviation pilot Jaco Oosthuizen and winch man Dylan Bosch.

08 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

then Jean-Pierre realised that he had drifted so far that he was now way off Port Edward. The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) helicopter, based in Durban and operated by Acher Aviation, was called from its duties in the port to join the search in the late morning. Flown by Jaco Oosthuizen along with winch man Dylan Bosch, the machine stopped at Shelly Beach and shut down at 12h40. The helicopter crew was briefed and given the search-area coordinates before taking NSRI paramedic Glen Preston and Jerry on board as rescue swimmers. Minutes later they were flying out to the search area. The Shelly Beach community was now starting to worry about fading light, and Jean-Pierre’s friends were getting more and more desperate as the hours ticked by. ‘Emotionally it is terrible. It’s the worst feeling in the world,’ Glen explains. ‘He was

drum line, and Jean-Pierre between them. It was just after 15h00, and Jean-Pierre had been in the water for six-and-a-half hours. He had drifted more than 35km. ‘Jean-Pierre was waving frantically,’ Jerry recalls. ‘It was an amazing, amazing feeling. We did a circuit around him, and Glen kitted up and was lowered down to him.’ ‘It was sheer luck that we found him when we did,’ explains Jaco. ‘If it wasn’t for those buoys we never would have seen him.’ Glen was lowered to him on a double strop. ‘Are you happy to see us?’ Glen asked as he helped Jean-Pierre dump equipment so that he could be put into the strop and winched into the aircraft. ‘If you were a girl, I would kiss you!’ was the reply. Jerry says he looked at his friend as Dylan pulled him into the helicopter. ‘I have never seen a guy smile so

lost, alone with nobody to talk to. It’s a big piece of ocean to find one head. You can’t explain it.’ By now the team trying to track the current knew that it had changed both speed and direction, which made the search far more complicated. And they were looking for a very small target. The TNPA chopper had been in the air, flying a grid search pattern at about 200 feet for two hours, when Jaco decided that it was time to refuel at Margate. White caps were being blown off the top of waves now, and the sun’s glare off the water made the search very difficult. The helicopter crew, returning from refuelling, had decided to go to the last estimated position that they were given and start their search patterns from there. Then, almost unable to believe what he was seeing, Jerry let out a shout: ‘It’s him. I can see him. Left. Left!’ Jerry had spotted the two buoys connected to the

much! He was full of jokes, and extremely sunburnt.’ Jerry was ecstatic. ‘I have been in the position of losing divers and know what was going through his mind … his family’s mind. Knowing that he was getting married in 12 days’ time, seeing his future wife at the base before we went out… It was terrible. It’s so emotionally draining when you’re flying around and you know that your friend is floating out there all alone. It was just an amazing feeling when we saw him.’ Later, in an interview with Rapport newspaper, Jean-Pierre said, ‘I look at life differently now. I understand that you must live life to the full... You never know when your last day will be.’ Jean-Pierre thanks all those involved in the search. ‘I am forever grateful to everyone for coming together and doing all they could to give me another chance at life,’ he says. SR

ACHER AVIATION IMAGE: ANDREW INGRAM / SEA RESCUE

REAL-LIFE RESCUE


Saving

REAL-LIFE RESCUE

THE CREW

Daniella II

OF

It was a cold, dark night when Station 31 (Still Bay) crew set off for Alphard Banks to evacuate the crew of a sinking fishing vessel. All seven people on board were saved that night

PHOTOGRAPHS BY HENRY HANSON AND ANDREW INGRAM

De Hoop Nature Reserve Martha’s Reef

Arniston Struisbaai

Alphard Banks 17-Mile Bank 50km

A

LPHARD BANKS… MENTION THE NAME of the famous fishing ground that lies about 42nm from Still Bay in the company of fishermen, and you will get two responses. The first is a dreamy look and stories of huge fish in great numbers, and the second is a warning that you really don’t want to be caught out there in bad weather. Commercial fishing boats head out to Alphard Banks to catch yellowtail, geelbek and red steenbras. Sport anglers and spearfishermen tell of yellowtail schools as large as soccer fields, huge geelbek schools as well as marlin, dorado and yellowfin tuna. It is a fishing paradise. Alphard Banks rise out of about 80m of water to about 14m – and for this reason it is also notorious among merchant sailors. They give the area a wide berth.

10 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

Local Still Bay commercial-fishing skipper Tony Richards had done his weather checks and it looked good for a trip to Alphard Banks. The boat that he was skippering, Daniella II, a 7.9m monohull, was prepared and the crew was at the slip just after 15h00 on Wednesday 20 March for what was planned to be a two-day trip. By 15h20 Daniella II was on her way out. The sea was reasonably calm, as predicted, and the crew was hoping for some good fishing. Two hours later Daniella II was sitting off Alphard Banks – but something wasn’t right with the boat. She was sluggish and felt heavy in the water. It was then that the crew noticed water coming up through the deck. The hull was flooded and they were sinking, 42nm from home. Tony, now seriously worried, put a call through to Cape Town Radio and requested urgent assistance. ‘We took the bungs out and had to keep driving around to drain the water from the deck,’ he recalls. Cape Town Radio contacted Still Bay station commander Enrico Menezies to tell him that a local fishing vessel was taking water at Alphard Banks and needed urgent assistance. Rico, knowing that it would take them a couple of hours to get out there, moved fast. He called his crew out, hurried to the Sea Rescue base and started preparing Spirit of St Francis for the long trip. They loaded 150 litres of extra fuel,


‘The sea was calm. But we have a saying here in Still Bay: never let the bay fool you.’

extra drinking water, blankets and warm clothing. Cape Town Radio had given Rico the name of the boat. As a nature-conservation officer, Rico was familiar with all the commercial boats that run from Still Bay, and so knew Daniella II, and that Tony Richards was the skipper. Twelve minutes after the NSRI crew arrived at their base, the rescue boat was in the water and they were racing out to the sinking fishing boat. It was 18h40 and darkness was descending over the small holiday town. ‘It’s all open sea out there,’ explains Rico. ‘I know what the sea conditions can be like after you leave the shelter of Jongensfontein. I called Witsand and put them on stand-by for extra fuel during the night. Daniella II’s crew had asked for an extra 50 litres of fuel, and I wasn’t sure what would happen out there. ‘It was a very dark night. The sea was calm. But we have a saying here in Still Bay: never let the bay fool you. As we went around Pieter Rog Point, we picked up a 2-to-3m southeast chop.’ It was an uncomfortable ride and it was about then that the rescue boat lost communications with the Still Bay NSRI station. They then started relaying messages through Witsand and Cape Town Radio. ‘Once he had activated us, Tony made the decision to try meet us on the way,’ said Rico. Desperately trying to save the boat, Tony knew that if he stayed at Alphard Banks Daniella II would sink, and that would be that. So he made the decision to leave the safety of the other boats that were fishing at the banks and try get as close to Still Bay as he could. ‘He had taken 17 cans of fuel out with him and burned eight going out to the banks. They had eight cans with which to come home and one can for travelling around the Alphard Banks. That’s how tight things were,’ says Rico.

By the time the rescue boat found Daniella II 35nm from Still Bay, all her fuel was gone – it had been used in an effort to keep the waterlogged boat from sinking. ‘Tony kept very calm but I could hear that he was stressing,’ Rico recalls. ‘We were five miles from him when we saw his lights. We radioed that we could see him and his response was, “Now you must come with all speed!”’ ‘We could see that blue light flashing on the rescue boat,’ says Tony. ‘We couldn’t believe it. The worry just flew out the door. It was so nice to see them. The guys would get off dry. That was the biggest thing.’ The Sea Rescue crew took everything they could off Daniella II, but Tony was reluctant to leave the boat. ‘He didn’t want to abandon ship. We came another five miles, and by now Tony was knee-deep in the water,’ Rico explains. ‘The batteries were underwater. It was still him and two crew members bailing.’

Above: All seven crew of Daniella II were brought safely to shore. Top left: Skipper Tony Richards. Top right: Enrico Menezies.

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 11


REAL-LIFE RESCUE With the help of the commerical vessel Oorlog and the NSRI, Daniella II was brought ashore.

The hull was flooded and they were sinking, 42 nm from home.

‘And then we ran out of fuel,’ remembers Tony. ‘It was over. For me it was bad. I wanted to get the boat back. But everyone was safe. That was quite something.’ ‘I said to Tony, “It is time, drop anchor,”’ says Rico. ‘I gave the position to Cape Town Radio for a navigation warning, and Tony and the last two crew came across onto the rescue boat.’ Six minutes later she sank. Just her bow was sticking up. ‘If it wasn’t for Station 31, I don’t know if we would have survived. You can only spend so long in that water,’ says Tony. There were now 11 people on board the rescue boat, with all their equipment, as they started the

journey home. ‘We were very heavy,’ says Rico. ‘Then, about 10 miles out, we picked up problems with our port engine. At first we thought it was fuel – perhaps dirty fuel – but later it turned out that the engine was running on three cylinders. We had to nurse her home in that chop for the last 10 miles.’ It was after midnight when the Still Bay volunteers got safely back to their slipway. They had battled uncomfortable sea conditions in a rescue carried out at night very far from shore. They’d had problems with one of their engines and a heavily laden rescue boat – but in the end, the Still Bay NSRI crew can say with pride that they’d saved seven lives that night. SR


Every Course Charted.


