A sailing yacht was drifting slowly towards the beach and threatening on approaching the shallow surf on Fish Hoek Beach, also an eye witness reported a suspected paraglider ditched off-shore at Bantry Bay.
Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simonstown station commander, said:
At 14h05, Sunday, 31 October, I witnessed a sailing yacht drifting slowly towards the beach and threatening to beach in shallow surf on Fish Hoek Beach.
Our sea rescue craft Donna Nicholas, on a routine training exercise with NSRI Kommetjie on the Atlantic Seaboard, aborted the training exercise and responded.
Our duty crew were activated and the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II was launched.
NSRI Strandfontein, at their sea rescue station on routine training exercises, dispatched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Grand West CSI.
By that stage the local sailing yacht had beached in shallow surf, stern to the beach and listing to her Port side.
It appeared that the 6 crew onboard were anchored off-shore of the beach, in calm seas, when a fellow yacht, joining them for the afternoon, rafted alongside the casualty yacht, and the weight of the 2 yachts may have contributed to causing the casualty yachts anchor to drag.
The fellow sailing yacht, with a shallow draft, was able to motor out to sea and of danger, but the casualty yacht had by that stage run aground in shallow surf with her stern to the beach.
CoCT (City of Cape Town) shark spotters launched their RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) and Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving lifeguards launched their rescue RHIB.
The local recreational fishing boat, P1, in the area at the time, was raised on a marine VHF radio frequency and they diverted to assist.
The recreational fishing boat's crew are commended for attaching a towline and holding the casualty yacht steady until NSRI sea rescue craft arrived on the scene.
The CoCT shark spotters and the Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving lifeguards are commended for assisting to run tow lines between the casualty yacht and the sea rescue craft.
3 crew, from the casualty yacht, were taken ashore safely by the lifeguards (on their rescue craft) in a successful coordinated effort to lighten the yacht.
The sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II took over the towline from the recreational fishing boat while the sea rescue craft Spirit of Grand West CSI prepared to tilt the yacht, with a towline running through the lanyard, and in a coordinated effort the casualty yacht was tilted and then towed free of the shallow beach and into deeper water.
On reaching deeper water the 3 remaining crew on the casualty yacht started their motors and under their own power they motored to their berth at Simonstown Harbour and they required no further assistance.
The cooperation between NSRI Simonstown and NSRI Strandfontein is commended. Requiring very little communication between the crews of the 2 sea rescue craft from neighbouring sea rescue stations the effort to get the yacht off the shallow beach shelf worked seamlessly and the high standard of training that our NSRI crews endure achieved remarkable success in the swift operation that quickly averted a disaster in the receding tide.
Davide del Fante, NSRI Table Bay duty controller, said:
At 15h54, Saturday, 30 October, NSRI Table Bay duty crew and the CoCT (City of Cape Town) water rescue network were activated following an eye witness report of a suspected paraglider ditched off-shore of the President Hotel.
ARCC (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre) were alerted.
NSRI Table Bay duty crew prepared to launch the sea rescue craft Spirit of Day while NSRI Bakoven, at sea at the time on routine training exercises, diverted the sea rescue craft Gemini Legend and responded.
WC Government Health EMS, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services and the SA Police Services were placed on alert by NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre).
NSRI shore crew, CoCT Law Enforcement officers and Life Healthcare response paramedics responded.
On arrival on the scene it was quickly determined that a bunch of pink helium party balloons had landed in the water and that this was a false alarm with good intentions.
In the afternoon sun glare there is no doubt that what was seen landing in the water may well have looked like a a paraglider and the eye-witness is commended for alerting a sea rescue response without any delay.
The pink balloons were recovered for disposal by NSRI Bakoven.
We are confident that the balloons most likely broke away from a wedding or a party somewhere in Cape Town.
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