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Winner of the 2007 and 2009 PICA award for Excellence in Magazine Publishing a n d J o u r n a l i s m i n t h e c at e g o ry B u s i n e s s to B u s i n e s s : E s s e n t i a l S e r v i c e s

summer 2010/11 R14.95 > Free to NSRI members

The Carver boys Young brothers save their uncle’s life

Bravery awards

for Redfin yacht rescuers

UnderstaNding the songs of


samsa’s centre for boating The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) was established in 1998 in terms of the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act. SAMSA is a national maritime safety agency charged with the stewardship of South Africa’s maritime interests as its primary objective, including South Africa’s 400 dams and 24 navigable rivers, as per the Small Vessel Safety Regulations. In December 2009, SAMSA launched its Arrive Alive campaign targeted at holidaymakers and boat owners using inland waters. The campaign consisted of several activations that were aimed at educating the consumer on safety regulations and tips on staying alive while enjoying our country’s inland and coastal waters. SAMSA, which has been referred to as the SAPS of our seas, aimed to encourage no drinking and driving on boats, wearing life jackets and ensuring that all skippers had a license to drive their boats – all this was done with the help of the NSRI and the SAPS Water Wing. The Boating Safety Campaign was the first of its kind in South Africa and is a result of Government identifying a need for a central coordinator to regulate this space. Some of the key players were: • • • •

The Department of Water Affairs, which manages the water scheme on behalf of Government. The municipalities within whose jurisdiction the dams are located. The SAPS Water Wing, which is responsible for law enforcement and deploying divers to assist during accidents and incidents. SANPARKS – most dams are located within nature reserves and camping sites.

Lessons learnt during this implementation made it necessary to look beyond just the safety aspects of the small vessels. The industry is large and employs a substantial number of people. The South African product has a good reputation in the international market (particularly yachting). Also, South Africa has huge backlogs, and boating, repositioned properly, would provide the country with solutions to some of the social challenges relating to transportation, such as inadequate access to roads and bridges, and employment. Some of the safety elements of the regulations have economic implications and impact on the economic performance of the industry. Thus, during the implementation of the regulations, it became apparent to SAMSA that the initiative ought to cover more than just the safety aspects of boating. In this regard, it became necessary to have a centre focused on all the aspects that would ensure a maximum benefit from the regulation. These include: • • • • •

Safety Transformation Economic development Environmental sustainability Intergovernmental and industry cooperation

These aspects form the objectives of the SAMSA Centre for Boating, which was launched on 28 of January 2010 in the hopes of ensuring safety in and on South African waters.

The December campaign culminated in the launch of the Centre for Boating, a new centre aimed at ensuring that all small vessels meet SAMSA’s new safety regulations. The boating industry is well established in South Africa; it is primarily a leisure industry that is big on sailing, yachting, speedboating and water-skiing. A large percentage of these activities takes place at our inland waters, but the industry also has commercial and import interests. As a result of accidents occurring on our inland waters, the Merchant Shipping Act Small Vessel Regulations came into being in 2007 with the intention of addressing the safety aspects of the boating industry. This was envisaged from construction (construction regulations) and operational points of view (certification of fitness for the boats and competency for the skippers). There are other safety measures relating to equipment to be carried on board and emergency procedures. The roll out of the implementation of the regulations saw the last set of requirements being enforceable in terms of the regulations (issue of certificate of fitness for speedboats, etc, above 15 horsepower).

SAMSA. Safe Ships. Clean Seas.

What missing yachtsmen, capsized boats and your business have in common.

Picture this: you’re in the car after a gruelling day at the office when your cellphone beeps. However, instead of a message from home asking you to pick up bread and milk, it’s a rescue call. So, instead of going home to a hot meal and your favourite armchair, you head out to sea. For the members of the NSRI this happens daily. They respond to swimmers, yachtsmen, commercial sailors and even stranded marine life in distress. And every time they risk their lives to save another, they do it for free. It’s no easy task being a member of the NSRI and we at Absa recognise this, which is why we’re a proud platinum supporter of this non-profit organisation. We salute the fact that the NSRI’s team of highly trained individuals come together to save South Africans from danger at sea. And in the same way our own highly trained individuals at Absa Business Bank come together to find the solution to keep your business afloat. You could say that Absa and the NSRI are helping South Africans sleep a little easier. For your business banking needs, call tel: 021 915 5300 Absa Business Bank

Proud sponsor for 25 years

SUMMER 2010/11


CEO’s letter AND READERS’ comments

A message from Ian Wienburg, your views, winning letter, manuals and DVDs for sale, and a chance to win with our subscription drive



Young brothers Daniel and Joshua Carver become heroes after fighting for an hour to keep their uncle alive


medical focus


stryd teen die oormag

16 28





saluting our fellow rescue services





Keen youngsters show their mettle

Georgina Jones goes in search of caves and meets a whale along the way

A heart-wrenching account of a tragic accident on Table Mountain

Dr Cleeve Robertson answers your questions on diabetes

Die storie agter die redding van Redfin




in the news

The advantages and disadvantages of growing up in a big family

Former Station 19 (Richards Bay) station commander receives Rotary’s highest accolade

Dedications, thanks, fundraisers, AGM long-service and other awards




empowering our children

Meet our new bequest officers

New facilitators are spreading the water-safety message in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng




from the helm

When the shoe is on the other foot A friend called me one Sunday evening late in June (just after the Germany vs England game). Her husband was not well. Driving from Sea Point to Milnerton, I put my hazard lights on and the cars kindly parted for me to slip through. I soon realised that someone was tailing me and, true enough, as

I pulled up in front of the house, a young chap leapt from his car. I am ashamed to say that I anticipated an altercation but his first words were, ‘I am a paramedic and I saw your flashing lights – do you need my help?’ Stefan (a third-year medical student and paramedic) accompanied me inside and called an ambulance. Having worked with Sea Rescue for more than 30 years, you would think I was immune to being impressed by helpfulness but Stefan was incredibly professional yet compassionate and considerate. Soon his colleagues Allan and Zulani arrived and we had quite a job getting the patient down the stairs. Once again I was struck by how fantastic these paramedics were. They focused on the patient but also took time to reassure his 10-year-old son. I was blown away by their kindness; perhaps more so because clearly none of them had a clue who I was or what I do for a day job. I have ensured that the management team from ER24 got to hear my compliments and I have told everyone I know about the experience. When I needed help, their chaps were 100% there for me. They made sure that everyone felt secure in their hands. People like these are the real celebrities. These are the people we should spend more time talking about and admiring. Stefan, Allan and Zulani – you really made a big impression on me. Thank you for helping me and my friends. And thank you for not treating us like just another statistic.


OUR REGIONAL OFFICES DURBAN: Durban Rescue Base, Small Craft Basin, Point Waterfront, Durban 4001 / PO Box 38446, Point 4069 Tel: +27 31 332-9772 Fax: +27 31 332-9773 PORT ELIZABETH: 216 Cape Road, Mill Park, Port Elizabeth 6001 / PO Box 7909, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth 6055 Tel: +27 41 374-8315 Fax: +27 41 374-8316 GAUTENG: Bouhof, 31 Robin Hood Road, Robindale, Randburg 2194 / PO Box 3432, Pinegowrie 2123 Tel: +2711 888-5451 Fax: +2711 888-5458

NSRI’S HEAD OFFICE is funded through our faithful Platinum Sponsors. all OTHER donations can therefore BE SET ASIDE FOR rescue work.


GOLD PARTNERSHIPS • De Beers Marine • Premier Fishing SA (Pty) Ltd • viking fishing ltd • Lusitania Marketing Services • macs maritime shipping • Marine Products • Oceana Group • Svitzer-Wijsmuller • sa five engineering • amoil (pty) ltd • panargo shipping • sappi

04 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


wenbrief Veels geluk aan Griet Gouws wat ons wenbrief geskryf het. Jou storie het ons diep geraak en ons is so bly dat jy sover goed herstel. Jou Slaley Wyn is op pad. Ek is al meer as vyf jaar lid van die NSRI en tot nou toe was ek altyd deel van die reddingspan, gereed om diens te lewer. Op 27 Mei is hierdie rol skielik omgeruil. Ek was in ‘n kop-aan-kop botsing, op ‘n grondpad so 30km vanaf Stilbaai. My bene was vasgeklem en ek kon glad nie beweeg nie. Toe ek uitkyk na waar die ander voertuig is, sien ek die bestuurder sit ook vas en ‘n klomp werkers met verskillende grade van beserings binne en buite die bakkie. Ons het pas die naweek ons mediese opknappingskursus gehad, maar ek het besef ek kan niks vir hulle of myself doen nie. Die stuurstang en pedale het my vasgedruk en my deur kon glad nie oop nie. Ek was in kwaai pyn en ek kon bloed voel afloop teen my been. Iets is gebreek. Ek was bang dat die voertuig aan die brand sou slaan, maar die sleutel was afgebreek. Op die kursus het ons daaroor gepraat dat dit gelukkig nie sommer gebeur nie. Al was niks in my voertuig meer op die normale plek nie kon ek deur die Here se genade my foon in die hande kry. Na ek my man gebel het, het ek die NSRI op Stilbaai gebel. Iemand van die ander voertuig het die polisie gekontak. Binne 20 minute was Stasie 31 stasiebevelvoerder Rico Menezies en Charl Haupt daar. Oppad het hulle al die ander nooddienste en ‘n helikopter gekontak. Hulle het nog iemand gereël om my man te gaan haal ook. Ek was baie verlig om hulle te sien, want ek het geweet ek is in goeie hande. Hulle het dadelik beheer geneem van die situasie, al die beseerdes ondersoek en noodbehandeling begin toepas. Intussen het my man ook baie ontsteld opgedaag. Toe hy my en die omvang van die ongeluk sien was hy nog meer ontsteld, maar hy sê Rico en Charl se teenwoordigheid en die manier waarop hulle my versorg het, het hom dadelik laat kalmeer. Die ander nooddienste en die reddingskake het ook opgedaag. Al was daar nou ‘n klomp ander mediese personeel, het Rico en Charl my die hele tyd ondersteun en gesorg dat ek nie bewussyn verloor terwyl hulle my uit die motor moes sny nie. Dit het omtrent twee ure geneem. Ek is met die helikopter Mosselbaai toe. Daarvoor was ek baie, baie dankbaar. Daar het die NSRI van Mosselbaai by die hospitaal gewag om te verseker alles is reg. Verskeie ander stasies asook die NSRI hoofkantoor en bestuur het ook gebel om te hoor hoe dit gaan. Baie, baie dankie vir elkeen se belangstelling en omgee. Die volgende dag is ek verras met ‘n reuse ruiker blomme vanaf Stasie 31 wat Rico en Charl kom aflewer het. Daarna vir die vyf weke wat ek in die bed moes bly, is ek verskeie kere besoek deur lede van die stasie. Nou, na drie maande hinkepink ek nog en kan ek nog nie behoorlik swem nie, maar ek leef en ek is besig om te herstel. Daarvoor dank ons die Here, maar ook al die nooddienste wat so flink en professioneel opgetree het. Dis ‘n voorreg om deel van die NSRI-familie te wees, of jy nou reddingsspan of patiënt is – die behandeling bly tops! Baie dankie! Baie, baie dankie ook aan almal by Stasie 31, veral Rico en Charl – julle is die beste! Griet Gouws, Stasie 31 (Stilbaai)


Daniel and Joshua Carver taken by Andrew Ingram

The Crew THE PUBLISHING PARTNERSHIP MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Maritz ART DIRECTOR Tara Keane ADVERTISING Jean Ramsay EXECUTIVE DirectorS Mark Beare, John Morkel address PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018 TEL +27 21 4 ­ 24-3517 FAX +27 21 424-3612 Email

Sea rescue head office: +27 21 434-4011 web marketing director Meriel Bartlett, CELL 082 994 7555 Email marketing MANAGER Andrew Ingram CELL 082 990 5977 Email NSRI Spokesman Craig Lambinon CelL 082 380 3800 Email Produced for the NSRI by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018. Copyright The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2010. 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, Cape Town ISBN 1812-0644

for sal

Small Vessel Seamanship Guide

Sponsored by Sanlam, this guide covers the syllabus for the SAMSA Small Vessel Certificate of Competence. Suitable for the National Local Waters and Coastal Skippers’ exam.