Mozambique’s MANY FACES

To visit Mozambique is to enter a world of sensory delights. Sea Rescue coxswain and avid diver Cherelle Leong takes us on a guided tour of some of the country’s most magical spots

PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL AND CHERELLE LEONG

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OZAMBIQUE IS A COUNTRY that has many associations. Perhaps that’s exactly what makes it such an attractive and fascinating place to visit. For many South Africans, Mozambique is an affordable beach destination. You can pack your 4x4 with camping gear and cool boxes of fresh supplies, and make your way up the coastline to your favourite camp spot. For international visitors, Mozambique offers some of the most exclusive beach resorts on Africa’s east coast. The Bazaruto and Quirimba archipelagos boast the ultimate in luxury and pampering in the most pristine tropical settings. No matter what your holiday style, there’s one thing about Mozambique that attracts just about everyone: the miles and miles of unspoilt sandy beaches fringed with towering coconut palms and the blue sea beyond. The beaches are so clean they actually squeak when you walk on them. The crystal-clear waters are inviting and warm, with temperatures rarely dropping below 24˚C – even in the middle of winter. If there’s a place that epitomises a tropical paradise, Mozambique (outside of the cities) is it. About 400km north of Maputo, near Inhambane, is a small coastal village called Tofo. It’s an area known for great diving, fishing and surfing. The tall sand dunes are dotted with holiday homes of all shapes and sizes, as well as backpacker

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lodges and more up-market guesthouses. Tofo is a vibrant village, in and out of season. It is the type of place where there’s enough to do, but you could also very quickly get into the vibe of doing not much at all. That is the beauty of travelling to Mozambique. You get to appreciate the simpler life – slow-paced and relaxed. It almost makes you wonder why there’s a need to be so busy in your ‘normal’ life back home. Tofo is located on a crescent bay with a sandy beach stretching north for about 3.5km to the lighthouse. Beyond the point, the coastline reaches up to another well-known tourist spot: Barra. Here the Inhambane estuary fans out into the ocean. Local operators provide a variety of estuary day tours. Take a leisurely boat cruise or sail on a traditional dhow. Snorkel the calm waters to look for pansy shells or shy seahorses. If you opt for a paddling trip, you can explore the mangroves and possibly see a dugong. This dolphin-like species is endangered and protected, and sightings are rare and very special. The easy way to explore the Tofo area is by taking leisurely strolls along the beach or rural roads. If you must, hire a quad bike by the hour and join a guided tour of the neighbourhood. In Mozambique everyone is friendly and it’s safe to explore on your own. You walk along the beach or through the market and everyone greets you with a smile. While it’s true that Mozambicans are

friendly by nature, it’s also because they want to sell you something: necklaces, bangles, cashew nuts or baked coconut rolls. It’s all very tempting, and the edible offerings are delicious. But be sure to get to know the local price and bargain down, otherwise you may part with more cash than you should. In Tofo, you will find everything that’s available in the village market. From T-shirts, souvenirs and flipflops to fruit, vegetables, fish and beer. The local rum is a delicious golden spiced liquid ideal for cocktails and is available at every second store. But it’s Tofo’s ocean that holds the greatest treasures. There are five dive centres offering daily charters and more than a dozen dive sites. The going rate is MZN1 500 (about R460) a dive, with a MZN300 (about R92) surcharge for dives on far reefs. Some might offer a 10% discount. The dive operators are impressively professional – they provide detailed pre- and post-dive briefings with a strong emphasis on safety and diving protocols. Tofo is known particularly for sightings of giant manta rays and whale sharks. This is what most visiting divers hope to see. The reefs are aquarium-like, with an abundance of fish. White and black-tip sharks are often seen, as well as moray eel, parrot fish, trumpet fish and large grumpylooking potato bass. It’s not unusual to be surrounded by hundreds of colourful


GOING PLACES

MAIN IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Right (top to bottom): The Tofo Beach Bar – the perfect place to relax after a day of diving; the Manta and Whale Shark Research Centre that Paul and Cherelle visited; Tofo market provides many bargaining opportunities.

reef fish as you drift along. As for seeing mantas, these large creatures are shy. For this reason, when diving, you need to lie low and keep behind the dive master while he peeks above the reef to see if there are any around. The mantas use Tofo’s reefs as cleaning stations. These are areas where many small reef fish can be found, so the mantas position themselves just above the coral while the tiny butterfly fish pick parasites off them. This symbiotic relationship keeps the mantas healthy and the reef fish well fed. It’s at these cleaning stations where you could get to experience the best manta sightings. Sadly, spotting mantas is becoming increasingly rare. They’re being caught and killed for their gill rakers, which they use to filter their food. These gill rakers are dried and pulverised for use in Chinese medicine. In the past 10 years there has been an 88% decline in manta populations. This is alarming indeed as large marine species play a vital role in

the reef ecosystems. Recently the giant manta was listed as endangered by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). This will hopefully pave the way for legislation to protect the species. The Marine Megafauna Foundation based in Tofo has been at the forefront of this research. Dr Andrea Marshall and Dr Simon Pierce lead a team of scientists and volunteers who are tireless in their conservation efforts. This includes education campaigns with local communities and dive operators. Mozambique is a destination where you can collect a photo book of memories. Enjoy a friendly village vibe, incredible diving and the perfect end to a leisurely day – watching the sun dip behind palm trees while surfers dance in the waves. This was exactly how we spent our last evening in Tofo. Sundowners in hand, we strolled down to the beach to watch the

Mozambique is a destination where you can collect a photo book of memories. sunset surfers. For Paul and I, it was a bit of a delayed honeymoon and one of the most relaxing holidays we’ve ever had. The next morning we visited the village one last time to say our goodbyes, followed by an hour lolling in the gentle surf. Time passes slowly in Mozambique. It had been a magical week of sun and sea: great tropical diving on amazing reefs, and long leisurely strolls along the beach. I’m going to miss the sand squeaking between my toes. SR

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 15


beaten track ON THE

We all love lounging on a beach or chilling out at the coast, but Southern Africa is so blessed with hiking trails that it’s almost criminal not to swap flip-flops for stout boots occasionally. Catherine Hofmeyr suggests the best trails for differing levels of fitness PHOTOGRAPH BY CATHERINE HOFMEYR HARDCORE IN THE TSITSIKAMMA The Otter Trail is arguably South Africa’s most spectacular and popular hike, but this one’s not for sissies. It kicks off at Storms River Mouth and finishes at Nature’s Valley, following the rugged, rocky coastline of the Tsitsikamma National Park. It’s five days of physically demanding slogging from coast to cliffs and down again, along deserted beaches and river crossings, while carrying all your gear and food. And if the ups and downs don’t get you, the Bloukrans River crossing on the fourth day might. Many a hiker has had to be rescued from the surf at this challenging crossing. But you can’t consider yourself a real hiker until you’ve conquered the Otter. You’ll need to book up to a year in advance. Call (012) 426 5111, email bridgetb@ sanparks.org or visit www.sanparks.org If you like the Garden Route but the Otter sounds too extreme, consider the Dolphin Trail, which offers much of the majesty of this beautiful region without the knee-jarring, loadpacking slog. The luxury three-night/two-day walk heads eastwards from Storms River Mouth and incorporates fynbos, indigenous forests and some rock scrambling – but you don’t have to deal with rustic bunkrooms or Toppers for dinner. Call (042) 280 3588 or visit www.dolphintrail.co.za

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CANYONING ACROSS THE BORDER The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is the second-largest in the world, surpassed only by the Grand Canyon in Colorado. The five-day Fish River Canyon Trail covers roughly 85km of this snaking ravine carved into the desert plateau. Most hikers overnight at the campsite at Hobas, before taking on the kneetorturing descent to the canyon floor a dizzying 500m below. There’s quite a bit of boulder hopping on the first day – no easy feat with a laden pack. At Palm Springs, a soothing sulphur thermal is the only pampering you’ll get on this tough trail. There are no facilities, so hikers need to be completely self-sufficient – think Provita and cheese for five days. On the plus side, you get to sleep under the stars and awake to the morning sun painting the canyon cliffs in orange splendour. As the canyon opens up the going gets easier, but be prepared for lots of sand trudging and criss-crossing of the pebbly river. The trail ends at Ais-Ais Resort, where hot springs and cold beer are just the balm you need. ‘The Fish’ should only be attempted with experienced hikers in your party. A medical certificate is required. Book through Namibia Wildlife Resorts by calling

(021) 422 3761, emailing ct.bookings@ nwr.com.na, or through Jacana Travel Marketing by calling (012) 803 9109 or emailing rosa@jacanacollection.co.za HOTEL HOPPING ON THE WILD COAST Roast-lamb dinners, fresh crayfish, a bit of canoeing and, oh yes, some walking along beaches and coastal paths. The five-day Wild Coast Meander is a hotel-hopping hike down the scenically spectacular coast of the former Transkei from Kobb Inn to Morgan Bay, with overnight stops at Mazeppa Bay, Wavecrest and Trennery’s. It’s well suited to families as the walk is generally flat and easy – the


THE GREAT OUTDOORS longest distance you’ll cover in a day is a moderately taxing 20km. The trail covers 56km in total, and hikers carry a day pack, whereas bed and board are provided at hotels. Shorter hops are also possible – or you could combine this option with its sister trail, the Wild Coast Amble. Call Wild Coast Holiday Reservations on (043) 743 6181, email meross@iafrica.com, or visit www.wildcoastholidays.co.za

Coastal hikes like the Whale Trail offer the best of two worlds: snorkelling in rock pools and enjoying the rich variety of Western Cape fynbos.

