At 17h56 on Wednesday the 2nd of July, NSRI Mykonos volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of 2 fishermen believing to be off Elands Bay, but uncertain of their exact position, suffering motor failure on their small open fishing boat, requesting search and rescue.
NSRI Mykonos volunteer sea rescue duty crew dispatched a search team while NSRI Melkbosstrand dispatched their sea rescue vehicle towing the sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF THE VINES to be launched on-scene.
The 2 fishermen, Gert van Wyk, 45, and Victor Latola, 73, could tell NSRI by cellphone that they were in 13 fathoms of water (based on the length of anchor they had deployed), that they had gone to anchor but in deteriorating sea conditions they were reluctant to raise their anchor and paddle their boat ashore fearing that sea currents would take them further out to sea. They also were not sure if they were South or North of Elands Bay but while information was being obtained their cellphone died and NSRI were not able to communicate with them again.
On arrival on-scene the sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF THE VINES was launched. In rapidly deteriorating sea conditions the plan was to do a sweeping search of as much of the Elands Bay coastline as possible and then run the sea rescue craft to Lamberts Bay to be refueled, recovered and towed back to Elands Bay to be re-launched as the deteriorating sea conditions made it increasingly difficult to come ashore at Elands Bay.
Search parties spanned out across the shoreline in an effort to spot where the fishermen could be.
Local fishermen built fires along the coastline in an effort to give the fishermen a beacon to landwards and in an effort to raise the fishermen’s spirits if they spotted the fires they would know that the search and rescue operation was continuing.
Rhine Barnes, NSRI Melkbosstrand station commander, and Police interviewed family and fellow fishermen to try and determine which fishing spot the men had gone to that day but it appeared that they could have been at any of the popular fishing spots which hampered the search as the search area was vast.
By midnight with still no sign of the two men, preparations began to alert an SA Air Force 22 Squadron Dakota fixed aircraft and the Red Cross AMS rescue helicopter to prepare for a possible search from first light. Around 01h00 the search lights from the sea rescue craft located shining reflective tape on the fishermen’s life-jackets and a short while later the two men were found safe at anchor approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore between Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay.
The two men were towed safely to Lamberts Bay and reunited with their families who were waiting at Lamberts Bay in an emotional reunion.
The NSRI rescue teams and Police were also overjoyed at the successful outcome of a very difficult search operation.