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Durban - After leading the salvage of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship in Italy, salvage master Nick Sloane said he wished his father and mentor, John, had been alive to see the refloating of the ship.
The head of what has been called “the biggest salvage operation in history” has always been a man of the sea, his family in South Africa told The Mercury on Wednesday.
John died in 2010 but Sloane believes his father would have been amazed at his latest feat.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Sloane said that he and his team had been unsure how things would turn out but that their success was thrilling.
“It was way better than we hoped for,” he said.
He said he had taken a day off with his team to have a braai, but he kept thinking about his dad.
“He would have really loved it. He loved telling salvage stories. I loved sailing in Durban harbour with him. We had the best of times,” he said.
Sloane emphasised that the salvage was a 500-member team effort. On Wednesday he was back at work.
His new fame was overwhelming, he said, but what he wanted most was to be home.
“I am hoping to be in South Africa in the first week of October. I promised my children I would see them before the final term of school,” Sloane said.
His children Jonothan, Nicola and Julia and his wife, Sandra, live in Cape Town and Sloane is hoping to have time available to visit his mother, Brenda, in Kloof.
“I really miss my family,” he said.
His sister, Caroline Turner, said her dad and her brother often sailed together.
“They always invited me to go with them but Nick enjoyed it the most,” she said from her home in Joburg.
The former Kearsney College pupil grew up in Kloof, with his parents and sisters, Caroline and Michel Thomson, who now live in Joburg, and his brother Simon, who is an attorney in Singapore.
Sloane joined Safmarine South and previously captained the John Ross salvage tug before joining Safmarine’s salvage unit. Three years ago he started his own company.
“He has no ego and he’s always been about the team. He wants things to be done well and in detail,” Turner said.
When she saw her brother on the news channels, she felt proud, she added.
Michel was equally astonished.
“When our parents emigrated to South Africa from London, Nick always loved having breakfast with the captain (of the ship) and that’s what he wanted to do from there.
“It would have been great if dad was alive. He would have been very proud.”