Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg – Wednesday, 13th March, 2013. Skipper thrown overboard Kyena II:
At 05h10 on Wednesday 13th March NSRI Simon’s Town duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for urgent assistance from the sailing yacht KYENA II reporting to be between Roman Rock, Simon’s Town and Muizenberg with the skipper of the vessel reportedly collapsed unconscious and the single crewman fighting to keep the yacht off shore and under motor into a 50 knot South Easterly on shore wind.
Darren Zimmerman NSRI Simon’s Town station commander said that the yacht had reached Roman Rock Lighthouse, Simon’s Town, at 01h00 this morning, but the two crew on board, skipper Geoff de la Rue, 67, and crewman John Bowhill, 60, both from the United Kingdom but now living in Johannesburg, were struggling in the very strong winds and rough seas and had decided to turn around and head for Gordon’s Bay. At 05h00 the crewman raised the alarm reporting that the skipper had collapsed unconscious, from unknown causes, and that he was struggling alone and exhausted to motor sail the yacht in the heavy seas.
Sailing from Richards Bay to Simon’s Town to sell the yacht they had continued from Port Elizabeth. Their last port of call was Mossel Bay before running into weather problems only a mile off Simon’s Town harbour.
Our NSRI Simon’s Town duty crew launched SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III and EDDIE BEAUMONT and responded and on realizing that the coordinates position that the yacht had provided put them in the surf line at Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg, NSRI Strandfontein were also activated.
It was difficult to get accurate information from the yacht.
WC Government Health EMS ambulance and an EMS rescue squad and ER24 ambulance services were also activated to respond to the scene and CMR (Cape Medical Response) ambulance services responded to our sea rescue base in Simon’s Town to stand-by.
On arrival on scene we found the yacht wallowing in the surf line just 10 meters from the beach almost aground and our deep-sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III went into the surf line and reversed, keeping the bow towards the incoming waves to the yacht and a towline was passed to the yachts crewman but his strength was sapped and he struggled to connect the towline. After a tense few minutes, with less than 1.5 meters of water under our hull, a gusting 50 knot onshore wind and confused, rough, sea swells and breaking surf over the bow of our sea rescue craft and over the yacht, the KYENA II crewman finally managed to hook our tow-line to the yacht’s mast.
In trying conditions we pulled the yacht out to sea through the breakers taking a good half an hour and taking a pounding from the waves which were breaking over our bow. But we finally got the casualty yacht out beyond the breakers and further out to sea.
There we transferred an NSRI medic and an NSRI crewman on board the yacht. The towline was secured properly and medical treatment began on Geoff de la Rue who was found to be suffering exhaustion, chest pains and severe hypothermia. The yachts crewman was also fighting exhaustion.
The yacht was found to be heavy laden with water. We towed it to the Naval Dockyard in Simon’s Town and once berthed CMR provided advanced life support medical treatment to Geoff de la Rue who has been transported to hospital in a serious condition by a CMR ambulance.
The crewman John Bowhill has also been assisted to regain his strength from exhaustion.
Once both men were warmed up, and with Geoff recovering well in hospital, it transpired that the skipper Geoff de la Rue had actually fallen overboard early this morning. He had been rescued by his crewman John Bowhill.
We believe that this is the end of their journey. They will wait for Geoff to be released from hospital and for favorable winds and seas before sailing the yacht from the Naval Dockyard, around the breakwater, to the False Bay Yacht Club. They are being assisted to secure their boat in the Naval Dockyard by the SA Navy.
NSRI Simon’s Town Station Commander Darren Zimmerman, who was coxswain on board SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III today, and his NSRI Simon’s Town sea rescue crew are commended for a daring rescue effort to save the yacht and the two crew of KYENA II from a maritime disaster today.
KYENA II was also assisted by the East London NSRI on the 15th of February 2013, and by NSRI Port Alfred on 22 February, 2013.