Final update: At 16h00 this afternoon (27th September) the operation completed in the Port of Durban. Sincere thanks to our volunteers who selflessly offered up over 27 hours at sea.27th 06:20 update: Andre Fletcher, NSRI Durban deputy station commander, said: 'As at 05h00 this morning our NSRI Durban sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II, towing the 42 foot yachtTHOLILE, were off-shore of Port Shepstone and approaching the Continental Shelf and at their current speed of about 4.5 knots we expect them to arrive in the Port of Durban at around 14h00 to 15h00 today.
'We suspected we would need to deliver additional diesel to our sea rescue craft during the towing effort but it's starting to look like she will make the distance with the diesel they haveonboard.
'Everyone onboard both the yacht and the sea rescue craft are well. Maritime Radio Services have assisted throughout the night helping to relay radio messages from the rescue operation to our sea rescue control room at our NSRI base in Durban and this has been a great help.'21h45 Update: NSRI Durban's sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II rendezvoused with the casualty yacht at 20h48. A tow-line is rigged and the tow has begun estimated to arrive in the Port of Durban in the early hours of the morning. All are safe and well.19h00 Update: NSRI have been informed that the yacht THOLILE left Durban last night and had headed towards Port Elizabeth and only then were they going to head across to Mauritius.
This information sheds light on their position being so far South of Durban. Initially NSRI were under the impression they had drifted South, after losing engine power and tearing their sails, due to the currents and wind pushing them Southwards, but they are in fact where they should be based on where they were heading!
Then two NSRI rescue craft searched for the yacht during the afternoon when the yacht was not found at the GPS (Global Position) they had provided. It appears that they had to re-boot their GPS to provide an accurate reading and when this was done both NSRI rescue boats had returned to base to re-fuel. Once their new GPS coordinates were provided their position was found to be quite some distance further South of the original GPS position they had provided to NSRI.
Based on the reports from the yacht crew, that they were no longer suffering from sea-sickness and that they had hydrated to alleviate the effects of dehydration, and with NSRI Durban'sdeep-sea rescue craft only an hour and a half away from reaching them, the two sea rescue craft (in Shelly Beach and in Port Edward) have not been dispatched to return to sea and instead now remain on stand-by at their respective bases.
Once NSRI Durban's sea rescue craft have the yacht under tow we will evaluate an estimated arrival time in the Port of Durban based on the speed they make under tow.
At 10h55 (Monday, 26th September) the NSRI Durban volunteer duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from the 42 foot Catamaran yacht THOLILE
reporting to be approximately 40 nautical miles off-shore South of Port Edward (67 nautical miles from Durban's Port) with 6 crew onboard – 5 males and 1 female, believed to all be Durbanites.Three of the crew are reported to suffering the effects of dehydration as a result of prolonged sea sickness (reportedly having been sea sick for approximately 26 hours) as the yacht, sailing from Durban to Mauritius, suffered a rope fouled around one propellor rendering one of her two motors unusable, a torn sail and an overheated second motor and has subsequently drifted far South as a result of a 25 knot South Easterly wind and (we suspect) caught in the Southward flowing Agulhas currents and 4 meter swells and at some point the yacht sprung a leak which the crew have apparently managed to subsequently stem adding to her woes.NSRI Shelly Beach and NSRI Port Edward were scrambled to respond immediately, launching the sea rescue craft CALTEX ENDEAVOR
(from NSRI Shelly Beach) and the sea rescue craft WILD COAST SUN RESCUER
(from NSRI Port Edward), in order to get floating rescue craft to her side as quickly as possible and to render some medical assistance to the 3 sea sick crew membersand to get a tow-line onto the yacht to arrest her drift Southwards.At this stage efforts are to find the yacht as she may also be experiencing GPS (Global PositioningSystem) problems.With nowhere to bring the casualty yacht to shore along that stretch of coastline NSRI Durban have launched their deep-sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II
and, having loaded extra supplies and some refreshments, the Durban NSRI crew are steadily heading South.Mark Harlen, NSRI Shelly Beach station commander, (and the current Operations Commander for this rescue operation), said: 'At present we have a coordinated major joint operationin progress between the 3 sea rescue stations (Shelly Beach, Port Edward and Durban) and communications are being assisted through the Maritime Radio Services.One of the NSRI Durban volunteers knows the crew onboard the casualty yacht so we have put him in charge of ensuring that all of their family members are kept in close touch with the progress of the rescue while our rescue crews deal with the rescue itself which at this stage includes locating the casualty yacht. But at this stage all 6 crew members on the casualty craft are safe and in no immediate danger.'Additional NSRI volunteers are being summoned to their respective sea rescue bases to assist inmanning the NSRI control rooms and we may need to rotate crews on the sea rescue boats as we expect this operation to continue well into tonight. If the 3 sea sick crew are taken off the casualty yacht (and brought ashore) then we may also need to put NSRI rescue crew onto the yacht to assist in the tow.