Mystery of grounded boat and RussianComment on this story
Cape Town - An unmanned ski-boat washed up at Glencairn on Thursday with the keys in the ignition, a bottle of liquor on board and several rounds of ammunition for a 9mm pistol.
There was no sign of the crew.
Police believe the person who last used the boat was a 50-year-old Russian man from the Strand who was last seen about a week ago. The man apparently used the boat without the knowledge of the owner, who lives in Somerset West.
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesman Craig Lambinon said on Thursday the Russian was known to them only as Dimitri.
Lambinon said the NSRI had been alerted by a member of the public early on Thursday to the 5.5m ski-boat drifting and threatening to run aground at Glencairn.
“An eyewitness watched the boat drifting, appearing to be unmanned, for about an hour, but when the boat looked as if it would run aground he alerted the authorities,” Lambinon.
NSRI from Simon’s Town and the Police Sea Borderline patrol boat went to the scene and found the boat, OLLY, already washed on to the rocks.
Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana confirmed on Thursday night that ammunition had been found on board.
“It was a few rounds, for one firearm, but there was no firearm found. There was no evidence of a crime and no case has been opened,” Kinana said.
Darren Zimmerman, station commander of NSRI in Simon’s Town, said on Thursday the OLLY had run aground on the rocks.
When he went on board, he found the engines intact and all the life jackets and safety equipment still on board.
“There was no sign of whoever had been on board, no clothes or anything like that. We used the safety certificate to establish who the owner was.
“A local guy from Gordon’s Bay does the safety surveys and we contacted him and he was able to tell us who the owner was,” Zimmerman said.
With the help of the safety officer from Gordon’s Bay, the boat owner was tracked down to a house in Gordon’s Bay on Thursday.
Lambinon said the owner claimed that his boat was being stored at a friend’s house. The owner and members of the Gordon’s Bay Ski-Boat Angling Club then went to the friend’s house where the boat was supposed to be.
“It was determined that the friend had lent the boat to another friend and that the boat was supposed to have been in Gordon’s Bay harbour. On further investigation it was determined that a man that was last known to have used the boat was now suspected to be missing and police are investigating,” Lambinon said.
NSRI said the missing Russian, who owns property in the Strand, was last seen on the OLLY “between Thursday April 24 and Sunday April 27”.
Lambinon said they were not in a position to launch a sea search for Dimitri.
He said the man who had borrowed the boat from the owner had arrived at the scene on Thursday and attempted to recover the boat.
“But the boat subsequently capsized during the attempt and she had been pulled back on the rocks from where a salvage effort will be attempted.”
Police have opened a missing person docket for Dimitri.