Cape Town - A fisherman died and another is missing, while three more were rescued after their boat capsized off Gordon’s Bay, on the north-eastern corner of False Bay, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said on Sunday.
Gordon’s Bay NSRI Station Nine deputy commander Edward Russouw said the base was alerted at 9.22pm on Saturday night by the Transnet National Ports Authority following reports of red distress flares fired in the vicinity off-shore of Harbour Island, Gordon’s Bay.
The sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II was launched and the SA Police Service and Gordon’s Bay Security, and private ambulance services also responded to standby at NSRI Gordon’s Bay sea rescue base.
A sea search commenced in a gale-force south-easterly on-shore wind and a torch light was spotted flashing in the distance.
On arrival on the scene, almost a nautical mile off-shore of Harbour Island, the NSRI crew located a capsized snoek fishing boat with three men clinging to the upturned hull. They were holding on to the body of another man.
The body and the three fishermen were brought onto the sea rescue craft and taken ashore.
Paramedics treated the three survivors for hypothermia, but they did not require hospitalisation.
The body of the dead fisherman was taken into the care of police and the health department’s forensic pathology service.
Russouw said the survivors confirmed that a fifth fisherman, wearing a life-jacket, had drifted away from the upturned boat in the strong winds.
A shoreline search commenced in the hope that the missing fisherman would be swept ashore in the strong winds.
The Western Cape health emergency rescue service (EMS), Cape Town fire and rescue service, law enforcement marine unit, and disaster risk management operations responded with lighting vehicles and extra personnel to help in a shoreline search and to light up the shoreline.
Taking the position of the capsized craft, wind speed, and direction and the drift of the currents, an area was identified where the fisherman was most likely to wash ashore. The shallow water depth was not conducive for a boat search in the vicinity and the area was combed extensively, together with other areas to rule out all possibilities, Russouw said.
The extensive shoreline search included emergency services using tactical lighting equipment and tactical vehicles to illuminate the shore while rescuers searched along the shoreline in among rocks and shallow surf. A police dive unit was also placed on alert.
Family of the fishermen arrived at the sea rescue base and police arranged trauma counsellors who took care of the families and the survivors. A Cape Town fire and rescue services pastor joined the trauma briefing to help.
The surviving fishermen had confirmed that they had been returning from a day fishing and it was suspected that the strong winds contributed to their boat capsizing. They were all from the Strand and close friends.
Despite an extensive search no sign of the missing fisherman had been found. A police dive team was alerted and NSRI Gordon’s Bay was continuing an ongoing search for the missing fisherman.
The capsized boat remained adrift semi-submerged. Police had opened an inquest docket, Russouw said.