R70 each

incl. VAT (plus R10.50 for postage)

SUCCESSFUL RESUSCITATION OF PADDLER Paul Lynch, a senior lifesaver from Kings Beach in the Eastern Cape, successfully resuscitated a fellow paddler during the 2010 K2 Breede River marathon held in August. All involved were wearing life jackets. Here is his story: It happened within 10km of the start. A fallen tree that was protruding into the river forced Hannes van der Westhuizen and his paddling partner over to the left where they became wedged between the tree and the river. The water was flowing strongly, forcing Hannes’s chest against the tree and he subsequently fainted. The boat capsized and he was thrown into the water. A fellow paddler grabbed him but his weight, combined with the force of the water, kept him under for some time. The paddler was too scared to let go of Hannes, who was unconscious, and he was concerned that Hannes would stay underwater and disappear down the river.

06 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

For Those in Peril It’s not too late late to order a copy to give as a Christmas gift. For Those in Peril celebrates 40 years of Sea Rescue in full colour. Call Theresa Medicine on (021) 434-4011 or email theresam@


incl. VAT (plus R15 for postage)

Realising that Hannes was close to drowning, Dave Manning from the local Blue Water Canoe Club climbed onto the tree, walked along the trunk and grabbed Hannes’s arm from the guy holding onto him in an attempt to dislodge him. In the process Dave ended up in the water and under the tree. He got caught on a branch under the water but managed to free himself. When he surfaced he saw that Hannes was floating toward the opposite bank in the direction of the other paddlers, who then pulled him out onto the bank. My paddling partner, Daniel Schute, and I had fallen out of our canoe. We were about to resume racing, when I saw Hannes being dragged out of the river towards where we were. Hannes was unconscious, his lips were blue and his eyes had rolled back in his head. I checked for breathing but there was nothing. I extended his neck, gave two deep breaths and checked him again. Still nothing. I carried on administering CPR to Hannes until I was told that he had a pulse. After another five breaths, I checked again and it seemed that there was some noise coming from his mouth, so I put him into the recovery position. He was, however, still not breathing so I turned him on to his back and continued breathing for him. After another 10 breaths, there seemed to be some movement from Hannes, so I put him into the recovery position again and he slowly started breathing by himself. We covered him with whatever we could find and waited another five to 10 minutes to see how he responded. By that time someone had used a cellphone to contact the race organisers, who then arranged for an ambulance to come and pick him up. Hannes was checked into intensive care for the night and the following day. He phoned me on the Monday to thank me and seems to have made a full recovery. Paul Lynch

Saving Lives

Sea Rescue – It’s What We Do DVD From dramatic footage of crew launching and interviews with rescuers and their families to a re-enactment of a real rescue, this DVD tells a rather humble and personal story of dedication and heroism. It’s full of action too.

Perfect for school groups, this DVD gives loads of tips on water safety with an invitation to book a CPR demonstration. There is no copyright, so it can be shared. Call Theresa Medicine on (021) 434-4011 or Linda Els on 083 743 7203.

R20 each

R20 each

incl. VAT (plus R10.50 for postage)

SUPPORTING SEA RESCUE My husband, Brian, is turning 70, and in lieu of presents, we have asked for donations to be made to two organisations, yours being one of them. Brian and I bought a house in Plettenberg Bay last year and on Easter Monday of this year were on Robberg having a braai with friends. A young Spanish man had got lost in the dark. We were so impressed by the prompt and friendly action that the NSRI team took and the good work you all do voluntarily, hence I thought of you all at NSRI for this occasion. I hope our friends and family give generously and, presumably, if they mention Brian’s name, you will be able to put two and two together. Keep up the good work. Lyn Madeley OUR HEROES I wish to extend my and my family’s heartfelt thanks to all who were involved in the courageous rescue of my sister-in-law Christine Phelan, her partner, Lars, and their crew. You’re our heroes. Charmaine Pienaar, Australia (See page 16 for full story.)

incl. postage

DANKIE, YZERFONTEIN, VIR DIE UITSTAPPIE Hiermee wil ons u hartlik bedank vir die onvergeetlike en leersame dag wat u vir ons moontlik gemaak het. Baie dankie dat u ook nie vergeet het om ons innerlike mens te versterk nie. Die kinders kon nie wag om dit wat hulle geleer en ervaar het op papier uit te druk nie. Mev BC Farmer, Projek-koördineerder, Gee My Jou Hand, Moorreesburg TERRAPIN BROUGHT TO SAFETY I wish to express my gratitude to the staff of Station 19 (Richards Bay) who assisted us back to port after we lost our engine on the sailboat Terrapin. Your efficiency and professionalism was sincerely appreciated. Keep up the good work. Zelda van der Merwe

Subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine and stand a chance to win!

WIN A LUMI-NOX 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. Retails at R3 750. Features: • Water-resistant to 200 metres • Undirectional revolving bezel • Hardened mineral glass • Poly-carbon reinforced case For more information, visit or email Doug Sutherland on swiss made

Please post your form to NSRI Head Office, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051; your nearest regional office; or fax it to (021) 434-1661. Congratulations to our previous winners: Mr DA Knoesen (Great Brak), Ms Hermien Dry (Melkbosstrand) and Mr Malcom D Wilson (Benmore)

I would like to subscribe to Sea Rescue magazine i would like to buy a gift subscription for the person below

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swipe! Whoosh! Right, one down and one to go. With skilful fingers I revealed my Leatherman’s deadly precision pliers and launched myself onto the second lioness’s muscle-strewn back. Within seconds her canines were plucked (and in my top pocket for a future lucky charm), and my alarmed wife was back in my arms. With a Leatherman, every man is a Tarzan!

LEATHERMAN COMPETITION Congratulations to Jeremy Valerga for telling us a very tall tale about his Leatherman! It was most entertaining. Jeremy won a Leatherman Charge AL and a Leatherman Serac S2 Torch. The Leatherman Charge AL has more than 18 uses, and comes with a 25-year guarantee. The Serac 2 is a powerful and versatile torch that can be used as a headlight but is small enough to fit on a keychain. It also comes with a 10-year guarantee. For more on Leatherman products, visit www.

Recently while on holiday in the Kruger National Park, my wife and I had the privilege of going zebra-riding to spot game in the bush. The reason zebras work so well is that one can get real close without arousing suspicion in other animals. Now you can imagine our suprise when four lionesses sprung out from the veld and not only scattered the herd but singled out my wife’s zebra as their dinner! Holding on for dear life, my screaming wife took off with two lionesses in hot pursuit! Not wasting any time, I galloped after her at a terrific pace! As I got closer, with one hand on my zebra’s mane and my faithful Leatherman in the other, I came up from behind and hamstrung the first lioness with one clean

Yeah, right! Now back to reality and what really happened... I am an irrigation and landscaping contractor and use a variety of tools in the everday implementation of my profession. Recently, while halfway through a garden-construction project, I left my team for a few hours while I went to wrap up the final electrics of an irrigation controller. The jobs were quite a distance apart and you can imagine my frustration when I arrived on site only to discover I’d left my toolbox behind! I was about to curse under my breath about how much time I would waste fetching it when I remembered my trusted companion in the cubbyhole, my Leatherman Wave. In no time at all, this multi-tool had cut and stripped the wires, screwed the controller onto the wall and cut a clean slice of biltong as I sat back and pondered on how grateful I was to own one of these wonderful pocket-size inventions. Jeremy Valerga THE GLOBAL VILLAGE Thank you for the email informing me of the new digital Sea Rescue magazine. I would be grateful if you could add me to the digital mailing list, and remove me from your hard-copy listing. The costs nowadays are increasing, and we do live in the digital age. Many years ago, the Plettenberg Bay crew brought me back inshore after I had capsized my Hobie cat and could not right it again. I enjoy reading the magazine and I also enjoy perusing your website. I wish I were closer, as I would then be in a position to be a more active member! Jim Jobling, Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas, USA

Chocolate for breakfast? Well, why not? Especially when you have more than 100 delectable recipes to choose from in this lavishly illustrated cookbook containing breakfast variations of the world’s best-loved indulgence. Author and chocolate connoisseur Barbara Passino entertains with delicious recipes, anecdotes, philosophies and cooking techniques, while world-renowned photographer Marc Hoberman brings it all to life with 260 full-colour photographs. Now, you can bake your cake, eat it, and support Sea Rescue at the same time by ordering a copy. A percentage of the cost will be donated to the NSRI. Send the form below to NSRI, PO Box 154, Green Point 8051 or fax to (021) 434-1661. Price R440 (incl. postage).

Chocolate for breakfast REQUEST FORM: Name:...............................................................Surname:.................................................................................. Contact tel:........................................................................................ Email:..................................................... Postal address:....................................................................................................................................................

08 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

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rip currents Aimed at surfers and swimmers who frequent local beaches, including beginners who are often perilously unaware of the hazards posed by the treacherous Cape seas, this piece of tactical communication from the National Sea Resce Institute was a simple, clear message to highlight the potentially fatal dangers of rip currents. The campaign was done pro bono by Ogilvy in association with Wavescapes.

BACK TO BASICS I would like to say a big thank you to Ray Farnham and the crew from Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay), who helped me out after my accident at the Wedge. You guys arrived so quickly, and provided great emotional support as it was a very scary experience for me. Please pass on my thanks to Wayne Craig as well. I suffered a broken C6 vertebra in my neck and some compression on my lower thoracic vertebra. Thankfully the break was such that it didn’t interfere with my spinal cord at all. The doctor’s remedy was rest for six weeks from the date of the accident, and thereafter no impact sports for six months. Thanks again to you and your team – you were outstanding. Wesley Potts THANKS FOR ENABLING US TO DO OUR JOB One of the things that makes Sea Rescue so successful is our sense of community – it’s as though we’re all members of one big happy family who have different roles but who work towards the same objective. As our family grows larger (we are up to 45 000 regular donors now), we believe it’s more important than ever to stay in touch and to show you what we are doing and how we are spending our funding. Sea Rescue magazine has evolved into a magazine for the whole Sea Rescue family. In fact, one dear supporter from Durban recently called to say that when he finds the Sea Rescue magazine in his mailbox, it’s ‘like getting a letter from my daughter’. In July 2010, Andrew Ingram joined our head-office team as marketing manager. He is a familiar face because he has told many of the stories and taken many of the photographs in our magazine and our 40th celebration book For Those in Peril. Part of his job is to tell stories, take pictures and create videos, so that you are an intimate part of our work. Our ability to present these stories is made possible through generous donations, and our most sincere thanks go to: BOE and the Joan St Leger Lindbergh Charitable Trust, which kindly sponsored an extremely powerful MacBook Pro laptop with all the software to edit photographs and video; Digicape for the very generous discount on the Apple computer, and both ORMS and Nikon, which supplied the photographic equipment that Andrew needs. Meriel Bartlett

Write to us and WIN! The writer of the winning letter published in the Autumn 2011 issue of Sea Rescue will win a sumptuous summer hamper valued at R750. The hamper contains Slaley Chardonnay, Lindsay’s Whimsy Rosé, Broken Stone Sauvignon Blanc, a Slaley sailing cap, a padded Slaley glass case with two large wine glasses, Slaley Olive Oil and Mouton’s Mission Olives. This hamper can also be ordered from Slaley as a gift for friends or clients. For more information, telephone (021) 865-2123, visit 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.

