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Still Bay’s finest turned out for the blessing of a new rescue craft donated by Western Cape Disaster Management.

The blessing of a new rescue craft in Still Bay earlier this month was a particularly poignant one, as its namesake – Marlene Barnes – was recently given the all-clear (remission) after battling bone cancer. A blessing, indeed!

JetRIB “Marlene” is the fifth donation of its kind to the NSRI by the Western Cape Disaster Management (WCDM) – an organisation that clearly values its female employees, as each of these vessels has been named for a woman who works at one of its centres. In addition, WCDM has also sponsored equipment, training, an all-terrain vehicle, and various NSRI water safety initiatives since 2015.

“In attendance was Executive Mayor of Hessequa, Grant Riddles, Station Commander of NSRI station 31 (Still Bay), Jean du Plessis, his crew, various representatives from the NSRI and Western Cape Disaster Management, as well as myself and of course, Marlene,” says NSRI operations manager Deon Langenhoven.

After speeches by Jean and the blessing by crew member Jan Henop, Marlene was invited to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly and officially name the boat with a spray of celebratory fizz, to applause and cheers from the crowd.

Marlene Barnes
Marlene Barnes

The JetRIB is a unique rescue craft created by the NSRI in collaboration with Droomers Yamaha: a combination of a four-stroke Yamaha VX1050 Jet Ski with an extension hull and Hypalon pontoons. It’s a complete game changer for rescues in the surf.

In addition to being safer (the removal of propellers from the water means the risk of propeller-related injuries to both crew and casualtieshas been eliminated), it’s also more environmentally friendly as it doesn’t require two-stroke engine oil. The JetRIB played a crucial role in the NSRI’s rescue efforts during the KwaZulu-Natal floods, since boats with propellers can’t be used in flooding conditions because of debris in the water. You can read more about this remarkable invention here.

Now, the JetRIB “Marlene” will help the Station 31 crew to save even more lives, in tribute to her namesake. The NSRI would like to express its grateful thanks to Western Cape Disaster Management for their ongoing support, and we congratulate Station 31 on the addition of the new JetRIB “Marlene”.

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