Deon Langenhoven, NSRI Hermanus station commander, said:
At 13h40, Tuesday, 04th September, NSRI Hermanus duty crew were activated following reports of 3 fishermen overdue at Hawston.
The 3 local fishermen, aged 34, 37 and 38, were reported overdue and missing by friends who raised the alarm after the fishermen failed to return from fishing as scheduled on their 4 meter rubber-duck they had launched from Hawston earlier in the day.
In rough sea conditions and a 30 knot North Westerly wind we launched our sea rescue craft South Star and Jaytee III to commence a search operation.
WC Government Health EMS and EMR ambulance services were activated.
South Star searched 3 nautical miles off-sore and Jaytee III searched closer inshore, sweeping a search pattern along the coastline between Hawston and Onrus.
During an extensive search the 3 men were found clinging to the upturned hull of their capsized rubber duck 1.5 nautical miles off-shore of Mudge Point, between Hawston and Onrus.
All 3 men were rescued onto our sea rescue craft and medical treatment for hypothermia was commenced.
They had capsized earlier while adrift and they had been in the water for approximately an hour before being rescued.
We righted their boat and brought all 3 men and their boat to Hermanus harbour where paramedics evaluated their medical condition and all 3 men were released requiring no further assistance.
Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said:
At 14h14, Tuesday, 04 September, NSRI Simon’s Town duty crew were activated following an eye-witness report of 2 paddlers on a double surfski appearing to be in difficulty off-shore between Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay and appearing to being swept out to sea by off-shore winds that had progressively increased in strength during the mid afternoon.
The sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III was launched and a search commenced and our sea rescue vehicle initiated a shoreline search and NSRI Coastwatchers were activated to scour the coastline and NSRI shore rew investigated parking areas and launch sites searching for traces of vehicles abandoned related to paddlers at sea.
At that stage it had started raining, visibility had reduced considerably and it became apparent that quite a number of surf-skiers had or were in the process of using the weather conditions to paddle a downwind sprint between Fish Hoek and Millers Point, a popular extreme sport.
While NSRI searched we contacted surf-ski groups to establish if all paddlers were accounted for. Reports announcing paddlers reaching their safe destination filtered in as the afternoon wore on and we had no choice but to continue searching until all paddlers could be announced safe and taking into account the conviction of the eye witness seeing the 2 paddlers appearing to head in a direction contrary to their destination goal leaving the impression that they may have been caught out of their depth and succumbed to the forces of nature.
Other paddlers reportedly also feared that 2 paddlers had at some point during the various paddles Southwards appeared to get into difficulty.
Despite all search and investigation efforts by mid afternoon, with the advantage of daylight hours fading, it appeared that 2 paddlers on a double surf-ski could not be accounted for.
The search intensified. NSRI Strandfontein and NSRI Kommetjie were activated to join NSRI Simon’s Town and NSRI’s shoreline crew and coastwatchers in the extensive search.
WC Government Health EMS and CMR (Cape Medical Response) were placed on alert. The EMS/AMS Skymed Rescue helicopter and the SA Air Force 22 Squadron were placed on alert with NSRI ASR (Airborne sea Rescue).
It was then confirmed by surf-ski groups that the 2 paddlers fitting the description were safely ashore and accounted for and they had not been in any difficulty and it was determined that they had purposefully gone in the wrong direction initially upon launching from Fish Hoek in order to take full advantage of the weather to reach their final destination at Millers Point and it was confirmed to be a false alarm with good intentions and the eye witness is commended for raising his concerns.