NSRI St Francis Bay crew to get new base and new ‘Spirit of St Francis’ boat

By Bev Mortimer

The NSRI St Francis Bay 21 base is the third one in St Francis and was commissioned in 1997 when the harbour was built, St Francis station commander, Sara Smith says. T he base rebuild and the replacement of the NSRI boat ‘Spirit of St Francis II’ (currently 17 years -old) – will ensure the longevity of the base and our rescue operations around St Francis.

We service the community in the town, as do many small bases, and we have the most delightful crew that come from this community as a result. We will be able to continue this service for many years to come,” Sara concludes.
This “most delightful” crew is hoping to move into their new base soon.
“During 2016 and 2017 we discussed a replacement vessel and building upgrade. We realised our existing base was just too small to accommodate a larger vessel.” She says considerable renovations would need to be done to accommodate an 8.8m RIB, which is only 300mm bigger than our current vessel.

NSRI volunteers practising a helicopter rescue of someone in the sea during a public demonstration of their rescue operations. Photo: Bev Mortimer
A long process started with the Volunteer Support Centre on finding something appropriate for a base at the harbour that could accommodate a bigger boat size
The St Francis Bay base is one of only two NSRI stations that houses its boat over the water, suspended in a cradle.
“Our old base had one dual shower and one loo – and our new base will have both female and male locker rooms, each outfitted with their own showers. A major bonus will be the addition of a medical room, more storage space and easier vessel access, for example for an ambulance. We’re also planning on using water responsibly by recycling rainwater.”
St Francis Bay’ new boat:
While construction is underway, the NSRI thanks the builders of the project and the chokka fishing community whose annual contribution to the base has been invaluable to their running costs and ability to render their life-saving service. Plus original suppliers,, Langkloof Bricks and NKS, are supplying bricks and steel respectively.
There is a large chokka fleet in St Francis, Sara says, and roughly 80% of the station’s call-outs are to the fleet. “They are incredibly supportive and each year donate funds to the station to ensure we can continue to get the training and equipment we need to effectively service them.”


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