Couple and schnauzer rescued from sinking yacht

2015-08-25 15:26

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Durban - A couple’s alleged escape from the Zululand Yacht Club and supposed debt of R40 000, ended disastrously when their yacht sank off the coast of Durban on Tuesday.

The yacht is understood to have fired a red distress flare on Monday night after the craft suffered rigging, electrical and mechanical failure.

After they were rescued by members of the NSRI and while the rescue craft towed them to port, the boat took on water and sank two nautical miles away from Durban harbour.

The towline was cut and the couple, along with their dog, were saved from the water.

Zululand Yacht Club Manager Fiona Linde said the couple have a lot of questions to answer after allegedly "trying to do a duck" before settling their bill.

"They showed up in February and joined as members of the club. Shortly after, they purchased a boat from a British gentleman... and started fixing it up."

"During this time he ran up an account with the chandlery shop and he also failed to pay his club and mooring fees, all of which totals in the region of R40 000," she said.

Linde added that two weeks ago, the yachtsman had been given an ultimatum to pay.

"He responded with a long story about how he was waiting for a cheque to clear and then he would settle his tab. But it would appear that in the background they were getting ready to leave," she said.

"On Saturday he purchased four bags of charcoal from the chandlery shop, which the employee thought was strange. The vessel failed the safety inspection for seaworthiness and they were just doing their own thing. On Sunday, the boat was seen leaving and at 04:00 and the next morning it was still gone," she said.

"They apparently had made a duck and opened sails and apparently they wanted to go to Madagascar, but the current took them south. Now the boat is sunk and we will probably never see that money," she said.

It was also alleged by Linde that the two had not submitted a "flight plan" for their trip, nor had they attempted to clear customs.

Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander, said a ship had spotted a red distress flare and then diverted course, finding the couple and the dog without motor or electrical power and with damage to their main sails.

"NSRI Durban launched the sea rescue craft and on arrival on the scene at approximately 22:45, a tow-line was rigged and the yacht was towed towards Durban’s Port in rough sea conditions with a 15 to 20 knot north easterly wind and 3m swell."

At approximately 10:30 on Tuesday morning, with an estimated arrival time at the Port of Durban at midday, the crew aboard reported their yacht to be taking water and sinking.

"The sea rescue craft attempted to get water extrication pumps onto the yacht, but shortly thereafter the couple and their dog abandoned their yacht and were rescued aboard the sea rescue craft. The couple and their dog, a schnauzer, were all wearing life-jackets and were not injured. The yacht sunk," Ireland said.

They were brought safely into port. The South African Maritime Safety Authority and police are investigating the incident.

Read more on:    durban  |  search and rescue

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