A WHALE OF A TRAIL At De Hoop in spring, nature comes together in a glorious crescendo. Ericas droop with a shower of red, nectar-filled tubes to lure sunbirds, leaucadendrons erupt in orange pincushion displays and proteas unfurl their royal blooms, while all along the coastline hundreds of southern right whales come into the sheltered coves to calve. The five-day Whale Trail near Arniston in the Southern Cape rivals The Otter as South Africa’s premier coastal hike – and it’s a lot kinder. Stretching 54km through the De Hoop Nature Reserve, it starts with mountain fynbos and ends with turquoise rock pools ideal for snorkelling. Hikers need to be moderately fit to take on Potberg’s heights, as well as the beaches, dunes and wave-battered cliffs along the route. ‘Huts’ isn’t the right word for the accommodation: this trail’s cottages are purpose-built from indigenous thatch and stone, and the setting of each one gets more ‘wow’ as you progress. Expect flush toilets, hot showers, solar lighting and braai wood. At a small fee, your bags (and food) can be transported to each overnight stop, so pack the tjops and wors. It’s very popular, but do try to secure a booking because the experience is worth it. Email info@capenature.co.za or visit www. capenature.co.za. For a really luxurious coastal hike,

Win a four-night stay for two at the The Breede River Resort Terms and conditions: 1. This competition is open to all Sea Rescue readers and closes on 30 September 2013. 2. The winner will be drawn randomly and notified by telephone. 3. The winner’s name will be published in the Summer 2013 issue of Sea Rescue. 4. This prize is not transferable and is subject to availability. 5. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash. 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. By entering this competition, entrants agree to abide by the rules and conditions of the competition. 9. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Great winter break

look no further than the slack-packing Oystercatcher Trail from Mossel Bay to the mouth of the Gourits River. Professionally trained guides take you on a four-day ecological sojourn visiting archaeological sites and Stone-Age middens along the way. Accommodation is in luxury lodges with three-course meals to match. The only downside of this one is the cost, although there is a self-catering option that makes it slightly more affordable. Call (044) 699 1204 or visit www.oystercatchertrail.co.za DESTINED FOR GREATNESS It’s wild, it’s remote and it will surely test your resolve and push your comfort zone. Once it’s completed, the Rim of Africa Mountain Passage and Conservancy will offer an unbroken hiking route traversing the length of the Cape Fold Mountains, from the Cederberg to the Outeniquas near George. Based on some of the world’s leading long-distance trails, the Rim of Africa is set to connect various standalone sections already open to hikers. The moderately fit might like the seven-day Cederberg Grand Traverse or even take on the extreme Hex Valley High Traverse. If you’re feeling particularly perky, join the 50-day Hike-Thru Adventure in September that will link all the trails in one long trip. Sleepovers are in tents or under the stars, and bathing is in mountain streams. All hikes except the Cederberg section are guided; portaged and catered options are available. Visit www.rimofafrica.co.za. Another linked-section trail destined to be listed among the world’s best is the six-day Hoerikwaggo route from Table Mountain to Cape Point. All sections boast Cape Peninsula scenery and lovely, ecofriendly overnight camps. Call (021) 712 7471 or email hoerikwaggobookings@sanparks.org SR The Breede River Resort, situated on the banks of the mighty Breede River, offers a welcome respite from the stresses of the city. It’s the perfect place to enjoy either a host of outdoor activities or a quiet retreat that will feed the soul. We are giving away a four-night stay for two, including breakfast, worth R5 000 at the hotel to Sea Rescue readers. To stand a chance to win, SMS Sea Rescue Breede, your name, daytime telephone number and address to 33282 by 30 September 2013. SEA RESCUE • AUTUMN 2013 For more information, visit www.breederiverlodge.co.za or • 25 call (028) 537 1631 or email info@breederiverlodge.co.za


Gear up PRODUCTS

On track with K-Way Stay protected from the elements with K-Way’s Ion Jacket, a super-lightweight technical shell ideal for fast and light trail walking, running and hiking.

Whether you love fishing, hiking, kayaking or spelunking along the coast, the right gear will ensure maximum enjoyment

For cold winter morning runs, Kaziki long active running/training tights are perfect, and also conveniently light and comfortable.

Seal the deal The days of wet gear or lost valuables are over with Sealock’s range of durable, all-purpose waterproof bags – perfect for hiking, kloofing, boating and walking. Sealock Waterproof Dry Tubes (five, 10, 20, 30 or 40- litre capacity) are ideal for day or weekend fishing trips. Made from high-grade PVC tarpaulin, they are super-durable and easy to maintain. The Sealock Utility Dry Backpack (30-litre capacity) is a large waterproof bag with a two-way sealing system that makes it fully submersible and a great carry-all for any water-based sportsperson. Also available are the Sealock Waterproof Duffel Bag (35-litre capacity), iPod Nano/MP3 Player Pouch with waterproof earphones, the Sealock Waterproof Cooler/Inflatable Tube (20-litre capacity) for storing clothing and valuables, and the Sealock Waterproof Dry Tube Backpack (30-litre capacity). Visit sealock.co.za for more information.

To avoid dehydration on running and mountainbike trails, take along K-Way’s Hydro Velocity Daypack, a compact and lightweight bag that can carry a three-litre bladder and offers six litres in total carry capacity. (Hydration system not included.) Visit capeunionmart.co.za for more information.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles. Doug Larson, American columnist On-deck appeal Honda Marine’s range of cargo bags is the ideal solution to any packing and space problems you might be facing on your vessel. You can pack your gear on the bag, clip it onto your boat, hang it on the inside while at speed, flip it over the gunwale while you’re trawling or at anchor to open up deck space. Unclip the bag when you’re back on shore, and take your gear with you. No more stepping on loose items lying on the deck, no more lost safety equipment, no more storage problems! Visit hondamarinecape.co.za for more information.

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ADVERTORIAL

WHO’S PAYING FOR YOUR SEA RESCUE? The sea is an unpredictable playground. The risks are endless: you get stuck out at sea, hit a submerged object that causes severe damage to the hull and you take on water; perhaps the motor fails and leaves you stranded; you tear a sail; or you’re caught in a huge storm.

Hugh Reimers Managing Director Eikos Risk Applications

And while we all like to think we’ll avoid these disasters, they’re more common than you might think. In 2011/12 alone, The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to 723 emergencies. Whereas the NSRI incurs substantial costs to operate, luckily, there’s no charge to the public or to the victims of a disaster, since the NSRI is a humanitarian service. The question is, what happens to the boat that’s damaged or abandoned? ‘We are not a salvage or towing service. Our mandate is to save lives of those in peril. Where possible, and if safe to do so, we will always try to rescue the craft as well for obvious reasons. An abandoned craft is potentially a shipping hazard,’ explains Meriel Bartlett, executive director, NSRI. Where the NSRI can’t rescue the craft, the onus lies with the boat owner to ensure salvage or towing arrangements are in place, in addition to any clean-up that may be required. It’s safe to say that almost every boat owner wants his boat back and will make a plan to have it salvaged or towed. If he fails to mitigate the risk of the craft becoming a hazard to other craft or property out at sea, he could find himself facing claims for damages to third-party property or incur liabilities, which, depending on the circumstances, can quickly accumulate to thousands of rand. Does the boat owner have the right to recover these costs from his insurance policy? ‘Yes. If the loss or damage is a claim in terms of the policy, these costs will form part

of the claim,’ says Hugh Reimers, managing director of Eikos Risk Applications, the specialist marine insurance brokerage. ‘But only if he has taken all reasonable measures to reduce the losses or damages as covered by the policy.’ In the unfortunate event that the boat owner causes damage to a third party’s property or death or bodily injury to a passenger or waterskier, he’ll have to be proved legally liable in a court of law before his insurance policy will respond. However, with South Africans becoming more aware of their rights and increasingly seeking recourse in our courts to protect those rights, it’s a good idea for boat owners to request higher insurance policy limits. ‘Consider purchasing additional liability cover. You can buy up to R20 million extra, for example, provided your risk meets the underwriting criteria,’ explains Megan Stuart, pleasure craft consultant at Eikos Risk Applications. Of course, you’ll only get the best insurance and support from a specialist marine insurer – someone who understands the risks and exposures unique to the boating environment. In addition, it’s essential to always act as if you’re uninsured. Because it’s the prudent avoidance of risks, careful maintenance of the boat and a strong adherence to the rules and guidelines that ensure a safe boating environment for all. It’s this ethos that underpins the NSRI’s actions and initiatives, making it such a successful and effective boating partner.

www.eikos.co.za


REAL-LIFE STORY

A very close

encounter

What would you do if you saw a shark attack someone... and then realised it was you? This is what happened to Troy Henri while surfing at Hawston near Hermanus earlier this year. Craig Jarvis spoke to him

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Far right: Troy’s board eventually washed up, showing visible signs of his close encounter; Troy in action, still doing what he loves most.

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OST OF US DON’T THINK ABOUT IT. We prefer to keep those dark thoughts of how we’d deal with a shark locked away somewhere deep and inaccessible, repressed by joyous visions of barrels and sunshine, of white sands and big smiles and stoke. That is all sweet and fine and dandy until John Shark arrives unexpectedly while you’re surfing and decides he wants to say howzit. To you. Directly. Then you have to think about it. This man had time to think about it. He literally watched a shark attack him. Troy Henri, originally from Isipingo, has been surfing for close on 40 years. He lives in the Cape now. He surfs Nine Miles and Garbage frequently, so he knows all about sharks. His conditioned response is to paddle in when he sees a fin, as every surfer does, pretty much. However, he had a slightly different experience on the afternoon of Saturday, 16 March, at Hawston near Hermanus. Guys have been surfing there for years. It gets quite good at times, but it is a fickle wave, and it has a sharky vibe to it. You know the feeling – the kelp looks ominous, and sometimes when you’re sitting out at the back surfing the lefts, it definitely feels like you’re in the thick of a serious buffet. On Saturday, the surf wasn’t even very good, but despite the average conditions, Troy and a mate paddled out, while the rest of his family hung out and started a braai at the bottom car park. ‘The waves were closing out and I had been

paddling for a few and pulling back, waiting for a good one. I was sitting out there, when the water around me went dark,’ says Troy. ‘I thought it was a shadow from a cloud passing by the sun, so I remember looking up, but there were no clouds.’ Then he saw it. ‘I looked down and saw the profile of a big shark underneath me, and I realised what was happening, and started paddling towards the beach. The shark was inside of me, under me somewhere, but between me and the beach.’ It was about then that things started to get interesting. ‘As I was paddling, this tiny little fin appeared next to me. It just got bigger and bigger, as the dorsal fin started rising out of the water. It was to the right of me, cruising past me, going so slowly, heading out to sea. It was so close. At this stage, I started getting really scared, you know, all these thoughts start going through your head. My 14-year-old boy was on the beach, and everything was happening so fast.’ The shark swam past, but then the nightmare started. ‘I checked the shark splash behind me, and do a U-turn, and I was thinking, “This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.” It was like a dreamy thing, almost like an out-of-body experience as I could actually see a shark attack about to happen. To me. I was thinking, “This shark is going to kill me now.”’ The shark hit Troy hard from underneath. ‘It hit me so hard and so fast. It hit me on the left side; hit


IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

‘As I was paddling, this tiny little fin appeared next to me. It just got bigger and bigger.’ the board by my hip. I got flung up and rolled over, and the next thing, the shark was on top of me. I had my arm wrapped around the tail of the shark. It was like we were hugging each other for a second. We got tangled up in the leash, and the next thing the shark was pulling me under water hard.’ Troy got sucked under the water, still attached to the board that was somehow entangled with the shark. ‘It pulled me under until the leash snapped. I had swallowed so much water in the struggle, and water was rushing up my nose from being pulled under.’ Troy surfaced. The shark was nowhere to be seen. Neither was his board. ‘I was about 80m out, maybe more, and I started swimming to the shore without my board, just expecting the shark to hit any second. I swam some freestyle and then I swam backstroke, just to keep my eye out for when it was going to hit, to fight it off if I could. As I came towards the shore I saw something dark in the water but it was a rock, and I remember standing on it, looking out to sea, feeling a bit safer. Probably wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever if it had come back, but for some reason I felt a bit secure on it.’ Troy continued swimming. ‘I was swimming regularly, not splashing and panicking. I tried to stand a few times, but I was still too deep, so just kept on swimming. It was only when I could stand

on the sand that I felt safe again. I was totally numb, from the shock, but I was OK. A few little cuts and stuff. The strangest thing was walking back to my family without a board. ‘ Troy was still alive. Shaken, in a bit of a state, but totally unharmed. ‘I went for a surf the next day,’ says Troy on his rehab process. ‘I just managed one wave before I came in. It felt strange.’ It was a strange, radical, emotional chain of events, and Troy fully understands that he totally got lucky, got a second chance. It took a day or two for it to sink in, for him to understand the big picture of what could have been. ‘Like a miracle, bru. Apart from a few scratches I was untouched.’ SR Reprinted with kind permission of Wavescapes.co.za.

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 21


Up for the

CHALLENGE

Rieghard van Rensburg, station commander of Station 37 (Jeffreys Bay), entered and completed the full Ironman, and survived to tell the tale. By Craig Jarvis PHOTOGRAPHS BY FINISHERPIX

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ARRIED AND WITH TWO children, Rieghard van Rensburg (40) owns a photography business in Jeffreys Bay. He’s a photographer himself and also runs photography training and coaching courses. When he decided to take part in Ironman 2013, he had to fit in serious training time around his commitments, which also include being station commander of Station 37 (Jeffreys Bay). ‘I work for myself, so I’m privileged to be able to fit in training without it cutting into my family life too much,’ Rieghard explains. ‘I was training for about two to three hours a day, and with two young kids, aged seven and eight, I had to work it out so that I did the training while they were at school,’ he adds. ‘I lost about 15kg in the process. I’m

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still not at my target weight but I’m getting there. My wife, Eidie, decided to join me in the training and supported me 100% from day one. She always believed that she couldn’t run and, now a year later, she is an accomplished runner, with her first marathon under her belt,’ Rieghard says. Training for the Ironman is tough. There’s no easy way around it; you have to put in serious hours. For Rieghard, who cycled competitively at school, the swimming aspect was the most daunting. ‘I’m not really a swimmer,’ he explains. ‘I only started open-water swimming in January 2012, and was fortunate enough to be able to train in the local marina. I will never forget my first ocean-swim event. It was quite hectic; there were 600 to 700 people who all went flying into the water at full speed. It’s a very

panicky situation. I couldn’t help thinking, “Imagine what the media would say if an NSRI station commander had to be rescued during a swim!” ‘Eventually I started getting it and feeling less panicky. I did a few ocean races in PE and got the hang of it even more. When it came to the Ironman swim I did fine. I was totally at ease,’ he smiles. At an event like this, the weather plays a big part. If, for instance, the wind is howling, everything is affected – times vary and people get exhausted. But, luckily, the weather remained calm. ‘It was a phenomenal day,’ Rieghard recalls. ‘It started off with a little northerly wind, which then swung around to easterly. It wasn’t ideal for the cycling but overall the weather was great.’ When you’re a full Ironman first-timer


CREW STORIES

From left: The transition from cycling to running was a big challenge for Rieghard but crowd support on the day played a big role in spurring him on. Inset: Rieghard with his wife, Eidie.

(Rieghard had completed the Ironman 70.3, also known as the ‘half Ironman’ in January this year), confidence plays an important part in how you do on the day. ‘I knew I could complete it. That was my goal, actually. I wanted to finish and not be carried away on a stretcher. I didn’t want to place anywhere, just enjoy it, and then be able to hang out at the event afterwards and savour it all. ‘The biggest challenge was the transition from the bike into my running shoes. At that stage I’d been going for close to eight-and-a-half hours already, and then to embark on a full marathon is quite a thing. I had to get my head around it. But the crowd support is awesome. They pick you up and carry you along when they shout out your name and cheer you on,’ he says. A lot of highly trained professional athletes take part in the Ironman, but Rieghard says he saw another side to the race. ‘There are many ordinary people at these events. Of course, there are the highly

Rieghard did the 3,8km swim in about 1h30min; the 180km cycle took him roughly 6h50min; and he ran the marathon in just under six hours for a combined event time of

14h43min.

trained “super-athletes” but there are also everyday people who just want to achieve something extraordinary. It has a lot to do with the strength of the mind, I’ve found. If you convince your mind that you can do something, it will take over and push your body until you have done it,’ he says. Many people comment on the debilitating effects of such a gruelling race on the body, but this didn’t seem to be a problem for Rieghard. ‘Afterwards I still felt strong. ‘And I ate a lot,’ he smiles. ‘You can eat whatever you can carry out of the tent. I took my food and sat on the grass and watched the guys coming in. That was part of my goal… I wanted to be able to enjoy the rest of the day. We ended up staying there until midnight, till the last people came in. I was a bit stiff two days later, which was to be expected, but nothing serious at all.’

So Rieghard rose up and completed one of his biggest goals, and it spurred him on for more. ‘I’m definitely going to compete in the Ironman again next year, and I want to reduce my time drastically. This year I completed the event in 14h43min and next year I want to finish it in less than 12 hours, which is a big difference. If I get a good enough time, I might get a slot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. They do the World Champs in age groups, so it’s not impossible to get

‘It’s a very panicky situation. I couldn’t help thinking, “Imagine what the media would say if an NSRI station commander had to be rescued during a swim!” in. I suppose competing in the Ironman could be compared to a drug. Once you taste it you want more of it. So I have a five-year goal to get to the World Champs. That’s about it, apart from Everest…’ he smiles. ‘I also want to return home safely with all my body parts from a successful Mount Everest summit.’ SR

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 23


BULLETIN BOARD

IN THE NEWS

Fine splendour

PHOTOGRAPH: ANDREW AVELEY

Station 12 (Knysna) crew heard that the Sedov, one of the grand old ladies of the sea, would be sailing past The Heads and took the opportunity to do some training out at sea

Andrew Aveley is selling prints of ‘Tall Ships’ in aid of Station 12 (Knysna). Visit andrewaveley.co.za

STATION 10 HOSTS SAFMARINE VISIT A group from Safmarine visited Station 10 (Simon’s Town) on Saturday 25 May. Their sponsored rescue boat Spirit of Safmarine has just gone in for a major refit and our guests look forward to visiting again once she returns after her total makeover at the end of the year. From left: Shaun Doch of Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy (a beneficiary of a Safmarine Containers-in-the-Community project); Dennis McKillen; Patricia Simons (Safmarine Southern Africa’s PR and Communications Manager), Debbie Owen (Safmarine Media Manager) Louis Duimelaar, Andy Connell, Darren Zimmerman and Yvette du Preez.

24 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013


PLATINUM SPONSORS

JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT

The volunteers from Station 17 (Hermanus) again offered their time to attend the annual braai at a local retirement home, Huis Lettie Theron. It’s just a kind gesture where our crew does the braaiing and serves the guests. Everyone sat outside enjoying the lovely weather and joined in a sing-along. Special thanks to organisers Petrus and Estelle Hendriksz of Fusion Café and Carlos and Rita Sabbe for their generous sponsorship of the event.

WITSAND NUMBERS SWELL In small towns one of our challenges is sourcing crew – specifically, crew who will stay on to become coxswains. At Station 33 (Witsand) we recently welcomed five new recruits, swelling our numbers to a contingent of 15 volunteers. The new trainees are all locals who grew up here and come from boating families. Their local

knowledge will be of great advantage and, since they are all locally employed, we are confident that we can count on their loyalty for years to come. The seagoing crew complement has effectively been doubled, meaning that we are now one step closer to being able to upgrade our current vessel to a larger rescue boat that

Thank you, Avis

is better suited to the area and the nature of our rescue calls. In a small village, finding sponsors is also a challenge so if you would like to get involved and pledge your support, please contact our fundraiser, Alison Smith, or arrange a personal visit to the rescue base through deputy station commander Rob Wilson.

