At 17h00 on Sunday the 14th of April the Port Elizabeth volunteer crew were called out to medically assistance a crewman from the Chokka fishing boat UMZAMO, 15 nautical miles South West of Port Elizabeth, who wasbe coughing up blood.
Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, said:”Initially NSRI St Francis Bay had responded on the call but after it was determined that the vessel was closer to Port Elizabeth we were called out.
“Our duty crew launched SPIRIT OF TOFT. On arrival the 39 year old crewman, from Humansdorp, was transferred onto our sea rescue boat in a stable condition and brought to PE. He was handed into the care of Emergency Medical Services paramedics and transported to hospital for further treatment.
“During this call for the ill fisherman our crew were called at 19h50 following numerous calls from eye-witnesses reporting what they believed to be multiple red distress flares sighted at Blue Water Bay, off Main Beach. A group of fishermen had also seen what they thought to be red distress flares go off adding to the credibility of the reports.
“NSRI Port Elizabeth launched EIKOS RESCUER IV and on arrival in the vicinity a search commenced.
“Our NSRI rescue vehicle was dispatched to begin searching for vehicles and trailers at boat launching slip ways to determine if any boats were overdue and broadcasts to shipping in the area to be on the look out for any vessel in distress was placed.
“The eye-witnesses were questioned and one credible eye-witness claimed that one of the supposed red distress flares had been lower in water than the others giving rescuers the impression that the incident may have been further out to sea broadening the search area considerably.
“Despite an extensive search no sign of any vessel in distress or overdue or missing could be found and it then came to light that some people on the beach had reportedly witnessed Chinese Lanterns being set off in the vicinity. It is believed that this is what gave the impression of red distress flares.
“Our NSRI sea rescue craft returned to base at 22h03.”
NSRI appeal to the public not to set off Chinese Lanterns along the coast as they are most often mistaken for red distress flares.