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Cape Town - A Cape Town man has survived one of the situations fishermen aboard boats at sea fear the most - being dragged overboard by heavy fishing gear.
The badly injured man is in hospital in Humansdorp on Tuesday, where medical staff are still keeping a keen eye on him. On Monday night, however, he was near death. He showed near drowning symptoms and was suffering from a badly broken leg after he was hauled back aboard the crayfish boat by fellow crew.
It was already dark at 7.30pm when volunteers from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) at St Francis Bay raced to the rescue, said spokesman Craig Lambinon.
They were told that a 30-year-old man aboard the 58m crayfish boat, Rigel IV, required medical attention after falling overboard.
At the time, the Rigel IV was about 25 miles off St Francis Bay, setting crayfish traps.
The fisherman, whose identity is still being kept confidential, was helping to put the crayfish traps overboard, when his leg got caught in the bight of a rope and he was plucked overboard by the weight of the crayfish trap.
He was pulled under water, his broken leg tangled in the rope.
The master of the boat immediately performed a man overboard manoeuvre to get his boat back on the track where the fisherman went over and the crew were able to grab hold of the various ropes with which the trap was being controlled.
“From what we understand from crew reports, the crew were able to cut one of the lines to the descending crayfish trap and then used the line fouled around the fisherman’s leg to haul him back up to the sea surface,” Lambinon said.
“The man had sustained a serious fracture of his left femur and was suffering near drowning symptoms and lapsing in and out of consciousness.
“The vessel immediately headed towards St Francis Bay and our NSRI sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis Bay was launched to rendezvous with the vessel.
“We met the vessel 18 nautical miles off St Francis Bay, in rough seas of 4.5m swells, and two NSRI medics were transferred aboard Rigel IV where they found the semi-conscious patient in a serious condition.
“Crew of the vessel had rendered first-aid treatment and our NSRI medics continued with medical treatment but sea conditions were too rough to risk transferring the patient across to our sea rescue boat and we instead escorted the trawler towards St Francis Bay while our two NSRI medics stayed onboard the trawler while continuing to render medical treatment.”
Lambinon said the ship’s master reported that the fisherman had been wearing safety apparel at the time of the incident. - Cape Argus