At 02h15 on Monday the 17th of August, the 40 foot motor vessel De Bona, sailing from Gansbaai to Lamberts Bay, broadcast a Mayday distress call reporting to be sinking 6.43 nautical miles North West of Cape Point and 3.76 nautical miles off-shore of Bellows Rock, with 4 crew onboard.
According to the skipper they had departed Gansbaai at 20h00 on Sunday the 16th of August, and on rounding Cape Point in rough sea conditions in a gusting 38 knot South Easterly wind and a confused sea swell of over 4 meters, at around 01h45 their vessel listed to one side with water reportedly in their engine room (in their diesel tank). At 02h15 they broadcast a Mayday distress call confirming their coordinates and confirming that they were preparing to abandon ship.
It is suspected that they may have developed a crack in the diesel tank.
According to skipper of De Bona, John Michael Kronk, from then on everything happened fast and he and his 3 crew, Jannie Esterhuizen, Sydney Basson and Connie Basson, had no time to retrieve their life jackets and abandoned their vessel into their life raft climbing off the nose of their vessel which completely sunk shortly after they abandoned their vessel into their life raft.
In the strong winds and heavy sea swells they were blown across the ocean afraid that they would be capsized and they have described a hair raising ride in their life-raft at the mercy of the sea.
The fishing vessels Oceana Neptune and Oceana Viking who had been 35 nautical miles off Sea Point at the time, had heard the Mayday distress call on their VHF radio and queried to Telkom Maritime Radio Services if anyone had acknowledged the Mayday distress call.
The vessel Harvest Saldanha were believed to be 2 hours from the scene and a number of ships (believed to be 3 ships) were standing by in the area. The skippers of Oceana Neptune and Oceana Viking, by that stage 27 nautical miles off Sea Point, confirmed that they were diverting to make their way towards the scene.
NSRI Simonstown were alerted and they launched the sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III.
NSRI Hout Bay were activated to respond and the NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue craft NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS were launched.
At 04h35 Oceana Neptune and Oceana Viking confirmed that they were in the general area and could see the light of what they believed to be the life raft (uncertain in the dark) but that the life raft was being blown rapidly across the ocean in the gusting 38 knot winds.
The casualty crew in the life raft were requested by Telkom Maritime Radio Services to deploy a red distress flare. Once deployed, it confirmed to the crews aboard Oceana Neptune and Oceana Viking to be the life raft. On reaching the raft they were at first not comfortable to pick up the casualty crew out of the life raft in the rough seas and stood by at the life raft and confirmed that all 4 crew were not injured despite being cold and wet.
The life raft was 5.99 nautical miles North West of their sunken vessel, having being blown that distance away in the gusting winds (5.03 nautical miles off-shore of Hoek van Bobbejaan).
With the nearest sea rescue vessel at that stage still only 8 nautical miles away the Oceana Viking confirmed that they and Oceana Viking had formed a lee at the life-raft (to shelter the life-raft from the wind) and that they now felt comfortable to rescue the crew out of the life-raft. At 05h34 the 4 crew in the life-raft were successfully rescued and NSRI were contacted with the good news that all crew were safe aboard the Oceana Neptune.
The skipper of Oceana Neptune, Derrick Mouton, confirmed that the 4 casualty crew were dried, provided warm clothing by his crew and that they were not injured and that the life-raft had been recovered.
All 4 crew were safely brought into Hout Bay harbour aboard the Oceana Neptune.
SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) are investigating the sinking of the motor vessel De Bona.
The crew aboard Oceana Neptune and Oceana Viking are commended for going to the rescue of the crew of De Bona.
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