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READERS’ LETTERS

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

WE INVITE YOU TO AIR YOUR VIEWS, STATE YOUR CONCERNS OR SHARE YOUR COMMENTS WITH FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE SEA RESCUE FAMILY

WINNING LETTER Congratulations to Lewis Blom. Your case of Slaley Wines is on its way to you. We enjoyed your memories as well.

ILLUSTRATION: DARRYL EDWARDES

THE OLD MEMORY GAME I have just read your latest magazine and would like to congratulate you on a magnificent effort. All the reads were good, but the story about the lady and the tsunami was simply brilliant! I was still laughing out loud, when the old memory game began – not that my memory is all that good at 70 anymore! I have never been rescued by the NSRI, but the old Sea Witch has crooked her finger at me on several occasions: four times in False Bay (including twice behind the pool at St James and once at Sea Forth where I was pulled out of the depths by my hair and what a headache that was!), once at the Strand, and one very horrible time when our skiboat overturned on the shark nets off Durban. Swimming for the shore among some 80 dead fish is not something I would recommend in that particular area! So, you will gather that I have had a love/ hate relationship with the sea all my life. Little wonder then that Die Burger made me their shipping correspondent as a young journalist many, many years ago. This resulted in my covering the inaugural meeting of the NSRI in Cape Town in 1967. It has been my great privilege to have done dozens and dozens of interviews since then for articles and even more stories about sea rescues for

SPECIAL SERVICE FROM STATION 5 On 1 January, my wife passed away. It was her wish that her ashes be scattered at sea. I contacted Dave Sievwright of Station 5 (Durban) and a time was arranged. On the morning of 19 April, my family and I boarded Eikos Rescuer II, the national flag was lowered to half mast, and we proceeded out to sea where a position was reached and a brief but reverent service was conducted by the coxswain. Afterwards, the ashes were scattered and flowers placed on the sea. The spot was circled three times and we then headed back to port. I would like to thank NSRI for assisting in fulfilling my wife’s wishes and giving my family and I closure at this sad time. Bernard Lewis

Die Burger, The Argus and the SABC. (I still write these stories for the news agency NewsFlash for whom I have been working for 15 years since retiring.) Every time I receive an email from Craig Lambinon about some rescue or other, I try to squeeze it into the bulletins for the radio stations we serve, simply because I think your organisation does a truly magnificent job and because I have always admired those members who risk their lives so selflessly. And on a personal note, thanks for the memories. I am proud to say I was there when the keel was laid. Keep up the good work! Lewis Blom

life you’ve saved – a renewed vision of life, love and relationships are all as priceless. My son, two daughters and Tertia also thank you. Hendrik and I want to give R2 500 to Station 2 (Bakoven) plus two movie tickets to Mark, who had to leave the theatre to come and get us. Jurie Wessels

WILLING AND ABLE Keep up the good work. I sail from Manten Marina and have had Dicky and his crew stand by me on one occasion when I lost the mast on my Soling. They are always willing and able. John Smit

MUTUAL SUPPORT A LIFE SAVED IS A LIFE RENEWED I wish to express my gratitude to you and the guys from the Spirit of Rotary who plucked me out of the water after my rudder mechanism broke. I’m sure you already know this, but you give so much more than the

Thank you to Station 5’s (Durban) André Fletcher for delivering two exceptional talks at the Garmin Hospitality Stand at the Durban Boat Show. The nature and quality of your talks were a great drawcard in having Supersport conduct the two interviews. So once again – a huge thank

