Cape Town - A Chokka fishing boat has run aground in St Francis Bay after losing motor power and trying to return to harbour in 5m breaking swells and high winds.
The Sikelela, with a crew of 13 on board, ran aground on rocks and harbour wall dolosse on the western side of the Port of St Francis at 7.40am on Wednesday.
The boat, skippered by Hutch McKenna, lost power while turning towards the harbour entrance.
Because of the swells and a 10-to-15-knot westerly wind, it “was unable to take corrective action”, was “engulfed by waves” and driven on to the rocks, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesman Craig Lambinon said.
Eight crew members leapt on to land during breaks in the crashing waves.
The NSRI’s St Francis Bay duty crew launched the Spirit of St Francis II, while port control called on the boat Ricochet, ambulance services and Eastern Cape disaster management to provide help.
The Ricochet rescued two of the Sikelela crew.
When the Spirit of St Francis II reached the Sikelela, it found a further two crewmen hanging on to the side.
They were “being battered by waves”.
McKenna was standing on the top of the boat, but lost his footing when a wave crashed over him. His right arm was “severely” lacerated in the fall, Lambinon said.
The skipper and the crewmen were rescued.
McKenna received stitches to his arm, but none of the 12 crew members was found to be injured.
In False Bay, the Bishops crew competing in the Lipton Cup Challenge were caught up in drama when their mainsail was damaged and wrapped itself around its forestay, leaving their boat at the mercy of the 30-to-35-knot wind and being blown out to sea on Wednesday.
An SA Navy boat, the Amoyo, went to assist and took the yacht under tow, but its engine soon overheated, Lambinon said.
The NSRI duty crew took over, towing the yacht to shore, while the navy boat returned to harbour without incident.
None of the six Bishops crew members was hurt.
Once the NSRI reached the Simon’s Town harbour, it was
asked to help two teenage members of the Knysna sailing team. A girl of 17 with a leg injury and a girl of 16 with hypothermia were taken from the False Bay Yacht Club to hospital, Lambinon said.
Thabisile Ntleko, forecaster at the SA Weather Service’s Cape Town office, said more rough seas could be expected with the secondary cold front sweeping in this morning, bringing heavy rainfall, a maximum temperature of 12ºC and waves up to 9m high in some coastal areas.
It was predicted the rainfall would be heaviest this morning and could lead to localised flooding in urban areas.
This would be followed by “on and off showers” from Thursday afternoon until Friday morning.
There would be gale-force winds and high seas along the coast from Lambert’s Bay to Cape Agulhas, spreading towards Plettenberg Bay on Thursday afternoon.
“We might even see snow fall in high-lying areas of the entire Western Cape as well as in southern parts of the Northern Cape,” said Ntleko.
Conditions were to begin clearing on Friday afternoon.