Avis really does try harder. We would like to thank them for offering us car hire at no charge. This translates into a huge cost saving for us when our volunteers travel around the country for training sessions as well as when our fundraisers travel to see our sponsors.

GOLD PARTNERSHIPS: • ANGLO AMERICAN THERMAL COAL – NEW VAAL COLLIERY • • BAGTECH INTERNATIONAL • • DE BEERS MARINE • • FISHING DIVISION OF FOODCORP • • FREDDY HIRSCH GROUP • • ITALTILE LTD • • LUSITANIA MARKETING SERVICES • • MACS MARITIME SHIPPING • • MARSH AFRICA • • SMI (PTY) LTD • • SVITZER SALVAGE AFRICA • • TMS SOUTH AFRICA • • VIKING FISHING •

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 25


DE BEERS MARINE VISITS STATION 8 (HOUT BAY)

Laura du Preez of NSRI head office with Celeste Erwee of De Beers Marine, Justice Xesha of De Beers Marine, Yusuf Gamiet of Jardine Marine Services, and Thandi Mabena of De Beers Marine.

On Friday 17 May 2013 Alison Smith, head of NSRI Donor Support, hosted some of the staff of De Beers Marine, a long-term corporate supporter of Sea Rescue. It was the most perfect day for a tour of the base followed by a short trip on Hout Bay’s deep-sea rescue craft, Nadine Gordimer. They were overwhelmed by the fact that all our search-and-rescue operations are carried out by volunteers and, in the words of Thandi Mabena, HR manager at De Beers Marine, ‘It was a most humbling experience to discover that there are still such good people out there willing to give up their time and risk their lives to save others.’

SPECIAL THANKS TO… ›› Chris Wilson, managing

director of Kilgetty Statutory Services, for providing a pro bono service as our company secretary and spending many hours ensuring that we comply with the new Companies Act as well as King III.

CENTRUM® GUARDIANS 2013 The annual Centrum® Guardian Project aims to showcase the work of emergency services around South Africa. This year, eight finalists were chosen from more than 70 nominations received for consideration. The finalists will be profiled in a seven-week documentary drama series on SABC3 called Centrum® Guardians 2013, hosted by Ruda Landman. The show, which comprises dramatic recreations of the stories that the finalists have been nominated for, starts on Sunday 4 August at 16h30 with repeats on Wednesdays at 15h15. Voting will open on 1 July and closes on 11 September 2013, with the winner being announced on 12 September. (For full terms and conditions, visit www.centrumguardian.com.) Natasha Macdonald, the Centrum® Brand Manager, comments, ‘We are astounded by the calibre of nominations we receive each year. Every single story has an element of bravery, passion and determination, to name just a few of the attributes that the remarkable men and women in the EMS possess. We are proud to showcase the emergency services industry and share the work they do with the South African public through the Centrum® Guardians series.’

NOTICE OF NSRI AGM Date: 19 August 2013 Time: 17h30 for 18h00 Venue: BoE Auditorium, Clocktower Building, Clocktower Precinct, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Contact: Krista Lazzari on 021 434 4011 or 082 990 7949, or email kristal@searescue.org.za

›› Initial Rentokil for delivering

free pest control and hygiene services to Station 6 (Port Elizabeth) for the past year. We really appreciate your loyal support. ›› One of Hout Bay’s local stand-up paddlers who has kindly offered to install a drain in the floor of the rescue base of Station 8 (Hout Bay). The floor currently slopes away

from the boat cradle, towards the wall, so crew forever have to sweep away a puddle. ›› Dell for donating our servers (once again); Vodacom, who hosts us behind their firewall; and iSquared, who takes care of our IT systems – all pro bono. ›› Emthunzini Hats, who donated 40 wide-brimmed hats to Station 10 (Simon’s Town).


Above: Thank you to the Freemasons who answered the call in the last issue of this magazine and bought our crew an urn – and then added two toasters and a snackwich maker. Received here by Station 6 (PE) station commander Ian Gray.

Below: The crew from Station 37 (Jeffreys Bay) have just revamped their garage area. They would like to thank everyone involved with the project, as well as the kind donors who made it possible.

Protect yourself - from beach to bushveld

Emthunzini Hats offers a range of headwear that is both stylish and super protective against the harsh South African sun. The range, which was originally designed in Australia, has a large variety of fashionable, crushable, washable and fully adjustable hats for men, women and children that rate UPF50+ and have been awarded the CANSA Seal of Recognition for maximum sun protection. Choose from a range of styles, colours and fabrics that are stylish and functional, offering you optimal protection for all your outdoor activities!

For every four hats sold online to Sea Rescue readers, one hat will be donated to the NSRI. Plus Sea Rescue readers will receive free delivery (in South Africa), just use promotional code ‘Save’ when purchasing online at www.sunhats.co.za

RECOGNISED BY THE CANCER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA AS PROTECTION AGAINST THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF THE SUN • WINTER 2013 • 00 SEA RESCUE For more information, visit Emthunzini Hats at www.sunhats.co.za or call (022) 409 2160 or 083 269 5570 or email gilly@sunhats.co.za.


LIFE BOAT CIRCLE

Right: We were delighted to host Keith Morrison, a founder member of Station 5 (Durban) who now lives in the UK.

Gettogethers

Left: Life boat Circle members Bob and Ann Sheard (left) with Pat Ryder.

galore

Janet Burgess hosted a champagne breakfast at Blue Zoo Restaurant in Mitchell Park, Durban, on 3 December last year. Captain Roy Martin gave an interesting talk and slide show on piracy. It was lovely to have Kelvin Thomas, a former station commander of Station 19 (Richards Bay), and Dave James, a former station commander of Station 5 (Durban), with us for the occasion.

Above: Janet Burgess (left) with bequestor Joyce Peet, who enthralled members with her interesting talk on submarines at the tea held at the Benjamin Hotel in April. Life boat Circle held a champagne breakfast at the Ferhill Hotel in Howick. Above (from left): Volunteer WaterWise Academy educator Annie Waterhouse, Station 5 (Durban) deputy station commander André Fletcher, Margaret McCulloch and Janet Burgess. Above right: (from left) Bequestor Kathy Simpson, Moyra Collyer, Lesley Randles and Karen Elvin.

Below: Bev and Arthur Whyte (left) with Ken and Shirley Dixon and Janet Burgess (far right) at the Umhlali Probus Life boat Circle gathering.

When David Brice recently celebrated his 70th birthday, he asked that donations be made to the NSRI in lieu of gifts. At the lunch party in Botriver were (from left) Liz Hutton, Garth Hutton, Kristina Sternby, David Brice, Nils Sternby, Ken Trueman, Alma Trueman, Mick Fynn, Jenny Fynn, Pat Miller, Howard Woolford and Gillian Woolford.

THANK YOU FOR THE DONATIONS RECEIVED SPECIAL OCCASIONS: Sharon Pretorius and David Beneke (wedding) • David Brice (70th birthday) • Les Ferguson (70th birthday) • Hugo Bosman (60th birthday) • Etienne van Cuyck (60th birthday) • Paul Spokes (50th birthday) • Tyrell Murray (50th birthday) • Luke Brodziak (40th birthday) IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES: Peter Gordon • Mrs Davy • Di Branch • Peter Craunsor • Peter Gordon • Gavin Thompson ASHES LOG: (All respects were paid and the details of the scattering recorded in the ship’s log) • Gavin Thompson in Table Bay

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

28 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013


WATERWISE

PHOTOGRAPHS : ANDREW INGRAM

GROWING WATERWISE WaterWise Academy is the NSRI’s educational initiative that aims to prevent drownings among children from previously disadvantaged communities. The initiative, which launched in 2006, has so far brought vital water-safety messages to more than 300 000 children around the country via seven trained educators. The WaterWise Academy is proudly sponsored by Transnet Ports Authority (TNPA).

We speak to spirited new WaterWise Academy instructor Zanele Bushwane about her first few months of teaching. By Wendy Maritz

BUILDING Zanele demonstrates CPR with ‘Little Junior’

W

HEN I MEET ZANELE Bushwane, I am immediately struck by her quiet confidence and generous smile. And, as we chat, it becomes abundantly clear that she simply loves her new job as a WaterWise Academy instructor. It’s a role, WaterWise Academy manager Andrew Ingram says, that fits her like a glove. ‘She might appear to be reserved but she heads into the classroom with a spring in her step; she speaks with passion and holds those children’s attention.’ Zanele’s first opportunity to be involved with a community project came about when she was attending Dr Nelson R Mandela High School in Mitchells Plain. ‘Our school entered a national roadsafety competition. We had to come up with a road-safety plan in our area, so we proposed a pedestrian footbridge on the corner of Philippi Plaza and Lansdowne Road. Our proposal came first in the Western Cape regional finals,’ she says. To be a part of a winning team was not only a great achievement, it also gave Zanele a taste of what it feels like to make

a visible and measurable difference in the community. So she wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to do it again, especially when it came to children and water safety. ‘I was really inspired when I saw what Desiree, Eoudia and Charles are doing,’ says Zanele of her WaterWise Academy colleagues. ‘I want to pass on this safety message, because knowledge is power… It makes me sad to think that children drown because their friends don’t know how to help them.’ After Zanele received her training and got her CPR certification, she and Andrew held joint workshops in Crossroads and Gugulethu, where Andrew says, ‘she simply shone’. ‘It was exciting to see her teach,’ says Andrew. ‘She brings something special to the classes. WaterWise is not about teaching kids to swim, it’s about what to

bridges do to stay out of trouble as far as water is concerned, and what to do if you or a friend do get into trouble. And she gets that.’ It didn’t take long for Zanele to develop a teaching style that endeared her to the children. She refers to the CPR doll she uses as ‘LJ’ or Little Junior. ‘The kids enjoy the CPR part the most, and LJ is a real hit with them,’ she smiles. ‘Oh, and we also do this rapper-style dance so the kids can remember the ambulance number, 1-0-1-7-7. Once when I was at the shops this little guy came running up to me and started doing the dance right there. It was great.’ Zanele organised her first workshop at the primary school she attended, and since then has spread the water-safety message to about 7 941 children so far. One might say Zanele is building footbridges of a different kind now – ones that empower children to steer clear of harm’s way when it comes to water. SR

It didn’t take long for Zanele to develop a unique style that endeared her to the children.

