HOUT BAY Monday 16th January 2012:
At 18h55 on Monday 16th January Hout Bay duty crew were called out following a request for assistance from the San Diego, USA, solo yachtsman Bob Lorenzi, aboard his yacht Armido with a split mainsail.
His yachts engine was not coping in the sea conditions and the yacht was being blown sideways, struggling in a wild sea with gale force South Easterly winds gusting to more than 65 knots. He was 2.5 nautical miles South East of Vulcan Rock and at serious risk of running onto it.
Our Hout Bay volunteers launched MTU NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS and on arrival we found the yacht being blown across the bay like a leaf in the wind bucking and pitching and having covered over 1.5 nautical miles in the 20 minutes it took our sea rescue craft to reach him.
A tow-line was rigged to the yacht from our sea rescue craft but on three occasions the tow-line snapped and the V-shaped bridle on the sea rescue craft broke twice. A 12mm thick stainless steel safety snap hook bent and snapped and had to be discarded. With slow progress, making only 1 knot, and having to re-attach the tow-line on numerous occasions, it was seriously considered to order the yachtsman to abandon ship after the yacht came close to running aground. The yacht was finely brought into the safety of Hout Bay harbour at 22h00.
Bob Lorenzi, who lives on his yacht, was returning to Hout Bay after “having such a good time there in 2003”, he said.
Docking first in Durban and then last port of call Mossel Bay he was close to his destination when his mainsail tore in the gale force winds causing the rescue operation to be launched.
Bob commended the NSRI Hout Bay volunteer sea rescue crew saying that it was the best teamwork and rescue operation he had witnessed in some of the most trying conditions he had ever found himself in.
Pictures are available for media download from the Sea Rescue Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/searescue/