At 18h40, Tuesday, 3rd March, NSRI Bakoven duty crew were placed on alert by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and requested to investigate reports of a lone paddler off Green Point who, according to eye-witnesses, appeared to be acting suspiciously and may be in some kind of difficulty.
Johnny Albert, NSRI Bakoven deputy station commander, said “NSRI controllers, attempting to identify the type of craft being described by the eye-witnesses, were left confused by the descriptions being relayed by eye-witnesses who were mentioning a “tiny craft”, and a “type of rowing oar”. The sightseeing charter boat from the Waterfront, AMEERA, reported to the TNPA that they had come across the paddler who appeared to them to be refusing to be assisted. According to the crew of AMEERA he was “not fit or equipped to be at sea” the TNPA decided to put out a full-scale activation to both NSRI Bakoven and to the Police Sea Borderline Unit to go to the scene to investigate and to assist.
“NSRI Bakoven duty crew launched the sea rescue craft ROTARIAN SCHIPPER and Police Sea Borderline officers responded to the Oceana Power Boat Club (OPBC).
“On arrival on the scene NSRI Bakoven found that a private boat from OPBC had also come across the paddler and they had taken him “under tow” to OPBC slip way where they were met by bemused Police and NSRI Bakoven rescuers who found that the man had been paddling on a tiny “swimming pool inflatable dinghy” and using a “garden rake” as an oar, 1 nautical mile off-shore of the Mouille Point Lighthouse.
“Police questioned the man but he appeared to be unable to answer questions and, for his own safety, police have taken him away for questioning and safe keeping (although not injured, there were fears that he may decide to go back to sea).
“It is unknown where the man is from although in the few words he spoke to Police he mentioned Simon’s Town. He appeared to be unable to answer where he had come from or where he was going and it remains a mystery.
“It has been suggested that he may have been a stow-away who may have jumped ship in Table Bay or perhaps he’s a gardener out for an evening paddle. NSRI have not been notified by police if they have managed to get to the bottom of the mystery.”
If anyone can assist in identifying the paddler or may know where the small dinghy (an EXPLORER 200) and garden rake come from please contact NSRI Spokesman Craig Lambinon on 082 380 3800.
The pictures are available for media download on Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.
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