Visit the Sea Rescue blog at and click on the RSS feed button at the top right-hand corner of your screen to receive news updates. You can also ‘page’ through a digital version of Sea Rescue magazine at – a great way for friends and family overseas to keep up with what is happening in the Sea Rescue family.

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11



A Rescue Story


he extended Carver family had planned an Easter get-together at a holiday house on the Breede River close to the Boland town of Worcester. To Daniel (10), Joshua (12) and little sister Emily (8), the place was as close to paradise as one could get. The children love animals and the outdoors, perhaps helped along by growing up between their home in Knysna, where they spend their weeks while attending Oak Hill school, and a farm near Sedgefield where they spend their weekends. On the farm, Danny has an Egyptian goose named Chips (which thinks he is a mother goose) as a pet, and Josh’s pet rat, Nunu, accompanies them between their two homes. So going to another farm on a river for the holidays was very exciting. Not long after arriving, the boys had their first wildlife encounter – with a huge Cape cobra. ‘It was about five foot long,’ says Josh, who measured its length against his fly rod. After settling the children, their father, Steve, and mother, Sue, set off for Worcester to stock up, leaving the boys with Steve’s brother Julian, who was planning a trip up the river with them. ‘It was cloudy and drizzly, so we put on our raincoats and life jackets over them,’ says Josh. They could only find two life jackets, so Uncle Julian, whom they call Boody, decided to go without one. Being diabetic, Boody was armed with Super C sweets, Mentos and Coke. The boys hopped into the canoe, and with Boody perched on the back, they set off up the river and into the wind.

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


A Rescue Story

It was hard work paddling against the current and wind, and after a time they turned into what looked like a tributary to look around. ‘At that stage I started to swoop; I was not getting enough glucose to my brain. And then I remember falling backwards into the water. And after that just total confusion. I did not know where I was … what I was doing,’ explains Boody. ‘He was doing breaststroke, so we turned the canoe around and called him but he did not answer,’ continues Josh. The children paddled to him and passed a rope. ‘He grabbed it, and he was spluttering, but when we asked him a question, he didn’t make any sense.’

i remember falling backwards into the water. and after that just total confusion

12 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

Top: A relieved Boody with his family Above: The Carver brothers received letters of appreciation signed by chairman Peter Bacon and presented by regional director Ian Hamilton Below: Joshua, Daniel and Emily with their Egyptian goose, Chips Bottom: Joshua enjoying one of his favourite pastimes


The children quickly realised that their uncle was in big trouble, and so were they. The bush was thick on the banks so they could not get Boody out of the water and he was unable to climb back into the canoe. ‘There were no shallow places, no bank and the plants were thick. I swam over to Boody and pulled him up, but he kept swimming away. I said to Danny, “you hold him” and then tried to put my lifejacket on him, but it was too hard... We didn’t know what was happening. He kept letting go,’ says Josh. Both boys were now in the water, trying to keep their semiconscious uncle’s head above water. It was a battle to pull him to the canoe, where he would hold on to the side with them, then he would let go and swim away. All the while they were floating downstream. They tried to pull him out a few times but each time they were foiled by the thick vegetation. After a while, the boys’ grandparents became worried as the trio had not returned, and started to scout the river bank. They were horrified to see in the distance an empty canoe drifting down the river. A shout revealed that the two boys were clinging to the far side of the canoe, supporting their semi-conscious uncle. By now they had been in the river for about an hour. At last the boys managed to guide the canoe to the holiday house as Steve and Jill were returning from Worcester. Steve takes up the story: ‘I rushed into the water and even I struggled to pull him out. The boys did so well,’ he says looking at the children sitting on a couch opposite him. ‘I am so proud of you guys.’ At his Woodstock home a few months after the incident, Boody has the last word. ‘I remember feeling extremely cold as I lay on the bank. Steve was feeding me Coke. I was absolutely out for the count. The boys had got me all the way back to where we started … on their own. ‘I tell them each time I see them, ”Thanks for saving my life”. They are amazing boys.’ SR


diabetes in check

if monitored properly, diabetes can be well managed, says director of emergency medical services, western cape, dr cleeve robertson Diabetes is a disease that is either inherited and presents at a young age or develops gradually with increasing age at around 50 or older. The disease is caused when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that is necessary for glucose to be transferred from the blood into the body cells so that it can be used to produce energy for the work of those cells. The natural course of the disease is that the lack of insulin causes the glucose level in the blood to gradually rise, eventually causing severe dehydration and chemical imbalance resulting in unconsciousness and death. Treatment of diabetes involves replacing the natural form of insulin with injected insulin or medication that promotes insulin production or effectiveness. Diabetic patients typically inject themselves several times a day with insulin after checking their blood-glucose levels with a ‘glucometer’, adjusting the dose of insulin to achieve the desired stable level of blood glucose. Good diligent control of the blood-glucose level prevents damage to body systems and the complications that may result with age. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to blindness, heart attacks, ulcers on the feet, infection and damage to nerves, so good blood-sugar control is imperative. The treatment of diabetes with insulin can itself cause complications because if too much insulin relative to the blood-glucose level is injected and the diabetic doesn’t eat a meal to compensate for the drop in blood glucose the insulin will cause, the patient might become unconscious because the blood sugar drops too low. Diabetics are very aware of the symptoms of low blood sugar and can usually anticipate and prevent ‘passing out’ by eating food or drinking fluids that maintain the blood glucose.


The common symptoms of a very low blood-sugar level are: 3 fast pulse rate (palpitations) 3 anxiety 3 tremors 3 sweating Usually diabetic patients will wear a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace that indicates that they are diabetic. If the patient suddenly becomes unconscious, it can be assumed by first-aiders or emergency-care providers that they are suffering from low blood sugar, and oral glucose

can be smeared on the inside of the cheeks outside of the teeth (buccal area). Usually the casualty will recover over the next few minutes but it’s imperative that they are taken to hospital.

If a diabetic becomes unconscious, they risk falling, drowning or having some other accident after passing out There may well be complications that are causing the blood sugar to change (the insulin may be out of date or damaged) and it’s best that a doctor assesses the situation and regulates the glucose with proper treatment. It’s dangerous to give fluids to unconscious patients because they may choke. If unconsciousness develops gradually over time in a diabetic, it’s usually due to a rising or high blood-sugar level. If a diabetic is found unconscious, one can attempt administering oral/buccal glucose (just in case it’s low, a little more won’t aggravate a very high glucose level much). Again, the patient must be taken to hospital as soon as possible. If a diabetic becomes unconscious, they risk falling, drowning or having some other accident after passing out. This means they have to be really diligent about controlling their blood glucose to prevent exposing themselves to threatening environments and situations. Most diabetics live normal active lives doing what everyone else does in sport, work and recreation, it’s just that they have to monitor and manage their health much more closely. SR Dr Cleeve Robertson is the Director of Emergency Medical Services, Western Cape, and voluntary Chief Medical Advisor to the NSRI. Apart from being passionate about caring for people, he loves mountain climbing and scuba-diving. He’s also involved in underwater photography and skipper training.

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


• water quality • safety and services • environmental management • environmental information

fly the blue flag Holiday makers are now spoilt for choice with the number of worldclass Blue Flag beaches available in this country as the programme continues to grow. From November 2010, South Africa will proudly fly the flag over 27 beaches. South Africans choosing to spend holidays on Blue Flag beaches clearly enjoy the clean beaches and facilities, the highly-trained lifeguards on duty with fully equipped first-aid rooms, the active security presence keeping an eye on everyone and ensuring a safe, pleasant seaside experience. Plus there’s the assurance that the seawater quality is regularly monitored and that the beach noticeboard carries information about the quality of the water. The quality assurances that Blue Flag beaches provide clearly mean that they

Blue Flag beaches around the country include: • MacDougall’s Bay, Port Nolloth – a beautiful beach but the average water temperature is a chilly 11ºC. • The iconic beaches of Clifton 4th and Camps Bay where one can rub shoulders with the rich and famous. • Santos beach in the heart of Mossel Bay, a relative newcomer. • Witsand on the mouth of the Breede River is new to the programme and looking good after an upgrade. • Stunning Robberg beach in Plettenberg Bay. • Margate, Ramsgate, Marina, Lucien, Trafalgar and Uzumbe beaches on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast where the Blue Flag flies all year round.

are the best beaches to visit – so head for one this summer!

For a list of all Blue Flag beaches, visit Contact the Blue Flag Programme Manager at 082 337 1273 or Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


Van links na regs: Jaco Louw, Reinhard Geldenhuys en Darryl Moon

STRYD TEEN die OORMAG Tydens die Seereddingsinstituut se algemene jaarvergadering in Augustus is ’n toekenning vir dapperheid gemaak aan Jaco Louw, stuurman van Stasie 30 by Kaap Agulhas, vir die redding van vyf mense van die jag Redfin. Sy bemanningslede, Reinhard Geldenhuys en Darryl Moon, het direkteurstoekennings gekry vir hul aandeel in dieselfde operasie. Sulke toekennings word nie maklik gemaak nie. Hier is die verhaal van die Redfin-redding, vertel deur Andrew Ingram (Vertaal deur Pieter Malan)


edurende die nag van 14 Junie 2010 was die weer aan die kus van Kaap Agulhas verskriklik, met ’n aanlandige wind en reusagtige deinings van sewe meter hoog. Boonop was dit pikdonker. Lars Strydom, skipper en eienaar van die jag Redfin, en sy bemanning van vier was van Houtbaai ooswaarts op pad Port Elizabeth toe. Lars het die jag, wat ook as sy huis gedien het, goed geken. Hy het goed geweet hoe die outydse ‘junk rig’ en die staalromp in enige seetoestande sou hanteer. Hy het die weervoorspelling fyn dopgehou en geweet dat daar ’n koue front op pad was, maar het bereken dat hy al verby Kaap Agulhas sou wees teen die tyd dat dit hulle tref. Die front het egter vinniger beweeg as wat Lars verwag het, en gou het die stormwind hulle nader en nader aan die land gedruk. As gevolg van die manier waarop ’n ‘junk rig’ hanteer, kon hy nie sy boeg té ver wind-op druk nie en boonop het dinge lelik begin verkeerd loop. Eers is sy hoofseil beskadig en nadat Lars dié herstel het, breek die stuurarm – op drie plekke.

ware verhaal Gelukkig is Lars ’n praktiese ou en gou het hy ’n noodstuur in plek gehad. In die proses het hy egter die punt van sy pinkie afgesny. ‘Die grootste probleem was egter dat ek ’n kortsluiting in een van my batterye gehad het weens die beweging van die boot. Ek het dus niks elektrisiteit aan boord gehad het nie, en kon nie my enjin aansit om weg te vaar van die kus nie,’ vertel hy. ‘Op daardie stadium het ons die moontlikheid begin bespreek om die NSRI vir hulp te vra, maar terwyl ons die noodherstelwerk gedoen het, het die wind begin bedaar en het ons besef dat ons dalk Struisbaai sou maak. ‘Terwyl ons op pad was na Kaap Agulhas het die wind egter deur 90 grade gedraai van wes na suidoos, en ons na die verkeerde kant van die Kaap gedruk. Ek het die boot toe weer terug omgedraai en in ’n westelike rigting in die rigting van Quoinpunt geseil. Maar toe breek die stuurstok weer. Die wind het ook weer suid gedraai en ons weer in die rigting van die land gedruk.’ Op hierdie stadium het Lars en sy bemanning besef dat hulle probleme groter was as wat hulle self kon hanteer, en het hy die NSRI in Kaapstad op sy selfoon gekontak.

“ PHOTOGRApHs: andrew ingram, shane kempen


‘Terwyl ons op hulp gewag het, het ek die boot met die seile gestuur terwyl ek die roer vry laat draai het. Ek was verbaas hoe goed die boot hanteer het, maar ek kon nietemin nie die boot wind-op stuur nie omdat ek geen druk op die roer kon plaas nie. Met ’n bobbejaan-skroefsleutel op die deel van die stuurstok wat oor was kon ek egter die roer beweeg deur met my voete daarop te trap, maar uiteindelik het dit ook gebreek,’ vertel Lars. Om 23h42 het NSRI in Agulhas hulle 8.5-m reddingsboot Vodacom Rescuer VII aktiveer met Jaco Louw in bevel. Op daardie stadium het die wind by tye tot 45 knope sterk gewaai, met deinings van sewe meter. Dit was so donker dat dit byna onmoontlik was om die see te lees, en Agulhas se stasiebevelvoerder het vir hulp gevra. Simonstad het hulle diepsee-Breedeklas-reddingsboot gelanseer, en Hermanus het hulle 5.5-m semi-rigiede opblaasboot padlangs na die toneel gestuur. Niemand het dit hardop gesê nie, maar almal het geweet: as die Agulhas-manne in die moeilikheid sou kom, was hulp bitter ver weg. Jaco sê hulle het besef dat, as hulle nie bereid was om te gaan nie, was daar niemand anders om bystand te verleen nie. ‘Daar was geen ander opsie nie, behalwe om kalm te bly.’ As gevolg van die seetoestande het dit Rescue 30 twee ure geneem om die seiljag te bereik. Op die toneel was die seetoestande ’n bietjie beter as op pad daarheen omdat Redfin effe aan die windskadukant van die land was. Jaco het Redfin teen 45 grade aan die stuurboord-lykant benader. In drie verbyvaarte wat omtrent 20 minute geduur het, het hulle die vier bemanningslede van die jag gehaal – twee

MEER HULP VIR LARS Die week nadat Redfin op die rotse stukkend geslaan is, het ’n Struisbaaier, Sarel Vermeulen, sy laaigraaf geneem en die gestrande jag tot op die strand getrek. Daar sal die mas en die kiel afgehaal word voordat Stuart Davidson, ’n mede-seiljagvaarder, die boot met ’n vragmotor na Port Elizabeth sal neem. Alles gratis. Lars wil die mense van Struisbaai uit die diepte van sy hart bedank vir hul hulp gedurende sy verblyf daar. Veral Frederik Neethling, sy vrou, Nelmarie, en hulle seun, Derick, maar ook Francois ‘Choppie’ du Toit en Stiaan Lourens. vroue en twee mans. Almal is sonder veel moeite op die boeg van reddingsboot aan boord geneem. Maar toe weier Lars om die seiljag te verlaat. Die gedagte om sy vaartuig agter te laat was een te veel vir hom. Kaap Agulhas se stasiebevelvoerder, Shane Kempen, het Lars op sy selfoon gebel en ‘’n paar dinge aan hom verduidelik’. Lars sê hy het gedink hy kon nog ’n bietjie langer uithou. ‘Shane het die situasie baie kalm aan my verduidelik. Hy was simpatiek oor hoe ek gevoel het maar baie ferm in sy opsomming van die situasie, en ek het uiteindelik ingestem om die seiljag te verlaat.’

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


ware verhaal Jaco het weer die reddingsboot omgedraai en Lars om 03h42 – presies vier ure nadat hulle uit Struisbaai weg is – van die seiljag gered. ‘Dit het my gebreek om die seiljag agter te laat terwyl dit steeds dryf,’ sê Lars. ‘Die laaste ding wat ek gesien het was hoe sy wegseil in die donker. Dit was hartverskeurend.’ ’n Paar maande ná die redding was Lars steeds vol lof vir die reddingsbemanning. ‘Hulle is regtig ’n lieflike klomp ouens. Dit was angswekkend en moeilik, en hulle het geen ander rede gehad om daar te wees behalwe om ons te help nie. Ek waardeer dit regtig.’ SR

In short

Skipper Lars Strydom and his crew of four were caught in a serious front off the coast of Cape Agulhas. Huge seas were forcing the yacht Redfin ever closer to land. With a damaged headsail, broken tiller arm and no on-board electronics, the desperate crew called the NSRI, who launched Vodacom Rescuer VII in 7m swells and a 45-knot wind. It took coxswain Jaco Louw and his rescue crew two hours to reach Redfin. Because they were unable to tow her, the four crew were evacuated, but the devastated skipper initially refused to leave the yacht that was also his home. Eventually he too was brought on board the rescue craft, which headed back to base four hours after launching. Talking about his ordeal later, Lars had only high praise for the crew. Coxswain Jaco Louw was presented with a Bronze Gallantry Award and his crewmen, Reinhard Geldenhuys and Darryl Moon, received Directors’ Thanks for their brave rescue efforts. Read the full English version at

Honouring long-standing service PHOTOGRPAH: gavin fordham

Mark Hughes, former Richards Bay station commander, recently received the Paul Harris Fellow Award, the highest award a Rotary Club can bestow on an individual. The award was presented to Mark Hughes by outgoing Richards Bay Rotary president Martin Hiemstra in July this year. ‘This evening we are recognising the unselfish services and dedication of Mark Hughes as station commander of Station 19 in Richards Bay... NSRI, like Rotary, is run by volunteers, and while I was involved with the construction of the new station, I got to know Mark. He epitomises the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self”,’ said Martin. The award, which began in 1957, is rare, because the presenting club has to have donated $1 000 (around R7 100)

18 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

to the Rotary Foundation, to be used to fund vocational and humanitarian work around the world. This is the second award Mark has received in two years for his dedication to Sea Rescue. In 2009 he was presented with the Marmion Marsh Trophy by Peter Bacon, chairman of the NSRI board. The citation reads as follows: ‘For his contribution over the past 31 years to the National Sea Rescue Institute as a crewman on Station 19, Richards Bay. He has been elected station commander twice by the station’s members, firstly for three years from October 1997 to September 2000, and then again from October 2006. Mark was instrumental in planning, raising funds for, and the building of the station’s new rescue base; a task that spanned four years. The excellent facilities that the NSRI now has for achieving its aim of saving lives at sea to the north and south of Richards Bay are thanks in large part to Mark Hughes’ dedication and meticulous approach to all he does.’ SR


Celebrating 150 years of service to South Africans Provider of vital information to the maritime community


n 26 October 2010 the South African Weather Service celebrated 150 years of service to South Africans, highlighting the dedicated role the organisation plays in meteorological matters as well as its economic and social contribution to the country. On 26 October 1860, official meteorology was formally initiated with the promulgation of Government Notice No. 363 of 1860. The first meteorological office in the Cape Colony, the Cape Meteorological Commission, was one of the first fully functioning national weather services in the world. This was followed by an office at the Natal Observatory in 1882, Bloemfontein in 1903, a new office in Parliament Street in 1904 and the first Transvaal Weather Office in 1905. Today, the South African Weather Service operates 23 weather offices around the country, plus its Head Office in Erasmusrand, Pretoria. The South African Weather Service has developed over the years in terms of technological innovation; legislative developments; infrastructural advancement and international cooperation. The service today is not only internationally respected for its staff’s skills in climatology and meteorology, but its products and services also help build the strong standing of the country as a whole. As a result, the world views the South African Weather Service as an integral and reliable component of the world meteorological system. The South African Weather Service, a parastatal government agency, is the authoritative voice of weather and climate

information in South Africa. It plays a leadership role in South Africa, southern Africa and in Africa.

Maritime Services The South African Weather Service’s area of responsibility for maritime forecasting extends from 6 degrees south to the coast of Antarctica and latitudinally from 20 degrees west to 80 degrees east. With its coastal weather offices located in Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, and Durban, as well as the National Forecasting Centre in Pretoria, the South African Weather Service provides maritime forecasts within this defined area – whether the problem is a large oil spill, salvage operation or a searchand-rescue operation. In the instance of a shipping accident off the South African coast, a hind cast study of weather and sea state must be prepared for an official enquiry. Maritime forecast services are also supplied on a user-defined basis to our offshore oil and gas industry customers, the marine diamond industry, the fishing community and other marine-based businesses. The South African Weather Service is obligated, under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, to provide met-ocean services. These services comprise of daily marine forecasts that are routed to shipping through a satellite-based network and broadcast via NAVTEX and radio telephone. Weatherlines: 082 162 or dial *120*555# or 083 123 0500

bulletin board

in the news

donations, achievements, fundraising and other news from the crew

Above: Ian Hamilton (left) and Dawie Zwiegelaar, station commander, Station 15 (Mossel Bay)

farewell anD thanks to

ian hamilton

Ian Hamilton recently retired as NSRI regional director after 40 years of service. Dr Loftus Heunis spoke to the people who served with and under him at Sea Rescue and captured the essence of a remarkable man in this tribute: It’s clear that one of the cornerstones of Ian’s character is his deep-fostered humility. As NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg acknowledges, ‘Ian Hamilton is without doubt the most humble gentleman that I know. A colleague told me recently that he found Ian washing windows at the rescue base. This didn’t surprise me at all; that’s the sort of person Ian is.’ Station 15 (Mossel Bay) StatCom Dawie Zwiegelaar agrees, ‘Ian was bereid om enige iets te doen. Of dit vloere was of bote vol brandstof maak, hy het dit gedoen. En altyd met daardie moeitelose vriendelike uitdrukking op sy gesig.’ During his long association with Sea Rescue, Ian not only displayed mental alertness and physically fitness, his unques-

20 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

tionable expert seamanship and calm reasoning were always a source of comfort to the men and women under his command. This made him an inspiring leader with an uncanny ability to get things done. As regional director, Ian was the driving force in the unification of the southern Cape rescue stations. As Ray Farnham of Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) explains, ‘Ian has been a bond between all the southern Cape stations and has created much cross-pollination between them that has resulted in betterequipped, better-run stations and an even more competent crew... This has led to the waters of the southern Cape being a safer place for the public.’ Ian is also known for his storytelling skills, and his fine sense of humour, especially when he reminisces about the past. Once, when their boat capsized, he had to ask for help at a house after having lost his pants! All, of course, in the line of duty. Ian is considered by his peers as a man of vision with the determination not only to dream but to get up and do something to realise his dream. The new Station 15 boathouse is evidence of this. As Dawie Zwiegelaar says, ‘Dit is Ian Hamilton se boothuis.’ Ian truly embodies the best values that constitute the spirit of the NSRI. Thanks, Ian; the National Sea Rescue Institute in general, the southern Cape NSRI region and Station 15 (Mossel Bay), in particular, salute you and pay tribute to your dedication to promote safety at sea. May favourable winds fill your sails on the journey ahead.

mossel bay fun run Well-known sports shop Tekkie Town has sponsored our beach race, which has taken place on 1 January every year for the last nine years. This year, New Balance also came on board as a sponsor, and the generous amount of R40 000 was given to Sea Rescue Station 15 (Mossel Bay). Tekkie Town and New Balance have already committed to another sponsorship and next year we go large! What makes this race unique is that all runners must estimate their finishing time. So, it’s not the first runner crossing the line who wins, but the runner who finishes closest to their estimated time.

