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Boat capsizes near site of fatal shark attack


By Caryn Dolley

Minutes after a Fish Hoek skipper set up fishing lines for three British tourists, his boat tipped over and flung them all into the sea off Cape Point, not far from where a shark killed a tourist on Tuesday.

"Because it capsized, you could smell the petrol, so I didn't think the sharks would come near," a slightly trembling Mark Chambers said hours after he and the tourists were rescued on Thursday.

Sand and salt from the sea could still be seen encrusted on his arms and legs.

Chambers, a recreational fisherman from Fish Hoek, said he had taken the three tourists, with whom he was not well acquainted, off Cape Point in the morning to fish for yellowtail.

"I set anchor close to other commercial boats so we knew we were in the right area."

Chambers said he had attached bait to the tourists' fishing lines and had prepared the boat, the Emma J, so that he could start fishing.

"But when I looked to the back, I saw the boat was taking on water."

Chambers hastily started preparing safety devices as a precaution.

He asked one of the three other men on the boat, who was sitting at the back, to move to the other side of the vessel.

"Then it just tipped over. The water was getting in very quickly at the back by the engine. When the crew moved, the boat just tilted and tipped over."

All four men were flung into the water and Chambers said after he surfaced, he immediately checked whether the tourists were okay.

"We all swam to the front of the boat and held on. The water wasn't too cold. It was about 17°C."

A nearby rubber duck approached and the four were assisted. Because there was not enough space on it, one of the men and Chambers climbed on board another nearby fishing vessel. All four were taken to Miller's Point, near Simon's Town.

Chambers said the British tourists, who had not seemed too shaken by the experience, were taken to a house they had been staying at in Hout Bay.

He said that, because they had only been introduced that morning, he did not recall their names. The three were expected to return home at the weekend.

"We were all fine. No one really panicked or anything. Now that the adrenalin's wearing off, though, I'm starting to feel it," Chambers said, lifting a shaky hand.

From Miller's Point, he was taken to the NSRI's Simon's Town base where rescuers had towed the Emma J. Chambers did not know why it took on water.

When an NSRI vessel towed the Emma J into Simon's Town, it was upside down.

Darren Zimmerman, the Simon's Town NSRI station commander, then tried to figure out how to right the boat.

Using many ropes, it took rescuers more than an hour to achieve this, and water was then pumped from the boat.


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