Early on Tuesday evening (30th July) a young Kommetjie resident, who’s first name is Hayden, contacted the Transnet National Ports Authority Sea Rescue command to confirm that he was the person that NSRI had been searching for on Sunday evening at Kommetjie.
Hayden only realized that a search had been conducted for him after reading a report online late on Tuesday afternoon and he immediately contacted the NSRI.
Hayden confirmed that he had been in trouble. A novice surfer, he was struggling in the big surf conditions when other surfers left the water at dusk and as night fell he found himself being swept across shore and further out to sea in rip currents. He eventually managed to get ashore approximately just over 1 mile down the beachfront in the direction of Noordhoek and he went home not knowing that concerned eye-witnesses had raised the alarm.
NSRI Kommetjie station commander Tom Coetzee said that based on the information from Hayden it would appear that on Sunday night the NSRI were only a few minutes behind him. Knowing the currents in that area in those rough sea swells our initial reaction was to immediately dispatch our Discovery quad bike to the area where Hayden came out of the water, said Tom, as this was the most likely scenario.
After not finding the surfer at that initial location the search then extended to all other possibilities which stretched to as far as the Slangkop Lighthouse, in the opposite direction, and the back surf line between Kommetjie Beach and Noordhoek and to Chapmans Peak and in the direction of Vulcan Rock off-shore of Duiker Island, said Tom.
When we failed to find Hayden along any of these locations we were sure that he had managed to get out of the water and had most likely gone home not realizing that a search had been launched. To be sure we have been continuing to check with the SA Police Services to see if anyone had been reported missing, said Tom.
No harm has been done, we are happy that he is safe and all is well that ends well, said Tom.
NSRI commend the extensive search operation that was carried out by our sea rescue volunteers that night.
NSRI urges anyone who gets into trouble at sea but then manages to get out of the situation safely before a rescue arrives, to contact NSRI giving a description of the events as most often concerned eye-witnesses may have raised the alarm activating a rescue operation.
Original media release:
Tom Coetzee, NSRI Kommetjie station commander, said:
“At 19h00 (Sunday, 28th July) NSRI Kommetjie volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a surfer suspected to be missing at sea off Kommetjie Beach.
“Eye-witnesses, which included beach goers and other surfers, had noticed a surfer to be in what they thought may be some difficulty after he had walked onto the beach (he hadn’t arrived by car) and he had gone surfing, at dusk, wearing a black wet-suit and black wet-suit hoody on a white surfboard.
“They watched him appearing to be struggling to catch waves in the big surf conditions and as dark fell they could no longer see him, he was about 300 meters off-shore, and after watching the coastline to see if he emerged back onto the beach he failed to appear and they raised the alarm fearing that he may still be in the surf and in trouble.
“Our NSRI Kommetjie volunteer sea rescue duty crew responded and NSRI Hout Bay were activated and they launched two sea rescue craft, NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS, and CMR (Cape Medical Response) responded while the SA Police Services and WC Government Health EMS were placed on alert.
“On arrival on-scene a sea and shore search commenced which included NSRI volunteers walking along the shore-line in both directions for 2 miles and our Discovery Quad Bike searching along the shore while the two sea rescue craft followed the drift of the off-shore currents and patrolled the back-line in efforts to find any surfer. Every effort was also made to keep a listening watch to hear if any cries for help came from the sea or along the shore despite the rumbling of the big surf conditions.
“The shoreline along Chapmans Peak was also scoured using infra red night vision from Chapmans Peak Drive.
“No sign of a missing surfer has been found and there have been no reports from any concerned family of any surfer missing or overdue from surfing this afternoon. We have no way of knowing where the surfer lives as he arrived at the beach on foot and alone.
“Every effort has been employed to try to find the surfer despite working under difficult and rough sea and surf conditions.
“Our hope is that in the dark the surfer may have left the water and went home out of sight of the concerned eye-witnesses. While we are continuing to monitor the situation, with little information to go on, until someone is reported missing or overdue, that may be related to this incident, a sea search has been called off.”
NSRI commend the eye-witnesses for raising the alarm.