At 06h08 on Tuesday the 11th of August, NSRI Shelly Beach and NSRI Durban were placed on alert following a request for assistance from the 45 foot yacht SALTY COW sailing from East London to Durban, suffering motor failure and storm damage 4km off-shore of Port Shepstone Lighthouse, with 4 crew onboard, 2 men, 2 women and 2 dogs.
According to the crew, the yacht departed East London on Friday the 7th of August, and in the early stages of their voyage, were battered by a storm with up to 50 knot Westerly winds, causing motor failure and a torn mainsail that had also jammed and was unable to be de-rigged. However, they were able to sail on using the mainsail, rigging additional sails, they made a steady 3 to 4 knot progress. On reaching Port Shepstone the wind died down completely and they waited out the night but with still no wind and not in any immediate danger, they decided to alert Sea Rescue as a precautionary measure.
With sunrise on Tuesday the 11th of August, the wind picked up slightly and they confirmed to Sea Rescue that they were again underway and continuing their sail towards Durban. NSRI Shelly Beach and NSRI Durban remained on alert checking their progress from time to time during the day. An Easterly wind that had gradually changed during the afternoon resulted in their progress being slowed to the point, where if they had continued to sail without tacking, they would end up being pushed back towards Shelly Beach, and with the sail damage and motor damage NSRI Durban duty controllers were not willing to let them tack out to sea (away from the coastline) which would require changes in course to head out towards the the deep-sea if they wanted to reach Durban.
At 20h00 on Tuesday the 11th of August, the decision was taken for NSRI Durban to launch the sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II to go to their assistance.
At that stage they were 35 nautical miles South of Durban.
At 22h23, the sea rescue craft rendezvoused with SALTY COW, 35 nautical miles from Durban’s Port, and a tow-line was rigged. Communications were assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services and making at times up to almost 8 knots the yacht and her crew were towed without incident arriving in the Port of Durban at 02h30. The yacht was safely moored at the International Marina and the operation completed by 03h30 and no further assistance was required.
Stephen Slade, NSRI Port Alfred deputy station commander, said:
At 13h23 on Tuesday the 11th of August, NSRI Port Alfred duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of 3 women suspected to be caught in rip currents and being swept out to sea at East Beach.
NSRI Port Alfred launched the sea rescue craft RESCUE 11 ALPHA and a sea rescue vehicle responded.
On arrival on the scene it was found that the three local teenage girls, aged around 16 and 17, had reportedly been caught in a rip current while swimming and although swept out to sea they had managed to get out of the water without assistance. They were not injured and required no further assistance.
At 14h19 on Tuesday the 11th of August, NSRI Richards Bay duty crew were activated following an eye-witness report suspecting three males being swept out to sea off-shore of the caravan park at Richards Bay.
We launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ROUND TABLE and on arrival on-scene it was found to be mistaken identity with three floatation buoys from nets in the surf-zone appearing to look like three heads bobbing in and out of the surf.
A case of a false alarm with good intentions and on returning to base the crew could be heard saying ‘Did the caller say Buoys or Boys!’
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