Cape Town - Children fooling around on a fishing vessel over the Easter weekend caused a 9m boat to sink in Kalk Bay harbour – and by late on Tuesday the owner was still battling to raise the sunken vessel.
There are no security guards at the harbour and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says boat owners are on their own regarding safeguarding their vessels tied up at the quays.
Everett Schubert, owner of the sunken vessel Kareema D, said on Tuesday he had been telephoned by the fisheries harbour staff on Monday to say his boat had sunk.
“I was told it was kids playing around on the boat. They often do that, swim up and get on to the boats. They pulled the boat in on the mooring rope and tied it tight to the bollard, but that was at low tide so when the tide came in the bow got stuck under the tyre and the thing flooded and sank,” Schubert said.
The tyre was one of many attached to the concrete quays to act as fenders. When Schubert and his brother-in-law Arthur van Staden began the operation to raise the Kareema D, the cabin had come off and was floating nearby.
With a trailer parked on the quay carrying a compressor, block and tackle and diving equipment, the two men donned wetsuits and slid into the murky harbour water to assess the vessel. The hull was intact. The blue of the vessel’s gunwales was just visible through the water.
The plan was to fill huge plastic containers with water, attach them to ropes they had passed under the fishing boat, and then to pump the water out of the containers and pump air in, and in that way to get the boat to rise. It took several hours for them to get the bow out of the water, and by late Tuesday the team, working with Liam Jelliman on the quay, had yet to get the stern raised far enough out of the water to be able to pump the water out of the boat.
Locals told the Cape Times that the fisheries department had appointed a company, Cape Town Boating, to run the security in the harbour, but that contract had ended in September and no other company had been appointed since.
Bunny Pendelbury, a skipper who had stayed at the salvage scene until late, said security was a problem at the harbour.
“That company did a good job, but now it’s gone. They broke into our boat recently and a lot of stuff was stolen. And the children swim over and come and cause trouble on the boats. They once took my mooring chain right off.”
However, fisheries spokesman Lionel Adendorf said on Tuesday the department was responsible only for the provision and maintenance of the harbour, not for protecting private fishing vessels. The harbour was owned by the Department of Public Works. He said Cape Town Boating had not been tasked with security, but with “provision of services and maintenance”.