Saving lives with National Sea Rescue Institute is a lesson for all ages
Cape Town - The ocean is a great place for young people to learn important life lessons.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) depends on volunteers to help with its operations along the coastline, an ideal setting for the youth to get involved.
Junré Marais is a training officer and trainee coxswain at the NSRI station in Yzerfontein. He said its trademark red uniform was what first captured his attention as a child.
“I always saw the people in their red wetsuits going out to sea while I grew up but I never knew what they did,” he said.
“Seeing that their motto is saving lives in South African waters, I decided to join and see what I can do to help others.”
Marais said when you become a volunteer, everyone is equal and the main goal is sea safety: “People from all walks of life... from waiters to CEOs and doctors, you’ll find them at sea rescue.”
Marais is also doing his final year Masters programme, studying plant pathology, at Stellenbosch University.
“Not a single day is the same on the water and each call-out is a different experience... the adrenaline (one gets) once you receive a call-out,” he said.
For Seth de Boer, an adventurous spirit and a love for the ocean set him on his way to becoming a surfing instructor.
But it was when he helped to try and save a surfer in distress from the current at Muizenberg that steered De Boer towards the NSRI.
The man died but the experience served as a wake-up call for De Boer to never take the surf for granted, and inspired him to want to keep others safe.
“No matter how experienced you are, the ocean can always take whatever it wants,” he said.
He recommends that more young people consider volunteering with the NSRI because of the values instilled: “If you want to volunteer, you need to make sacrifices; let’s say you’re going out to a party and then you realise you need to choose between doing that or training.”
But the rewards of helping others and keeping people safe are well worth it, De Boer added, who believes volunteering has taught him to have a greater respect for the ocean.