Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, said:
At 17h43, Wednesday, 03rd August, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated following an eye-witness report of a wind surfer or a kite-boarder suspected to be in difficulty off-shore of Flat Rocks. The sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer IV was launched and a sea rescue vehicle responded to the scene.
NSRI rescuers were dispatched in their private vehicles to conduct a shoreline search. Coastal Water Rescue responded to assist.
In 1.5 meter swells, a 45 knot South Westerly wind, which dropped to a gusting 30 knots as the evening progressed, and in rain squalls, a sea and shoreline search commenced while investigations continued to determine if a sail boarder may be missing at sea. The eye-witness reported that he believed that a sail boarder with a red sail may be in difficulty off-shore.
Sail boarding fraternities were alerted and through their networks they confirmed to have no knowledge of any members overdue or missing. Coastal Water Rescue investigated known launching sites and slip ways while NSRI Port Elizabeth continued with a sea and shoreline search. Three vehicles with roof racks were found unattended at a slip way opposite the Oceanarium and Police tracked down the owners who confirmed that they were safe and not in any difficulties and had not been sail boarding in the area.
At 20h30, following an extensive search and with all avenues exhausted and with no sign of any person or sail boarder in difficulty and no reports of anyone overdue or missing, the search was suspended and we will continue to monitor for any new information although this appears to be a false alarm with good intentions.
Deon Langenhoven, NSRI Hermanus station commander, said:
At 18h40, Wednesday, 03rd August, NSRI Hermanus and NSRI Gordon’s Bay duty crews were activated following an eye-witness report of an unidentified object floating in the water 400 meters off-shore of Pringle Bay. The eye-witness feared that he may be witnessing a lone paddler signalling for help but in the fading light he could not be certain of what he was seeing and he raised the alarm.
The Sea Rescue craft South Star launched from Hermanus and the Sea Rescue craft Spirit of Surfski launched from Gordon’s Bay. Coastal watchers in Pringle Bay were alerted and they began scouring the ocean from the shoreline and sea rescue vehicles from Hermanus and Gordon’s Bay were dispatched to the scene.
On arrival on the scene in moonless night conditions, following a brief search, a floating buoy was discovered 400 meters off-shore (in the same position where the eye-witness indicated spotting the floating object) anchored to the sea bed and it appears that the floating buoy is an ocean data research device belonging to the Department of Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts.
An antenna on the buoy (bobbing up and down and swaying in the swells) gives it the appearance of a human arm or a paddle being waved in the air, particularly in the fading light.
The eye-witness who called sea rescue to raise the alarm is commended for his good intentions.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE