Very rarely do Sea Rescue volunteers get time off over holidays. This was true for our Jeffreys Bay volunteers today.
Human Rights Day 2012 kicked off for our Jeffreys Bay crew who helped with the J-Bay to St Francis Beach walk this early this morning … and Station Commander Rieghard Janse van Rensburg had just left the Rescue Base and sat down in the Spur with his family for brunch when he was called out for a sea kayaker in trouble!
He didn’t have a chance to finish his meal. But at least they did help to make someone else’s day a whole lot better! Then … in the afternoon they had a radio operation training session with the new Jeffrey’s Bay recruits.
This was the emergency:
At 09h27 on Wednesday, 21st March, Human Rights Day, NSRI Jeffreys Bay received a call from 24/7 paramedic services reporting eye-witness accounts of a man being blown out to sea on a sea kayak off Ashton Bay.
Eye-witnesses said that the man was trying to paddle towards shore against a strong off-shore wind that had suddenly developed but was being steadily blown further out to sea.
Our Jeffreys Bay duty crew were called out and we managed to establish contact with the man, 40 year old Hayden Bailey, from Jeffreys Bay, after he had used his cellphone to call NSRI St Francis Bay requesting urgent assistance.
We launched our Discovery Rescue Runner and on arrival, sight of the man had been lost so we began a search from his last known position.
In a wind gusting over 25 knots and a heavy sea swell we continued a search pattern heading steadily further out to sea.
Hayden spotted us first, because of our highly visible sea rescue craft. Using his cellphone he guided us towards him and only once we were much closer to him did we see him. He was rescued 2 nautical miles off-shore and his sea kayak was also saved.
Hayden was not injured and he told Station Commander Rieghard Janse van Rensburg that the off-shore wind had suddenly picked up while he was paddling along the coast and the wind blew him out to sea despite his best efforts to paddle towards the shore.
Hayden was reunited with his fiancee who had waited anxiously on shore for news of his fate.
NSRI commend Hayden for having a cell phone while out paddling and for storing the local sea rescue emergency phone number into his phone.
“We would have found him eventually,” said Rieghard.
“The cellphone communication certainly helped in this case. Our Discovery rescue runner is certainly a lot more visible than a sea kayak and his cell phone was an essential piece of safety equipment that could well have saved his life.”
The picture can be downloaded for media from Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.