Ian Gross, NSRI Table Bay duty coxswain, said:
At 22h45, Sunday, 11th February, NSRI Table Bay were alerted following reports of the yacht Soneca 2, with 3 crew onboard, sailing from Brazil to Cape Town, suspected to be in difficulty deep-sea off-shore of Cape Town.
Friends of the yacht crew had noticed that a tracking alert status had been changed to “help” and, staying in a local hotel and waiting on the arrival of the yacht, they raised the alarm fearing that the yacht was sinking.
All efforts by Telkom Maritime Radio Services to raise the yacht on VHF radio were unsuccessful and MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) diverted a ship to investigate the last known position of the yacht some 35 nautical miles off-shore.
NSRI duty controllers were then able to communicate with the yacht crew using cellphone messages and the casualty crew onboard yacht Soneca 2 reported damage to their yacht and requesting assistance.
Our NSRI Table Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom was launched and following a search the yacht was found in rough, choppy, confused sea state, in strong South South Easterly winds, dark moonless skies, and storm conditions.
The yacht, on her 36th day at sea after departing Rio De Janeiro to sail to Cape Town, and her 3 crew, although safe, they had endured storm squalls that caused irreparable damage to their Mainsails and Genoa and with only the option to motor towards Port on their motor power they were concerned for their safety and relieved to have Sea Rescue present.
While NSRI were on the scene a heavy electrical thunderstorm passed over.
NSRI escorted the yacht towards Cape Town and at daybreak the yacht crew, refusing a tow despite making slow progress, and confident that they had sufficient diesel, felt confident enough to continue towards Cape Town without a sea rescue escort.
NSRI Table Bay’s sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom returned to base, arriving at 07h09, and the casualty yacht, motoring under her own power and making an average progress of 3.5 knots, is expected to arrive in Cape Town later today.