Shane Kempen, NSRI Agulhas station commander, said: “At 23h42 on 14 January 2010, NSRI Agulhas were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority to respond to Quoin Point, between Agulhas and Gans Baai, following a request for urgent assistance from the 12 metre yacht Redfin with 5 people onboard, 2 females and 3 males, reporting a damaged rudder and the loss of their drogue (a drogue is deployed into the sea attached with rope to the vessel to slow down a vessels speed of drift) and reporting to be being swept landward, 2.5 nautical miles East of Quoin Point in a 25 knot South Easterly, on-shore, wind and in 3 metre rough sea swells. (Sea swells around the vicinity of the incident reached 7 metres with up to 45 knot gusting winds).
NSRI Agulhas launched our 8.5 metre rigid inflatable rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer VII and our NSRI rescue vehicle was dispatched to the closest land point.
NSRI Hermanus towed their 5.5 metre rigid inflatable to Die Damme to be launched and NSRI Simonstown dispatched their deep-sea rescue vessel to begin responding towards the scene as back-up.
Vodacom Rescuer VII experienced 7 metre swells and 45 knot gusting winds during their effort to reach the casualty yacht.
On arrival on-scene, at 03h00, the casualty yacht was 1.5 nautical miles off-shore of Quoin Point and the crew were found to be suffering from hypothermia and some were experiencing a state of motion sickness and the yacht was steadily been driven towards land by the gusting winds and sea swells.
4 crew were initially taken off the casualty yacht but the skipper refused to abandon his yacht.
Following some persuasion and faced with the consequences of possibly running aground in his yacht the skipper finally, although reluctantly, abandoned his yacht favouring the safety of the NSRI rescue craft.
All five and a half people (it was determined that one of the casualty females is four and a half months pregnant) have been brought to the safety of NSRI Agulhas rescue base where they were further treated for hypothermia. Our NSRI volunteers provided them with personal dry clothing and they have been fed and treated for shock. They have been accommodated at our rescue base to rest.
Efforts will be made to try to salvage the yacht today. The yacht is currently adrift at sea and Maritime Radio services are broadcasting a Maritime safety Warning to all vessels in that area warning of the maritime hazard.
The casualties, all from the Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage), are George Pearson, 68, Petrus Strydom, 35, Christine Phelan, 42 (and 4.5 months pregnant), Greg Straud 18 and skipper Lars Strydom, 38.
They had flown to Cape Town and were returning to Port Elizabeth in the yacht after launching from Hout bay.
This was an extremely difficult operation in hazardous sea conditions and the rescue crew are commended for their efforts.
The priority remained to rescue the crew of the yacht despite the extreme sea conditions.
The NSRI are extremely sympathetic to Lars Strydom who was reluctant to be taken off his yacht. He described the yacht as his life and his life savings and he lived on the yacht for the past 4 years but under the circumstances and faced with the dire possibilities at hand he was left with no choice.
It is hopeful that the yacht will be salvaged before she runs aground but rough sea conditions are preventing any efforts at this stage.”
At 07h50 today the yacht was sighted foundering and in the wave line between Quoin Point and Agulhas and it is expected to run aground. A salvage team are investigating any possible salvage efforts.”
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