A 30-foot yacht named Sticky Fingers destined for Mossel Bay sank in heavy seas off the coast of the Eastern Cape during the dramatic rescue of a Durban man and his crewmate.
Craig Rosen, 53, and Johan Joubert, 44, from Mossel Bay, were delivering the yacht from Durban to its owner in Mossel Bay on Saturday, Mosselbay Advertiser reported.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, January 28, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in East London was placed on alert after Rosen and Joubert had reported heavy weather and depleted fuel reserves, and, exhausted after fighting difficult conditions for hours, had asked for a tow.
They were about 80 nautical miles northeast of East London, having sailed on from near Port Edward after running out of fuel.
The two were advised to maintain their position until sunrise, however, rough sea swells and heavy wind forced them to continue sailing.
They headed towards Bashee hoping for calmer seas, but encountered swells of seven metres and 15-knot winds.
At sunrise, Transnet Port Authority in East London requested the NSRI to assist the yacht, the NSRI said in a statement.
Eastern Cape Emergency Medical Services had also dispatched a helicopter, which located the vessel. A towline was rigged by an NSRI vessel.
Turn for the worse
But things took a turn for the worse about 40 nautical miles into the towing effort.
“By this stage, offshore of the Kei River Mouth, their cabin hatch kept banging open and closed and Johan [Joubert] was sent forward to secure the hatch, when he noticed that their cabin had filled with water,” said NSRI East London station commander Geoff McGregor.
“Bailing water proved fruitless, and they summoned the sea rescue craft to report that their yacht was sinking.”
The rescuers decided the best course of action under the harsh conditions was for the crew to abandon ship.
“The men complied, leaving them no time to pick up their personal possessions.
“They were both taken safely aboard the sea rescue craft where they were treated for exhaustion and for early stages of hypothermia.”
“Craig [Rosen] was also suffering from a sprained ankle, which was strapped,” McGregor said.
He said they were sent below decks and wrapped in thermal blankets.
The rescue craft remained near the yacht for some time, but after a nearly 10m-high wave swept over the semi-sunk yacht, they left the scene.
A salvage effort for the yacht was not being considered, McGregor said.
The vessel was expected to sink completely.
– Caxton News Service