At 21h10, Friday, 31 October, NSRI Durban volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the 25 meter 5 star floating restaurant boat LA VUE with 65 passengers onboard reporting to be safe at anchor near to their moorings in the Port of Durban, adjacent to the Sugar Terminal, but with suspected steering damage and while in no imminent danger the skipper, a highly experienced Master Mariner, requested assistance to get his boat back to her mooring safely.
Our NSRI Durban volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II and MEGAN II and responded.
On arrival on-scene we found the boat safe, out of harms way, at anchor in the in the Esplanade Channel, in windless and calm waters, and all passengers continued with their dinner onboard the restaurant appearing to be oblivious of the fuss while our NSRI crew and the crew of the casualty boat arranged to get the boat back to her mooring.
The effort was delayed after the anchor chain winch failed and in a joint effort between the casualty boat crew and NSRI crew we pulled the 100 meters of anchor chain up and the effort took an hour and a half during which time, and for additional safety to the passengers, our sea rescue craft was rafted alongside the casualty boat to prevent her from drifting.
Once the anchor was up the skipper managed to get his boat safely to her mooring without any additional assistance and once moored no further assistance was required.
It appears that on departing the dock the boat suffered ‘drive train’ issues (believed to be with the gear box), causing one motor to lock in reverse causing the boat to veer gently over a sand bank. The skipper was concerned that steering gear may have been damaged and although this all happened gently, causing no alarm to the passengers, the skipper opted, as a proactive measure, to cast his anchor and call for assistance rather than risk self assisting the boat back to her mooring.
Everyone remained calm throughout. It appeared that the 65 passengers were oblivious to the rescue and they were rewarded with an additional 2 hours of dinner time (the boat was supposed to re dock at 22h00 but was only safely re docked only after midnight). If the anchor winch motor had not failed the operation may only have taken a few minutes to get the boat re moored.
The skipper and his crew are commended for their actions and assistance throughout the minor ordeal and commended for the special regard taken to the safety of the diners.
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