Let’s illustrate just how friendly a city Port Elizabeth is with a recent practical example;
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race set off from Cape Town on 31 October, destination: Freemantle, Australia via the notorious Southern Ocean.
On the second day into Leg 3, the yacht Greenings ran aground off of Kommetjie, leaving the crew and skipper without a yacht to sail on.
Four days into Leg 3 days the call went out that round the world sailor, Greg Adams, on yacht hotelplanner.com, had suffered a fall and had a suspected broken arm along with lacerations to his head.
After consultation with race headquarters it was decided to direct hotelplanner.com to the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth.
En-route to PE two other sailors elected to also make landfall and the gap opened to place six of the Greenings crew (in Cape Town at that stage) onto hotelplanner.com to continue on to Freemantle.
The Clipper Race organizers were now faced with a potential logistical nightmare to organise three disembarking sailors and six embarking in a tight turn around time of a couple of hours early on Sunday morning 5 November – the expected arrival time of hotelplanner.com in the Port of Port Elizabeth was anywhere from 04h00 to 08h00.
The task for managing this process fell to Sarah Hoare, Clipper Race Manager and Deputy Race Director, Tom Way.
Initially the NSRI were going to do the transfer at sea, but when the additional crew were required it was decided to bring the yacht into the Port to effect transfer of sailors and additional victuals.
So on Saturday 4 November 2017 ABYC and the NSRI swung into action with ABYC Commodore, Alan Straton co-ordinating immigration, health and admin; Marina Director, John Tudehope choosing suitable mooring space for the Clipper Yacht whilst Ian Gray from NSRI organinsed crew and Rescue 6A to effect a boat to boat transfer along with co-ordinating port security and safe entrance.
On Saturday afternoon the embarking Clipper crew spent a relaxing couple of hours as guests at ABYC, then went on to a local supermarket to purchase victuals for the expected month’s journey to Freemantle. The crew were all cleared to leave South Africa by our super friendly immigration staff who did the necessary at ABYC.
On Saturday evening Sarah and Tom were entertained to a well earned supper and refreshments at ABYC in the company of John and Alan.
An almost sleepless night saw Tom confirm the imminent arrival of hotelplanner.com in the port at around 06h30. ABYC and NSRI members were all in the port and on station before 06h00 in order to make sure that the turnaround time to get back to racing would be as short as possible.
It must be said at this point that the ABYC and NSRI members assisting all do so on a voluntary non-paid basis – their brief is to ensure safety of all at sea as well as fostering sailing.
As hotelplanner.com moored alongside the jetty the assembled volunteers sprung into action – transferring Greg safely to Rescue 6A and the victuals to hotelplanner.com in record time. At 08h30 hotelplanner.com set sail once again to restart her race to Australia.
After the excitement Sarah sent this note of thanks; “Alan, John, Ian – I just wanted to say a huge thanks to you and your teams for all your assistance over the past few days. Thanks to your involvement, the arrival of the yacht and transfer of crew both on and off went very smoothly. In fact everyone we met in Port Elizabeth, couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.”
Did you notice that word ‘friendly’? Yup that is what PE is known for – friendly people who go out of their way to assist anyone in need.
With the news that the Clipper want to stopover in Port Elizabeth in 2019 I am sure that our friendly assistance will go a long way towards strengthening our bid to host.