Jonathan Tuft, sea rescue Port Elizabeth duty coxswain, said: “On 28th August, at 15h35 Sea Rescue Port Elizabeth were activated following a call from Caroline Roberts, the wife of the skipper of the 28 foot fishing boat Nikki (with 2 adult males and 4 children onboard), saying that her husband had called her reporting that their boat Nikki was taking water and sinking 2 nautical miles off-shore of the Koega Harbour and requesting her to urgently contact Sea Rescue.
At the same time the Transnet National Ports Authority, Maritime Radio Services and our controller monitored a Mayday distress call on the VHF radio emergency frequency from the same boat reporting to be sinking.
We launched our Spirit of Toft and Eikos Rescuer II and, in 2 metre choppy rough sea swells and a 22 knot South Easterly wind, all 6 crew were found sitting precariously on the stern of their boat which was almost submerged in water. The rest of the boat was semi-submerged under water. All 6 crew were wearing their life-jackets and prior to the NSRI’s arrival they had also launched a 1 000 foot red distress flare.
All 6 casualty crew were taken safely off the bow of the casualty boat and our Sea Rescue volunteers used water extrication pumps to pump the boat free of water. Once she was more buoyant and higher above the water line, a tow-line was rigged and the semi-submerged casualty craft was towed safely onto the beach next to the Koega harbour slip-way. All of her 6 crew were brought safely to port in Port Elizabeth aboard our rescue craft, arriving at 18h10.
A South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the boat filling with water.
The 6 rescued crew are skipper Monty Schimper, 57, and his crew, Peter Roberts, 42, Branson Roberts, 14, Wade O’Connor, 15, Chris Monk, 15, and Donovan Bradfield, 15.
None of the 6 casualties were injured and once safely ashore they were reunited with family members and they required no further assistance.
The skipper reported that they had been out fishing 2 nautical miles off Koega harbour when the sea conditions grew progressively foul and after deciding to return the boat steadily and quickly started to take in water causing their boat to almost sink.”
Pic: Spirit of Toft
Photographer: Andrew Ingram