Damaged yacht arrives at St Francis Bay
Edited by Bev Mortimer
A damaged yacht is on standby today outside St Francis Bay’s private port in the Eastern Cape waiting for high tide today to enable it to enter the port.
The yacht with nine people on board including a baby was sailing to Durban from Cape Town when its rudder broke offshore of Eerste Rivier. Three NSRI rescue stations were asked to assist or be on standby to get the yacht, Rocket, safely into the nearest port.
NSRI says the call to assist was at about 7 pm last night, 6 April. The people on board are four females, five males (and the baby) who were all sailing to participate in the Vasco da Gama race in Durban.
The rudder was loose in its housing and every movement threatened structural damage to the hull. Fearing the rudder could hole the boat if it broke free, the skipper reported it may need help soon and requested standby assistance.
The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) placed the NSTI stations of Port Elizaneth,I St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay on alert while the and NSRI Plettenberg Bay was requested to o stand-by on the shore with NSRI Oyster Bay to prepare to assist the yacht if necessary.
MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) dispatched an all ships alert and at 7.20 pm,Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast a Pan Pan safety radio message for vessels in the area to be on alert.
The skipper was instructed to head at the safest possible cautionary speed towards sheltered waters to drop anchor while NSRI sea rescue craft stood by to respond in an emergency.
As a precautionary measure MRCC placed the SA Air Force (SAAF) on alert and a SAAF 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight helicopter and an NSRI ASR team on high alert.
Later last nuight night NSRI Plettenberg Bay was released to return to base and NSRI Jeffreys Bay was placed on alert to respond if it became necessary.
The yacht was able to sail past Oyster Bay to reach St Francis Bay early this morning in up to to 4 to 5 meter swells. It has put up anchor outside Port St Francis. All crew on board are safe and have cancelled plans to participate in the race.
NSRI St Francis Bay will assist them into Port at high tide.
The yacht crew have abandoned plans to sail to Durban for the race. The yacht will remain in St Francis Bay to undergo extensive repairs.
Photo supplied by NSRI