Operations Room NAMEd Following a grant from the DM Lipschitz Charitable Trust, Station 5 (Durban) has officially named their operations room The Mike Lipschitz Operations Room. Here, Mrs Rebecca Lipschitz, mother of the late Mike Lipschitz, unveils an official plaque with Mike’s brother, Stanley, and his sister, Joan Abrahams. Mike Lipschitz was a loyal NSRI supporter and this generous grant will allow the station to carry out an upgrade of the station’s operational room and radio control centre.

TAKING TO THE STREETS Station 5 (Durban) crew, along with a couple of loyal supporters, raised a total of R6 714 in their recent street collection. Station 6 (Port Elizabeth) took to the streets and pubs and restaurants with their annual street collection and raised R37 314. They started their 24-hour collection spree off at 19h00 on Friday night, 1 September, and ‘hit everything that moved’, says Daniel Heimann. Congratulations to Station 6’s (Port Elizabeth) Kevin Warren, Warwich Haywards and Stephen van den Berg who collected the most money.

NEW BINOCS for Witsand Station 33 (Witsand) is the proud owner of two Pentax Marine Roof Prism Binoculars sponsored by New Teltron (Pty) Ltd, the distribution agents for Pentax SA. The binoculars, valued at R8 000, have a 30-year guarantee and are designed with the boating enthusiast in mind. They feature a liquid-filled compass built into the viewing optics and are fully waterproof, fogproof and shock-resistant.

Riaan Manser visits Simon’s Town to raise funds for Station 10 Acclaimed solo-adventurer Riaan Manser was the guest speaker at a fundraising lunch held aboard the museum ship Cable Restorer, which hosts the popular Roaring Forties restaurant. Riaan is best known for the two world firsts he achieved – he was the first man to cycle around Africa, and then kayak around the coast of Madagascar alone and unaided. He captivated the audience with stories of his hair-raising and awe-inspiring adventures. Special thanks to Dennis McKillen, Sarah Buchanan, The Roaring Forties and Harry Dilley for the roles they played in helping ensure a successful event. Thanks also to the generous sponsors who donated prizes for the guests.

GOING GREEN Graham Mundy of Solar Beam kindly donated a 300 l solar geyser to Station 5 (Durban). This generous contribution will not only result in a huge saving in electricity costs, but will also provide an increased volume of hot water for the crew. NSRI and the Durban crew are most grateful for this assistance. Pictured here is the Solar Beam installation team busy fitting the new solar geyser on the roof of the Durban station.


Obtain your National Certificate of Competence as a Power Driven Vessel Skipper for the categories B, C, E and R. The South African Institute for Skippers is the largest training establishment for skippers in South Africa. We have been appointed as an Authorised Agency by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and we pride ourselves in our professionalism. Courses offered: • Cat R (inland waters) • Cat E (1 nautical mile) • Cat C (15 nautical miles) • Cat B upgrade (40 nautical miles with night rating) • Conversion to over 9 metres We conduct annual boat surveys (COF) Suppliers of Safety Equipment Contact us on (021) 975-3281 / /

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Chris hudson honoured

hris Hudson was awarded the Marmion Marsh Trophy at the NSRI’s Annual General Meeting on 26 August 2010 for his contribution to Sea Rescue over the past 29 years – as a crewman, coxswain, station commander, regional director and director. Chris was born the son of a railwayman on 23 July 1931 in Ajmer, India. When he was 13 years old, he was sent to England to complete his schooling, before going to what was then Nyasaland (now Malawi), where his father had taken up a position with the Nyasaland and Trans-Zambezi Railways. After working for the Imperial Tobacco Company in then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for a while, Chris joined the air force where he piloted many different types of airplanes, his favourites being the Spitfire Mk22 and the Argonaut. After eleven years he left military life and made his mark in business, which saw him buying a house in Hout Bay in 1976. Five years after moving into the seaside suburb, he noticed a shed going up in the harbour, followed by a newspaper story saying that the NSRI was looking for crew at its new station. ‘So I called the advertised number, which was answered by then station commander, Ken Brady,’ says Chris. ‘I said to Ken I just had one question: “Do I have to speak Afrikaans?” ‘The answer was no so I told him, “Ok, then I am in.”’ And the rest, as they say, is history. The citation on Chris’s award reads as follows: ‘Chris joined Hout Bay in 1981, at the age of 50, and moved rapidly from shore crew to sea-going crew, to coxswain, deputy station commander and then station commander, a position he held from 1992 to 1996 and again from 2004 to March 2005. On standing down as Hout Bay’s station commander in 1996, he took on the task of regional director for region 1, overseeing six stations and two auxiliary stations until August 2008, when he accepted a co-opted position on the board. Chris has a remarkable capacity for taking on extra work and helping plan, and implement, strategies that improved both the operational and administrative side of the organisation. His ability to research new technologies thoroughly, and find the people who could implement the

22 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11



systems, helped Sea Rescue move into the world of digital reports. He was also instrumental in the development of the tracking system, used on all rescue boats, which has increased the safety of our crews at sea exponentially. His precise and fair way of handling situations is respected throughout the institute, and he is well known for going the extra mile. He was the guiding hand, at board level, behind the formation of the Air Sea Rescue Unit. He is also the final check and proof reader of Sea Rescue magazine, and he is the voice behind the award citations. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Chris is his humbleness. Despite all the extra time and energy he puts into the Institute, he is happy to operate quietly behind the scenes putting a steady hand on the tiller without wanting recognition for his achievements. Through his efforts Chris has made vast improvements in the safety of crews at sea, as well as operational and administrative structures.’ We are truly indebted to Chris Hudson.

Top: Sea Rescue Chairman Peter Bacon (left) looks on as Awards Committee Chairman Chris Hudson (right) hands the Regional Director’s Letter of Appreciation to Steven Freeborough for his rescue of Deavan Mbango on 10 August 2010. When Deavan was washed out to sea at Melkbosstrand, Steven paddled out on his surfboard and rescued him. Above: Sea Rescue Chairman Peter Bacon hands The Alric Simpson Trophy to Jody Foster and Sandile Mkari of Discovery Holdings Limited. This trophy is awarded annually to a person or an organisation that has rendered distinguished service to the NSRI.

bulletin board ANNUAL WINE AUCTION A HUGE SUCCESS The annual wine auction, organised by the Rotary Clubs of Newlands and Table Bay in aid of the NSRI, was held at the Table Bay Hotel recently. It was a huge success and raised the second round of funding for Station 18’s (Melkbosstrand) new rescue boat. The 6.5m Gemini Spirit of the Vines was launched in front of the hotel just before the auction. SR


Top left: Martin Diessner bought a 9 l Meerlust 2009 Cabernet Savignon Left: Station 18 (Melkbosstrand) volunteer Kyle Zaayman shows a lot for the auction Below: The Spirit of Vines, which this event helped fund

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

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

Offices throughout Southern Africa

life boat circle

new crew

on board


How exciting it is to report that the society for our retired supporters and bequestors is growing at a rate of knots. So much so that we’ve taken on board two new staff members to care for supporters in areas outside of Cape Town. Bruce Sanderson, past schoolmaster, husband, and dad to two young children and a keen NSRI supporter, is active along the Cape West Coast. His singing and acting skills are constantly in demand as an adjunct to his NSRI presentations to interest groups. Debbie Olivier, widowed mom to two adult sons, has recently pledged to care for and expand even further our Garden Route membership. Debbie too has used her stage skills as part of the annual Lion’s Melodrama, featuring some of our hulking Wilderness rescue crews – as ballerinas! Anyone in Gauteng admiring of NSRI’s work, and who can offer fire-eating or juggling skills incorporated into their Bequest Officer’s duties, will be welcomed by our large and currently unmentored membership of Life boat Circle supporters. Our national bequest officer, Margaret McCulloch, is feeling a little theatrically challenged and has been heard to mutter something about wanting to take bellydancing lessons. Above left: Debbie Olivier Above right: (left to right) Pam Tremlett, Richard and Deidre Petersen, Brian Cole, Anne du Plessis, Bevan and Pam Hall, and Bruce Sanderson enjoying a Life boat Circle tea at the Riviera Hotel in Velddrif

THANK YOU FOR THE DONATIONS RECEIVED SPECIAL OCCASIONS • Mitch Brown (birthday) • Kevin Hodgson (40th birthday) • Ofer Lapid (birthday) • Hein Schipper (99th birthday) • Mr and Mrs M Segal (50th wedding anniversary) • Denis Bruckmann Seniors’ Club IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES • L Cooper • Gareth Davies • Leslie Orpen • Anonymous donor from Knysna • Jan Pretorious • Roger Williams • John George • Barbara Lewis

24 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

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

Bruce entertains at the Life boat Circle’s recent ninth anniversary birthday party

I don’t know how to thank you all for a truly magnificent occasion. What an enjoyable event with such wonderful hospitality. As for Bruce’s entertainment; it just couldn’t have been more of a walk down memory lane. What a waste of talent. Please convey my sincere appreciation to all concerned. Vicki MacKenzie I just wanted to thank you so much for the super time we had with you: great cabaret and lunch. We really did enjoy it all. Joyce Robertson

Our Life boat Circle was founded to keep contact with older and retired crew and supporters, and anyone over the age of 50 has free membership. By means of our magazine, newsletters and social and information functions, we keep all our supporters in the loop regarding NSRI activities. Any bequests that are kindly left by our members to the NSRI are free from personal income tax and estate duty.


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Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


Left and this picture: Lwazi and Fortune demonstrate basic CPR

empowering our children WaterWise educators Lwazi Fihlela and Fortune Sibiya have only been on the job for a few months, but they’re already making a huge impact in spreading the water-safety message. by wendy maritz ‘What’s in the bag… what’s in the bag…?’ are the words that greet Lwazi Fihlela as he walks into the classroom to deliver his first WaterWise workshop at Mehlokadeli Primary School in Ntumeni village in Eshowe. ‘I guess the teacher hasn’t told them what this is all about,’ he smiles. The source of the curiosity is the CPR demo doll ‘Little Anne’, and once the excitement has died down, Lwazi can begin with the vital business of telling the children all about bystander CPR and other potentially lifesaving water-safety skills. As one of WaterWise’s newest facilitators, Lwazi is excited by the prospect of spreading the WaterWise message to learners in KwaZulu-Natal, focusing on townships and informal settlements in and around Durban, and rural communities like Eshowe. A quick glance at his background and skills will reveal why he is the perfect person for the job. With plenty of experience in community development, fundraising, crisis care, children’s ministry and education, Lwazi stands out as a person who cares deeply for children and their empowerment. The 26-year-old grew up in Eshowe and was schooled in the rural village of Ntumeni. ‘From an early age I was interested in nature conservation and the living conditions of the community. I really wanted to do something that involved helping others.’

