NSRI stations busy with callouts this weekend

The NSRI operations from  Struisbaai, Hout Bay, Kommetjie, Port St Johns, and Caledon were busy with call outs this weekend 15-17 November 2013.



 Danie Viljoen, NSRI Agulhas deputy station commander, said:

 “At 18h38 (Friday, 15th November) NSRI Agulhas were activated following eye witness reports of an aeroplane wing found at Suiderstrand. Fearing the wing may be associated to an aircraft accident they called NSRI and we sent a rescue vehicle to investigate.

 “On our arrival we found what appears to be an aircraft wing of a large radio controlled aircraft and we suspect the wing to be from an aircraft belonging to the Bredasdorp Military Test Range. The wing has been brought to our sea rescue base and we will contact the test range during the week for clarification.

 “Then on Saturday (16th November) at 10h28 reports were received of a ship suspected to be in difficulty and in the surf line at the Agulhas Lighthouse.

 “We responded and through Telkom Maritime Radio Services contacted the research vessel COMPASS CHALLENGER on VHF Radio who confirmed that they were there intentionally carrying out research and they required no assistance.

 “At 14h12 we responded to assist the owner of the chucky boat (small open fishing boat) STELLA which had broken her moorings. We took the owner to his boat and the boat was re-moored at a new berth and safely secured.

 “At 15h45 we assisted a woman whose house was taking water from the severe weather and threatening her house with flooding. Our NSRI volunteers shored up her front door with sand bags and it appears that the effort worked and prevented her house from being water logged.

 “At 19h16 fishermen aboard a chucky boat reported a broken transam. They had reached the slip way safely but needed assistance to get their boat up the slip way and onto dry land. Our NSRI volunteers responded our sea rescue tractor and pulled their boat out of the water where they required no further assistance.got to slip, unable to pull up, used nsri tractor to pull out.

 “At 20h55 eye-witnesses reported a red distress flare sighting East of Struisbaai. Our NSRI volunteers investigated but nothing was found to suggest anyone was in any danger and the red distress flare activation remains a mystery.

 “Then on Sunday, 17th November, at 10h30 we dispatched a rescue vehicle to investigate the main road between Struisbaai and Bredasdorp reported to have been closed by the Municipality because of flooding yet people were still arriving and leaving along the road.

 “On investigation we found an 80 meter stretch of road flooded but slow driving allowed vehicles to negotiate the stretch without incident and vehicle are continuing to come and go.”


 On Friday night (15th November) midnight NSRI Hout Bay were placed on alert for the flooding and hospital evacuation in Somerset west.

While NSRI volunteers mustered to prepare for a response (if required) they found Hout Bay itself was beset with its own weather related problems.

 The well known folklore that Hout Bay once declared itself a Republic took on a whole new meaning when something of a “Republic of Hout Bay State of Emergency” was declared by the Hout Bay civil response to deal with multiple incidents that developed during the heavy rainfalls.

 Lyall Pringle, NSRI Hout Bay station commander, said:

 “While preparing our NSRI Hout Bay volunteers to be on alert to respond to assist with the Somerset West emergency we were initially activated by our local Police to respond to Chapmans Peak, on Chapmans Peak Drive, where part of the mountain collapsed from heavy rains causing a large mud slide and rock falls on the drive and sweeping a vehicle over the edge of Chapmans Peak with, reportedly, people trapped in the vehicle.

 “While responding to the incident we found our local Hout Bay Volunteer Community Medics ambulance stranded and stuck in mud in wheel deep water near to Kronendal and large portions of the road blocked by debris and fallen trees caused by the heavy rains.

 “Fortunately, reportedly, a Policeman is known to have pulled a female driver from the vehicle that was swept over Chapmans Peak, and not injured, we were no longer required there so our attention turned to assisting the ambulance out of its predicament as it became evident that Constantia Nek Drive, Victoria Road towards Camps Bay and Chapmans Peak Drive, all three entry and exit roads to and from Hout Bay, were closed due to mud slides, rock falls and fallen trees.

 “At that point we were called by Police to assist emergency response teams to evacuate Kronendal old age home with the Disa River reportedly 2 feet away from bursting her banks and while that operation was abandoned, as it was deemed no evacuation would be necessary, more and more of our local services and public members were gathering to assist in what was developing into a weather related crisis of our own.

 “Police, NSRI Hout Bay, Hout Bays fire station (Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services), Hout Bay Volunteer Community Medics, ADT, Deep Blue Security, Watch Con (The Hout Bay Civil Emergency Control), Neighborhood watch teams, and scores of public members were all activating to assist in multiple developing incidents particularly because Hout Bay itself had been ‘cut off’ from any outside help.