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NEWS & EVENTS

MAKOVER FOR KNYSNA Over the last few months, amid a few great rescues, the Knysna crew has feverishly been upgrading our facilities. After battling with radio communications for many years, we managed to get a UHF radio link installed, which has dramatically improved our communications. With this in mind, we decided to build an operations room in the station, which means we now have a lot more space to do chart work and navigation, and the radios are now in a quiet, controlled area. Our slipways experienced some major damage during the last two storms, which made it really dangerous to launch our boats. So we embarked on a project to redo the slipways and add a portion onto the base from which The Spirit of KYC can launch. It’s all well and good to plan all this work, but the bottom line is it costs money, and all of us at Station 12 (Knysna) have been totally bowled over by the wonderful support we have received from local businesses: To Pepe Collarossi for donating his labour and expertise for the slipways and supplying the ceiling boards • Denron for the pump and concrete • Airton Timbers which supplied all the wood • Tony Gradwell at Dulux who supplied all the paints for the internal crew and ops room • Plascon paints which donated all the paint for the exterior walls of the base • Willy Alcock from TWA Banisters for supplying the support poles for the ops room • Duram Paints for the paint to do all the woodwork • Knysna Equipment Hire for the use of their equipment for sanding the floors • PG Bison for the cladding and postform top for the ops room • AJ Knysna Leisure Industries for the extra flooring • Steve at Builders Trade Warehouse for donating the fittings for the lights and plugs • Grant Ballack from Finishing Touch Lighting for all the electrical requirements • the Rotary Club of Knysna and Dennis Burn from B&V Contractors for donating the concrete needed to do the slipway work • Gammid Trading for the stainless steel to repair our storm gates • Reese from Steel Eye for doing all the stainless work • Brian the electrician for doing all the electrical work required in the ops room • Ingenium kitchens for redoing our bar area • Anchors Away Sea School for the big new fridge and air conditioner • Sivest for getting the DEAT approval and doing the Environmental Management Plan we needed for the slipways • Hein Gilliome from Waterfront Caltex for their continued support • Catherine Heukelman for buying us an extension ladder • Oom Hennie and Peter Osner for the kind donation • Mrs O’Blaikie for her continued support. This list is long but it just goes to show how much the Knysna businesses care. It’s clear to us that we live in a truly wonderful community. Most of the manual labour was done by our own crewmen who are a bunch of highly skilled and dedicated people – this makes it a real joy and honour to belong to our newly upgraded station. We thank all of our sponsors from the bottom of our hearts!

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YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD I arrived at Station 18 (Melkbosstrand) in January 2005 at the tender age of 72. My first intention was to offer to do all the base and equipment maintenance. However, at my interview with the station commander, I was also persuaded to train as a control room operator. At first I thought that at my age, going back to school was pushing it a bit, but I decided to go along with it anyway in order to see what I could accomplish. Three years later, I have qualified and can now rightfully claim my place on the team. The volunteers at our station are from all walks of life, and as you can guess, much younger than I am. They have become part of my extended family and most of them call me Uncle Vic. When my wife and I go away, as we often do in our mobile home, it gives me great joy to see the SMSes coming through and to know that I am a part of this rescue organisation back home in Melkbosstrand. All one needs to get involved is a good sense of humour, strong arms to push a broom and above all, dedication to the cause. Talk to your local rescue station – you never knows, you may be just what they need. Uncle Vic (Denner) RESCUE BOATS NOW SAFE AT SEA Our greatest threat at sea is a radio shadow. Rescue boats launch in the worst kind of weather and they check in with the radio control room at the rescue base every 20 minutes. But, all along our coastline, there are radio shadows where we are unable to communicate. During these times, our boats are at sea on a wing and a prayer. Cellphone coverage is also sporadic at sea and, without any means of communicating with our crew, we are very vulnerable. Thanks to a new partnership with Altech Netstar, all 52 of our deep-sea rescue boats will now be fitted with a special tracking device. We will receive automatic updates on each boat’s position. When there is no GSM signal, the tracking device will switch to satellite communications. Our volunteers risk their lives to ensure your safety – and now Altech Netstar will ensure our safety at sea. Joel Stransky, MD of the Altech Netstar Group says, ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with the NSRI to ensure the safety of their volunteers. Altech Netstar is proud to have developed another world-class product and service to make this possible, and we hope that in this way we can contribute to saving lives at sea.’


