Stations 5, 19 ,20 ,22 ,27 ,32 ,35
This year Station 19 went big, not only hosting the 4 KZN stations, but extending invites to our inland family to come and experience the warm waters of Kwazulu Natal and sample the famous ‘Zululand Heat’.
The weekend kicked off the Friday late afternoon after the arrival of the first stations. We launched our new 8.5m Spirit of Round Table II & 12m Spirit of Richards Bay to allow the surf launch stations as well as the inland stations to experience a harbour by night going through all the port lights, buoys & ships.
On Saturday the day started very early, as it was tightly packed with different aspects of training. We planned the sessions around the type of operations Richards Bay carries out. A weekend like this allows us to share ideas between stations and improve on what we do to make us more capable in any operation.
We hosted 92 crew over the weekend with the space for about 45 on the water at any one time. The morning was split into 2 sessions of crew on the water doing training. Any ‘spare’ crew were given the opportunity by Kirsten Schroeder of ZLYC to do basic sailing sessions in the port. The two morning sessions were pure training sessions.
Group A – Were put onto a 47f yacht kindly lent to us by Craig Deverson of Nomad Yacht Charters, which worked alongside our 12m Spirit of Richards Bay. We carried out a towing exercise into port, rafting up and placing the yacht alongside.
The crew on the yacht learnt how the yacht worked and if they were to be placed onto a yacht what to look for and also how to assist in sailing the vessel if the need was required as well as to experience the casualties side of a rescue.
On The Rescue boat crews learnt how to run heavy & light tow lines, rafting up and also the difference in rafting with the Class I vessels & Class III type rescue vessels.
Group B – Consisted of the 8.5m Spirit of Round Table II & 5.5m Caltex Challenger. We Capsized our original Rigid 4m Rescue boat (Retired) Peter Cox, and the crews went through every conceivable method in righting a capsized boat, using 2 rescue craft, 1 rescue craft and manual righting.
Group C – Using the 4.7m ribs and two Rescue Runners, the crews ran through basic beach launching and landings. It gave all the crew an opportunity to learn the safety aspects of launching boats through the surf and bringing them back onto the beach safely.
Group D – Crews we taught a session of Swift Water High Angle Rescue techniques at the rescue base under our trained Marine Extrication Coxswains and IPSS Medical Rescue’s Richard Schouten, who set up a mini scenario inside our boat house.
We then broke for lunch and setup our afternoon scenario, which was setup to be a mass rescue.
We simulated a collision of a private yacht and a charter yacht offshore where the charter boat had sunk but managed to deploy life rafts. The private yacht remained afloat but was taking on water and drifting with the crew not capable of sailing the yacht.
The call was put out and the rescue fleet were activated. Under the command of Dorian Robertson and his team (Statcoms & Senior Coxswains of the relevant stations) a plan was put together as to how to react to this emergency. The first response vessels, an 8,5m & 5.5m, were despatched immediately to assess the situation, report to the JOC and to start assisting casualties.
Once on scene both boats deployed rescue swimmers and medics to the life rafts as well as the drifting yacht to account and triage the crew of both vessels. 3 crew members had been unaccounted for, so the mobiles and smaller boats where then tasked to do a shore line search and water search as the last account was that there was an attempt to swim to shore.
The medics and rescue swimmers then took control of the yacht and stabilised the injured crew, air lifting the code red casualties (paper exercise) and placed the code green casualties on the rescue vessels to get back to shore. The Mobiles also located the 3 missing crew on the beach.
Following the successful extrication of all the casualties back to shore (where ambulances were ready to receive them) and stabilizing the ingress of water into the yacht, the 12m Spirit of Richards Bay then towed the disabled yacht back to Port.
Overall crew were placed where they would learn new skills, from Coxswains to the trainee crew everyone had an opportunity to learn & share their knowledge and skills and we as KZN & our Inland stations are a lot more prepared to deal with whatever situation gets thrown at us in future operations.
It was a successful weekend which would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors:
NSRI Head Office
Orange Grove Dairy
Zululand Yacht Club
IPSS Medical Rescue
Pictures: Norman Rautenbach