26 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


Waterwise Since leaving school Lwazi has focused on just that. Currently working as a director at Child Care SA, he jumped at the opportunity to combine his valuable experience in community development with the challenges of teaching previously disadvantaged children how to be safe around water and to help their friends should an emergency arise. To achieve this, spreading the word is key. ‘At the moment I am approaching the schools directly to arrange the workshops. It was difficult in the beginning because of the teachers’ strike, but I plan to present the project to existing forums in the province as well, so that eventually I can be invited to deliver the workshops. I will also be involved in the Durban City Centre Library Holiday Programme delivering WaterWise workshops,’ he says of his immediate plans. For Lwazi, the readiness and eagerness of the children to learn how to help if their friends get into trouble is a reward in itself. ‘They ask me things like “But what if I break the person’s rib?” when I show them how to do CPR. Teaching this skill and knowing that it may be used one day to save a life is very fulfilling,’ he adds. Fortune Sibiya, who joined WaterWise at around the same time as Lwazi, has also been amazed at the children’s eagerness to learn. Fresh out of university with a Public Relations and Communications Diploma (and with some experience in the field as an intern at Ford Motor Company under her belt), she has thrown herself head first into her new role. ‘I love interacting with people and when I applied for the position, I was fascinated by the fact that I would be educating young children. I also saw it as an opportunity to put my communications skills to practice.’ WaterWise facilitator Linda Els was struck by both Fortune and Lwazi’s energy, initiative and eagerness to work with children. They underwent WaterWise’s educator programme, which involved receiving training on how to conduct presentations, working through PLAN and HHH teaching aids, and then in-depth training in adult, child and infant CPR. Fortune took to the programme like a duck to water. She loves preparing for the workshops and makes sure everything is delivered to the children as simply as possible, ensuring they understand everything. She speaks four languages fluently, which means she is as versatile as she is enthusiastic. ‘The children are usually very excited to see me. Once I introduce myself and tell them why I am there, they settle down, concentrate and listen,’ she smiles. Fortune has run nine workshops since she began and has spoken to about 600 pupils in the Mamelodi area. She hopes to throw the net a little wider and visit Atteridgeville, Soshanguve and Ga-rankuwe in the near future. Fortune confesses that she had other plans for her life when she was growing up. ‘I always took part in beauty pageants,’ she smiles. ‘I loved modelling and even did some modelling in high school.’ But her love of children and a desire to be a social worker meant that she ended up on a different path. And if her track record is anything to go by, we can safely say that even though she didn’t make it to the catwalks, she certainly has become a model for the eager learners. SR

News from Marcus Oshry in Port Elizabeth Marcus has provided WaterWise with several stories of how children he has taught have responded in emergency situations. They are heart-warming reminders of the power of the WaterWise project to save lives. Here is another of his stories: I walked in and asked the secretary whether the principal was available. She motioned for me to go right in, but he was on the phone, so I waited at the door. When he put the phone down, he said he wasn’t interested in me selling him any kind of school outing and that he was too busy to see me. As he finished his sentence, I could see that his eyes were no longer fixed on mine. He was looking at my clothing and starting to process the picture he was seeing. ‘Sea Rescue?’ he asked. ‘Yes sir,’ I replied. ‘I am not here to sell you anything, I am here to offer you free water-safety education that could save some of your children’s lives this holiday.’ He offered me a seat. He started telling me a story about two young boys from his school who had drowned two weeks earlier. The boys’ parents work for the local correctional services down the road. The pool was locked for some reason, so they decided to go and swim in the sewerage works of the prison. Why children would want to swim so desperately I have no idea. As things happen, they got themselves into trouble and drowned. I could see that the principal was quite badly affected by this. I explained what Waterwise was about and he opened up totally. He got his planner out and managed to squeeze me into the school’s schedule. I went through the entire school grade by grade, talking in the language they understood. The kids were all very aware of the reason for my visit and they were all very aware of the two children who had drowned.

F o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n o n Wa t e r Wi s e , e m a i l w a t e r w i s e @ s e a r e s c u e . o r g . z a o r v i s i t w w w. w a t e r w i s e . o r g . z a

young champions

nippers in the bud

Cameron Magennis at the Club Championships in PE

Youngsters wishing to join the nsri can do so from age 16; from 18 they can go on rescues. For those keen to do voluntary work before then, we recommend Lifesaving’s Nipper programme


hen 16-year-old Gavin Fristenberg was getting ready for lifeguard duty one warm Saturday morning at Winkle Beach, he had no idea that by the end of the day he would have been involved in a mass rescue of a group of people who were swept out to sea after the sandbank close to where they were swimming collapsed. ‘I immediately swam out,’ he recalls. ‘I was swimming casualties to the beach, and then going back in to help others.’ Fortunately, there was a lifesaving competition taking place nearby, and the competitors, once alerted, joined in the rescue. ‘There were about 100 bathers, and we managed to rescue all of them. I shudder to think what would have happened if all the lifeguards hadn’t been on the beach at the same time,’ Gavin adds. That was in 1993, and now the 33-year-old is imparting the same vital knowledge and skills that helped him save those lives to a new generation of youngsters. Every Sunday morning, Gavin, his wife, Stephanie, and their friend, Hannah, train the Nippers at Warnerdoone Lifesaving Club in Amanzimtoti. Gavin sees the same enthusiasm in the children that made him join Lifesaving all those years ago. ‘It’s a fun, exciting thing for kids to do, surrounded by their friends at the beach,’ he smiles. Nippers is open to children from ages eight to 14. To join, they are required to pass an entrance test; thereafter they go through three levels of qualifying known as ‘Awards’ depending on their age. Activities include surf safety, surfing, body-board paddling, knee-board paddling, basic first aid, and beach events like races. Chairman of KwaZulu Natal South Lifesaving Mickey Thompson elaborates: ‘As the Nippers progress through the age groups, the training gets a little harder and distances are extended for the races. We teach them basic first aid, like treating stings, and

28 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

Girls’ relay event at Nipper Nationals in PE

Kerstin Emge was awarded most dedicated Nipper at Warnerdoone

Jason Ward, who has just graduated to Juniors

then go on to slightly more serious problems as they progress. When they start the Junior programme, they are taught CPR and they can also take part in beach patrols.’ Until then, they are the ‘eyes and ears on the beach’, he adds. As a Nipper examiner, Mickey is involved with ensuring that the kids are ready to progress to the next level, and that they qualify for taking part in club, provincial and national championships. Mickey’s eyes light up at the mention of the Nipper Nationals. Each year a different province hosts the event, which, he says, the kids absolutely love. ‘It’s a holiday and a competition,’ he smiles. ‘At the competitions, the kids try their absolute best to win and it’s so rewarding to watch. The expertise is incredible. If you saw the kids at the start of the season battling to ride craft and swim through waves, you wouldn’t believe it was the same kid at the end of the season riding like a seasoned pro and handling the surf with ease.’ Gavin agrees that the most rewarding part of teaching the Nippers is watching the children develop from being too scared to go into the sea to confident surf-wise swimmers eager to participate in competitions. ‘One of the biggest challenges we have to overcome is the children’s lack of confidence to swim in the waves,’ he explains.

Trent Dungey at the Club Championships in PE

“ WORDS: Wendy maritz, PHOTOGRPAHs: james magennis

At the competitions, the kids try their absolute best to win and it’s so rewarding to watch This was one of the reasons 10-year-old Kerstin Emge joined Nippers. Kerstin’s father, Jacques, who started out as a Nipper himself, is the chairman of Warnerdoone Club, and sometimes gets involved with coaching the children. Kerstin saw first-hand how much fun it was, and wanted to join in. But she also admits she wanted to get over her fear of the ocean. Two years down the line, Kerstin loves the flag races and boogie boarding. She has taken part in her first competition and received a shield for most dedicated Nipper from her club. Lifesaving also runs in Trent Dungey’s family. The 11-yearold, who has been a Nipper for two years, inherited his love for the sea from his grandfather, who was a lifesaver. Trent enjoys the surf swims and Malibu boards, and has taken part in Southern Natal Championships two years in a row. He has won silver medals for the run-swim-run events and a bronze for the Malibu board event. Trent wants to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by becoming a junior lifesaver, then a lifesaver. He hopes to join the NSRI when he is older. For another of Warderdoon’s young Nippers, this year has been a dream come true. Jason Ward joined the club when he was eight, and now, six years later, has become a Junior Lifeguard. Jason practically grew up on the beach and as a youngster wanted to learn as much about the sea

The march past at the beginning of the Nationals

Cassandra Day at the Club Championships in PE

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11



A young Nipper shows her mettle at the Club Championships in PE The boys’ flag races at the National Championships in PE

For Bradd Bendall, the Nipper Officer for Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club, the most rewarding part of being involved in training children in lifesaving is the enormous commitment he sees in the children and the joy they get out of developing not only as sportspeople but also as individuals. ‘One must bear in mind that these kids do lifesaving on a voluntary basis and given the commitment that most have with school sports, its fabulous to see their dedication to lifesaving. Lifesaving teaches the kids life skills and a sense of responsibility. And you just have to see an eight-year-old nipper doing the run-swim-run in freezing cold conditions to understand the character of the child you are training.’ This ‘character’ is best described by these remarkable stories: ‘Benjamin and Jason both come from Atlantis – a povertyand crime-stricken area about 45 minutes outside of Cape Town. They joined about three years ago. Neither of them was able to swim and many hours were spent with them to get them water safe. Both boys persevered and after some time, they both qualified in the U/12 age group. They competed at local competitions and also took part in the SA Nipper Nationals where Benjamin in particular had excellent results making the final in both the flags and sprints. It was the first time that the boys stayed in a hotel and this was a highlight in their lives.’ Diane Craemer, Big Bay Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) Nipper Officer

as possible. He has competed in Southern Natal and Natal Championships and won medals in both. ‘Nothing yet for South African Champs,’ he smiles. ‘It’s tough and there are a lot of competitors.’ It’s clear when talking to Mickey that he is proud of the children and their achievements. And it’s not just their development into surf-wise teenagers that impresses him. ‘We have two junior girls at our local club who are part of the national canoe team and one other who has been included in the Olympic canoe squad. These are wonderful success stories... So, Nippers is really our nursery for future lifeguards and champions,’ he beams. ‘This is such a good movement for the kids,’ concludes Gavin. ‘They get fit, learn to be water wise and how to be part of a team and, most of all, they learn to respect the sea and each other.’ SR

‘This young man joined our club in the early 1990s. I know it’s way back, but this is always so inspiring for me and many others that know the story. It goes like this. His name is Leon Christians and his father was a worker on the beach. He said he wanted to bring his son along to see what we were doing. He came with this shy, timidlooking boy. He was about nine years old. He couldn’t swim, he couldn’t speak. He was a real introvert. As the years went by, he really came out of his shell and became a good lifesaver. Today he’s a fireman for the City of Cape Town. And to think he achieved this through lifesaving!’ Sean Gordon, Strandfontein SLC Nipper Officer ‘We have a Nipper who is the child of one of the beach vendors at Clifton 4th. His dad sells ice-creams and colas on the beach. He is not the most agile or fit child but he has an amazingly strong character and is determined to show that he can keep up with all others. I really think that in a couple of years, he will be a strong contender.’ Bradd Bendall, Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club Nipper Officer

To find a club in your area, contact Lifesaving South Africa’s national contact centre on (031) 312-9251, fax (031) 312-5612, or visit

30 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

The Big Blue




t first I thought it was my regulator. As I descended onto the reef, I heard short moans in time with my breathing. This was unfortunate because we were on an exploration dive for a cave that I had found earlier in the week but had no confidence of finding again, diving in the Cape not being given to crystal clarity. A reasonable land-based comparison would be finding your way on an unfamiliar mountain in fog that only allows you to see 8m all around you. Tricky. I certainly didn’t need a malfunctioning regulator to complicate the situation further. But luck was on my side, because, not 10 minutes later, there was the opening of the cave and despite my dive buddies’ scepticism, it was exactly as I had described it to them: two large entrances, hanging orange wall sponge and all. A short underwater victory dance ensued. Exploration successfully over, I could turn my attention to what was happening around me. The sounds I had heard were not from my regulator. And although the reef continued its complex and fascinating life all around me, what occupied most of my attention for the rest of the dive was a constant moaning and clicking. It was the song of the southern right whale, Eubalena australis, and it was beautiful. Eerie long drawn-out moans, descending wails, rising notes and occasional clicks. Unlike the humpback whale, of which more later, both sexes of southern rights sing. They produce their mysterious songs mainly at night, so we were lucky to hear them on a daytime dive. Calls that start low and become higher seem to be used for contact between individuals. Calls that start high or medium and pitch lower may be made by females, since playing back these same sounds underwater causes males to approach their source.

