Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, said:
At 12h20 Monday, 11th September, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated following reports from the mom of a paddler reporting her son and his friend to be overdue from a paddle on surf-ski’s in the Summerstrand vicinity.
A few minutes later the mom called to confirm that she had been informed that both young men were safe in the harbour after being rescued by a fishing trawler.
NSRI Port Elizabeth investigated and together with the TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) NSRI and TNPA confirmed that the fishing vessel Sea Lion had rescued 2 men from the water off-shore of Kings Beach and they were safely in Port and it was confirmed that it was the same two men that the mother had called about and no further assistance was required.
It appears that the 2 paddlers were paddling behind the backline when strong winds swept them out to sea. They were spotted by crew of F/V Sea Lion and both men were rescued and treated for hypothermia and exhaustion by the crew of F/V Sea Lion and both men were brought into Port aboard the F/V Sea Lion and handed over to family and friends.
One paddle board was not recovered and NSRI have been made aware that the white paddle board remains adrift at sea.
The skipper of F/V Sea Lion, Steven Benade, has recounted the story to NSRI in a mail:
Yesterday at around 12 midday one of my crewman alerted me to a paddler in possible distress 1 mile off Kings beach Port Elizabeth. We were on anchor sheltering from the wind. After picking up anchor and reaching the paddler we were surprised to see a second man hanging onto the back of the the paddle ski. The story goes that the two guys went for a paddle just behind the breakers when the wind started to pick up. Before they knew it they were being blown further away from shore. The one guy was not a confident paddler and was definitely not going to make it back to shore alone. His friend made the call for him to abandon his ski and for the two of them to try paddle back to land. Unfortunately that plan did not work as the wind increase in strength and ended up blowing them further out to sea. By this stage they had been in 16 degree water for over an hour and were very cold and tired. They then made the choice to turn around and paddle out to sea to using the wind to try get to one of the vessels lying on anchor. They made a very brave choice, one that ended up saving their lives in my eyes. In saying that it could have gone horribly wrong if they were not spotted as by then the wind was gusting 30 knots and they would have been blown far out to sea before any help was sent to find them.
First of all i would like to thank all of my crew onboard the F/V Sea Lion for getting them out the water quickly and safely. By the time they were taken out the water, both paddlers were on the first stages of hypothermia. My crew acted fast by supplying both guys with dry clothing, blankets and a hot cup of coffee. Secondly i want to say to that even though we picked them up, the true hero of the day was the one guy (whose name i forget). Faced with a life and death situation, he stayed calm, assets the situation and made a call that saved his friends life.
The sea can be a dangerous place as we all know but staying calm and not panicking could save your life. I’m just thankful that this story had a happy ending.
S. R Benade (Skipper of F/V Sea Lion).
NSRI commend the skipper and crew of the F/V Sea Lion for the rescue of the local man and a Zimbabwean man and for saving their lives.