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A sunny afternoon in Table Bay turned problematic for some water sports enthusiasts on Sunday.

At 12h16, Sunday, 14 April, NSRI Bakoven and NSRI Table Bay duty crews were alerted to eye-witness reports of a man on a sea kayak appearing to be in difficulties after he was witnessed falling out of the sea kayak and climbing back on multiple times off-shore of Rocklands Beach – there were 2 men on sea kayaks at the location. And one man appeared tyo be in trouble.

NSRI, aware that at the time sea conditions were calm and that this sounded unusual in such calm seas, we dispatched some volunteer rescue crew, from NSRI Bakoven and from NSRI Table Bay, to observe from the shoreline, from the promenade above the Three Anchor Bay slipway.

At the same time our NSRI Table Bay and our NSRI Bakoven duty crews were requested to prepare rescue craft to launch if deemed to be necessary.

Indeed, it was observed by our NSRI shore crew, that there were 2 men on 2 sea kayaks, about 150 meters off-shore of Rocklands Beach (in the vicinity off-shore of Winchester Mansions Hotel) where one man appeared to be falling out of his sea kayak and then getting back onto his sea kayak. It seemed unusual in the calm seas.

While it did seem that this might be deliberate - at the time our NSRI Table Bay and our NSRI Bakoven duty phones were receiving additional phone calls from concerned eyewitnesses who were raising the alarm suspecting that the man was in grave danger.

Our NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) and TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) Table Bay Port Control were also receiving phone calls from concerned public members raising the alarm confirming that they suspected the paddler to be in trouble.

It did seem unusual – from our NSRI shore crew who had responded to see for themselves (from the shoreline) – that other paddlers, quite a few of them, who were in the area at the time, seemed to not be showing any concern.

It was noted, by our NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre), that there were no paddlers in that area logged onto our free NSRI smartphone SafeTrx app!

With the water temperature measured to be between 9.5 to 10 degrees Celsius NSRI decided to rather launch rescue craft as we feared that if this man was indeed in difficulties that by now he would be displaying signs and symptoms of hypothermia – particularly because hypothermia accelerates when you get out of cold water and are subject to wind chill.

The NSRI Bakoven rescue craft, Gemini Legend, was launched.

On arrival on the scene, about 500 meters off-shore, between Rocklands Beach and Graafs Pool, we found that the paddler, a local man, was only practicing – while falling out and re-mounting his paddle craft – and he required no assistance. A novice paddler, he was learning to paddle and making best use of the calm sea conditions to practice!

Our NSRI Bakoven crew suggested that they download and use the free NSRI SafeTrx app as that could have been used – in this case – to determine if the man was in any difficulty.

But no harm was caused and “better safe than sorry”.

NSRI commend the concerned eyewitnesses who raised the alarm because despite this being a false alarm there was undoubtedly the good intentions of the concerned eyewitnesses who would obviously be gravely concerned when they are witnessing a man constantly falling out of his sea-kayak.

While our NSRI rescue craft was returning to base we received a call from an eye-witness at 12h58 reporting 2 men off-shore of Bakoven Rock and they were waving towards the shore appearing to be trying to attract attention and appearing to be in difficulty.

Both our NSRI Bakoven duty phone and our NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) were now receiving calls reporting 2 men in trouble about 500 meters off-shore of Bakoven Rock.

The NSRI Bakoven rescue craft Gemini Legend responded and on arrival on the scene we rescued 2 men, local brothers, both on inflatable sea-kayaks.

Earlier in the day we had seen these same 2 men on these 2 new types of sea-kayaks that are inflatable. It appeared to us that they were reading the instructions on how to use these new kinds of inflatable craft.

They had paddled to Barley Bay and while returning to Bakoven they got into trouble and started waving for help.

We took both men onto our rescue craft and brought them to shore with their inflatable craft. One of the brothers was treated for mild hypothermia and after that they required no further assistance.

It appears, to NSRI, that their craft that they were on may not be suitable for sea going activities.

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