32 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

humpback whales have been known to breach 200 times in a single session

Just how the whales make these sounds remains puzzling. Southern rights have a larynx rather similar to ours but they have no vocal cords. Although the precise mechanics are unknown, sound production presumably involves air and their blowholes. Rather more perplexing as far as mechanism goes, are the clicks the males make. Known as ‘gunshots’, these seem to be made as a sort of threat and can, apparently, be painful to underwater listeners. These whales were called southern rights because they were considered by whalers to be the ‘right’ whales to hunt: they are slow-moving, large animals with high proportions of oil, meat and whalebone and usually float when dead. They were thus hunted extensively, and fortunately for the species’ survival, have been protected since 1937. Their population is showing significant signs of recovering, although it’s not yet anywhere near pre-whaling levels. Slow-moving they may be, being measured offshore of South Africa pottering along at a leisurely 1.7km/h, but they undertake relatively lengthy migrations, moving from their summer feeding grounds in the south to South African, South American, Australian and New Zealand shores in winter, where they mate and breed. It is thought that the females need sheltered areas to give birth and nurse their young, which are born at between 4.5 and 6m in total length, and at around 900kg after a 12-to-13-month pregnancy. The babies feed on their mothers’ milk for at least four months, but may continue for a year or more. Females have their first baby at between six and 12 years of age, usually after they have reached 12m in total length. They may grow to 15.5m in length and weigh up to 47 tonnes. Despite their bulk, southern rights are active, acrobatic whales, which often breach repeatedly, launching themselves head first out of the water, turning and then falling backwards in mid-air, landing with a splash that can be heard up to 1km away. They are also seen at the surface, slapping their flippers, ‘headstanding’ by waving their tail flukes in the air, sometimes for several minutes. They also reportedly use their tail flukes for ‘sailing’: they lift their tail flukes into the air at right angles to the wind, which blows them through the water. It seems certain that this is play, because they have been observed returning to their starting point to repeat the process. Another active whale seen around our coast is the humpback, Megaptera novaeangliae. These whales have been known to breach 200 times in a single session, which is pretty impressive when you consider that at around 40 tonnes, an average humpback weighs almost as much as a southern right. Like southern rights, they slap their flippers as well as their tails (known as lobtailing) on the surface. They often ‘spyhop’, poking their heads above the water, perhaps to see what’s going on in the outside world. Humpbacks migrate thousands of kilometres each year, feeding in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean in summer and coming north to our shores, as well as other southern hemisphere destinations, for the winter. Here they, too, mate and breed. Unlike the southern rights, though, only the males sing. And no-one has really worked out why they do it. If it’s for mating, why has no-one ever seen a female approach a singing male? What we do know, though, is that their songs are entrancing, but in 8m of visibility, the singer is unfortunately seldom close enough to be seen. SR Visit to view more photos by Geoff Spiby. For any marine life queries, visit

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


Saluting our fellow rescue services

owner of makuti lodge PETER WRIGHT RECALLS HOW a team of rescuers rallied around a us family after a tragic accident on table mountain


fter spending a slack Saturday morning watching rugby, I was getting up to pour myself a dry red in anticipation of the South Africa/France match when the phone rang. ‘Hello, our son has just fallen into the gorge, please send for help!’ Then I heard a woman’s anguished screams in the background, which made my hair stand up. Astonished, completely taken aback, I asked, ‘Where are you?’, my brain spinning. ‘At the top of the gorge!’ And then it clicked. Fortunately my wife, Doreen, had mentioned to me earlier that our US guests from Loft Cottage, Mickey, Susan and their two sons, Ryan (14) and John (12), were going up Table Mountain in the cable car, then hiking across the top and climbing down Skeleton Gorge to Kirstenbosh Gardens. Because the weather was iffy she’d

34 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

suggested they go to Cape Point instead, but someone had told them the weather would be worse on Sunday, so they were sticking to their plan. Offering them our hiking sticks, Dor told Ryan specifically to be careful as the path would be slippery. I took down Mickey’s US cell number and called emergency services. After some redirection, I got through to Deon at Disaster Management and explained the dire situation. I was given another number to phone, but thankfully Deon had explained everything to a Mr Sulyman by the time I called. ‘Deon told me about the fall. We have already dispatched a rescue team to Skeleton Gorge,’ he said. ‘This is my number; keep in touch with me!’ It was 1.50pm. Within six minutes of Mickey’s call, the City of Cape Town had responded.


real life I called Mickey: ‘The Rescue team is on the way. I’m coming to get you from the Kirstenbosch entrance.’ ‘Thank you, please tell the rescue services that John is stuck out on the overhang where Ryan fell. I can’t get to him and he can’t get back. We lost the path and the boys went to see if they could see the path below. Ryan was leaning out looking over the edge when the branch he was holding onto snapped.’ I could hear Susan crying. I called Metro One to tell them there was another stranded boy, and that I was on my way to Kirstenbosch to link up with the family. I arrived at Kirstenbosch at 2.15pm. There were already rescue vehicles from two different organisations and a Metro Police car parked on the lawn next to the entrance. Two fellows with hard hats, webbing equipment, radios and climbing boots were sorting out ropes. I introduced myself, then Hugo Vaughn arrived. ‘We’re coordinating everything from here. The helicopter is going to drop another patient off at Tygerberg Hospital, then fly to Kirstenbosch and take a rescuer, Mickey and the doctor up to the fallen boy. They will drop the three of them there and fly off to refuel while the rescuers prepare the fallen boy on a stretcher. By the time the heli had refuelled the stretcher party will be ready for the stretcher to be lifted...’ ‘Hello Mickey... so the heli is now refuelled, back on scene and ready to lift the stretcher.’ ‘No, don’t come up, the rescue team is bringing us down. Our son has died. Please meet us at the entrance. Can you call the US Embassy?’ It was about 3.15pm. ‘Hello Mr Wright, this is Metro One, please call Mike of the US State Department...’ ‘Sorry, I can’t hear you too well; just give me a sec, I’m walking to a quieter corner of the lawn.’ The caller responded, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get him to call you.’ Two minutes later, ‘Hi, this is Mike from the US Embassy...’ A young man came striding across the lawn, waving his hands at me. ‘Hey, get off this lawn, it’s got to be kept clear for the helicopter!’ This over-zealous youngster from the Mountain Club Volunteers tried to shoo me away. ‘Hang on a sec, Mike... Excuse me, I’m trying to talk to the US Embass...’ ‘If you don’t move, I’ll have you removed.’ I went purple. ‘No, you just listen to me, fella, I’m talking to the US Embassy on behalf of the patient’s family. The helicopter won’t be here for at least another half an hour...’ ‘Sorry Mike...’ I explained the position and Mike promised to be there in 20 minutes. I ran after the officious youngster and apologised. The family was brought down to the rendezvous point in Kirstenbosch’s open tour buggy. Susan clung on to me sobbing, while Mickey and John sat there dazed with shock. There were more than 30 vehicles surrounding the lawn and people milling about. I suggested that Mickey and Susan rather sit in my SUV away from the people and where it was warmer. They got into the Kia Sportage. I wasn’t sure what to do next. The helicopter returned to hook up long ropes for lifting the stretcher.

Susan was distraught. ‘Haven’t they collected Ryan yet, why’s it taking so long?’ ‘They were bringing in another patient from a long way off when we called them originally, and after dropping the medics off to attend to Ryan, the chopper had to go back to base to refuel; they’re going up now,’ I explained. The coffee and sandwiches arrived. A large, kind-faced policeman with a clipboard approached me. ‘Excuse me, sir, you seem to be taking care of these people, so I’d better tell you what the procedure is from here.’ He pointed out a steelhaired lady in civilian dress. ‘That is Captain Angela Latchman from Claremont Police Station. She is the investigating officer in charge of proceedings and she will take over as soon as the body is brought here for identification by the family. As the deceased is a foreign juvenile who has died in “unnatural” circumstances, this area has been declared a crime scene and certain formalities have to be adhered to and applied... Could you give me a brief description of the events up until now? Tell me who the parents are and how you’re involved with them?’ The questioning was conducted in the most professional, humble and concerned way. I introduced myself to the captain before she gave instructions for the gawkers to be moved on. At about 3.30pm Glenda, Denise and Angela from the Claremont Police Trauma Counselling Unit arrived. They spent the next seven hours lending support and comfort to the family and assisting the US Embassy.

“ “

i arrived at kirstenbosch at 2.15pm. there were already rescue vehicles from two different organisations and a metro police car parked on the lawn at the entrance

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


image: facebook

Ryan and his mother, Susan

despite the complications of such a tragedy, everyone concerned responded on time

The airlifting of Ryan’s body was problematic and the helicopter seemed to take an age, moving position, then hovering, then moving until the stretcher finally appeared from the trees, slung from the undercarriage on a 50m rope. The chopper swung forbiddingly down over the gardens and deposited the stretcher on one side of the lawn, where the rescue team detached it and placed Ryan’s body in a nearby ambulance. Brian McInerny and Mike arrived from the US Embassy. Brian started an incredible eight-hour round of negotiations and arrangements with police, airlines, funeral homes, and so forth, to get the family back to Houston, Texas, as soon as possible. There was constant activity in the back of the ambulance and fortunately we were parked facing the opposite direction. A state pathologist had come out to Kirstenbosch to undertake the investigative proceedings, but it was taking time and I was getting anxious for the family. It was after 4.30pm and starting to get dark when I approached the cluster of police and Pathology Department personnel behind the ambulance to ask them why it was all taking so long. A stern, plain-clothed official explained, ‘The pathologist who doesn’t do weekend callouts has made an extreme exception to come here today. She is very meticulous and

