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The NSRI’s St Lucia station recently celebrated the handing over of a new JetRIB for its satellite at Cape Vidal, providing a much-needed improvement in rescue capacity for this remote location.

Years in the planning, Station 40 Alpha at Cape Vidal recently celebrated the addition of a brand new JetRIB – “Sea Ranger”, sponsored by Sea Genesis, Droomers Yamaha and Yamaha SA – as well as an all-terrain vehicle, to finally cement its role as an operational satellite to Station 40 in St Lucia.

“The station itself is a wooden shed where the JetRIB and vehicle will be housed,” says Station 40 commander Jan Hofman. “We have two deputies there: Jorg Orban, St Lucia’s deputy station commander, and then James Wood, also a deputy who lives in Cape Vidal; he’s the environmental officer for KZN Wildlife there.”

Even though Cape Vidal is only 32 kilometres from St Lucia, it’s inside a protected reserve and so the speed limit is very low – about 50km an hour – hampering response time from Station 40’s base.

“It’s not far, but it takes us a long time to get there, which could mean the difference between life and death,” says Jan.

Now, with the new JetRIB and vehicle, the Cape Vidal crew can respond to emergencies far more efficiently. Typical callouts in the area include drownings in progress, capsized boats and occasionally boats with mechanical failures.

“We’ve been working on this for about two years, and it’s finally up and running. It’s been operational for the past month or so, and we’re working on recruiting crew members who live in the area.”

The NSRI’s JetRIB is a pioneering vessel born of a collaboration between the NSRI and Droomers Yamaha in 2019. The vessel’s water-jet propulsion is more eco-friendly than traditional two-stroke outboard petrol engines and, by removing propellers from the water, the real danger of a propeller strike to casualties and rescue swimmers has been eliminated.

This ground-breaking vessel is being sought after internationally, from Norway to Ascension Island, and played a crucial role in the NSRI’s rescue efforts during the KwaZulu-Natal and Overberg floods.

“It’s been a phenomenal collaboration,” says Alison Droomer of Droomers Yamaha. “And we are pleased to contribute further to the NSRI’s work.”

According to NSRI Rescue Services Director Brett Ayres, the goal is to acquire a fleet of 58 JetRIBs. Even with the hefty price tag of R650 000 per JetRIB (including road trailer, kit and personal protective equipment for the crew) – thanks to generous donations – 36 NSRI stations have already acquired a JetRIB each, and six more are in the pipeline for St Helena Bay (Station 44), Strandfontein (Station 16), Yzerfontein (Station 34), Ballito (Station 41), Kei Mouth (Station 47) and Mdumbi (Station 49).

The NSRI would like to extend its gratitude to Sea Genesis, Droomers Yamaha and Yamaha SA for their generous sponsorship of a new JetRIB for Station 40 Alpha, and for their ongoing support.

If you would like to donate towards the funding of a new JetRIB, click here.

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