File photo.

KwaZulu-Natal - Durban harbour may seem safer for fishing than the high seas, but for two local fishermen, the sheltered bay turned out to be the crueller mistress on Wednesday evening.

After a stint of angling in the harbour from their 4m ski boat, Yaallahu, the Durban locals had packed up their gear and were making the trip back to the Point Yacht Club slipway when they were “swamped” by a wave and then blown on to a sandbank near the Sugar Terminal.

One of the men called Durban Port Control, and the SAPS Waterwing Unit was sent to assist them.

When the police boat arrived, Yaallahu was found semi-submerged and stuck on the bank.

The police craft attached a line to the stricken vessel and tried to pull it free, only for the boat to sink when it reached deeper water.

Fortunately, the fishermen were wearing life jackets and were taken aboard the police boat, according to National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Andrew Ingram.

Ingram said an NSRI vessel, Megan II, also responded, and attached a line to the boat, but was forced to cut it when the Yaallahu went down.

Ingram said that even if a vessel took on a lot of water, it should never sink completely, and that a seaworthy boat would float even when flooded.

Ingram added that a marker had been placed at the spot where the Yaallahu had sunk, but harbour authorities had yet to locate it when they spoke to The Mercury on Thursday.

He suspected that the boat was still partly buoyant and although it had sunk, it had not yet reached the bottom.


Durban harbour master Dennis Mqadi confirmed that divers had been sent out to locate the sunken boat, but their efforts had been unsuccessful.

As the vessel was in an area where ships passed, Mqadi said a warning had been sent out to all pilots to keep a lookout for the sunken boat while moving in the channel.

Mqadi said that the retrieval efforts would not affect the harbour’s operations and, despite the fact that the “small” boat had not yet been found, it would be recovered eventually. - The Mercury