KZN SOUTH COAST and DURBAN:
At 03h00, Thursday, 04 May, NSRI Shelly Beach duty crew were placed on alert following reports from the 30 foot yacht Mafuta, with 3 male crew onboard, sailing from Cape Town to Durban, reporting rudder failure.
In calm seas the crew were attempting to fix the rudder and NSRI Shelly Beach remained on alert.
Later during the morning the casualty yacht crew reported fixing the rudder but reported that they were now experiencing motor mechanical failure but they were continuing to sail in light winds towards Durban and NSRI Shelly Beach remained on alert.
On getting closer to Durban at 17h15 NSRI Durban were activated and the NSRI Durban sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II was launched and rendezvoused with the yacht 8 nautical miles South of Durban, a nautical mile off-shore of The Cutting, and the yacht was taken under tow and towed into the Durban Port Marina without incident where she was safely moored and no further assistance was required.
Then at midday, while continuing to monitor the yacht Mafuta, NSRI Shelly Beach launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Dawn to rendezvous with the yacht Dusky, with 3 male crew onboard, sailing from Cape Town to Durban, to deliver additional diesel as a precaution with the yacht heading towards Durban in near windless conditions and fearing that they may not have enough diesel if they have to continue under motor power.
The extra diesel was transferred onto the yacht without incident off-shore of Ramsgate and Dusky continued on towards Durban.
At 21h25, Thursday, 04th May, NSRI Simon’s Town were contacted by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to investigate reports of 3 red distress flares, reportedly fired in succession at 2 to 5 minute intervals, approximately 11 nautical miles South West of Cape Point.
The red distress flares had been sighted at 18h42 and reported to Telkom Maritime Radio Services by the tuna fishing boat Tyler and MRCC and the Transnet National Ports Authority had been notified.
The tuna fishing boat Tyler had reported seeing the flares in the distance at 18h42 between her position and Cape Point (between 26 nautical miles South West of Cape Point and Cape Point) the flares were estimated by Tyler to have been deployed in a vicinity of approximately 11 nautical miles South West of Cape Point.
The boat Tyler had reported to be heading towards Cape Point from their position which was 26 nautical miles from Cape Point at the time and the flares were also spotted by the fishing vessel Sistro and it had been reported that the flares had been sighted rising out of the top of dense fog that was descending in the vicinity at the time.
The boats Tyler and Sistro had reportedly searched the area but in visibility conditions decreasing from fog conditions nothing had been found and at 21h25 NSRI Simon’s Town were informed.
Other fishing vessels and ships passing through the area were alerted by an all ships VHF marine radio alert by Telkom Maritime Radio Services to keep a watch.
On being informed of the situation at 21h25 NSRI Simon’s Town established communications with Tyler and after evaluating the situation, and based on the real possibility of a vessel in distress (red flares deployed at intervals of 2 to 5 minutes is the correct procedure to follow when using flares to attract attention by a vessel in distress), and because the private vessels that had conducted a search had reported finding nothing in the decreasing visibility from fog conditions, NSRI Simon’s Town immediately raised the alarm and NSRI Simon’s Town and NSRI Hout Bay activated their duty crews and NSRI Kommetjie was placed on alert.
A sea rescue vehicle was dispatched to Cape Point to assist with communications and the NSRI Simon’s Town sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and the NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue craft Nadine Gordimer were launched and on NSRI’s arrival in the search area at around 01h00, Friday, 05th May, an extensive coordinated search and rescue operation commenced in less than 10 meter visibility using radar with the 2 sea rescue craft moving towards each other from opposite sides of the search area and communications assisted on VHF Marine radio by Telkom Maritime Radio Services.
With lifting fog conditions improving visibility at around 02h00, and while NSRI continued with an extensive coordinated search and rescue operation NSRI used illuminating flares but despite the extensive coordinated search and rescue operation no sign of any vessel or persons in distress could be found and with no reports of any vessel or persons overdue or missing at 03h30 sea rescue suspended the search returning to base satisfied that NSRI have done everything possible if a boat and persons had been in distress.
NSRI sea rescue craft returned to base at 05h00.
By mid morning on Friday, 05th May, there remains no reports of any vessel or persons missing or overdue and the deployment of the 3 red distress flares remains a mystery.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE