At 19h11 on Wednesday the 27th of April, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from 5 Knysna men, aged between 18 and 53, reporting to be cut off by the high tide at Leeukoppie, Swartvlei, near to Sedgefield, on the coastline.
High tide (Spring tide) had flooded the beach area around the “island” known as Leeukoppie.
The 5 men had gone to Leeukoppie during low tide (during the Spring low tide), crossing the beach between mainland and the island easily with the low tide, but at high tide the area was cut off by the high tide and trapped them on the island and unable to get back to mainland. It appears that despite the strong sea currents they had tried to get back to mainland but one man was swept away by strong currents and he sustained cuts and bruises and he was recovered by the remaining men. The effort had resulted in all of the men being in the water in their clothing and although safely back on the island they were getting cold and the one man was suffering from the cuts and bruises he had sustained so they raised the alarm with the 112 emergency sea rescue number and NSRI Wilderness were alerted.
NSRI Wilderness dispatched a sea rescue crew to investigate and the WC Government Health EMS rescue squad and EMS ambulance were activated.
On arrival on the scene the 5 men were found to be safe on the island but cut off by high tide with extremely strong sea currents and a rescue operation at high tide was deemed to be unsafe to attempt immediately until the tide dropped.
If the injuries to the one man had been more severe rescue swimmers would have been sent across to the island but since the men were safe and relatively calm and able to heed advice called out to them to try to stay warm until the tide dropped sufficiently all involved were satisfied to wait for the tide to drop to execute a safe rescue effort.
At around 23h30 the tide dropped sufficiently and NSRI rescue swimmers reached the men and were able to walk them across the channel safely and once on mainland they were treated for mild hypothermia and the one man treated by EMS paramedics for the wounds he had sustained to his arms and following medical treatment on the scene they were released requiring no further assistance.
A local restaurant, La Piazza, provided coffee and pizzas to the rescue crew while they waited on the tide to drop and this was extended to the 5 men on completion of their safe rescue and La Piazza were thanked for their effort.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE