08/06/2016 Hartebeespoort Dam Picture: Phill Magakoe

Hartbeespoort - Dense hyacinth on the Hartbeespoort Dam proved to be more of an obstacle than two boaters had anticipated and they had to spend Saturday night on their boat trapped in the weeds before being rescued on Sunday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

NSRI Hartbeespoort Dam were informed by a member of the public at 6.44am on Sunday morning that a ski-boat had been trapped in the hyacinth about 300 metres off-shore of the K’Shane Estate, NSRI Hartbeespoort Dam station commander Michael Saunders said. 

They had reportedly been there since 6pm on Saturday night, he said. Contact was made with the two young men, in their early 20s, on the boat. They had apparently launched at 11am on Saturday and while returning to Schoemansville at 5.30pm had become trapped in the hyacinth.

"With plenty of provisions on board and warm clothing they decided to wait out the night in the hope that they would break free from the hyacinth in the morning," Saunders said. 

However, in the morning they were unable to free themselves from the hyacinth and raised the alarm, asking for assistance and reporting they were not making any headway and their boat engine was constantly overheating.

The NSRI Hartbeespoort Dam duty crew were activated and the rescue craft Rotary Endeavour was launched, but after two hours of efforts to negotiate through the hyacinth "we were still only 500m away from the casualty craft and making very little headway", he said.

The ex-NSRI sea rescue craft Afrox Rescuer, now owned by the Transvaal Yacht Club (TYC), was borrowed and NSRI crew launched to stand-by on the scene.

NSRI shore crew were sent to an elevated position and they were able to identify open patches in the hyacinth that could not be seen from water level. Using cellphone communication they were able to guide the stricken boat to a nearby slipway where arrangements were made to get their vehicle and trailer around to them by road so that they could recover the boat, Saunders said.