Quentin Botha, NSRI Table Bay station commander, said: At 09h12, Sunday, 30th April, NSRI Table Bay and NSRI Bakoven duty crews were activated following a distress call from a paddler reporting to be about 600 meters off Three Anchor Bay and in difficulties in strong winds.
The NSRI Bakoven sea rescue craft Rotarian Schipper and the NSRI Table Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom and Spirit of Day were launched while coast watchers along the Sea Point coastline scoured the ocean searching for a lone paddler but all paddlers that were located did not fit the description of the paddler in distress and efforts to reach him on his cell phone were unsuccessful.
The Cape Town boating network were also alerted and boats at sea at the time and in the area offered to keep a watch while NSRI Honorary Life Governor Howard Godfrey, who had launched on his private boat Gemini One, searched on a pattern towards Robben Island and back towards Clifton and with all of the resources conducting an extensive search and still with no sign of the paddler the NSRI ASR and AMS/EMS Skymed rescue helicopter launched.
After new information indicated that the paddler may now be further South West off-shore of Bantry Bay an extended search continued to find no sign of the paddler despite the search area extending between Three Anchor Bay and Camps Bay and further out to sea.
The missing paddlers cellphone details indicated an address in Athlone and Police, dispatched to the address to investigate, confirmed from the man’s mother that he had gone paddling from Three Anchor Bay today.
Then the private rubber-duck Stella Maris, who were at sea at the time, reported to NSRI Melkbosstrand that they had come across a paddler, half way between Robben Island and Oudekraal, and they had taken the paddler onboard reporting that he was hypothermic, exhausted and in shock and with the information provided fitting the description of the missing paddler. NSRI Table Bay’s sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom rendezvoused with Stella Maris and took the 47 year old patient onboard the sea rescue craft where treatment for exhaustion and severe hypothermia commenced while they brought him to the NSRI Table Bay rescue base.
ER24 ambulance services were summoned to the NSRI Table Bay sea rescue station where they continued medical treatment and they have transported the patient to hospital in a stable condition and he will make a full recovery.
The patient, who was wearing a life-jacket, reported losing sight of his friends when he was then knocked off his paddle board. Although managing to get back on, waves were then swamping the paddle board. After raising the alarm by cellphone he had put his cellphone into his wet suit and we believe that he did not know that his cellphone had switched off. He drifted for over 2 hours, with no flares or any other safety devices onboard, before being found by the crew of Stella Maris.
Stella Maris, unaware that a search and rescue operation was underway for a paddler, were heading towards Oudekraal at the time when they saw an object floating in the water and approached the object finding the paddler who was half in the water and half out the water, with the life-jacket keeping him afloat, but barely able to hold onto his paddle board, and appearing to be in a bad way, saying “please help me”.
Once safely at the sea rescue base and in the care of paramedics it was then reported that he had been paddling with friends who were still unaccounted for. A new search was launched and shortly into the search three of his friends were found safe at Three Anchor Bay and one paddler was found by NSRI Bakoven off-shore of Bakoven and NSRI Table Bay took him to the Three Anchor Bay slipway.
It appears that 5 men had gone paddling from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island. One man had left the group to go fishing on his own between Bantry Bay and Camps Bay (He is the man who was found safe off Bakoven). The remaining 4 men, while paddling towards Robben Island, had lost sight of one of their party (the rescued paddler) but they had pressed on regardless.
The remaining 3 men returned to Three Anchor Bay unaware that their friend had been rescued at sea and that he had been transported to hospital. They had thought that he had returned to land on his paddle board. They were relieved to hear that he was safe. After all were accounted for and safe no further assistance was required.
NSRI are urging boaters and paddlers to download the free NSRI SafetTrx phone application – found on the NSRI web page www.nsri.org.za – onto their phones which in an emergency give NSRI and rescuers an exact position of the person in distress. We also urge paddlers to carry safety equipment, paddle in groups of at least three persons and stay together.
The crew of Stella Maris are commended for being vigilant while at sea and happening upon the paddler who was in distress. The skipper of Stella Maris, James Gildenhuys and his crew Johannes du Toit and Jayden Rodrigues are commended for saving this man’s life today.
Ryan Holmes, NSRI Gordons Bay duty coxswain, said: At 09h56, Sunday, 30th April, NSRI Gordons Bay duty crew were activated to respond aboard the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski to assist a 39 year old local fisherman 100 meters off-shore of Die Poort on a sea-kayak.
On arrival on the scene the fisherman was found safe and we took him to shore without incident and no further assistance was required.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE