CAPE TOWN – Two sailors were rescued after their yacht capsized off the coast of Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The French bulk carrier CMA CGM Rossini brought the two survivors of the Catamaran Llama Lo to Cape Town at 9am on Monday morning. 

The skipper of the 52 foot yacht Jean Sitruk (65) from Lyon in France and his crewman, Kyle Castelyn (19) from Strand in Cape Town, described their harrowing ordeal to the National Sea Rescue Insititute (NSRI).

Sailing from Durban to Cape Town, they had struck a whale while sailing in rough seas and strong winds at off the Transkei coast causing one hull to be holed.

Immediately, the yacht took on water and they were forced to abandon ship, taking whatever they could grab, before their craft listed and capsized within minutes at around 6pm on Saturday 17 October.

A Mayday they sent out went unheard.

They opted to to go on one of two rubber-ducks they had onboard, a decision they have strongly defended as their best chance of survival considering the sea state at the time.

They had noticed ships in the distance using spotlights during the night, but too far away to see them.

The NSRI said the spotlight reassured the two sailors that a search had most likely been commenced.

They set off a red distress flare but that went unnoticed.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, they had capsized on the rubber-duck losing most of their supplies and belongings overboard.

However, they were able to get some rest on the upturned hull of the rubber duck before it was again capsized the right way up forcing them again to paddle to keep the bow headed into the onslaught of waves.

At sunrise they saw ships in the distance but the ships were too far away to see them.

During an extensive ongoing search the ship CMA CGM Rossini located them, at around 6:45pm on Sunday, off Kidd’s Beach in East London.

They described hearing the ship sound 3 horn blasts and flicker spot lights in their direction after appearing to stop dead in the water several kilometres away from them and that was their first feelings of hope that they had been spotted.

Tired and with sore muscles, the two are delighted to be home but sad at the loss of their boat.

It was also an emotional reunion for Kyle and his family and Jean spoke with his family in France.

Salvors are assisting to investigate the feasibility to salvage the yacht which remains capsized and adrift at sea.


– eNCA