36 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

thorough, and cannot be rushed. We’re trying our level best to get this process over as quickly as possible so that the family can be released from any further complications that could keep them in South Africa for days next week. We also want to spare them the trauma of having to come down to the state mortuary to identify their son.’ Duly chastened, I slunk off and rejoined Mickey and Susan, who were out of the car talking to the rescue team doctor who attended the preparation of Ryan’s body for airlifting out of the gorge. Susan was ‘beating herself up’ because she had clambered down to her son and found him face down in the stream, with his jacket over his head. She believed he might have drowned and had she got to him sooner, she could have saved him. The doctor assured her that he didn’t drown, that he didn’t suffer and that he couldn’t have survived the first blow. Nothing she could have done would have made any difference to the outcome. I called Dor to say we should be home soon. She had lit the fire in Loft Cottage, and started making soup and dinner. She also arranged for Father Peter to visit at 7.00pm at Mickey’s request. It was after 5.00pm and the pathologist was ready for the body to be identified. Brian arranged that Ryan could be identified by his shoes. Mickey couldn’t go through with it, so I walked with Susan to the back of the ambulance. I put my arm around Susan. ‘Yes, that’s my son, Ryan,’ she whispered. Brian and Mike from the embassy followed us to Makuti and set up ‘base’ at our dining room table to continue a long night of phone calls and negotiations. But by 11.00pm Brian decided to go and work from his office as his cellphone connection to the US kept dropping. By then everyone had had soup, litres of coffee and had wiped out my chocolate stash. They all went home. After midnight, Brian called to give Dor the flight schedule. The family would be flying out in 23 hours. Despite the huge logistical complications of such a tragedy, everyone concerned responded on time, first time. In less than 12 hours from Mickey’s first call, dozens of people had pulled together to take care of this unfortunate couple and their younger son. Bravo Cape Town. Dor and I dropped Susan, Mickey and John off at the airport. Dor took the family to international departures while I returned their hired car. Despite being notified of the family’s circumstances, over-officious traffic monitors at the Drop and Go clamped Dor’s car. Stone faces greeted her distressed pleas – that was until she called a ‘fixer’ who had offered help earlier in the day. The Department of Tourism was notified, the airport manager was called and the clamp removed within 10 minutes with apologies. ‘Take as long as you like, I’ll be keeping on eye on your car.’ We shook hands with the courteous floor manager as we left. The City of Cape Town had lived up to its promise and served well. SR (Shortened and edited with permission from the author.)






STN 2 • BAKOVEN StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:


Mark Thompson (082 990 5962 Engen Spirit of Rotary Table Bay – 6m rescue craft High-pressure water jet cleaner (eg Kärcher)


StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Paula Leech (083 409 9271 Shell Spirit of Vodacom – 13m deep-sea rescue craft, Rotary Endeavour – 5.5m RIB Long extension ladder, flat-screen TV, DVD player

STN 4 • MYKONOS StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Darius van Niekerk (082 990 5966 Spirit of Freemasonry – 9m deep-sea rescue craft, Gemini Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Loved 1s 24: – 4.2m RIB High-pressure hose

STN 5 • DURBAN StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Clifford Ireland (082 448 6713 Engen Eikos Rescuer II – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Megan II – 7m RIB, Spirit of Svitzer – 3.9m RIB Dehumidifier

STN 6 • PORT ELIZABETH StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Ian Gray (082 990 5970 Engen Spirit of Toft – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Eikos Rescuer IV – 7.2m RIB, Boardwalk Rescuer – 4.2m RIB Stove (preferably gas), new boathouse floor, binoculars

38 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11

StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Geoff McGregor (082 990 5972 Spirit of Lotto – 13m deep-sea rescue craft, Spirit of Rotary East London – 5.5m RIB Data projector, camera

STN 8 • HOUT BAY StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Brad Geyser (082 372 8792 Engen MTU Nadine Gordimer – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Albie Matthews – 7.3m RIB 10 Waterproof headlamps, six waterproof torches

STN 9 • GORDON’S BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Nigel Pepperell (083 625 0481 Sanlam Rescuer – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Douglas Murray – 5.5m RIB, Inge – 3.2m Swedish Rescue Runner Whiteboards, digital projector, winch system, seabags

STN 10 • SIMON’S TOWN StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Darren Zimmermann (082 990 5965 Spirit of Safmarine III – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Eddie Beaumont II – 5.5m RIB Data projector for training room, camera

STN 11 • PORT ALFRED StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Juan Pretorius (082 990 5971 Kowie Rescuer – 9m deep-sea rescue craft, Arthur Scales – 5.5m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 5 Stepladder, workshop tools, wet-dry vacuum cleaner

STN 12 • KNYSNA StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Graeme Harding (082 990 5956 Colorpress Rescuer – 8.5m RIB, Jaytee III – 5.5m RIB, Spirit of KYC III – 4.2m RIB Wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner, stepladder, workshop tools

STN 14 • PLETTENBERG BAY StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Ray Farnham (082 990 5975 Engen Ian Hepburn – 7.3m RIB, Sally Joan – 5m RIB, Airlink Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 2 Mae West life jackets

STN 15 • MOSSEL BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Dawie Zwiegelaar (082 990 5954 Vodacom Rescuer – 9m deep-sea craft, Vodacom Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Vodacom Rescuer IV – 4.2m RIB Basic furniture, eg stackable chairs, tables and cupboards

STN 16 • STRANDFONTEIN StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Mario Fredricks (082 990 6753 Engen Spirit of GrandWest CSI – 5.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer III – 4.7m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 3 High-pressure hose

STN 17 • HERMANUS StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Henk Henn (082 568 1829 Engen South Star – 10m deep-sea rescue craft, Hunters Gold Rescuer – 5.5m RIB, Doris Bell – 4.2m RIB Dehumidifier, waterproof binoculars

STN 18 • MELKBOSSTRAND StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Rhine Barnes (082 990 5958 Spirit of the Vines – 5.5m RIB, Men’s Health Rescuer – 4.2m Zapcat, Discovery Rescue Runner 4 Two new boatshed doors, microwave oven

STN 19 • RICHARDS BAY StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Dorian Robertson (082 990 5949 Engen Spirit of Richards Bay – 12m deep-sea rescue craft, Spirit of Round Table – 7m RIB, Rotary Ann – 4m RIB Wheelbarrow, 6m aluminium extension ladder

STN 20 • SHELLEY BEACH StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Mark Harlen (082 990 5950 Caltex Caltex Endeavour – 7.3m RIB, Caltex Challenger – 5.5m RIB, Caltex Discovery – 3.8m RIB Wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner

STN 21 • ST FRANCIS BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Gary Ryder (082 990 5969 Spirit of St Francis II – 8.5m RIB, Eikos Rescuer I – 5.5m RIB, Pierre – 4.7m RIB Dehumidifier, laptop computer

STN 22 • VAAL DAM StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Dick Manten (083 626 5128 Harvey’s Fibreglass – 5.5m RIB Headlamps

STN 23 • WILDERNESS StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

Hennie Niehaus (082 990 5955 Engen Spirit of Rotary 100 – 5.5m RIB, Serendipity – 4.2m RIB, Swart Tobie – 4.2m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 1 Waterproof Pelican case

STN 24A • LAMBERT’S BAY StatCom: Craft:

Ron Selley (082 922 4334 Private vessels are used for rescues

STN 25 • HARTBEESPOORT DAM StatCom: Fuel sponsor: Craft: Needs:

André Kachelhoffer (082 990 5961 Shell Afrox Rescuer II – 5.5m RIB, Vodacom Rescuer 5 – 4.2m RIB Office furniture and equipment

STN 26 • KOMMETJIE StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Ian Klopper (082 990 5979 Spirit of Winelands – 5.5m RIB, FNB Wavescapes – 4.7m RIB Public support for a rescue base (after 12 years of paperwork)

STN 27 • VICTORIA LAKE, GERMISTON StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Graham Hartlett (082 441 6989 Vodacom Rescuer 6 – 4.7m RIB Data projector for training

STN 28A • PORT ST JOHNS StatCom: Craft:

John Costello (082 550 5430 Freemason’s Way – 5.5m RIB

STN 30 • AGULHAS StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Shane Kempen (082 990 5952 Vodacom Rescuer 7 – 8.5m RIB, I&J Rescuer 2 – 4.7 RIB Water-extrication pump, marine and land-use binoculars

STN 31 • STILL BAY StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Enrico Menezies (082 990 5978 Spirit of St Francis – 7.3m RIB, Walvan Rescuer – 4.2m RIB Ropes: 30m/50m (12/15/20mm), spotlight, data projector

STN 32 • PORT EDWARD StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Mick Banks (076 617 5002 Wild Coast Sun Rescuer – 7.3m RIB, Discovery Rescue Runner 6 2 Night binoculars, 2 VHF marine repeaters

STN 33 • WITSAND StatCom: Craft: Needs:

Attie Gunter (082 990 5957 Queenie Paine – 5.5m RIB, Falcon Rescuer – 4.5m RIB Desk, training table, screen, overhead projector

STN 34 • YZERFONTEIN StatCom: Craft: Needs:

c/o Darius van Niekerk (082 990 5974 Rotary Onwards – 7.3m RIB, Spirit of Iffley – 4.2m RIB Cupboards, shelving

STN 35A StatCom:

• WAVECREST, WILD COAST (083 306 3037/047 498 0042

Conrad Winterbach

ASRU (Air Sea Rescue Unit) StatCom: Needs:

André Beuster (083 677 7946 Dry suits, personal EPIRBs St 23 Wilderness thanks: • The Foden Group for the torch valued at R4 500. • Oubaai Golf Course for facilitating a R2 250 donation.

Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


catch my drift



rothers… what are they good for? If they’re older, they tend to tease you, bully you and annoy you. And if they’re younger, they tend to tease you and annoy you, but at least you can bully them if they’re little enough. But in the six years I had to wait until the little one came along, my childhood went something like this: being chased around the house, while my older brother made evil monster noises; being buried in the sand at Kleinmond until only my head stuck out (and no, I am not making that up); and being scared half to death one night when he put tomato sauce and powder on his face and jumped out at me in the passage! (Come to think of it, where the heck were my parents when all this was going on?) He grew out of it eventually and I struck back as soon as my little brother was old and plump enough to torture. I would sit on him and tickle him mercilessly, only stopping when he threw up on me. (Somehow, my parents were always around to see that!)

The fourth person to make up our clan was my sister, who spent all of her spare time horse riding, and when she wasn’t doing that, she was dreaming of horses or drawing and painting horses, so she was no help to me at all, either when I was being tortured or during my payback tickling sessions with my barely out-ofnappies little brother. But memories are selective, and once we all got over ourselves and stopped being little trolls, I started to remember the other stuff, the good stuff. Looking through some photo albums I was reminded of how many holidays we spent at the sea, and how all four of us clustered together smiling while my dad took photos. The water was too cold for swimming (we grew up in Namibia), but the dunes at Swakopmund were excellent for sandboarding. After flying down at speed, we would all help each other back up the dune, holding each other’s hands or carrying each other’s boards. Holidays in Cape Town were the best, because then we could paddle a bit, either at Boulders or Fish Hoek and sometimes Melkbos. As a child eager to feel the waves, I ventured in a little too far one day. And as always, these things happen fast. I felt the sand give way underneath my feet and I was under water. Within seconds, my brother had grabbed the back of my bathing costume and pulled me out. I am not even sure how old I was but it’s a memory that visits me fairly often, especially when I think of the bigger Sea Rescue family. I have been working on this magazine for six years, and not an issue goes by where I am not moved in some indescribable way by what the volunteers achieve. They’re a bit like our big brothers and sisters looking out for us, helping us and rescuing us when we’re in trouble. And just like my brother all those years ago, they do it without hesitation, without asking questions and without expecting anything back. SR

40 Sea Rescue • summer 2010/11


Within seconds, my brother had grabbed the back of my bathing costume and pulled me out


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Sea Rescue magazine Summer 2010  

Official magazine of the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa, showcasing rescue work and fundraising efforts