Solo yachtsman rescued off Hout Bay:

HOUT BAY  Monday 16th January 2012:

Bob Loana, aboard his yacht AKUIDO. Pictures by Rob Fine.

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:

The Hout Bay Rescue boats arrive at Armido.

Rigging the tow.

The conditions during the rescue were extreme.


10 Responses to “Solo yachtsman rescued off Hout Bay:”

  1. Keenan Gambarana Stn 18
    17. Jan, 2012 at 09:51 #

    Thats awesome! Well done Hout Bay!

  2. Cathi
    17. Jan, 2012 at 10:44 #

    Great team effort by sea and land crews. Mission accomplished!

  3. Caroline van Wezel
    17. Jan, 2012 at 10:50 #

    Dear Resquers,

    On the 9th January when there was another stormy night, I saw on the horizon 4 ships. Really far away.

    One ship fired a red flare and I felt a panic.
    I tried to phone the coast guard, but they did not pick up the phone.

    Do you know what happened ?

    What can I do in such situations?


    Caroline van Wezel

    • andrew
      17. Jan, 2012 at 11:26 #

      Dear Caroline please call the Cape Town Port Control emergency number 021 4493500 to report such incidents in the future. I don’t know of any incident on the 9th. You can see the other regions emergency numbers if you click on ” EMERGENCY NUMBERS”at the top right of this website.

  4. Struan Campbell
    19. Jan, 2012 at 11:24 #

    Hi Guys

    Superbly done on this rescue in what sounded like fairly hectic conditions. I am also so pleased to see the extra effort you went to to actually save the vessel – which is obviously Bob’s entire life and world. I have read so many stories of US coastguard boats ordering skippers off only to find the boats floating days later – it is great to see our volunteers are a little tougher. Of course if you had ordered him off we all would have understood!

    But fantastic effort – and well done again!


  5. Charles Howell
    20. Jan, 2012 at 10:44 #

    I am trying to help Bob find a new mainsail at a reasonable price. Can anyone help?

    Charles Howell

  6. Bob Lorenzi/SV Armido
    21. Jan, 2012 at 12:38 #

    Can’t thank the crews of MTU NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS enough for their very well coordinated response to my request for assistance. A few clarifications are in order though. My call for assistance was primarily due to the fact that without a good mainsail heaving to in order to wait until conditions improved was impossible. It is a fortunate irony that I asked for assistance when the wind strength by my estimate was ‘only’ about 50 knots. Had the mainsail been usable and my decision had been instead to heave to I would have no doubt been at increased risk as the wind continued to rise to about 65 knots. Would the mainsail have given out then, making assistance even more difficult after dark with sea state and wind strength creating a greater challenge in rendering assistance? Because the forward movement of a sail boat is possible due to the effect of pressure on the keel facilitated by wind pushing against the sails and hull, total control over the direction of travel is not lost if sails are taken out of the mix. It is still possible to affect the direction of travel by putting a sail boat onto one tack or the other. At the time I called for assistance I was on a port tack and direction of travel was away from both Hout Bay and the hazards mentioned in the NSRI report. Once I was informed assistance was on the way, I changed to a starboard tack to reduce the distance I would travel away from the Bay and even close the distance even if minimally between myself and the vessels coming to assist. The real hazard I faced was from steep waves that had the capability of swamping my vessel as she lay parallel to them. When hove to under a main sail with the helm to weather, my boat moves forward in normal conditions (18-20 knots of wind) between .75 and 1 knot. Orientation of the boat due to movement of water past the rudder and pressure on the mainsail pushing the stern down is with the bow at an angle to wind and waves. Normally a very safe and comfortable position to assume when needing a rest, opportunity to cook a meal or wait for daylight/conditions to improve before entering a port. Current can either be an assist in carrying my boat in the direction I want to travel, stop forward movement altogether, or reverse the direction of travel in which I want to go. It depends upon which is stronger – the effect of wind or current. At the time assistance was rendered, movement of my boat toward the Bay and hazards was between zero and 1.5 knots. Falling again onto a port tack would have carried me away from the Bay and hazards. This was possible because the wind, generally ESE was blowing me away from the Bay. My third option to heaving to on a port or starboard tack would have been to “run” away from Hout Bay and all hazards downwind. This would have been counter productive because although I did not know it at the time conditions would only get worse, I would be travelling in the direction of the shipping lanes and farther from assistance when I would have obviously have needed it later on. When the first tow was aborted due to problems with the tow line that set my boat adrift I ran bare poles away from the Bay and hazards while awaiting a new effort to attach at tow line. None of the things I could have done were superior alternatives to requesting assistance, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been near Hout Bay and assistance from the volunteer rescue group in Hout Bay. Thank you very much.

  7. Dirk Strachan
    27. Jan, 2012 at 13:37 #

    Bravery at it its best with a Seaman and his craft rescued.

    Excellent work!

  8. Brian M-PJNY
    25. Mar, 2012 at 16:28 #

    Nice job Rob and Crew
    ‘That Others May Live”


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