GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Plettenberg Bay and Knysna sea rescue volunteers had their hands full over the festive season with a large number of call-outs involving emergencies related to rough seas, sharks and hiking injuries.
During the latest incident on 28 December 2019, Knysna volunteers assisted a Trans Agulhas competitor after his boat capsized near Buffalo Bay.
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Knysna station commander Jerome Simonis said they were informed about the incident at about 11:35 and responded with three craft.
"On arrival, the inflatable boat could not be located and it transpired that the casualty crew had been able to self-recover the boat to the shore and had called their support crew. They transported their boat by road to Mossel Bay," Simonis said.
Several hours later, just before 16:45, the Knysna duty crew responded to another emergency at Buffalo Bay following reports of a drowning in progress.
"On arrival three people, who had been in difficulty in the surf, had already made it to shore and were being attended to by WC Government Health EMS. All three were reportedly transported to hospital by ambulance in stable condition."
On the same day Plettenberg Bay NSRI volunteers responded to reports of a Trans Agulhas boat having capsized just after 09:00, this time off-shore of Robberg Point.
"A craft responded and on arrival, two men were rescued onto our sea rescue craft and brought to our base. One male arranged to go to hospital to be checked," Plett station commander Marc Rodgers said.
He added the boat was righted and then towed to the local sea rescue station.
About two hours later they were called out again to assist a 20-year-old Durban woman who had suffered a twisted ankle while hiking along the Robberg Nature Reserve.
"On arrival, the patient was stabilised and secured to a Stokes basket stretcher and we hiked her to the car park from where she was transported to hospital by her father for X-Rays," Rodgers added.
On 24 December, just before 12:40, the NSRI crew launched one of their sea rescue craft following reports of a 19-year-old man having trapped his hand under a rock while hiking along the same trail.
"On NSRI's arrival, a crew hiked to the casualty finding that a friend of the teenager had rolled the rock off his hand. The teenager was medically treated and secured to a Stokes basket stretcher and hiked to the shoreline where our floating stretcher was used to float the casualty through the surf to our sea rescue craft," Rodgers said.
He added that the young man was brought to the Plett NSRI base in a stable condition. His family met him there and transported him to hospital for further medical treatment. He was later discharged.
On 18 December Plettenberg Bay sea rescue volunteers were at it again when they received a report just after 10:00 of a spear fisherman who had had a close encounter with a great white shark while fishing in Nature's Valley.
The fisherman, Theodore Prinsloo from Wellington, reported that he had noticed a 5m white shark lingering in the vicinity of where he was spearfishing.
At one point the shark swam right up to him and grabbed the 9kg mussel cracker fish he had hooked with his speargun and made off with it.
The line was still attached to the speargun and subsequently, the shark dragged Prinsloo about 50m under water before he managed to release the line.
Prinsloo managed to swim safely to shore and NSRI volunteers managed to recover his spearfishing buoy.
On 15 December Plettenberg Bay's sea rescue duty crew were activated at about 13:20 after a request for assistance from one of 12 surf-skiers on a 18km downwind dash from Plett to Nature's Valley. It was reported that several surf-skiers had gotten into difficulty at Nature's Valley Beach.
Rodgers said the group had arrived off-shore of Natures Valley to find rough sea conditions, strong rip currents and increasing wind speeds, making it difficult to get through the surfline to the beach.
With the help of a local lifeguard, all the surf-skiers were brought safely to shore. One man was treated for hypothermia.
At about 15:50 on 11 December the Knysna sea rescue crew was activated following reports of a jet-ski accident on the Knysna Lagoon near Belvedere.
A local man and the 9-year-old daughter of a family friend had been jet-skiing on the lagoon when the man fell off the craft. The motor of the jet-ski stopped and the craft, with the young girl on board, drifted away from him in the currents.
"He swam to shore against the currents which took him about 20 minutes to cover the 200m. Our NSRI crew located the jet-ski and the girl on the lagoon. She was taken on board our sea rescue craft and we towed the jet-ski to shore safely where she was reunited with her family."
'We bring you the latest Garden Route news'