 “As this developed our Sea Rescue station in Hout Bay harbour was opened and a JOCC (Joint Operations Control Room) was established with representatives of each emergency response team mustering to assist in the coordination an emergency response now made vulnerable because our local ambulance, from our Hout Bay Volunteer Community Medics, rendered out of action because of its getting stuck in the floods.

 “Our NSRI 4×4 rescue vehicle was rapidly kitted out as a rescue and medical advanced life support response vehicle and manned accordingly and was used to be dispatched to medical complaints being received from the community during the night.

“It was then established that a mud and rock slide had landed on the Number 1 chapmans Peak Drive block of apartments and assessments, including assessments made by engineers, saw the building declared unsafe so gradually, as the early hours of the morning progressed, 25 residents had to be evacuated (with barely inaccessible terrain caused by the mud and rocks collapsed onto the roof/parking area of the building) complicating access to the building.

 “Assisting to alleviate concerns, by about 04h00 on saturday morning, The City of cape Town Disaster Risk Management had dispatched road cleansing teams who had successfully opened up Constantia Drive bringing relief in the knowledge that emergency teams now had access to and from Hout Bay if further emergencies developed.

 “As daylight emerged on saturday morning it was found that 5 residents from Number 1 Chapmans Peak Drive had departed the building to safer havens on their own accord and it was suggested, for safety reasons, that the balance of the residents should make arrangements to leave the building voluntarily. The full might of Hout Bays emergency response teams and a massive input from public members saw 20 residents, many of them elderly, including a 90 year old lady, ferried to the parking area in front of the Chapmans Peak hotel. From  there they were either collected by family members and friends or where, in some cases, Hout Bay residents volunteered them transportation to their families or friends homes where they are to be accommodated until their building can be repaired and declared safe. (Some of the more frail elderly had to be removed from the building on stretchers).

 “The building is empty and security teams are posted there to oversee the security of the building.

 “By about 15h30 on Saturday afternoon the situation had stabilised and Hout Bay are continuing with mop up operations as the weekend progresses.”


 Tom Cotzee, NSRI Kommetjie station commander, said:

 “At 09h38 (Sunday, 17th November) NSRI Kommetjie volunteer sea rescue duty crew, while at sea on routine exercises, were activated following reports of a boat capsized at Bone Yards, off-shore of Kommetjie.

 “We responded and on arrival on-scene rescued two men, Jonathan Tucker, 31 and Kyle Goulden, 29, both from Tokai, and their 3 meter inflatable paddle boat was recovered.

 “Not injured both men were brought safely to shore and required no further assistance.”


 At 13h15 (Sunday, 17th November) NSRI Port St Johns launched to search for unconfirmed reports of 3 people being swept out to sea by rip currents at Second Beach, Port St Johns.

 During a search the body of an approximately aged 18 year old unidentified female was located floating in the water and recovered deceased by NSRI and brought to shore and handed into the care of Police and EC Government Health EMS.

 Unconfirmed reports suggested that one person may have gotten out of the water unassisted but no one has been able to verify this and no one on the scene could be located baring any knowledge of this incident to confirm if one or two people were still missing (relating to this incident) and Police are investigating.


 Deon Langenhoven, NSRI Hermanus deputy station commander, said:

 “On Saturday (16th November) NSRI Hermanus were contacted by the Helderstroom prison wardens requesting assistance with the wardens shift change after the Riviersonderend River, flowing to Theewaterskloof Dam, flooded, and wardens needed to be ferried across the flooded river for shift change.

 “Overberg Fire and Rescue Services had committed to assist and they called NSRI Hermanus to provide a resource.

 “On Sunday morning at 06h30 NSRI Hermanus dispatched a crew and our sea rescue craft LE JENMAR II and on arrival on-scene, on the N2 side of the Helderstroom Prison, (near to Caledon), we met up with Overberg Fire and Rescue Services, launched our sea rescue craft and negotiated a 500 meter width of the swollen river.

 “In relays of 4 persons at a time we ferried 80 wardens to the Prison and 80 wardens were taken to the N2 side where transport arrangements had been made for them.

 “While we were busy with the operation 70 wedding guests approached us to ask if we could ferry them across to the N2 side too as they had been stranded by the flooded river. Obviously we agreed and in relays of 4 persons at a time all 70 wedding guests were ferried across the river to safety.

 “Then a wardens wife, pregnant, needed to get across the river to be taken to hospital and they too were ferried across to a waiting vehicle that has taken them to hospital.

 “Then while we were preparing to wrap up the day, at around 16h00, we were approached by a group of ten people that had attended a christening of a baby girl. They too needed to get across the river to the N2 side and we ferried them without incident in relays.

 “In total 80 ferry trips were made by our sea rescue craft without incident and ourselves and the Overberg Fire and Rescue Services have withdrawn from the scene – a good job well done.”  

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