Above: (left) NSRI volunteers receiving instruction on survival techniques on a course kindly donated by CPUT; (middle) Doing the ‘huddle’ – keeping together and conserving body heat; (right) No one said that this would be easy!

PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SHOUL

MOSSIE AND DONALD: CENTRUM GUARDIAN FINALISTS The annual Centrum Guardian project (now in its second year) celebrates the rescue work performed by the emergency services in South Africa. The project also gives the public the opportunity to express their gratitude to these ‘guardians’ who often go above and beyond the call of duty in their rescue efforts. Two such people were nominated from the NSRI. Alta ‘Mossie’ Haschick and Donald Olivier were instrumental in the rescue operation involving nine schoolchildren whose inflatables had overturned in rough surf at Groot Brak. Concerned only with the children who were in distress, both Mossie and Donald entered the water without hesitation. Because of their efforts as part of the rescue team on scene, six lives were saved that day. To view the finalists of the Centrum Guardian Project, visit www.centrumguardian.com. To vote for Mossie and Donald, sms your name to 33387. (Please note smses are charged at R1.50.) Voting opens on 1 November and closes on 30 November.

MEMORIES OF TOMMY WINTERNITZ For many years Tommy was an active crew member of Station 11 in Port Alfred. Before retiring to the coast, he established and ran the station at Bronkhorstspruit Dam for many years. His nextdoor neighbour at the Bonamazi resort on the dam was a young accountant, Mark Lindhorst, who wrote this story. ‘Back in 1988, I moved into the neighbouring park home and moored my boat next to Tommy’s immaculate NSRI craft. I was 34 years old and Tommy 52 at the time. ‘In the ensuing months Tommy and I saw quite a lot of each other. ‘One weekend, as I was mooring my boat after being out on the water for a good ski, Tommy stopped me and asked, ‘Would you mind pulling me behind your boat for a ski?’ I replied, ‘Only with pleasure.’ He bounded off to his park home, returning minutes later in a short wetsuit, ski life jacket and gloves, and a slalom ski under his arm. ‘We drove out to a clear patch of water, he grabbed the ski-rope handle and jumped in. I was used to aligning the boat, the rope and the skier, getting tension in the rope and waiting for the skier to be comfortable before hitting the throttle. None of that for our Tommy! He hit the water, turned to face the boat and yelled, ‘Hit it!’ I wasn’t even ready, and I had been towing skiers for more than 15 years. He popped up and began throwing up rooster tails immediately. He skied for ages. After that I set myself the goal: when I get to 52, I want to be able to ski as well as Tommy Winternitz. ‘Well I certainly did get better and, I believe, almost as good as Tommy. But with the passing years and a pressurised office job, I didn’t keep myself in the shape that I needed to be to match Tommy’s performance. ‘Now I am a wine farmer and I dream of the day when sales and cash flow are ahead of budget. As I approach 55, I want to be out on the water, keeping fit, having fun and achieving my goal!’ Mark Lindhorst sponsored the wine for our AGM dinner and is partnering with NSRI in a winebased fundraiser. Read more about this initiative and how you can participate on the address sheet that came with this magazine. You can order wines and stand a chance to win one of three great prizes. For more information, contact Mark Lindhorst on 082 490 9731.

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removed to assist with draining water from the now moving boat but they feared that she could capsize at any moment. Because of the intermittent cellphone reception in the area and because they had lost battery and radio power, Ian continued to SMS their position and progress to the responding rescue resources realising that if they did capsize, the rescue team would be able to find them a lot easier. They managed to limp into Millers Point slipway safely, before the rescue craft arrived on the scene. Once safely recovered, it was ascertained that there was a 50cm crack in the hull. What caused the crack is unknown. Both men were relieved that they had discovered the ingress of water while still close to land. The outcome could have been much worse had they headed straight out to Rocky Banks as was their original intention. ‘We realise that when you are on the rescue team on the water, every second counts. But when you are on the other side of the rescue, sinking at sea... those seconds seem like a lifetime!’ quipped Ian.

CREW HIKE THROUGH DENSE BRUSH TO SAVE CASUALTY On Saturday 8 August, Station 31 (Still Bay) was standing by at the Galjoen Angling Competition when, at 12h54, they were called to assist a competing 46-year-old fisherman, who was suffering from chest pain and seizures. The Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services were activated and NSRI crew responded to the scene (at Jogensfontein, 14km from Still Bay), hiking 2km over dense brush, rocks and sand dunes, to stabilise the man who was found unconscious and with a rapidly fluctuating heart rate. The man was treated on the scene, secured onto a trauma board and carried over the rough terrain to the main road to the waiting Metro ambulance and taken to hospital in Riversdale.

ILLUSTRATION: DARRYL EDWARDES

RESCUE REPORTS

SMOKEY RUNS AGROUND WHILE CREW AWAIT TAKEAWAYS Following reports of a boat run aground at Camps Bay beach on Sunday 29 August at 13h30, Station 2 (Bakoven) was activated. NSRI rescue swimmers responded directly to the scene and found a 27ft Bavaria Boat, Smokey, on a sandbank parked quite gently in soft sand but in no apparent danger. The skipper, who has requested that his name not be released, managed to get the vessel off the sandbank and motored out to behind the small surf line where he put out her anchor about 100m from shore. He then came ashore with his son in a paddle dinghy. He informed the NSRI that he was only coming ashore to collect food that he had ordered from a local Camps Bay restaurant but, while collecting the order, the boat again drifted onto a sandbank on the beach. The man then returned from the restaurant with eight guests who all climbed aboard, in the shallow water, and the boat left the bay and headed out to sea.

TREACHEROUS RIP CURRENTS OFF HEROLDS BAY

On Saturday 8 August, at 15h40, Station 23 (Wilderness) was called to a drowning in progress at Herolds Bay beach. First on the scene was NSRI rescue swimmer Torsten Henschell. Pausing only to grab his torpedo buoy, he swam out through the breaking surf and located the 20-year-old-man 120m offshore. The man was being assisted to stay afloat by a group of local surfers. Torsten secured the man with the use of rescue flotation gear until the arrival of our rescue craft from Station 23 (Wilderness). The boat brought the casualty to shore where paramedics treated the man for symptoms of near drowning and hypothermia. The man, believed to be a member of a National Defence Force delegation on routine training exercises in the area, was then transported to a George hospital, by the Metro ambulance, in a stable condition for further treatment and for observation for secondary drowning. It is believed that the man had gone for a swim when he got into difficulty in the surf. It’s suspected that he got caught in the prevailing spring tide rip currents. Because of his training and intimate knowledge of the area, Torsten had managed to ride these same rip currents to get to the casualty. The NSRI commends the local surfers who selflessly went to this man’s aid.

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SENSIBLE BYSTANDERS INITIATE RESCUE EFFORT

IN A TIGHT SPOT On Friday 21 August at 22h45, Station 32 (Port Edward) was activated by reports of a man who had fallen into a crevice at Spiro’s Rock in Port Edward. In a team effort, NSRI volunteers responded to the scene together with the Fire and Rescue Services, Police Search and Rescue, Ubunthu Lifeguards and Netcare 911 ambulance service. Jacques Strachan (28), was found wedged between rocks after he had fallen into a crevice while out walking with three friends, collecting fire wood. The man had fallen approximately 20 feet in-between the rocks and was wedged in a gap of about 12 or 16 inches. Paramedics and rescuers established oxygen therapy while rescue attempts were considered to get the casualty out of the confined space. A rope-pulley system was rigged, and rescuers were able to lift Jacques high enough out of the crevice and then onto a ledge. Here they were able to secure him onto the trauma board and immoblise him fully. Jacques was then lifted the last few feet out of the crevice, secured to the trauma board, and loaded into a Stokes basket stretcher. Rescuers carried him half a kilometre to the waiting ambulance from where he was taken to the Port Edward hospital.

