The loose rule of thumb around the weather in Port Elizabeth is as follows: “For every month that has an ‘R’ in it, there will be wind.”
So it follows then that the months of May, June, July and August are normally idyllic with very little wind – not so this August though, as the wind has played havoc with the South African Sailing East Cape Dinghy Provincial Sailing Championships, forced Ironman to bring their bridge build forward and the cancellation of Sunday’s Molo Festival of Triathlon.
As one of the rescue boats busy at Saturday’s Sailing Championships I can only say; “Thank goodness for generous fuel sponsors such as local renewable energy suppliers Rubicon SA – without their cash injection we might have compromised on filling all 6 support boats fuel tanks to the brim. As it is we rode out many litres of fuel ensuring that all of our charges were safe and safely home after a major prolonged squall hit the fleet off of Kings Beach.
As a group of sailors we have learned over the years to not compromise of safety and safety boats – as when the squall hits the fan one has to be ready to retrieve and save the many sailors who get caught unaware.
The wind picked up during the first race and race officer, Andrew Finn, wisely elected to send the smaller boats (and sailors) home before starting the second race of the day for the larger boats (and sailors).
ELYC Commodore Lawrence Haw and myself were on the SASEC Rescue Duck and escorted the first group back to the Harbour mouth. A bit of frustration crept in as we attempted to gain permission to enter the harbour – 3 radio calls (that were answered but no permission given) were followed by myself phoning Port Control to explain the urgency of the situation. Luckily sanity prevailed and permission was granted.
We spent some time shepherding and towing the back enders, exhausted sailors and equipment failed boats to the slipway only to venture out into the now wild seas in the harbour to ferry and tow the larger boats back to the slipway.
Thinking that we were finished we received notice that three other rescue ducks were still outside the harbour mouth towing dinghies back to safety, so out we went again – by now both of us were thoroughly sopping wet but loving the fact that we had everything under control.
The local NSRI were outstanding in also coming to the assistance of several dinghies and for that all sailors extend a vote of extreme thanks and gratitude to the men in red who are always so unfailingly polite and eager to assist anyone in trouble on the sea. Rescue 6 Alpha and Rescue 6 Bravo were the epitomy of professionalism as they also assisted the local rescue boats in ensuring that all sailors returned safely to port.
Last boat in was that of ABYC Sailing Commodore, Mark Dawson – doing the right thing and keeping up the rear to ensure that all were safe.
For some of the younger sailors this was their first time to sail a regatta in the sea and they can be assured of stories to tell that may buy them a beer or two or some appropriate refreshment when older.
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