Seasick crew in yacht drama

2011-09-27 00:00

SEA rescue crews trying to assist the crew of a yacht who sent a distress call that they were drifting without engine power while dangerously seasick yesterday were relieved later when they restarted an engine and their GPS.

The 42-foot catamaran Tholile with a six-member crew got into difficulty yesterday morning off Margate.

The yacht was sailing from Durban to Mauritius when a rope fouled one of its propellers, which rendered one of the motors unusable and caused the second motor to overheat. The yacht also suffered a torn sail and drifted far south in four-metre swells.

Three members of the crew were severely dehydrated after prolonged seasickness. The crew, five men and a woman, are from Durban.

The NSRI co-ordinated a joint rescue operation between the three sea rescue stations — Shelly Beach, Port Edward and Durban.

NSRI Shelly Beach station commander Mark Harlen said late yesterday that they had been in constant contact with the crew. “They are all doing well and are in no immediate danger.”

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the sailors managed to re-boot their GPS to provide an accurate reading for NSRI rescue boats from Shelly Beach and Port Edward.

Based on the readings, the two sea rescue craft from Shelly Beach and Port Edward returned to their berths. As the yacht was located along a stretch of coastline along the south coast that has no place where a yacht can be brought ashore, the NSRI Durban’s deep-sea rescue craft, Eikos Rescuer II, went to take the vessel on tow.

Lambinon said they will estimate the arrival time in Durban based on the speed they make under tow. “At this stage we do not know at what time the rescue would be completed.”

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