Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SEA RESCUE – Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg – Wednesday, 13th March, 2013. Skipper thrown overboard Kyena II and her third rescue in less than a month

Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simonstown station commander, said:

"At 05h10, Wednesday, 13th March, NSRI Simonstown volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for urgent assistance from the sailing yacht KYENA II reporting to be between Roman Rock, Simonstown, and Muizenberg, with the skipper of the vessel reportedly collapsed unconscious onboard and the single crewman onboard fighting to keep the yacht off-shore and under motor into a 50 knot gusting South Easterly on-shore wind.

"Reportedly the yacht had reached Roman Rock Lighthouse, Simonstown, at 01h00 this morning, but the 2 crew onboard, skipper Geoff de la Rue, 67, and crewman John Bowhill, 60, both from the United Kingdom but now living in Johannesburg, were struggling in the very strong winds and rough seas and had decided to turn around and try to head for Gordon's Bay. At 05h00 the crewman raised the alarm reporting that the skipper had collapsed unconscious, from unknown causes, and that he was struggling alone and exhausted to motor sail the yacht in the heavy seas.

"This is the same yacht that was towed 30 nautical miles to Port by the East London NSRI on the 15th of February, 2013, suffering motor problems, and again on 22 February, 2013, where NSRI Port Alfred went to their assistance off Bird Island in a 14 hour sea rescue operation where they had sustained water in the fuel system and where the skipper had experienced ill health.

"Originally sailing from Richards Bay to Simonstown to sell the yacht they had, following the previous two rescue operations, continued on from Port Elizabeth and their last port of call was Mossel Bay before running into weather problems about only a mile off Simonstown harbour.

"Our NSRI Simonstown volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III and EDDIE BEAUMONT and responded and on realizing that the coordinates position that the yacht had provided put them in the surf line at Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg, NSRI Strandfontein were also activated. It was difficult to get accurate information from the yacht.

"WC Government Health EMS ambulance and an EMS rescue squad and ER24 ambulance services were also activated to respond to the scene and CMR (Cape Medical Response) ambulance services responded to our sea rescue base in Simonstown to stand-by.

"On arrival on-scene we found the yacht wallowing in the surf line just 10 meters from the beach almost aground and our deep-sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III went into the surf line and reversed (keeping the bow towards the incoming waves) to the yacht and a towline was passed to the yachts crewman but, it appears his strength was sapped and he struggled to connect the towline, and only after a tense few minutes, with less than 1.5 meters of water under our hull, a gusting 50 knot onshore wind and confused, rough, sea swells and breaking surf over the bow of our sea rescue craft and over the yacht, the KYENA II crewman finally managed to hook our tow-line to the yacht's mast.

"In trying conditions we gently pulled the yacht out to sea through the breakers taking a good half an hour and taking a pounding from the waves which were breaking over our bow but we finally got the casualty yacht out beyond the breakers and further out to sea.

"There we transferred an NSRI medic and an NSRI crewman onboard the yacht.
"The towline was secured properly and medical treatment began on Geoff de la Rue who was found to be suffering exhaustion, chest pains and severe hypothermia but it remained uncertain what had caused his severe condition. The yachts crewman appeared also to be fighting exhaustion.

"The yacht was found to be heavy laden with water.

"We towed the yacht to the Naval Dockyard in Simonstown and once berthed CMR provided advanced life support medical treatment to Geoff de la Rue who has been transported to hospital in a serious condition by a CMR ambulance.

"The crewman John Bowhill has also been assisted to regain his strength from exhaustion.

"Only once both men were warmed up, and with Geoff recovering well in hospital, and we were able to make sense of their story, did it transpire that the skipper Geoff de la Rue had actually fallen overboard early this morning and he had been rescued by his crewman John Bowhill – this explains the dire peril they had found themselves in.

"We believe that this is now the end of their journey. They will wait for Geoff to be released from hospital and for favorable winds and seas before sailing the yacht from the Naval Dockyard, around the breakwater, to the False Bay Yacht Club. They are being assisted to secure their boat in the Naval Dockyard by the SA Navy."

NSRI Simonstown Station Commander Darren Zimmerman, who was coxswain onboard SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III today, and his NSRI Simonstown sea rescue crew are commended for a daring rescue effort to save the yacht and the two crew of KYENA II from a maritime disaster today.


Released by:

Craig Lambinon
Sea Rescue Communications

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