In two seperate incidents over the past week massive search and rescue operations have been carried out in Cape Town unnecessarily.
As crowds begin to flock to the beaches and waterways and boaters and paddlers launch in larger than normal numbers the NSRI are appealing for sensible and responsible behaviour on our waters, inland and coastal.
On Sunday night, 06th December, at 22h00, a massive search and rescue operation ensued after a vehicle was found parked after normal closing time at Oceana Power Boat Club.
Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay station commander said: “The vehicle belongs to a member of the club who is well known to be out paddling most of the time and the vehicle showed all indications that the owner had gone paddling at sea. With nightfall and a dense fog rolling in the NSRI Tabe Bay volunteers scoured the coastline for signs of the paddler. All efforts throughout the night to raise family or friends to check on any other possible whereabouts of the man were fruitless and included joint efforts by Metro Police, Cape Town Traffic Department, Metro Rescue, the SA Police Services, East London Police and Traffic Services and Durban Police and Traffic Services. Throughout the night concerned friends and famly were phoned all around South Africa by the rescue authorities trying to locate a friend or family member who would be able to trace someone in Cape Town who would know the whereabouts of the “paddler” if he hadn’t gone to sea, and all the while scouring the coast for signs of the “missing” paddler, increasing concern and causing obvious anxiety to the mans family and friends.”
At approximately 03h30 the man was tracked down and it was discovered he had left the boat club earlier in the evening in a friends car and he hadn’t gone paddling.
The NSRI urge boaters and paddlers to leave a contactable number at their vehicles and/or trailers left unattended at waterways and along the coast.
Always let a responsible person know what time you are launching, the route you are going and your return time and check-in with the responsible person on your safe return.
On Wednesday night, 09th December, at 20h00, NSRI Bakoven’s rescue craft, the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, a Police helicopter, a Police rubber duck and Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services initiated an extensive search in Clifton for a paddler, witnessed by a large number of seperate eye-witnesses, in difficulty and constantly capsizing his craft while trying to reach shore.
Eye-witnesses later reported seeing a paddler come ashore at Clifton, but no sign of the paddler could be found and at midnight the search was suspended.
Despite public appeals for the paddler to come forward to identify to rescue authorities that he is safe no word has yet been received and the fate of the paddler remains a mystery although no one has been reported overdue or missing.
The NSRI are appealing to anyone who abandons a craft at sea or who gets into difficulty at sea or on inland waters but manages to “self rescue” themselves and get to shore safely without assistance to alert the rescue authorities that they are safe and thereby avoid a poential search and rescue operation being carried out without it being necessary.
Kite-Boards and Paddle Craft should also have a contactable telephone number stensiled on the craft.
To find out your nearest Sea Rescue Emergency phone number call the NSRI Head Office during office hours at (021) 4344011.
Other National Emergency Medical and Rescue Phone Numbers are:
- 10177 (from a landline or a cellphone)
- 112 (from a cellphone)
- Don’t drink alcohol and then swim, boat, paddle or sail.
Children should have responsible adult supervision around water and at the beaches at all times.
Wear your lifejacket while on any craft on water at all times.
Carry safety equipment, red distress flares, a referees whistle, a cd disc or handheld mirror, communication cellphone and/or vhf radio, bright reflective clothing, at all times while on any craft at sea or on inland waters and know how to use your safety equipment.
Go to beaches only when and where lifeguards are on duty and swim within the safe swimming zones posted by lifeguards using red and yellow flags. These safe swimming zones will shift position according to where lifeguards detect the strongest rip-currents.
Be responsible, keep safety top of mind and keep safe.
Ian Wienburg, CEO of the NSRI, and all staff and volunteers of the NSRI wish everyone a safe festive season.
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