At 14h47 on Sunday 28th of April, NSRI Hermanus and Gordons Bay duty crews were activated following reports from Letitia Singleton that her husband, Hannes, and his friend Frikkie, both from Kleinmond, had launched a rubber-duck from Kleinmond to go fishing at 08h00 today and were missing.
Mike Tannett of Seawatch had received a call from Pat Marcavino who told him of an unmanned boat turning tight circles at full throttle between De Wets Bay and Stoney Point, Betties Bay. He alerted Andre Miller, of the local boat club, who with two crewmen, launched his boat and went out to the unmanned boat. When it ran out of fuel, they got on board, refueled it and took it back to the boat club. When on dry land a cell phone on the boat rang – it was Hannes’s wife.
Paul Fourie, also from the boat club, alerted NSRI and gave coordinates of where the boat was found.
NSRI Hermanus responded to the scene towing their rigid inflatable to be launched on-scene and Gordons Bay launched a sea rescue boat to respond while the Red Cross AMS helicopter Skymed also responded and Police, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services and WC Government Health EMS responded.
On arrival on-scene the sea rescue boats began to search from each end of the given coordinates and while searching they came across the two men in the water.
Deon Langenhoven, NSRI Hermanus deputy station commander, said: “It was by coincidence that the men had been found so quickly into the search after our Hermanus Sea Rescue boat changed direction to head towards the Gordons Bay boat – to give them a message after we could not raise them by VHF radio – by this stroke of luck we came across the two waving frantically to us from the water. If we had not changed direction at that point we may have only found them much later as they had drifted well out of the initial search area.”
They have been treated by paramedics and transported to hospital in Hermanus by EMS ambulance. Frikkie (Frederick La Gransie, 38, from Kleinmond) has severe lacerations to a leg and ankle caused by the boats propeller, caused when they fell out of the moving boat and he also has suspected fractured ribs. The second man is Johannes “Hannes” Singleton, 46, from Kleinmond).
Both are suffering from severe hypothermia.
The two men have reported that there was a third person on board with them, a local 37 year old man who helps them when they go fishing, but according to the men he had disappeared under water relatively soon after they had fallen out of the boat.
Despite an extensive air, sea and shore search the missing man has not been found. A Police Dive Unit has been activated. They will continue a search tomorrow.
Police have opened an inquest docket related to the missing man.
It appears that the men fell out of the boat while it was under way after hitting a wave and the boats propeller went over Frikkies leg causing severe lacerations to his ankle and leg and he sustained rib fractures.
The incident happened just after midday and the search was activated at 14h47 after their boat was found underway but unmanned by Paul Fourie.
They had drifted 6 nautical miles in the sea from where the incident had happened and they were found at approximately 16h50 1 nautical mile off of Stoney Point in windy and choppy sea conditions.
Frikkie La Gransie was wearing a wetsuit that was severely damaged by the propeller and Hannes Singleton was wearing only PT shorts. Neither of the men had life jackets on.