The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Port Elizabeth on Sunday warned local boaters to be aware of the dangers of boating off-shore of Cape Recife Lighthouse, by the Cape Recife Point, following an incident over the weekend.
“At 13h22, Saturday, while on routine exercise, the NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew launched the Sea Rescue craft, Eikos Rescuer IV, following a distress call on VHF Marine Band Radio from a private fishing boat reporting to have happened upon the upturned hull of a rubber-duck but no persons in sight off-shore of the Cape Recife Lighthouse,” said NSRI spokesperson, Craig Lambinon.
He said that the NSRI activated the Nelson Mandela Bay Water Safety Committee and our NSRI rescue vehicle with rescue swimmers, Nelson Mandela Bay Beach Managers office members, Eastern Cape Government Health EMS, Coastal Water Rescue, SA Police Services and the Noordhoek Ski-boat Club safety officer responded to Cape Recife Lighthouse while Noordhoek Ski-boat Club alerted craft that were in the area at the time to be on alert.
“On arrival on the scene, a female was found on the beach being assisted by bystanders, who had phoned to raise the alarm and she confirmed to have been a survivor of the capsized rubber-duck and confirming that she had swum ashore but her husband was missing,” Lambinon described.
“The NSRI assisted her and re-warmed her after she was found to be suffering from hypothermia.
“During a search along the shoreline, a man was found trapped by high tide on the rocks near to Cape Recife Lighthouse and 2 NSRI rescue swimmers waded and swam to the man who confirmed that he was a survivor of the capsized rubber-duck and he was extremely distressed not knowing where his wife was but we were able to reassure him, much to his relief, that his wife was safe and being attended to by NSRI on the beach.”
He said that the man, who was hypothermic, was swum across to mainland by NSRI rescue swimmers and an NSRI crewman lent him a pair of takkies to aid him walking on the uneven terrain and he was re-warmed before being reunited with his wife much to their emotional relief.
Their casualty rubber-duck was recovered by NSRI.
Deon and Antoinette Human, aged 43 and 38, originally from the East Rand in Johannesburg and now living in Port Elizabeth for the past three years, recounted their ordeal.
He said that after launching their rubber-duck and sightseeing at the wreck of the vessel Pattie (from the 1970’s) – off-shore of Cape Recife Lighthouse, whose boiler can be viewed above the waterline, they were on top of the wreck at high tide at about 11a.m. when their boat was swamped by a wave that capsized their boat and throwing them off each side of the boat.
“They were unable to get back to the boat which was swept away by currents and Deon shouted to his wife to swim for the shoreline before they became separated from each other,” said Lambinon.
“It appears that they may have been in the surf for well over an hour before reaching the shore but anxious from not knowing what had become of each other.
“Antoinette reached the beach not knowing where her husband was and she alerted bystanders, who raised the alarm by cellphone and NSRI, who had already been alerted by the fishing boat, arrived on the scene to assist.
“Deon had in the meantime reached rocks which he had climbed onto but desperate for not knowing where his wife was but unable to get to mainland until NSRI found him on the rocks later.”
NSRI and Emergency Services treated them for hypothermia and they required no further assistance.
“The NSRI are urging boaters to be aware of the dangers of boating off-shore of Cape Recife Lighthouse, by the Cape Recife Point, where a number of wrecks litter the coastline,” said Lambinon.
“The water depth at high tide can reach as much as 14 meters but drops to only a few meters at low tide causing a natural unpredictable breaking swell in that vicinity caused by the Geography of the coastline there and a danger to boaters.”
Images: By NSRI Port Elizabeth show the rescue of Deon Human from rocks and an emotional reunion between the couple.