Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said:
At 16h19, Wednesday, 22nd February, NSRI Simon’s Town duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a yacht appearing to be in difficulties off-shore of Glencairn in False Bay.
Numerous eye-witnesses reported that the yacht, although in deep sea between Roman Rock Lighthouse and Glencairn, appeared to be dragging her anchors and drifting towards the shore-line in strong South Easterly winds of 35 knots.
We at first attempted to raise the yacht by VHF radio to check on what the situation was when Telkom Maritime Radio Services (TMRS) confirmed that they had been monitoring the yacht Sarah M with a Canadian solo sailor onboard who had been sailing around False Bay throughout the night with no motor power in up to 50 knot winds attempting to find shelter but unable to get into a harbour in the strong winds and TMRS were aware that the solo sailor was going to attempt to get into Simon’s Town harbour in fairer winds.
We launched our Sea Rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and on arrival on the scene the sailor, aged in his 50’s, reported that with no motor power he was having no joy in the gusting 35 knot South Easter and requesting that he really needed our help.
He was sailing from East London to Simon’s Town.
He had deployed both his anchors to try to hold his 70 foot (heavy) yacht off against the the winds and we determined that the one larger anchor had 80 meters of anchor chain deployed and the smaller anchor had 60 meters of line deployed, both anchors weighing 110 kilograms and 50 kilograms respectively, with the yacht dragging her anchors we reached him about 3 quarters of a nautical mile off-shore of Glencairn.
Realising the task it was going to be to raise the anchors we put 4 NSRI crew onto the yacht and raced back to our base to pick up additional crew.
It was obvious that the sailor was very happy to see us having clearly endured quite a night at sea in False Bay.
On returning to the yacht more NSRI crew were put onboard the yacht and our crews started to raise the anchors while we rigged a tow-line and then held the bow of the yacht into the wind using the sea rescue craft and with the yacht having no motor and no hydraulic power to help raise the anchor it took our NSRI crew an hour of heavy work to manually raise both anchors.
We then towed the yacht into Simon’s Town harbour, assisted by the Mariner manager on their rigid inflatable boat, that was launched to come to lend a hand, and once inside the harbour the crew of the Sea Fisheries boat Ruth First offered us to moor the big, heavy yacht alongside their boat and they assisted us with mooring lines. Naval Officers also arrived to come and assist to moor and tie the yacht safely alongside Ruth First.
Once safely moored no further assistance was required and the sailor will move his yacht to a berthing during Thursday.
The operation was completed at 20h20.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE