Station 8 was called by Alan Battley of HBYC to assist with the yacht Chessie which had suffered rudder failure 17NM off Hout Bay. She was sailing in the round world race for cruising boats called World ARC. Her next port on the trip was Hout Bay.
She was sailing in company with a fellow racer Brown Eyed Girl.
R8 and R8A launched and located Chessie 6NM SW of Vulcan Rock.
She was given a course to steer into the lee of Chapman’s Peak to keep her on the windward side of Hout Bay as the SE was now gusting 60 knots.
She appeared able to make big course changes but would not be able to manoeuvre in close quarters and so asked R8 to tow her in.
Abeam of Tsingtao Lodge on the eastern shore of Hout Bay, she was stopped to set up the tow.
While R8 prepared the tow, R8A was tasked to hold her into the wind and while R8A was attached to her bow, Chessie inexplicably went ahead, dragging R8A around to her stern colliding port side to port side crushing R8A’s windscreen and bending the engine nudge bar.
R8A quickly cut the line and manoeuvred clear of the yacht.
R8 then passed the tow with a throwing line and whilst the tow was being secured, Chessie again inexplicably went ahead and collided with the port side of R8. No damage resulted and we then placed Cox’n Class III Geoff Stephens aboard with difficulty in the prevailing conditions to liaise with the Chessie crew to prevent any further incidents.
R8 then started the tow to Hout Bay harbour and R8A was attached to the yacht’s stern to act as a brake on entering the harbour in the high winds.
This was done without further incident and the yacht was moored on the HBYC Marina with the assistance of HBYC Officials and Station 8 crew. This took some time as the yacht was longer than the berth and the wind was threatening to tear the jetty away from the Marina and both the yacht and jetty had to be secured before the Rescue Boats departed.
This was at about 19:30 when the second yacht Brown Eyed Girl requested assistance. She was still at sea and trying to head for Hout Bay and found that her engine was unable to give her more than 1 knot ahead into the now 70 knot Easterly gale. She initially thought to head for Cape Town but realised that with her exhausted crew and engine malfunction that Hout Bay would be the safer option.
We agreed to meet with her and tow her in to Hout Bay. We located her on radar 2 NM S of Vulcan Rock and she was steering straight for Vulcan. We immediately gave her a safe course away from Vulcan into the lee of Chapman’s Peak to be able to pass her a tow there.
This was done without incident and we proceeded to tow her into Hout Bay harbour, again with R8A attached to her stern to act as a brake on entering.
With the winds now gusting up to 90 knots easterly, there was no chance of safely berthing her on the HBYC Marina without a collision and significant damage to Rescue Craft and yacht.
The plan was to slow the whole tow down to a crawl, enter the harbour and immediately turn to starboard to bring the yacht into the lee of the North Mole seawall. We would then moor her overnight on the North Mole inside the Harbour.
With the tow shortened and R8A astern of the yacht, we turned into the Mole and R8A attempted to push her onto the wall while R8 carefully moved along the inside of the wall to get the yacht close to the wall.
A sudden severe prolonged gust of wind took charge of the yacht; swinging her out into the harbour dragging R8 with her sternwards.
Having run out of free mooring space, the only thing we could then do was to put R8’s nose onto the inside of the wall, facing into the wind and hold both R8 and the yacht in position with R8’s engines to be able to then secure her to the wall.
This enabled the Crew to work safely on R8, passing bow and stern lines from the yacht over R8 onto the Harbour wall to HBYC Officials and Station 8 Crew who then painstakingly by hand hauled the yacht onto the wall assisted by R8A pushing her on.
This took some 1.5 hours because of the fierce wind and spray howling across the North Mole wall!
Only after R8 Crew checked that she was safely secured did R8 and R8A return to Base.
Damage to R8 was scratches and dents on the Stainless Steel nose plate.
On Sunday morning, damage to the boats was assessed and it was agreed that Station 8 could affect the repairs.
R8’s nose plate was repaired and refitted to R8 by 13:00 Sunday and the repairs to R8A’s windscreen and nudge bar would be complete soon.