Netcare 911 aeromedical helicopter responded and the patient was airlifted to hospital in a serious but stable condition.
At 14h18, Saturday, 14th December, NSRI Mykonos duty crew launched Spirit of Surfski 5 following reports of 4 males in difficulty on a Sea-Kayak on Langebaan Lagoon in the vicinity of the Langebaan Military Base.
On arrival on the scene we found 4 males, aged 18,19,20 and 22, using a 2 man Sea-Kayak as a fishing platform to fish, 2 were on the craft and 2 were in the water hanging onto the craft.
We believe they had anchored on the lagoon and and the anchor may have dragged in the strong currents and we believe that to prevent the craft from being swept away they tied the craft to a rock which they were then unable to free the rope.
We took them onboard our sea rescue craft and recovered the Sea-Kayak and they were brought to Langebaan Yacht Club without incident and they required no further assistance.
At 19h59, Sunday, 15th December, NSRI Mykonos duty crew prepared to launch our sea rescue craft and rescue swimmers responded to Langebaan Main Beach where an adult male who had been kite-boarding and on returning to the beach he had folded up his kite and then he had gone into the water to recover his board but on reaching his board he was swept away on the board in strong currents in an outgoing tide.
On our arrival on the scene the man, aged in his 40’s, about 200 meters off-shore indicated to us that he was okay and we continued to monitor him making slow progress paddling on the board towards shore.
We monitored his progress and he reached a submerged sand bank, The Groyn, and he waded ashore on the sandbank safely and no assistance was required.
STATION 9 – Gordon’s Bay:
Alan Meiklejohn, NSRI Gordon’s Bay station commander, said:
At 13h42, Saturday, 14th December, NSRI Gordon’s Bay launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski following reports of a small RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) appearing to be in difficulty with 4 men onboard off-shore of Koegel Bay.
CoCT (City of Cape Town) lifeguards were alerted to keep a look out and confirmed that the casualty craft was off-shore between Koegel Bay and Dappat Se Gat. The lifeguards kept an eye on the casualty craft until the sea rescue craft arrived..
We reached them finding 2 of the men to be suffering motion sickness and the craft to be overloaded for its size and in rough sea conditions we advised them to slowly motor under their own power towards Gordon’s Bay as to have attempted a crew transfer in the conditions that we were facing may have capsized their craft and further endangered their lives.
We closely escorted them to Gordon’s Bay Harbour and once in the safety of the harbour they required no further assistance.
STATION 14 – Plettenberg Bay:
Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander, said:
At 13h22, Sunday, 15th December, NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from an NSRI Plettenberg Bay crewman, one of 12 male Surf-skiers on an 18km downwind dash, from Plettenberg Bay to Natures Valley, reporting multiple Surf-skiers in difficulty at Natures Valley Beach.
The group of Surf-skiers had arrived off-shore of Natures Valley to find rough sea conditions, strong rip currents and increasing wind speeds estimated at 30 knots gusting to 35 knots making it difficult to get through the surfline to the beach.
The sea rescue craft Ray Farnham Rescuer and Leonard Smith Rescuer were launched and NSRI rescue swimmers, Natures Valley lifeguards and WC Government Health EMS responded to the scene and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter was activated.
While responding to the scene it was confirmed that 5 surf skiers, 2 of them having lost their surf-ski’s, were reportedly caught in rip currents and were at the mercy of the sea.
Natures Valley lifeguard Chris Pannell had launched into the surf to assist.
When the sea rescue craft arrived on the scene the lifeguard in the surfline was picked up onto the sea rescue craft and a Surf-skier was located in the water without his Surf-ski approximately 500 meters off-shore and he was rescued onto the sea rescue craft. We believe his Surf-ski washed ashore.
The sea rescue craft then headed to beyond the backline where 3 Surf-skiers were still on their craft and one Surf-skier was found in the water and we believe his Surf-ski washed ashore.
We took the man in the water onto our sea rescue craft and initiated re-warming efforts as he was severely hypothermic.
We took one Surf-skier and his craft onto our sea rescue craft and brought that Surf-skier and his craft to shore and we also dropped off the first man that we rescued, dropping them off close to the beach and they waded ashore safely.
With the lifeguard still onboard our sea rescue craft, and assisting with the rescue, we returned to the backline and picked up the remaining 2 surf-skiers and their craft bringing them to shore, dropping them and the lifeguard off close to the beach, where they were met by 2 NSRI rescue swimmers with NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys, and by lifeguards, who had waded into the surf to assist them to the beach.
EMS paramedics, assisted by NSRI and by the lifeguards, medically checked on the wellbeing of the Surf-skiers who were now on the beach and they were all fine.
The decision was taken to transport the hypothermic patient to our sea rescue base. We continued with re-warming efforts, 2 of our rescuer crew buddy hugging the man to provide body heat to assist with the rewarming process, and by the time we reached our sea rescue base a significant improvement in the man’s condition was noted.
At our sea rescue base, following additional re-warming efforts, the man was fully recovered and his friends came to fetch him to take him home.
NSRI commend lifeguard, Chris Pannell who launched into very rough seas to go to the aid of those in peril.
NSRI had conducted routine training with the lifeguards, including Chris, a week prior to this incident.
The unique circumstances around Plettenberg Bay coastline where rip-currents can sometimes prevent a rip-current casualty from getting back to shore, lifeguards are trained to alert NSRI before launching into the surf, launch into the surf with their Personal Protective Equipment and floatation rescue devices, and on reaching the casualty take the casualty to the backline and keeping them afloat at the backline until sea rescue craft arrive to assist.