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 29


PROFILE

memory lane A TRIP DOWN

N ENTHUSIASTIC SURFER FOR most of his life, Rex Lowe has always had a passion for the sea and for adventure. In the late-’60s he saw an advert in the local newspaper calling for volunteers for Sea Rescue. He arrived at a small tin shed in Cape Town Harbour’s Duncan Dock one Saturday morning for an interview. ‘Can you swim?’ he was asked. ‘Of course, I’m a surfer’ he replied. ‘Let’s see how well’ came the sceptical reply. Three crew members then launched a small 12-foot rubber duck with a single Mariner outboard motor, and Rex was told to hop on board. The boat made its way to the middle of Duncan Dock. ‘Now let’s see you swim back to base,’ he was told. For Rex the swim wasn’t much of a challenge but the cold water took some getting used to. Still, he made it to the base in good time. Once back on land, he was asked, ‘What do you know about surf rescue?’ Eyeing the three dry crewmen, Rex smiled. ‘Jump in the water’ he said, ‘and I’ll show you.’ As the crew obliged, he swiftly

30 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

demonstrated how to swim a casualty to shore. Rex then spent the next few years as a dedicated crew member of Station 1 – the first NSRI base in South Africa. In 1970 he moved to East London, where he was a crew member at NSRI Buffalo

Learning how to read the sea and its moods so that they could launch, do the job and come back safely was Rex’s reward. Bay. Now 80 and living in Johannesburg, he reflects on those early years with Sea Rescue. He remembers one evening at his home in Pinelands when the phone rang. It was 2am. The crew commander requested that he report to base. There had been a call for a swimmer in the water off Sea Point – a possible drowning. Rex rushed to

the base and launched with his crew. When they got to the scene, they heard singing: the type of singing often heard coming from pubs in the early hours of the morning. It turned out it wasn’t a swimmer in distress. It was a local surfer who had had one too many drinks and decided to go surfing in the middle of the night. He was given a few choice words by the rescue crew and escorted safely back to shore. For Rex, being part of Sea Rescue was fulfilling his passion for adventure. Being out at sea in all conditions, sometimes zero visibility and 15-foot waves, was exhilarating. Learning how to read the sea and its moods so that they could launch, do the job and come back safely was his reward. Rex’s fondest memories are of being out on the boat or swimming in the surf, feeling the spray on his face, knowing they were out there for a purpose – to save lives. This sentiment remains true in Sea Rescue today. Thank you, Rex, for your valuable contribution in the very early days of NSRI. SR

ILLUSTRATION: THEY DID THIS! – ILLUSTRATION AND DESIGN

A

Rex Lowe has been an avid surfer, water lover and Sea Rescue supporter almost all his life. Cherelle Leong chatted to him about the early years


REAL-LIFE RESCUE

Malan Vorster (far right) visited the base to collect his paddle. Pictured here with Barry Purdon (left) and station commander Lyall Pringle.

‘A very lucky man’ Earlier this year, Malan Vorster set off on a paddle from Kommetjie. It wasn’t long before the southeaster caused rough seas that sent him way off course. He told Andrew Ingram about how the day unfolded PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW INGRAM

M

alan Vorster had been looking for a better life for his young family. The research he had done indicated that his business, which specialises in accounting software, would do well in the Western Cape, and he felt that the time was right for a major change in lifestyle. And so Malan, 34, and his wife, Sonja, packed up their Pretoria home and moved to Cape Town with their two girls, Leanie, four, and Anel, two. Getting out in nature is important to Malan, and as soon as he’d settled down in his new home in January this year, he started mountain biking. He also bought a sea kayak with which he could explore the magnificent Cape coastline. Malan is a naturally fit person. He enjoys focusing on a goal and going flat-out to achieve it. He is quick to smile and easy to chat to, and likes to push himself. ‘I’d always wanted to paddle and got my kayak soon after moving to Cape Town. To start with, I did most of my paddling at Strand,’ he says. It was a good choice. The most dangerous wind in the Cape is the southeaster, and on the Gordon’s Bay and Strand side of False Bay it blows onshore. Sometimes when Malan

launched his kayak the southeaster would be blowing, but this was good training for the novice paddler. ‘I was very aware of the wind,’ he says. ‘When you start out it’s in your face and you can paddle out and then turn around and the wind blows you towards the beach. You can’t easily miss the fact that the wind is blowing.’

‘The swells were huge. When I was on top of the swell I could see far, but when I was in the trough I could see nothing’.

32 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

After a good few paddles in the corner of False Bay, Malan decided that it was time for a change in scenery, and on Saturday 9 March he headed off to Kommetjie with his kayak strapped to the roof of his car. As so often happens in Cape Town, the early morning was beautiful. However, sometimes there may


not be a breath of wind but as the day wears on the southeaster picks up – sometimes almost imperceptibly – and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a gale-force wind is lashing the sea. When Malan launched his kayak in the shelter of the mountain behind Kommetjie, he was wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) and a peak cap. There was a slight breeze. Nothing to worry about, he thought – and, anyway, his intention was to paddle close to the shore and enjoy the stunning scenery of the mountains that drop straight into the Atlantic. ‘I wanted to paddle towards Noordhoek and the first mistake I made was to paddle in a straight line across the bay instead of staying close in,’ he explains. ‘As I paddled, the wind speed started to increase, but because of inexperience I didn’t pay enough attention to it. That was my second mistake. Eventually, when I was quite far out, I realised that the wind was blowing very strongly and the waves were getting pretty big.’ Malan understood that he was in a dangerous situation and that turning back for Kommetjie was impossible. His only option was to put his head down and paddle towards Chapman’s Peak for all he was worth. ‘Then the wind and waves started getting really bad very quickly.’ Malan laughs nervously as he recalls what it was like out there. ‘The sea was really, really rough. The swells were huge and running towards Noordhoek, and the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. When I was on top of the swell I could see far, but when I was in the trough I could see nothing.’ Malan was getting tired now, and he knew he was in real trouble. ‘At that point I started to pray,’ he says. By sheer coincidence, the Station 8 (Hout Bay) 10m rescue boat, Nadine Gordimer, was off Kommetjie, busy with sea trials after her recent refit. She had new engines, and the NSRI volunteer crew was putting her through her paces. The wind speed was touching 35 knots, and the crew had decided to turn for home when they saw a paddler in the middle distance. ‘We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,’ says station commander Lyall Pringle. ‘A lone man paddling out there in the middle of nowhere.’ Spray was whipping across the bay as gale-force gusts simply blew the top off waves, and Malan would disappear in another trough and then come back into sight on the crest of a swell. ‘I saw the boat coming in the middle of that rough sea and I was very grateful,’ Malan smiles. ‘They came up close and asked if I was OK and I said, to be honest, I wasn’t really OK.’

SAFETY TIPS FOR PADDLERS • Never paddle alone. Join a group of paddlers so that you can learn from them. • Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) with pockets to which you can attach the following: ›› a cellphone, with emergency numbers saved on it, in a waterproof pouch ›› a mirror or CD to reflect sunlight ›› pencil flares ›› a whistle ›› a leash with which to tie your paddle to your craft ›› an orange plastic sheet to be deployed if a helicopter is looking for you. • Make sure that your name and land line telephone number are stencilled on your craft. • Wear brightly coloured clothing. • Choose a brightly coloured craft. White is very hard to see in a search. (Blue can also be problematic.) • Have a paddling plan, and tell a responsible person your plan and the time you expect to return. If you are overdue, that person should know whom to call and should do so without delay. • Emergency numbers are listed at www.nsri.org.za.

‘We couldn’t believe what we were seeing – a lone man paddling out there in the middle of nowhere.’

Above: Lyall Pringle helps Malan carry his ski to his car.

The rescue boat crew had come across Malan about 3nm off Noordhoek Beach and about 4nm from Hout Bay. This was one hour and 50 minutes after he’d launched his kayak from Kommetjie. ‘I made lots of mistakes. I didn’t take flares or a phone,’ Malan admits. ‘That was very stupid, but in my mind you take flares when you’re going to paddle far out to sea. My intention wasn’t to do that. I didn’t realise that I could land up far out even though I had no intention of going in deep.’ By 17h30 that evening, the wind was gusting at 45 knots – and by Lyall’s calculation, if the rescue crew hadn’t found Malan when they did, he would have been 7nm out to sea by the time Sonja raised the alarm and a search was started. ‘He’s a very lucky man,’ smiles Lyall. SR Malan has shared his story in the hope that others who are new to paddling will learn from it and not make the same mistakes that he made. He now has a full set of emergency equipment and a safety plan for his wife to follow if he is overdue from a paddle.

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 33


REAL-LIFE RESCUE

A MAMMOTH TASK Richards Bay volunteers took part in a 23-hour tow in April this year. Andrew Ingram spoke to the crew about ‘the biggest boat’ they’ve ever towed Sea Rescue team had loaded enough extra fuel, food and water to sustain them for the round trip through the night. ‘It was very, very ugly,’ says Dorian. ‘A force-eight gale was blowing. The seas were 8m and foaming on top. The wind, gusting at 50 knots, was whistling through the rigging.’ It took four hours for the rescue boat to reach Sea Express II. In the meantime, the stricken crew had deployed four 220-litre drums as a sea anchor to slow them down. This was the first challenge for the NSRI crew. They needed to make a long, strong bridle – a rope going around at least one strong point on the casualty vessel, such as the foot of a keel-mounted mast or a bollard, to which the rescue boat’s towline is attached. The best rope for this job had been tied to the drums so it wasn’t an option to simply cut them free – and there was no way, in those sea conditions, that the three-man crew would be able to pull the drums in. So, with great care, the rescue boat was manoeuvred in and the drums were cut free by crewmen standing on Spirit’s foredeck. Regularly, half a metre or more of green water would wash over the deck, making being out there extremely hazardous. It took about an hour-and-ahalf to rig the towing bridle, and once they

David and Goliath – Spirit of Richards Bay is dwarfed by Sea Express II. It took crew 23 hours to tow the stricken vessel to port.

34 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

were connected, the slack was slowly taken up on the 220m tow rope. ‘We were towing straight into the 8m sea. The best speed we could make was two or three knots, and we took the waves straight over our bow,’ explains Dorian. ‘It was like towing a block of flats.’ The sea started subsiding but, nevertheless, at 22h00 the bridle parted. It took 45 minutes to sort that out and reconnect, and by this time the two boats had drifted back two miles. As conditions improved, the speed of the tow was slowly pushed up to about five knots. At sunrise the Spirit of Richards Bay crew was exhausted. They had been at sea for 17 hours already and were very happy when, off St Lucia, their 7m rescue boat Spirit of Round Table brought them extra food and fresh crew. At 11h20 on Tuesday, 23 hours after the operation started, the Spirit of Richards Bay pulled Sea Express II into the safety of the harbour. The tow was shortened and, with the help of the smaller rescue boat, she was put alongside at the small-boat harbour. ‘It was a long and difficult tow. And probably the biggest boat that Spirit has ever towed,’ says Dorian. ‘We have towed many yachts... but that... I don’t want to do it again in a hurry.’ SR

PHOTOGRAPH: BRYNN GERRICKE

I

N SEA RESCUE TERMS, RICHARDS Bay is the last outpost. To the south, the nearest NSRI station is Durban, 155km away, and to the north, well, the Mozambique border, which is 266km away. And so it is that the people who volunteer for NSRI duty that far north need to be well prepared. And self-sufficient. On Monday 22 April a call for help from the 50-tonne Sea Express II was received. She had sailed from Pemba, Mozambique, and was en route to Cape Town when she lost all power. After trying for 10 hours to get her engines going, the delivery crew of three men, who believed the outage had been caused by a lightning strike, had no option but to call for help. They were on board a dead ship in horrendous seas. ‘The position we were given was 126km from Richards Bay and 36km off Sodwana,’ explains coxswain Dorian Robertson. The Sea Express II is a huge vessel. With a width of 8m and length of 25m, she would dwarf the 12m rescue boat Spirit of Richards Bay. But Richards Bay station commander Cornel du Toit agreed with Dorian and fellow-coxswain Mike Patterson that Spirit would be able to tow the vessel – and if not, the three men would have to abandon ship. Conditions were not good, so careful preparations were made. By 13h00 the


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Naturalist Georgina Jones introduces us to nudibranchs. While beautiful on the outside, they pack a poisonous punch when they find themselves in trouble PHOTOGRAPHS BY GEOFF SPIBY

CHEMICAL

brothers E VERY FAMILY HAS THEM. THE ONES WHO defy convention and take up a vagabond life. And so it is with marine snails. Millions of years ago, their cousins, usually known as nudibranchs (pronounced to rhyme with ‘banks’) or less gracefully as sea slugs, gave up their stony hideouts and began to live without shells. They probably started out as scavenging burrowers and the shells got in the way. Over time, however, almost none of them have stayed that way. Today, even though some are small and inconspicuous, most nudibranchs and their close family (head-shield slugs, sap-sucking slugs, pleurobranchs and sea hares) are arguably the most flamboyant marine animals in existence. Their showy appearance advertises their toxicity, because when these animals lost or drastically reduced their shells, they replaced physical defences to predation with chemical ones. Their bright colours warn other reef animals not to go near them, and they’ve been so successful that very few animals prey on this group – and those few specialist predators are usually nudibranchs themselves. Chemical defences are costly to make and nudibranchs seem to avoid unnecessary energy expenditure, so they usually get their defence systems from their prey. There are sponge specialists that prey on sponges and, along with their sponge food, absorb the sponge’s most potent toxins for their own use. Some nudibranchs also use the sponge’s structural supports, spiked structures called spicules, as predator deterrents. Some prey on poisonous moss animals, performing the same

36 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

Vividly red Spanish dancers (Hexabranchus sanguineus) may grow up to 40cm in total length.


THE BIG BLUE trick of using the moss animals’ defences for themselves. A few pattern breakers are so perfectly camouflaged to match their prey that they’re almost invisible. Even more amazing is a group, the aeolids, that preys on animals with stinging cells. They attack their stinging prey (which may include corals, anemones, jellyfish or hydroids), and feed undaunted by the stings the prey fires at them. Their digestive system keeps any unfired stinging cells for use in the nudibranch’s own arsenal. The sea swallow, an astonishingly beautiful rayed blue animal that preys on bluebottles, carefully selects only the most virulent of the bluebottle’s own stinging cells for itself, making it considerably more dangerous to touch than its prey. Some of them secrete acids to deter predators, and mucus to protect themselves from the defences of their prey. All of which adds up to nudibranchs not being popular aquarium species: they can kill off all the fauna in a marine tank in a very short time. Aside from using their prey’s defences for their own purposes, there are sea slugs that also use their prey’s food-generating capacity for themselves. ‘Solar-powered slugs’ eat hydroids that have symbiotic algae living inside them. These algal cells produce the bulk of the sugars the hydroid uses for energy. The slugs, in addition to taking the hydroid’s stinging cells for themselves, also take the algae, which then continue their job of photosynthesising inside special cells in the slug. Some of the solar-powered slugs are thought to only eat as juveniles, taking in their stock of algal food producers, and then relying on staying in the sunlit shallows as adults while the algae do their work.The sap-sucking slugs go directly to their seaweed food and abstract its photosynthetic apparatus for their own use. These chloroplasts continue to function for a while, producing sugars inside the animal, but must then be replaced during another seaweed meal. The name nudibranch means ‘naked gills’. Without a shell to give structure to aid gills in absorbing oxygen and in getting oxygendepleted water out of the way, nudibranchs have had to come up with other oxygenabsorption strategies. Some have simply stayed small and absorb oxygen across their skins; others have developed extensions to their bodies known as cerata that increase the area of skin available for absorption. Some of them have developed a feathery gill rosette. These gill rosettes may be retractable or may have distracting additions

Left (top to bottom): A delicately coloured coral nudibranch; the gasflame nudibranch is only known from the Cape Peninsula to PE; feathery gill rosettes can resemble exotic decorations on a cupcake; the whiteedged nudibranch uses its cerata to extend its skin surface for respiration.

around them intended to get predators to go for these instead of the important and vulnerable gills. Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both sets of sexual organs, which is a good strategy in a slow-moving animal that may seldom meet a mate. When they meet another individual of the same species, there is a brief dance while the animals get their right sides aligned, and then each animal deposits sperm into the gonopore of the other. Once in the animal’s reproductive tract, the donated sperm (called allosperm) is kept separate from the individual’s sperm (autosperm), and when the individual’s eggs are ready to be fertilised, they are sent past the allosperm for fertilisation. The individual’s own sperm is kept inactive to further guard against self-fertilisation. Once fertilised, the eggs are spiked with protective toxins, covered with mucus and laid in a rosette or a long string, each one specific to the species laying the egg ribbon. These egg ribbons, usually bright orange, yellow and red, are often the only evidence of a nudibranch’s presence. Divers in tropical seas sometimes come across the gorgeous magenta rosette laid by the Spanish dancer, a huge vividly red-and-yellow animal that swims by, slowly flexing its body in the water in a way reminiscent of flamenco dancers. Apart from protective toxins and mucus, nudibranchs do not go in for much parental care, laying thousands of eggs per egg ribbon and then leaving them to their own devices. The eggs, if not eaten by predators – usually other specialist nudibranchs – hatch into top-shaped larvae called veligers, which bob around in the plankton for a while before seeking out their prey species and transforming into their adult form. Their time in the plankton varies but is limited, and if they don’t find a suitable environment to change and grow, the larvae are doomed. As adults they live for about a year, delighting the eyes of humans who observe them and being the terror of their prey. SR

SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 37


STATION DIRECTORY STN 2

BAKOVEN

STN 8

HOUT BAY

STN 14 PLETTENBERG BAY

StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Bruce Davidson 082 990 5962 Rotarian Schipper – 6.5m RIB Waterproof digital camera

STN 3

TABLE BAY

StatCom: Lyall Pringle 082 990 5964 Craft: MTU Nadine Gordimer – 10m rescue craft, Albie Matthews – 7.3m RIB, Nedbank Rescuer – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: CPR training dummy, Pelican cases, sailing gloves

StatCom: Deon Truter 082 990 5975 Craft: Ian Hepburn – 7.3m RIB, Sally Joan – 5m RIB, Airlink Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 2 NEEDS: Pelican case for medical kit, waterproof binoculars

STN 9

STN 15 MOSSEL BAY

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

STN 4 MYKONOS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Gerard Brune 082 990 5966 Spirit of Freemasonry – 9m rescue craft, Gemini Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, TNPA Rescuer One Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars, towels

STN 5

DURBAN

StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Clifford Ireland 082 990 5948 Eikos Rescuer II – 10m rescue craft, Megan II – 7m RIB, Spirit of Svitzer – 3.9m rescue craft Floor paint to repaint boat shed, paint for ops room

STN 6

PORT ELIZABETH

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

STN 7

EAST LONDON

StatCom: Geoff McGregor 082 990 5972 Craft: Spirit of Lotto – 13m rescue craft, Spirit of Rotary East London II – 5.5m RIB, Lotto Rescue Runner NEEDS: The services of a doctor to perform crew check ups

38 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

GORDON’S BAY

StatCom: Nigel Pepperell 083 625 0481 Craft: Jack Riley – 14m rescue craft, Spirit of Surfski – 5.5m RIB, Inge – Swedish Rescue Runner NEEDS: LED torches, waterproof binoculars

STN 10 SIMON’S TOWN

StatCom: André Fraser 082 990 5954 Fuel sponsor: Total Craft: Rescue 15 – 10m rescue craft, Vodacom Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Vodacom Rescuer IV – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Roller shutter doors for boat shed, large-screen PC

STN 16 STRANDFONTEIN

StatCom: Darren Zimmermann 082 990 5965 Fuel sponsor: False Bay Yacht Club Craft: Spirit of Safmarine III – 10m rescue craft, Eddie Beaumont II – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Two Pentax 7x50 marine binoculars

StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

STN 11 PORT ALFRED

STN 17 HERMANUS

StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Juan Pretorius 082 990 5971 Lotto Challenger – 8.5m rescue craft, 5.5m RIB (still to be named), Discovery Rescue Runner 5 Data projector for training

Mario Fredericks 082 990 6753 Spirit of GrandWest CSI – 5.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer III – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 3 Fuel sponsor

StatCom: Henk Henn 082 990 5967 Craft: South Star – 10m rescue craft, Hunters Gold Rescuer – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of Le Jenmar II – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: New garage doors, paint

STN 12 KNYSNA

STN 18 MELKBOSSTRAND

StatCom: Graeme Harding 082 990 5956 Craft: Colorpress Rescuer – 8.5m RIB, Jaytee III – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of KYC – 4.2m rescue craft NEEDS: Waterproof binoculars, aquapacks

StatCom: Rhine Barnes 082 990 5958 Craft: Spirit of the Vines – 6.5m RIB, Men’s Health Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 4 NEEDS: GoPro camera would be useful for training

SEA RESCUE CONTACTS

To reach NSRI after hours, please call Meriel Bartlett on 082 994 7555 or Craig Lambinon on 082 380 3800. For general information, please call NSRI’s head office in Cape Town on (021) 434 4011.


THE NSRI IS MANNED BY 941 VOLUNTEERS AT 30 BASES AROUND THE COAST AND ON THREE INLAND DAMS. OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE DAY JOBS BUT WILL ALWAYS RESPOND TO YOUR EMERGENCY.

STN 19 RICHARDS BAY StatCom: Cornel du Toit 082 990 5949 Craft: Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m rescue craft NEEDS: Three waterproof torches (with LED conversion)

STN 20 SHELLY BEACH

StatCom: Mark Harlen 082 990 5950 Fuel sponsor: Caltex Caltex Endeavour – 7.3m RIB, Craft: Caltex Challenger II – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of Le Jenmar I – 4m rescue craft, Discovery Rescue Runner 8 NEEDS: Pelican case for medical kit

STN 21 ST FRANCIS BAY StatCom: Marc May 082 990 5969 Fuel sponsor: CBF Motors, Humansdorp Craft: Spirit of St Francis II – 8.5m RIB, Eikos Rescuer I – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Screen for PC monitor

STN 22 VAAL DAM StatCom: Dick Manten 083 626 5128 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Harvey’s Fibreglass – 5.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 11 NEEDS: GoPro camera would be useful for training

STN 23 WILDERNESS StatCom: Hennie Niehaus 082 990 5955 Craft: Spirit of Rotary 100 – 5.5m RIB, Serendipity – 4.2m, Die Swart Tobie – 4.2m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 1 NEEDS: Laptop

STN 25 HARTBEESPOORT DAM StatCom: Rod Pitter 082 990 5961 Fuel sponsor: Sasol Craft: Afrox Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB NEEDS: Tool set, Tectyl protective coating, bottled water

STN 26 KOMMETJIE StatCom: Tom Coetzee 082 990 5979 Craft: Spirit of Winelands – 5.5m RIB, FNB Wavescapes – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 7 NEEDS: Toolkit

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

STN 28A PORT ST JOHNS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

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

STN 29 AIR SEA RESCUE StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

André Beuster 082 990 5980 PJ1 – collapsible 4.7m, PJ2 – collapsible 4.7m Flat-screen TV for training

STN 30 AGULHAS StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Reinard Geldenhuys 082 990 5952 Vodacom Rescuer VII – 8.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer II – 4.7m RIB Data projector for training

STN 31 STILL BAY StatCom: Enrico Menezies 082 990 5978 Craft: Spirit of St Francis – 7.3m RIB, Colorpress Too – 4.2m NEEDS: Medical supplies

STN 32 PORT EDWARD StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

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

STN 33 WITSAND StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Attie Gunter 082 990 5957 Queenie Paine – 5.5m RIB, Falcon Rescuer – 4.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 9 GoPro camera for training, data projector

STN 34 YZERFONTEIN StatCom: Rudi Rogers 082 498 7330 Craft: Rotary Onwards – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Iffley – 4.2m, Discovery Rescue Runner 10 NEEDS: Funds towards new boathouse

STN 36 OYSTER BAY StatCom: Craft: NEEDS:

Mark Mans 083 653 6387 Pierre – 4.7m RIB, Oyster Bay I (jet-ski) Whiteboard for training room

STN 37 JEFFREYS BAY StatCom: Rieghard Janse van Rensburg 071 896 6831 Craft: Loved 1s 24: – 4.2m, two jet-skis, Discovery Rescue Runner 12 NEEDS: Air-conditioning units for lecture and operations rooms, Pelican cases

the value of gopro cameras

A GoPro camera may sound like a luxury, but it is an invaluable tool for training. After each training exercise, the crew is debriefed, and having a GoPro camera fitted on the boat will give them the opportunity to replay footage step by step. GoPro cameras are especially useful at rescue bases with difficult launches where learning to read the surf is vital. SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013 • 39


CAMPAIGN

An ode tothe sea, T

HE GREAT THING ABOUT advertising is that you work on something new every week. Unfortunately, most of the time, the products you sell have little to do with your life – a male copywriter writing an ad for tampons, for example, or a junior art director selling a R956 000 sports sedan. But every now and again a brief comes along that really does mean something personal to you. I grew up in surf city, Durban, where my friends and I spent most of our teenage years chasing waves rather than girls. We’d wake up at 5am, surf till lunch, eat a roti and hit the surf again till sunset. The ocean has always meant a lot to me. Its beauty, power and mystery, but also the inherent danger it hides. So when a brief to create a TV commercial for the National Sea Rescue Institute landed in Ogilvy Cape Town, it was a rare opportunity. A chance to create a commercial for something with real personal meaning. The commercial we eventually created is an ode to the sea and people’s love for it, set to the iconic poem ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield. The ad showcases some of the amazing ways that South Africans interact with the ocean, to deliver a simple message about the importance of the sea and the NSRI:

AND THE

South Africans love being out there, so the NSRI is always out there. The commercial was created thanks to the efforts of many people who devoted their time free of charge, simply because they believe in the NSRI and its great work. Firstly, Tristyn von Berg and his team at Velocity films deserve every thanks. From the pre-production process and shooting at 4am for several days, to the lengthy and selective editing process, they were excellent and I hope their efforts are rewarded somehow. Lee-Anne, Regardt and the guys at POST Production in Cape Town were equally outstanding. The commercial was filmed in late 2012, at locations around Cape Town and Durban. Before shooting, Ogilvy Cape Town needed to secure the rights to John Masefield’s poem free of charge by writing a motivating letter to the English poet laureate’s trust. The shoot itself was fairly easy –mostly because we spent a week on the beach, out of the office. The editing process wasn’t quite as simple, nor were the music and voice selection. How do you find a piece of music and a voice that do justice to the power and majesty of the ocean? After an extensive search, the song ‘The

Watch the clip at http://www.nsri.org.za/2013/05/sea-fever/ CREDITS: Executive Creative Director: Chris Gotz / Agency Producer: Cathy Day / Agency Art Director: Justin Enderstein / Copywriter: Cuan Cronwright / Production Company: Velocity Films Director: Tristyn von Berg / Producer: Chantel Kriel / Director of Photography: Shaun Harley Lee Editor and Company: Regardt Voges at POST / Music Company/Composer/Sound: Noah and the Whale, ‘First Days of Spring’ / Sound Design and Final Mix: Arnold Vermaak at WeLoveJam / Thank you also to e.tv, DStv and Nu Metro Cinemas which will flight the ad

40 • SEA RESCUE • WINTER 2013

NSRI WORDS BY CUAN CRONWRIGHT

First Days of Spring’ by British band, Noah and the Whale was selected. Again, a motivating letter was needed to secure rights to the song from Universal Music free of charge. For the voice, director Tristyn von Berg eventually found Tom O’Bedlam (pseudonym), an American who posts videos of his poetry readings on YouTube. Tristyn approached Tom, explaining what the NSRI does and why we needed his voice. Tom quickly agreed to give us his recording of ‘Sea Fever’ at no cost. In fact, at every turn, everyone who found out why we were making this commercial offered their help more than willingly. And while I’d like to think this is because, as advertisers, we’re very good at convincing people to do things, it had nothing to do with that at all. The truth is the NSRI is an organisation that people genuinely believe in. And whether they love the sea or not, they willingly offer their help because they’ve read or heard about the countless lives the NSRI has saved. So while this project started out as personal to me because I love the ocean, it became personal to a lot of other people too – people who believe in the NSRI and all the great work the organisation does. Thanks to everyone who helped us with this commercial. But mostly, thanks to the NSRI for your unerring commitment to keeping South African shores safe. SR


NSRI Sea Rescue Winter 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...

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