FISHERMAN’S FRIEND KEEPS VIGIL On Sunday 30 August at 11h50, Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) was called by the Transnet National Ports Authority following reports of an angler swept off rocks east of the Steenbras River Mouth. NSRI Gordon’s Bay launched two rescue craft, Sanlam Rescuer and Douglas Murray, and on arrival at the scene rescued Ferdi Oosthuizen, a 37-year-old Bellville resident. The patient was brought to the NSRI rescue base and treated for mild hypothermia and released, requiring no further assistance. Ferdi’s friend, Peter Oosthuizen (37) who had been fishing with him, is an ex-Navy diver. He said that while they were fishing from the rocks, Ferdi was swept into the sea by waves. Peter shouted to Ferdi to lie on his back to enable him to float better and to shed his clothes to reduce his weight in the water. Ferdi, unable to get back onto the rocks, was being swept out to sea, but he obeyed Peter’s instructions. Peter kept a close watch on his friend while staying in direct cellphone contact with the NSRI resources responding to the scene. At that stage Ferdi was engulfed in thick white foam, which would have made it very difficult for the responding NSRI crews to spot him. NSRI commended Peter for keeping constant watch, and for reporting his position to the responding NSRI crew. It took 15 minutes before Peter could phone the NSRI emergency number and by the time the rescue craft arrived on-scene, the casualty had been in the water for close on 40 minutes.

PHOTOGRAPH: DONATED BY NATASHA LOUBSER, STATION 9 (GORDON’S BAY)

At 10h15, on Friday 31 July, Jan Pretorius, from Centurion, Pretoria, (on holiday in Port Edward) was on the beach with his wife and child when they noticed the small ski boat, Vossea, launching through the surf, heading out to sea, with two men on board. Jan noticed the boat go through and over two waves as it headed out to sea but on the second wave, one man fell out of the boat. As the skipper attempted to turn the boat around in the surf line, in an apparent attempt to rescue the crewman, the boat was capsized by a wave. Both of the men were wearing life jackets and were seen attempting to swim towards the shore. Jan said that he then noticed that one of the men had stopped swimming and was floating in the surf line. Without hesitation, Jan entered the water, waded through the shoulder-height surf, managed to grab hold of the casualty and pulled him through the surf towards the beach. On reaching shallower water, a group of bystanders assisted Jan in carrying the man, who appeared to be exhausted, onto the beach where they made him comfortable while they waited for the rescue teams to arrive. The skipper made it out of the water onto the beach safely without any assistance. By the time Station 32 (Port Edward) volunteers arrived at Glenmore Beach, the casualties were safe and the casualty was transported to hospital by the Medivac ambulance in a stable condition suffering from near drowning symptoms, shock, exhaustion and for observation for secondary drowning. Their boat had washed up on the beach during the incident and was righted by Jan and members of the public, and then recovered by NSRI Port Edward volunteers. NSRI commends the quick thinking of Jan Pretorius and the other bystanders.

UK TOURIST SWEPT OUT IN PLETT RIP Volunteers at Station 14 (Plettenberg Bay) were alerted by formerNSRI volunteer, Michael McCarthy, on 25 August, at 10h00. He had witnessed a man being swept out to sea in a rip current offshore of the Keurbooms River Mouth, near Plettenberg Bay. While alerting the NSRI, Michael also called on two local surfers, who were surfing in the vicinity, and requested that they paddle out to the man in distress and assist him while they waited for the rescue boats to arrive. Rescue craft Airlink Rescuer and Sally Joan arrived on-scene to find a 62-year-old male, from Kent in the United Kingdom, being assisted to stay afloat by the two local surfers 800m offshore in 1m swells and strong rip currents. The gentleman was admitted to a local hospital overnight for observation for secondary drowning. The NSRI commend the actions of Michael McCarthy and of the two surfers, known only as Darren and Little John, for their actions in going to the aid of the casualty.

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Sea Rescue magazine  

Official magazine of the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa, showcasing the rescue efforts of the volunteers, as well as fundrais...

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